Iguchi becomes a top target for Rox
Team also comfortable with current second-base candidates
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tadahito Iguchi has risen to the top of the list of free-agent targets for the Rockies' second-base job, but the team insists that it is comfortable with in-house candidates.
Iguchi, who turned 33 on Tuesday, hit .267 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs with the White Sox and the Phillies last season. But he is seeking something similar to the three-year, $16.5 million contract that former Rockies second baseman Kazuo Matsui completed with the Astros on Sunday.
General manager Dan O'Dowd said that the Rockies, who don't want to block the young players they have for the position, have discussed two years for Iguchi but haven't concluded on it. Iguchi's name has been connected with the Orioles, Dodgers, Astros, Brewers and Padres. Some teams are looking at him for third base, but his preference is second.
If the Rockies don't sign Iguchi, options include the veteran Jamey Carroll, who could be traded, and younger players Clint Barmes, Omar Quintanilla, Jayson Nix, Ian Stewart and Jeff Baker. Stewart is a third baseman by trade and Baker is a corner infielder and outfielder, but they hit for power and are being asked to learn second base to increase their chances at playing time.
The possibility of signing Iguchi and the ongoing talks with right-hander Aaron Cook about a three-year contract extension were the highlights on Wednesday, the last full day of the Winter Meetings. In other developments:
O'Dowd believes that veteran second baseman Mark Loretta will accept arbitration for the Astros, which would mean a significant raise above the $2.5 million he earned last year, even though playing time could be dicey. That would take him out of the running for the Rockies.
O'Dowd added that the Rockies aren't pursuing free agent Marcus Giles and are not interested in the Royals' Mark Grudzielanek, who is available in the right deal.
Trade talks with the Astros for second baseman Chris Burke stalled because the Astros wanted three-time All-Star reliever Brian Fuentes. The Rockies would need more from the Astros before parting with Fuentes.
The Rockies are still offering a one-year deal to right-handed reliever LaTroy Hawkins, a key bullpen contributor last year. Hawkins, a free agent, seeks a multi-year deal.
Known for their success at taking pitchers coming off either bad years or injuries, the Rockies are looking at lefty Glendon Rusch, who is making a comeback after missing last season with a blood clot in his right lung. They like the fact that he has no arm trouble. The Rockies also are looking at lefty Brian Anderson, who last pitched for the Royals in 2005 before undergoing elbow surgeries.
The Rockies continue to look at righty Steve Trachsel for a rotation spot, lefty Mark Redman and righty Brett Tomko to start or pitch out of the bullpen, and righty Shawn Chacon strictly as a reliever. The Rockies also have let the agents for two of their free agents, right-handed starter Jeff Fogg and left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt, know that the club is interested, but both are seeking bigger deals elsewhere. The Rockies decided not to offer Japanese right-handed reliever Kazuo Fukumori a contract because of his history of elbow trouble.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.