Newly signed Pirates infielder David Freese was “hungry” to join the organization, GM Neal Huntington told Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Freese spoke with Nesbitt as well, explaining that the organization’s recent surge and track record of making the postseason appealed to him when the Bucs approached. Freese added that it’s been interesting to watch the club’s rise to prominence, having seen the early stages as a member of the Cardinals. “We came to Pittsburgh early on in , and then we showed up two or three months later and it was sold out,” said Freese. “I think that’s kinda when things started to change a little bit. That was an atmosphere I wanted to be a part of. To see where this organization has come the last four or five years, that’s special.” Nesbitt notes that the plan for Freese is for him to play third base while Jung Ho Kang is out for the first month of the season, and he’ll then shift across the diamond and platoon with John Jaso.
More from the NL Central…
- The Reds have no intention of moving Joey Votto as part of their rebuild, GM Dick Williams tells MLB.com’s Barry Bloom. “Joey’s the cornerstone of our lineup right now, and [he] will be in the future,” said Williams when asked about the possibility of trading Votto. “I think the contract we have him signed to is very reasonable for a small-market team, making that kind of commitment. The way salaries have gone, it looks like a very reasonable and fair contract. … I wouldn’t say ’never,’ but having Joey in the middle of the lineup is pretty special.” Votto has eight years and $199MM remaining on his 10-year, $225MM extension. That deal also included a full no-trade clause, so the possibility of trading Votto isn’t entirely in the club’s hands anyway.
- ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick interviews Cubs non-roster invitee Matt Murton, who returned to the team this winter on a minor league deal after six successful seasons with the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. Murton, who missed the first two weeks of camp recovering from an appendectomy, discusses his time in Japan and explains that he initially expected to spend just one season overseas. As Crasnick notes, though, Murton’s success led him to be one of the league’s highest-paid players, earning a bit shy of $4MM at his peak. Though that’s a relatively small sum in today’s Major League landscape, it’s significantly more than he’d earn even if he were to make the Majors. That might’ve made it tempting to stay, but Murton still has big league aspirations. “I reached a point where if I stayed there too much longer, this window was going to close,” he tells Crasnick. “My goal right now is living in the moment, competing today. I really do think I have something left. I think I can be an asset. But that’s all talk. I’ve got to get out there and do it.”
- Brewers manager Craig Counsell chatted with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt about two of the young players they acquired in offseason trades — Jacob Nottingham and Keon Broxton. While some have questioned whether Nottingham can stick behind the plate, Counsell emphatically voiced that there is “no question” in the minds of the Brewers that Nottingham is a catcher in the long haul. He also offered high praise for the 25-year-old Broxton, who could be the early favorite to play center field for the club.