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Rumor Mill at this hour: 8 p.m.

12.07.09 at 8:04 pm ET
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A “few” teams are interested in trading for Kevin Millwood, writes ESPN Dallas’ Richard Durrett. Millwood has one year and $12 million remaining on his deal and Durrett suggests the Rangers keep Millwood and benefit from his potential performance in a contract year.

Adam Everett, who earlier today agreed to a one-year deal with the Tigers, will receive $1.55 million for the 2010 season, according to Buster Olney.

Rafael Soriano may accept arbitration and request a trade, Atlanta GM Frank Wren told MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. Should he accept the reliever will get around $8 million, according to Buster Olney.

Read More: adam everett, kevin millwood, rafael soriano, Rumor Mill

Agent Speaks on Kelly’s Decision

12.07.09 at 7:59 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Former Red Sox pitcher Joe Sambito, now the agent representing Red Sox prospect Casey Kelly, spoke about his client’s decision to pursue a career as a pitcher and abandoning his career as a shortstop.

Kelly was joined at his meeting with the Sox to discuss his future by his father, Pat, and agents Sambito and John Courtright. Despite the group of advisors, however, Sambito made clear that the decision was entirely that of the 20-year-old Kelly.

“I think it’€™s very clear that he’€™s a very, very talented pitcher. That’€™s not to take away from his talent as a position player,” said Sambito. “I think it was clear that his path to the big leagues was going to be somewhat shorter than as a position player. It really was Casey’€™s decision ‘€“ 100 percent. He had to search deep down inside and decide what he wanted to do. John Courtright and I were there for guidance, but it was really Casey’€™s decision. That’€™s what it was ‘€“ Casey’€™s decision.”

Already, Kelly has had a couple of momentous career decisions in his young professional career. After the Sox drafted him in 2008, he was torn between pursuing a two-sport career (baseball and football, where he would have been quarterback) at the University of Tennessee or giving up football to pursue a pro baseball career. Now, Kelly had to approach the pros and cons of another career-altering decision.

Sambito said that it is a credit to Kelly’s precocious nature that he has handled such choices without getting overwhelmed.

“I think [the two decisions] had similarities. There’€™s no doubt about that. Casey is a very mature young man ‘€“ mature beyond his years. He’€™s in total control when he’€™s on the field,” said Sambito. “That maturity helped him in making the decision. He’€™s a remarkable guy, and I think we’€™re going to see great things from him.

“I think he’€™s going to gain another mile per hour or two on his fastball. It’€™s got good sink. His curveball is a 12-to-6, and I think he can make that better. His changeup that he’€™s got’€¦ And he’€™s got command of all three. I told him, the stuff that I see from you gets big-league hitters out. You can be competitive with the stuff you have now, and it’€™s only going to get better. It’€™s exciting.”

Read More: casey kelly, joe sambito,

Rumor Mill at this hour: 7 p.m.

12.07.09 at 7:26 pm ET
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A source tells Ken Rosenthal that they are “99 percent certain” that Carl Pavano will accept arbitration and stay with the Twins.

Jon Heyman tweets that the Mets are meeting with the agents for Randy Wolf, Joel Pineiro, Jason Marquis, and John Lackey. Heyman pegs the Mets’ chances of getting Roy Halladay at “.000001%.”

Read More: Jason Marquis, Joel Pineiro, john lackey, Randy Wolf

Rumor Mill at this hour: 6 p.m.

12.07.09 at 6:23 pm ET
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Matt Murton, of deadline ’04 fame, has been sold by the Rockies to the Hanshin Tigers, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com.

Peter Gammons has the Rays shooting down rumors that they are discussing Wade Davis and B.J. Upton for Roy Halladay. Heyman says the Angels may be interested.

According to ESPN, the Rangers have inquired about J.J. Putz and Brett Myers in addition to Matt Lyndstrom.

Read More: brett myers, J.J. Putz, Matt Lyndstrom, Roy Halladay

Rumor Mill at this hour: 5 p.m.

12.07.09 at 5:17 pm ET
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Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi are reporting the Rays have contacted the Blue Jays about Roy Halladay. The report suggests the Rays could part with pitching prospect Wade Davis and B.J. Upton in a deal for the 2003 AL Cy Young winner. Halladay would need to waive his no-trade clause in order to facilitate such a trade.

The Yankees and Mets have both inquired about Kelvim Escobar, according to Joel Sherman. Michael Silverman says the Red Sox met with Escobar’s agent, who also represents Rafael Soriano.

Adam Everett is returning to the Tigers, according to the team. The shortstop hit .238 / .288 / .325 with three homers and 44 RBI in 2009.

Read More: adam everett, B.J. Upton, Kelvim Escobar, Roy Halladay

Epstein: Bay Remains ‘One of Our Priorities’

12.07.09 at 4:59 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said that the first day of the Winter Meetings had offered a chance to touch base with several agents and teams. Still, he suggested it was too early to tell whether anything might get done between now and Thursday, when the teams depart from the baseball convention.

Epstein said that re-signing Jason Bay is “definitely one of our priorities, certainly.” He would not say when the Sox will meet with Bay’s agent, Joe Urbon, but Epstein did suggest that a meeting would happen between the team and representative in Indianapolis.

The Sox GM also said that there have been few surprise names to emerge as available in the trade market.

“The landscape of available players is kind of what we thought it was,” said Epstein. “Now, we’re seeing a slow push towards execution.”

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Casey Kelly Commits To Pitching

12.07.09 at 4:42 pm ET
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Red Sox prospect Casey Kelly, after completing a first professional season that was described by GM Theo Epstein as “unique” as he split his time between pitching and playing shortstop, informed the Sox on Monday that he intended to commit to a career as a pitcher going forward. He forged a 2.08 ERA while splitting the year between Low A Greenville and High A Salem before he commenced a partial season as a shortstop in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League and Single A Greenville (combined .222/.302/.340/.642) and the Arizona Fall League.

Kelly made his decision after a meeting with Red Sox officials last week. Kelly, along with his father, Pat, and two of his agents, met in Fort Myers with Epstein, farm director Mike Hazen, former Lowell Spinners manager (and current roving infield instructor) Gary DiSarcina. The Sox tried to give Kelly a sense of how they regarded him as a pitcher, but the organization also wanted to be mindful of the 20-year-old’s preference. Ultimately, Kelly – a first-round pick in 2008 who signed for a $3 million bonus – agreed with the Sox that his best chance to make an impact was as a pitcher.

Kelly will take part in the Red Sox’ Rookie Development Program in January, and will receive an invitation to big-league camp in spring training. That invitation reflects how close he could be to the majors, with Epstein estimating that he could be knocking on the door to the majors in the next year or two.

“He’s as excited about his future on the mound as we are,” said Epstein. “I don’t think you could ever expect a 19-year-old pitcher to go out and do what he did. It’s a pretty impressive debut.

“I think he sees he’s relatively close to the big leagues, certainly for his age, and has a chance to make an impact in this organization. … Maybe he agreed with us in the end that this was his chance to make the most profound impact on the organization.”

Kelly features an impressive arsenal: a two- and four-seam fastball, changeup and curve, all of which project as potentially plus pitches by the time he is ready for the majors. He also has the ability, Epstein suggested, to add a slider. He has advanced command of all of the pitches, and even though he is relatively inexperienced, the Sox GM noted that he “looked like a big-league pitcher” at times during his 95-inning professional unveiling.

Despite his limited time on the mound in 2009, some officials believe that Kelly could start the year in Double A Portland.

Had Kelly told the organization that he continued to see himself as a shortstop, the Sox would have accommodated him, but they would have continued to structure his player development along the lines of what they did this year, with the player splitting time between pitching and the field. The team would have wanted to leave the door open to Kelly committing to pitching, but continuing the split-season approach might have ultimately delayed his development in one or both areas. Thus, it comes as little surprise that the Sox were, in Epstein’s words, “glad it turned out this way.”

According to Epstein, that sentiment was shared by Kelly. Now that he is committed to just one career path, rather than two, the prospect can limit some of the distractions that he faced at the start of his career, and instead proceed with greater clarity about his future.

“I think it was a burden on Casey to do both,” Epstein said. “He didn’t want any of the extra attention. That’s not his personality. He’s very at ease with himself, but it’s hard to answer the same question 10 times everyday, especially when you’re not sure what you want to do. When he called me a couple days ago, he said and sounded like the weight of the world was off his shoulders. He was really excited to choose one path and dedicate himself to it, something that can make him even better, because now he has a sole focus.”

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Bay fits Seattle manager’s philosophy

12.07.09 at 4:25 pm ET
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I sat in on Seattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu’s presser as he talked about the impact on a club when high OBP guys are brought into a young lineup. He referenced Bobby Abreu’s impact on the Angels lineup and believes that its “contagious.” He also talked about watching Michael Young everyday and how that impacted the rest of that lineup. That way of thinking makes players like Chone Figgins and Jason Bay even more appealing. He called Jason Bay an “impact bat.”  Don’t rule out the Mariners quite yet in the Jason Bay sweepstakes.

Read More: jason bay, Rumor Mill,

Rumor Mill at this hour: 4 p.m.

12.07.09 at 4:06 pm ET
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After originally reporting a rumor that the Mets had landed Edwin Jackson, Ed Price is tweeting that the Tigers are currently deciding between offers from 12 teams for the starter.

Amidst rumors that they may have one starting pitcher on the way, Buster Olney is reporting that the Mets will meet with John Lackey‘s agent Monday night. Lackey has a career ERA of 3.81 in eight seasons with the Angels.

Read More: edwin jackson, john lackey, Rumor Mill,

Rumor Mill: Red Sox in on Johnson?

12.07.09 at 3:55 pm ET
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Jayson Stark is tweeting that the Red Sox are one of many teams interested in Nick Johnson. Other teams interested include the Mariners, Yankees, Mets, Orioles, Giants, and Diamondbacks.  The Red Sox’ connection to Johnson dates back to May, when Boston reportedly shot down a straight up swap of Johnson for Manny Delcarmen. Bill Ladson says the first baseman is seeking a two-year deal.

Read More: manny delcarmen, nick johnson, Rumor Mill,
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