Live from Nashville, day two ...

4

December

EVENING UPDATE
Looks like there will be some huge news, with the Marlins sending 3B Miguel Cabrera and LHP Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers for Gainesville's LHP Andrew Miller, OF Cameron Maybin, C Mike Rabelo (of Ridgewood High and the University of Tampa) and three other prospects. The deal was expected to be finalized very late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

LATE AFTERNOON UPDATE:
It's been something of a quiet day so far, but here's a fresh name to add to the list of potential Rays additions: utilityman Rob Mackowiak.

He can play first and third base as well as left and rightfield, he hits lefthanded, and he is available, having been let go by San Diego. He has also been with the White Sox and the Pirates.

Otherwise, most of the Rays chatter came out of manager Joe Maddon's session in the main media room, where he said top pick David Price could make it to the majors sometime during his first season, that the Rays probably won't know if they can count on Rocco Baldelli until the middle of spring training, and that Akinori Iwamura most likely will play second whether 3B prospect Evan Longoria makes the big-league team or not.

Price was also on site today and said he'd like to make to the big leagues by June.

Executive VP Andrew Friedman's daily briefing is later this afternoon.

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The small domed village known as the Opryland hotel is slowly coming to life, and the rumors are slowly starting to fly.

The big one, of course, involves the status of Twins pitcher Johan Santana. If the latest reports are true, they appear to be moving closer to a deal to trade him to the Red Sox. Unless, of course, they are trying a double fake-out to get the Yankees more motivated after Hank Steinbrenner's threat to cut off talks if there was no deal on Monday. Or not.

On the Rays front, the focus remains on finding a lefthanded hitter who could preferably play rightfield. Darin Erstad and Geoff Jenkins look like good fits, though Erstad, a Maddon favorite, is interested in playing for a contender and Jenkins could be looking for $5-$6-million a year. Other free agent possibilities include Shawn Green, Brad Wilkerson, Cliff Floyd. Or they could sign someone to be more of a DH and cover rightfield with Jonny Gomes, Rocco Baldelli and Justin Ruggiano, which would put Tony Clark in play, along with Mark Sweeney, Corey Koskie and Mike Lamb. And there are also trade possibilities as well.

One of the reasons the Rays took Josh Wilson off the roster, and subsequently lost him on waivers, was to gain some roster flexibility since he was out of options and couldn't be sent to the minors. More immediately, it gave them room to make a selection in Thursday's Rule 5 draft, where Indians OF prospect Brian Barton is a candidate for the the No. 1 overall pick the Rays hold. Barton is coming off end-of-season knee surgery but expected to be ready for spring training.

And here's what Baseball America had to say before last season about Glenn Gibson, the young lefty prospect acquired from Washington on Monday for Elijah Dukes. Gibson, now 20, in 2007 went 4-3, 3.10 for Vermont in the short-season Class A NY-Penn League.

From Baseball America's 2007 prospect rankings, in which Gibson was seventh in the Nationals system:

Background: The son of former big league lefthander Paul Gibson, Glenn turned down a commitment to Central Florida for an above-slot $350,000 bonus in the fourth round. He signed late in the summer so he had a limited pro debut, but he did show off his polish with three scoreless outings at short-season Vermont.

Strengths: It's evident that Gibson learned a lot from his father, because he really knows how to pitch. His best offering is an above-average 76-77 mph curveball with good downward bite that was a revelation this spring after his dad moved his arm slot from three-quarters to high three-quarters. He has always trusted his changeup, which already rates as an average pitch and could get better. Gibson projects to add velocity to his 86-88 mph fastball as he fills out his lanky frame, and he already ratchets it up to 91 on occasion. His delivery is clean and easy.

Weaknesses: Despite hiring a personal trainer and adding 15 pounds as a high school, Gibson remains skinny and needs to get stronger. He commands his fastball well but will need to add more velocity to pitch toward the front of a big league rotation.

The Future: Because he's so advanced, Gibson will push for a rotation spot in low Class A as a 19-year-old. He has a chance to be a No. 3 starter if he develops physically.

Elsewhere, an intriguing name from the Rays past is in the news. Josh Hamilton - hey, he's a lefthanded hitter who could play the outfield - reportedly being made available by the Reds and of interest to the Cubs, who are managed by Lou Piniella, who was the Tampa Bay manager when Hamilton was last a Ray.

Also, Pasco County product Tyler Clippard has been traded from the Yankees to the Nationals, according to the Washington Post.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:33am]

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