Meetings update: Willingham among rumors
UPDATE, 7:25: The Rays are in on Willingham, who would serve as a DH and extra outfielder, but there is no sense anything is imminent. The level of competition is of course key. ... Friedman said overall, "It's been busy,'' as there has been extensive interest in the Rays pitchers. ... The Royals and Marlins are among the teams that could match up well. Both teams wants James Shields, but could also have interest in Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann. ... There is also talk that free-agent 1B Casey Kotchman, who had a solid season for the Rays, is talking with the Indians about a deal.
BREAKING: The most telling sign the rumors are underway is the amount of rumors flying.
One of the more interesting has the Rays among the teams pursuing free-agent OF Josh Willingham.
ESPN's Jerry Crasnick went as far as saying the Rays are making "a serious run" at Willingham, other reports have them among 3-4 teams in pursuit. Among other possible candidates are the Twins, Red Sox, Indians, Reds and Pirates. And another Twitter post has them "worried" that there is too much competition and they won't get him.
Willingham, 32, hit a career-high 29 HRs for Oakland last year, with a .246 average, .332 on-base percentage and .477 slugging percentage. He can play left and right, but could also be the Rays answer at DH. His agent said in October he was looking for a three-year deal, which the Rays would seem unlikely to offer.
Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman will have his daily media briefing at around 6 Tampa Bay time, which may provide some clarity. Or not.
There is also chatter about some interesting trade talks, with a starting pitcher and possibly involving the Royals.
Friedman also has yet to address the prospects of going to the Astros, who have permission to talk to him, but such a move remains very unlikely, as we have been saying.