- Jim Bowden, Baseball, Insider
• Multiple sources said C.J. Wilson spent Wednesday night visiting with both the Los Angeles Angels and Florida Marlins one final time before making his decision. If the Angels don't add a sixth year to their offer, it appears Wilson will join Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell and Jose Reyes in Miami. The Marlins have six years on the table for Wilson already.
• Rays manager Joe Maddon acknowledged his team has enough starting-pitching depth to trade one starter for a long-term solution at first base and catcher. Following are some scenarios for first basemen who could become available for one of the Rays’ starting pitchers (Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann or Alex Cobb):
1. If the Mariners sign Prince Fielder, Justin Smoak could become available.
2. Depending on the starter they receive, the Reds could offer Yonder Alonso.
3. If the Angels come out of nowhere to sign Pujols or Fielder, Mark Trumbo is available.
• Here is the real truth on the Hanley Ramirez situation: He never asked for his contract to be restructured. He never asked to be traded. He just objects to having to change positions, just as the Rangers’ Michael Young did last year. Ramirez doesn't like it, but in the end he'll work hard to make it work, and if the Marlins win and eventually compensate him for making the move, all will be fine in South Beach.
• The Red Sox strangely offered David Ortiz a two-year, $18 million deal, knowing that Big Papi would reject and accept salary arbitration. Ortiz could make between $14-16 million in the process; this is a problem for Boston, which desperately needs payroll flexibility. Don't be surprised if the Red Sox and Ortiz end up doing a two-year deal in the $22-23 million range that is back-loaded into 2013 to offer them some payroll relief this year in order to improve the team in other areas.
• The Red Sox continue to talk with the Oakland A's regarding closer Andrew Bailey but need to make sure he's healthy. The Sox don't appear interested in committing $45 million in a four-year contract for Ryan Madson. However, what is certain is that the Red Sox see young Daniel Bard as a setup reliever or back-end-of-the-rotation starter, not as their closer.
• The Texas Rangers are spending a lot of time in trade talks for starting pitchers, including the Cubs’ Matt Garza and Oakland’s Gio Gonzalez. If the Rangers get Garza in a package that includes Martin Perez, then Alexi Ogando will be moved to the bullpen to set up new closer Joe Nathan. The Rangers also are expected to re-sign Darren Oliver, who apparently has made the decision not to retire.
• The Washington Nationals were disappointed at not landing Buehrle but simply were not willing to give in on the fourth year or the AAV the Marlins were willing to offer. Now the Nationals are setting their sights on free-agent starter Roy Oswalt.
• The Detroit Tigers are close to signing reliever Octavio Dotel, and the Angels have agreed to terms with LaTroy Hawkins. The veteran relievers will be a big boost to the Tigers' and Angels' bullpens, respectively. Hawkins will man the seventh inning for the Angels, and Dotel the sixth for the Tigers.
• Cleveland skipper Manny Acta told me that the Indians continue to search for a run producer at first base, preferably one who is not arbitration-eligible. If they have to trade for an expensive solution, they'll have to reduce payroll in the transaction to make it work since they used most of their payroll flexibility on Grady Sizemore and Derek Lowe.
• New York Yankees skipper Joe Girardi told me that if Phil Hughes can bounce back from his shoulder inflammation, he could return to the form that won him 18 games in 2010. Hughes has the potential to be as good as an impact free agent.
• Detroit manager Jim Leyland told me the Tigers are looking for bullpen help, a leadoff hitter, utility players and a fifth starting pitcher because rookie Jacob Turner is not ready.
• Francisco Rodriguez accepted salary arbitration from the Milwaukee Brewers. This put the Brewers in a good position because now they can either trade K-Rod to a team looking for a one-year closer or simply return him to his role as setup man for closer John Axford, knowing that it was K-Rod’s decision to come back.
• The Blue Jays solved second base with Kelly Johnson accepting arbitration. Expect the process to pay him in the $4-5 million range that Aaron Hill received from Diamondbacks and Mark Ellis got from Dodgers.
And on my show on SiriusXM Radio, several managers offered offseason insight:
• Though it's still early in the process, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel believes (a) Jimmy Rollins will re-sign and (b) the Phillies will keep Placido Polanco as their third baseman rather than sign free agent Aramis Ramirez. No, Manuel hasn't given up on outfielder Domonic Brown and still thinks that, in time, Brown will be able to correct the length in his swing.
• Rockies skipper Jim Tracy raved about young third baseman Nolan Arenado after seeing him play in the Arizona Fall League and went as far to say that Arenado will even get a long look in spring training.
• Royals skipper Ned Yost said Salvador Perez is the best catching prospect he's ever seen; shortstop Alcides Escobar will be a No. 9 hitter, not a No. 2 hitter, and will win games with his defense; and the Royals are not trading Wil Myers even if they can get a starter for him. Yost also said that Aaron Crow will be given a chance to make the starting rotation in spring training.