Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - At our sister site MLB Trade Rumors.com reported this afternoon that the Cardinals have reached a contract agreement with lefty reliever Randy Choate, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark (via Twitter).
St. Louis had been seeking a left-handed specialist to pair with Marc Rzepczynski in its bullpen, and was said to be considering a number of options. The team fell out of the running on Sean Burnett earlier in the day.
Choate, 37, is one of MLB's quintessential LOOGYs, pitching just 38 2/3 innings in 80 appearances for the Marlins and Dodgers in 2012. Over the last three seasons, he has a 3.25 ERA to go along with a 9.1 K/9 rate in 108 innings.
Today is the last full day of the meetings, as everyone normally bolts right after Thursday morning's Rule 5 Draft,
But then again, Albert Pujols agreed to his deal just minutes before the start of the Rule 5 last year. So, who knows?
As for the two big free agents on the market this year - Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke - it's status quo. Although, we are starting to get a better feel on which teams are involved.
Reports started to circulate on Tuesday afternoon that Hamilton and the Rangers were making progress on a four-year deal. But, then the former American League MVP tweeted a picture of himself leaving the Opryland, obviously without a deal.
Texas general manager Jon Daniels also said he had not even met with Hamilton.
Now a meeting between the two was probably not necessary. Daniels knows Hamilton well enough. Any face-to-face meeting for Hamilton would have been with teams like Seattle or Boston. And of course there's always the chance that Daniels was less than forthcoming with us. That happens from time to time as well.
If you read the tea leaves all signs point to Hamilton returning to Texas. Boston filled their outfield need with an outrageous $39 million contract for Shane Victorino, while the Mariners are in the mix to sign Jason Bay.
Teams are moving on.
The Phillies could still get in on this, but they could fill so many other holes with the money they would potentially have to dole out to Hamilton. They just don't make a lot of sense.
Hamilton has told the Rangers he will give them the final offer. Texas knows they can have him anytime it wants. They are comfortable enough that they will get a deal done, but right now the more pressing need for the Rangers is landing a starting pitcher, specifically Greinke, whose price has reportedly soared into the $160 million range.
Texas' biggest obstacle in the Greinke sweepstakes is the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are ready and willing to pay him.
Should Texas lose out on Greinke, look for them to act quickly on Tampa right- hander James Shields. Actually Fox Sports is reporting that some sort of three-way deal is being bandied about between the Rangers, Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks with names like Justin Upton, Shields and Asdrubal Cabrera being thrown around.
In that potential scenario, though, the Rangers would wind up with Upton. Rumors like that are nice to talk about, but rarely does anything come from them.
Some think that it's either Hamilton or Greinke for the Rangers and not both. Maybe the Rangers are weighing what package makes more sense: Hamilton/Shields or Greinke/Upton.
The best package is Hamilton/Greinke. Texas has the resources to do it. But then again I wouldn't pay Greinke $160 million. Let the Dodgers be the team to make that mistake.
Until then, though, we wait for something ... anything ... to happen.
Some other rumblings:
*Business picked up a bit on Tuesday when ESPN reported that the Phillies and Diamondbacks were engaged in trade talks that would have sent Cliff Lee to Arizona in exchange for Upton. All parties involved, though, emphatically denied. The Phils may be dangling a pitcher, but it won't be Lee ... unless
*One rumor that is starting to pick up a little steam has the Boston Red Sox listening to offers on outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Should that be the case and by the way they are targeting outfielders this week it seems that it is, a Lee-Ellsbury swap doesn't seem all that outrageous. Expect a lot of teams to get in on that, though, if it does happen.
*In addition to Cabrera, the Indians are also actively shopping outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
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