Infielder Josh Wilson, who spent last season with Tampa Bay and batted .251 with two home runs and 24 RBIs in 90 games with the Rays, has been claimed off of waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pirates are pleased to have Wilson, who is from the Pittsburgh area, in the fold.
"That middle utility guy with the ability to play shortstop is hard to find," general manager Neal Huntington told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We think he's a guy who has a chance to be solid to average defensively, and there's enough of a bat there that he can be a player for us off the bench in the short term."
That, Huntington added, would buy developing time for shortstop prospect Brian Bixler in Triple-A.
Marlins part with Willis, Cabrera: The Marlins completed the first blockbuster of the Winter Meetings, trading its two most recognizable players. Florida dealt Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit for six players. The Marlins received outfielder Cameron Maybin, lefty Andrew Miller, catcher Mike Rabelo and three Minor League pitchers.
"I'm not really feeling anything," Willis told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "Like I said the whole time, it's all business. I mean, my God I've been on the trading block for kind of a world record for the last three years. They found a deal suitable for both sides, so I'm happy to go over there and try to do my thing. ... I was very proud and happy about my time in Florida."
Maybin and Miller both made their Major League debuts last season. Maybin becomes the club's top prospect
"He's very young, but he shows all five tools very easily," said one National League scout who closely monitored the Tigers last season. "He handled himself through the lower levels and through Double-A. He's real close to being able to help a Major League team.
"He could be another Torii Hunter. He's got speed and power, and he can defend. ... He's a franchise-type player, just like Cabrera was."
Miller, a tall lefty with a mid-90s fastball, draws comparisons to Randy Johnson.
"Very nice, left-handed power arm," the scout said. "Things have been easy for him."
Willis and Cabrera were the only players left from the Marlins' 2003 World Series championship team.
"It was wonderful," Willis said, of coming up with Cabrera. "They took a chance on a 21-year-old and a 20-year-old to go out there and try to help their team win a world championship. That's a lot to be said about us and how talented we were and how confident they were in us. They believed in us. We appreciated the opportunity. Miguel's a Hall of Fame player. It was fun."
Braves acquire Ohman, Infante from Cubs: The Braves acquired lefty reliever Will Ohman and infielder Omar Infante from the Cubs in exchange for reliever Jose Ascanio in the club's first action at this year's Winter Meetings.
"These two guys fit exactly what we were looking for," Braves general manager Frank Wren told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Ascanio joined the Braves last season after pitching in Double-A. He had 13 strikeouts in 16 innings with Atlanta.
"Ascanio was hard to give up," Wren said, "but the way we looked at it, if we could fill needs with two guys we need, it was something we should do."
The Braves wanted a southpaw in their bullpen to make up for the loss of free agent Ron Mahay. They believe Ohman will thrive away from Wrigley Field. In five seasons with the Cubs, he has an ERA of 2.32 away from the Friendly Confines. In his home ballpark, his ERA was 6.63 in 101 appearances.
"It's one thing if it's just one year," Wren said of the home/road disparity, "but when you see it consistently for the last three years ... ."
Phillies put out the welcome mat for Rowand: With many teams interested in the services of Aaron Rowand, it's one of his former teams -- the Philadelphia Phillies -- that are hoping to be front and center. While acknowledging that they are not close as far as signing the center fielder, the Phillies did offer him arbitration last weekend. If he accepts, he'll be back with the Phillies. If not, the Phillies will get two compensatory draft picks if he signs with another team.
Phillies general manager Pat Gillick says he doesn't know much more than anyone else when it comes to the chances of Rowand being back. What he does know is that he thinks very highly of Rowand and his all-out approach.
"I hear the same stuff you do," Gillick told the Philadelphia Daily News. "I really don't know. There's a possibility. We'd like to have him back. He's good for our club and good for the fans. [Assistant general manager] Ruben [Amaro Jr.] has had a lot of conversations with [agent] Craig Landis."
Patterson figures to find a home: Free agent outfielder Corey Patterson, who was not offered arbitration by the Orioles, is not concerned about finding work -- even if it's not with Baltimore.
"I'm a good player. I know what I can do for a team," Patterson told the Baltimore Sun. "Right now, it's a gray area. I can't say what's going to happen or what's not going to happen, but I know there are a handful of teams out there looking for an outfielder or, specifically, a center fielder."
After hitting .269 with eight home runs, 45 RBIs and 37 stolen bases, Patterson was not offered arbitration. That doesn't mean, though, that he would not consider returning to Baltimore.
"I'm open to any team out there," he said. "It doesn't really matter. I know I'll be playing somewhere. I'll know more once I get a better understanding of my options."
A return to Rangers possible for Gagne: The Texas Rangers could welcome back reliever Eric Gagne, who they traded to Boston at the trading deadline last season.
"Eric is high on the list, and we have expressed interest," general manager Jon Daniels told the Dallas Morning News.
The Rangers signed Gagne to a one-year deal prior to the 2007 season. Stepping in as the closer, Gagne had 16 saves in 17 chances before he was traded for Kason Gabbard, David Murphy and teenage outfield sensation Engel Beltre.
The Rangers are interested in Gagne because he would provide insurance in case Akinori Otsuka can't recover quickly from elbow problems that forced him to miss the last half of the season.
"Coming back to Texas is a possibility," Gagne said. "I didn't know what to expect when I got there, but it was a great group of guys."
Brewers talk with Cardinals about Rolen: The chances of Scott Rolen being traded to Milwaukee may not be very good, but that doesn't mean the Brewers haven't shown an interest.
"We talked. I don't think it's anything serious at this point," manager Doug Melvin, who along with assistant Gord Ash, met with new St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Should the Brewers somehow land Rolen, they would then shift Rookie of the Year Ryan Braun to left field and thus strengthen two positions. Braun has told the team he would have no problem moving to left if the team signs or trades for a third baseman.
"It's not a matter of preference," Melvin said. "It's what's available, as much as anything. There's a short list of (available third basemen and outfielders), both free agents and (through) trades.
"We think (Braun) could be better and will improve through time. We also felt if we could get someone for third, we could move him to left. We're just not sure which way we're going. It's not clear-cut that there's a front-line outfielder we could put out there."
Loretta could return to second for Padres: The San Diego Padres believe Matt Antonelli will be the team's second baseman of the future, but until the future arrives, the club is in need of a second baseman in 2008. Former San Diego second baseman Mark Loretta may be a possible solution.
Loretta has a career .298 batting average and wanted to sign with the Padres last offseason. However, he ended up signing a one-year deal with Houston and had a .352 on-base percentage. Loretta was offered salary arbitration by the Astros, but would be used mostly off the bench. The veteran infielder is looking for a team for which he can be a starter next season.
"I'd certainly be interested in the Padres," Loretta told the San Diego Union-Tribune, "but I'm not going to chase them like I did last year."
Taubenheim brings depth to Pirates' staff: Pitcher Ty Taubenheim, who spent most of last season with Toronto's Triple-A affiliate at Syracuse but also had a brief stint with the Blue Jays, has been claimed off of waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Taubenheim, 25, will compete for a spot in the Pirates rotation in 2008, but might also be considered for a bullpen job.
"Taubenheim gives us another option as a depth starter," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "That puts him in that mix with John Van Benschoten, Bryan Bullington and Luis Munoz that, if we need a starter at the Major League level, he can come up. There is some belief, too, that his stuff might play out of the bullpen."
Capellan to get a look in Rockies' bullpen: The Colorado Rockies added to their already deep bullpen by acquiring Jose Capellan for Minor League reliever Denny Bautista. Capellan played for both the Tigers and Milwaukee last season. He was 4-2 with a 4.40 ERA in 61 games for the Brewers before being dealt to Detroit. With the Tigers, Capellan was 0-3 with a 5.54 ERA in 17 games.
"It's a power arm," general manager Dan O'Dowd told the Denver Post. "We are hoping we are hitting this one on the rebound. He will come in and compete for an early-inning role in the bullpen."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.