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Quick Hits: Free Agents, Braves, Ortiz, Lester, Rays

The MLBPA has spoken to Major League Baseball COO Rob Manfred about their concerns over team executives talking about whether or not they're negotiating with free agents, which is a violation of the collective bargaining agreement, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports.  Some players are also upset at the slow pace of the free agent pitching market, and while Rosenthal says the union could consider filing a grievance, such an action would be hard to prove given that teams have already spent close to $2 billion on free agents this offseason.

Here's some more from around baseball on Super Bowl Sunday...

  • The Braves will have to make some tough decisions about which of their young core players they want to extend while keeping their payroll in check, Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes (subscription required).  The experience of many of Atlanta's best young players is another issue, Baseball Prospectus' Ben Lindbergh tells Bradley, since "most of them have established themselves. (The Braves) possibly might have already missed the window of getting a good deal.” 
  • The Red Sox are wary about making too long a commitment to 38-year-old David Ortiz given how aging designated hitters can so quickly decline, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes.  Ortiz is under contract through 2014 and recently said he would like another year added to his contract.  While Ortiz's age is a concern, Lauber notes that if the Red Sox don't extend Ortiz and he has another big season, the Sox will then be forced to sign him through at least 2016 to keep him in Boston.
  • Jon Lester is another Red Sox player mentioned in extension rumors, and John Tomase of the Boston Herald looks at the somewhat shaky history of left-handed starters who sign expensive contracts into their 30's.  Since Lester has said he would give the Red Sox a hometown discount, Tomase thinks a five-year, $100MM extension could work for both sides.
  • The Rays are still having talks about trading catcher Jose Lobaton, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.  Lobaton looks like the odd man out behind Ryan Hanigan and Jose Molina, though Topkin notes that the team could still bring Lobaton to Spring Training in case one of their regulars gets injured.  If another team develops a catching need later in the spring, as well, the Rays can explore moving Lobaton then.
  • Also from Topkin's piece, the Rays have focused on adding depth this offseason to give themselves plenty of roster flexibility and options heading into Spring Training.
  • The Indians believe that Joe Smith was their biggest bullpen loss this winter, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes, not former closer Chris Perez.  The Tribe rebuilt their bullpen and hope that John Axford can cinch the closing job, Vinnie Pestano returns to his old form and that young arms Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen continue to deliver quality relief innings.  Pluto notes that the Indians hope Shaw turns into a new Smith, and the club sees Allen as a future closer.
  • Baseball America's Matt Eddy recaps the week's minor league transactions.








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