Justin Upton Rumors

Padres Have Discussed Justin Upton With Orioles

The Padres have discussed a Justin Upton trade with the Orioles, sources tell Jayson Stark of ESPN (Twitter link). According to Stark, the two sides could try to expand talks to include some of the Padres’ controllable pitchers. He lists Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross as two possibilities. San Diego is reportedly “pushing hard” to trade some its expensive, big-name talent.

Stark’s latest report adds to the deluge of mixed signals regarding the Orioles’ trade deadline direction. Just last week, general manager Dan Duquette told the media that he planned on being a buyer regardless of how his club performed in the days leading up to the deadline. However, multiple reports have surfaced since that time to indicate that the Orioles may yet consider selling veteran pieces. Stark himself heard earlier today that the Orioles have at least gauged interest in impending free agents like Matt Wieters, Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter, adding that if the Orioles did pick up a bat, it may only be a bench piece.

Clearly, Upton is considerably more than a bench piece. Although he isn’t hitting like he did in his best years with the D-Backs and Braves, he’s still been a very sound producer in his first (and perhaps only) four months with the Padres. The 27-year-old Upton is batting .251/.330/.429 with 16 homers on the season. The temptation of many would be to blame his offensive woes on the Padres pitcher-friendly home environment, but Upton’s OPS at home is more than 300 points higher than his road mark. He’s batted an enormous .297/.354/.558 at home compared to a putrid .208/.308/.306 on the road.

Upton is controlled only through the end of the year and is earning $14.5MM this year — of which a not-insignificant $5.55MM remains. A trade for him could be good news, as it’d prevent him from receiving a qualifying offer at the end of the year, which would serve to boost his free agent stock a bit.

The Orioles, though, aren’t in a great spot to pay for only a rental. Their farm system already ranks among the worst in baseball, and as previously mentioned, they’re set to lose a number of key players to free agency (Wieters, Davis, Chen, Hunter). In my eyes, that makes the addition of Cashner or Ross — particularly Ross — a logical path to explore.

Both Cashner and Ross are controlled beyond 2015, though Cashner is a free agent after the 2016 campaign. Ross is controllable through 2017. Either would serve as an upgrade and could reasonably stake a claim to being Baltimore’s best pitcher based on their track records, though each is also having somewhat of a down season. Cashner’s strikeout, walk and ground-ball rates are all about even with his 2014 marks, causing xFIP and SIERA to give him similar grades, but his ERA has ballooned a bit due to difficulty in terms of stranding runners and serving up home runs. Ross has never been known as a pitcher with pinpoint control, and his previously diminished control issues have now resurfaced in 2015. He is, however, whiffing more hitters than ever before and racking up grounders at a career-best rate, so there’s some reason for optimism.

The question for Baltimore would be what it could offer to entice the Padres to part with what is unequivocally a significant amount of win-now talent. Some reports have indicated that the Orioles are willing to listen to offers on former No. 4 overall pick Kevin Gausman — a big-league ready power arm that, at present, hasn’t grabbed hold of a long-term spot in the Baltimore rotation.

In terms of upper-level talent in the minors, the Orioles have some big-league ready pieces in the form of outfielder Dariel Alvarez and pitchers Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson, but none of that trio has a particularly high ceiling, per most scouting reports. Right-handers Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey certainly do, but each has also suffered a lost season due to injuries (the second such season, in Bundy’s case). Turning to the big league roster, the Orioles have young pieces such as Jonathan Schoop, who missed much of the season with a knee injury but has hit reasonably well and played sound defense in limited action.

All of the names mentioned as possible pieces of interest for the Padres are, of course, pure speculation on my part, but it stands to reason that the Orioles would need to put together a creative offer — perhaps even one involving MLB-ready talent or talent from the current big league roster — in order to land the likes of Upton and Cashner and/or Ross. One potential alternative would be to bail the Padres out of the Melvin Upton Jr. contract, though that seems exceptionally unlikely considering we saw the team essentially sell a Competitive Balance draft pick to the Dodgers by packaging it with in order to free themselves of Ryan Webb‘s roughly $2.75MM salary.


Padres “Pushing Hard” To Trade Big-Name Players

The Padres are “pushing hard” to trade big-name stars, executives from other teams tell Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Obviously, Justin Upton, Will Venable and Ian Kennedy are clear trade candidates, since those players are due to become free agents after the season. But James Shields, Andrew Cashner and Craig Kimbrel, who all are controlled beyond 2015, have also come up very frequently in talks, according to Heyman. Other possibilities include Tyson Ross, who’s due for free agency after 2017, and Joaquin Benoit, whose contract contains a club option for 2015.

This isn’t the first time that any of these players have been mentioned in trade talks, of course, but rival executives now seem to think the Padres could be even more active at the deadline than had previously been anticipated. Given how aggressively GM A.J. Preller remade the team last offseason, it would come as little surprise if he were itching to make another round of big trades in the midst of what’s turned into a disappointing season.

Heyman adds that another potential motivation for the Padres to make trades could be to reduce payroll. (ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote earlier today that the Padres were feeling “pressure” to shed payroll beyond 2015 by making trades.) Via Cot’s Contracts, the Padres had an Opening Day payroll of about $108MM this season, about $17MM more than their 2014 figure. Trading someone like Shields, whose contract is backloaded, would help the Padres reduce their already significant payroll obligations for 2016 and beyond.


NL East Notes: Dietrich, Upton, Hamels, Papelbon

Cole Hamels fired a no-hitter against the Cubs in what could have been his final start for the Phillies. Cubs manager Joe Maddon thinks the studly performance will help the Phillies to land a top prospect, tweets Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Meanwhile, the Nationals welcomed back Anthony Rendon, and the Braves activated Freddie Freeman. Washington also expects Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman to return soon.

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • The Marlins have drawn trade interest in utility fielder Derek Dietrich, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Miami would move him for the right return. Rosenthal adds that some teams view him as a potential starter at second or third base. Dietrich is hitting .301/.378/.548 in 82 plate appearances at the top level this season. The Marlins have used him as a platoon bat against right-handed pitchers while Dee Gordon recovers.
  • The Mets were rumored to be in pursuit of Padres outfielder Justin Upton, but nothing is imminent, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Upton is currently sidelined with a mild oblique strain. Lin lists Upton and Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes as the top hitters on the market. The Mets have the worst offense of any contender, although tonight’s outburst should help the season numbers. They’re currently third to last in team wRC+. The Phillies and White Sox are the only teams trailing New York. The acquisition of Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe will help, but only so much.
  • The market for Hamels includes the Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox, and Rangers, writes Jayson Stark of ESPN. He mentions the Red Sox as non-traditional buyers with a desperate need to succeed in 2016. Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald tweets that some Phillies talent evaluators are “very high” on prospect Manuel Margot.
  • Earlier today, we learned the Nationals were interested in Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. Add the Cubs and Blue Jays to the list of engaged clubs, writes Zolecki. Both Chicago and Toronto are practical fits for Papelbon who has said he won’t accept a trade to serve as a setup man. The Nationals would either need to change his mind or demote Drew Storen despite excellent performance.


Mets, Padres Stalled In Justin Upton Trade Talks

The Mets and Padres have discussed a possible Justin Upton trade, but talks have since stalled, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. The Padres asked for one or two top prospects in return, and declined to pay any of the approximately $6MM remaining on Upton’s contract. Heyman had previously reported that Upton was a top priority for the Mets.

The identities of the prospect or prospects the Padres sought are unknown. Heyman notes, however, that the Padres want quality and not quantity in their return for Upton. Upton is currently hitting .248/.326/.420 in his last season before free agency eligibility. The Orioles, Pirates and Astros have also recently been connected to Upton.

The Mets are known to be searching for offense, and they’ve also recently been linked to Gerardo Parra of the Brewers. Heyman also lists Carlos Gomez of the Brewers, Jay Bruce and Marlon Byrd of the Reds and Will Venable of the Padres as possibilities. Yesterday, the Mets traded for Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson of the Braves to upgrade their infield, and they also recently promoted top prospect Michael Conforto to help their outfield, although GM Sandy Alderson said that the timing of Conforto’s promotion would not affect their strategy at the trade deadline.


Heyman On Padres, Tigers, Cubs, Phillies, Orioles, Sox, Reds, Marlins, Yankees

The real question facing the Padres at present is not whether to buy or sell, but how far to go in moving pieces, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. At least one rival GM expects the club to “sell big,” and Heyman says that San Diego is “offering around” closer Craig Kimbrel and starter James Shields, both of whom are under long-term control. While the former would figure to have a wide market, potentially including the Blue Jays, Nationals, and Dodgers, another GM says that he believes the club would have to chip in cash to move Shields. That may indicate that he could become an August trade piece, Heyman suggests, because he could well clear waivers. San Diego is interested in adding a young shortstop, he goes on to note, and has looked at several of the Brewers options (Jean Segura, Luis Sardinas, and top prospect Orlando Arcia).

Here are more highlights from the column:

  • Heyman hears that the Tigers are still weighing their options, too, and have not decided to sell. The club could even add an arm, he says, and is likely to see how its next two series play out before reaching a final conclusion.
  • While the Cubs are indeed willing to consider including Starlin Castro or Javier Baez in a deal for Cole Hamels of the Phillies, a source tells Heyman that the team would not be interested in moving both to add the lefty. Philadelphia’s plans for Hamels remain something of a mystery, but per the report the club may be backing down from its previous high-end demands from clubs like the Dodgers (Corey Seager or Julio Urias) and Red Sox (Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart).
  • There is now virtually no chance that Phillies lefty Cliff Lee will try to make it back this year, and he appears likely to retire over the winter.
  • As they approach the deadline and look ahead to free agency, the Cubs have some limitations on their spending capacity but will nevertheless try to add David Price (at least once he hits the open market). Meanwhile, the team has at least some interest in Reds starter Mike Leake as a trade piece but are somewhat hesitant to pursue rental options. While the Giants have plenty of rotation options, they too have considered Leake.
  • While we’ve just heard a suggestion that the Orioles could reverse course, Heyman says that they are still weighing outfield additions. The team has considered rental pieces like Marlon Byrd, Gerardo Parra, and Justin Upton. And he suggests that Carl Crawford or Shane Victorino could make sense as well; presumably, Baltimore would only be interested in either if their current clubs paid down a good bit of salary.
  • The Orioles intend to make qualifying offers after the season not only to Matt Wieters and Chris Davis, but also to lefty Wei-Yin Chen. The 30-year-old never seemed like a qualifying offer-level player, but was strong last year and has put up even better results in 2015 (while significantly outperforming his peripherals, it should be noted).
  • The Red Sox have received no trade interest in struggling first baseman Mike Napoli, says Heyman, but has gotten hits on Victorino as well as bullpen arms Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa.
  • The White Sox are looking to add some volume if they deal righty Jeff Samardzija, says Heyman. Chicago would like to pick up four young pieces in any trade.
  • While the Marlins have fielded interest in righty Tom Koehler and super utilityman Martin Prado, the club is not interested in dealing either player at present. Meanwhile, Miami is open to dealing veteran Dan Haren, but has rebuffed at least one club that asked for money to be sent along with him.
  • The Yankees are looking at both second base and top rotation candidates, says Heyman, but don’t feel a pressing need to add in either area. New York has no interest in veteran Diamondbacks infielder Aaron Hill, he adds.
  • Be sure to check out the rest of the piece for more notes on many of the teams around the league.

Deadline Rumors: Cespedes, Cishek, Price, Gallardo, Jays, Royals, Reds, Alvarez, Padres

In another twist regarding the free agent deal he signed out of Cuba, Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes would be effectively precluded from signing with the team as a free agent after this year unless he is traded away in the interim, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. It was already a matter of common knowledge that the club could not make him a qualifying offer after the year, since his deal requires that he be released five days after its conclusion. But Rosenthal now cites a CBA provision providing that a released player also cannot be re-signed by his club until May 15 of the ensuing year. While Detroit could hold Cespedes and attempt to work out an extension at any point up to five days after the World Series, it would otherwise be unable to bring him back unless he sat out a good portion of the 2016 campaign — a highly unlikely scenario. Of course, moving him now would prevent the team from working out a deal until the power-hitting outfielder becomes a free agent. As Rosenthal notes, Cespedes has told friends that he hopes to remain with the Tigers, and Detroit has given every indication that it intends to compete next year even if it moves some pieces this summer.

There are a ton of important deadline developments to cover in the wake of the Scott Kazmir trade, so let’s get to them:

  • There is increasing action on Marlins reliever Steve Cishek, as MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald report (Twitter links) that there are multiple clubs involved — some with more apparent interest than the previously-reported Cardinals. The Twins are among the teams continuing to monitor the righty, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.
  • The Dodgers currently have David Price of the Tigers as their number one target, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. But the expectation is that Detroit will hold their decision until next week.
  • Indeed, the Giants recently spoke with the Tigers regarding outfielder Rajai Davis, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports on Twitter, but were left with the impression that Detroit is still unsure of its course of action.
  • Another player on the Dodgers radar is Rangers righty Yovani Gallardo, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Though nothing is close, the two clubs have had discussions.
  • The Blue Jays sought to land Kazmir before he went to Houston, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. With the market beginning to move, the team appears to be ramping up is efforts to add a starter, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • Both the Blue Jays and the Royals are “all-in” on Reds starter Johnny Cueto, ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden reports (Twitter links). Kansas City is also considering Mike Leake from Cincinnati as well as Jeff Samardzija, Dan Haren, and Mat Latos. But the club is not interested in Cole Hamels, James Shields, or Yovani Gallardo, per the report.
  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty says he has a green light to sell pieces, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. They’ll make moves “if it makes sense, but we’re not going to give away players,” says Jocketty. “We’ve been talking with a lot of different people, but we haven’t been receiving offers that have us wanting to commit.”
  • One rival general manager tells Passan that the Pirates are working hard to move first baseman Pedro Alvarez (Twitter link). We’ve heard previously that Pittsburgh has interest in an upgrade, and presumably it would make an addition if it can find a taker for Alvarez.
  • Meanwhile, the Padres are officially open for business, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter). In addition to Justin Upton, the team could move relievers Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit, outfielder Will Venable, and any number of starters. Rosenthal says that Tyson Ross is perhaps the least likely rotation piece to change hands.

Injury Notes: Upton, Aoki, Lincecum, Stanton, Crawford, Morneau, Morrow

Padres outfielder Justin Upton sat out today’s game with left oblique tightness, but remains hopeful that he’ll avoid a DL stint, MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports. Needless to say, it’s not a great time for the injury to crop up: the team is perhaps taking a final shot at re-entering the postseason hunt before the deadline. And if it can’t, the pending free agent may be one of the most important players marketed this summer. Assistant GM Josh Stein said that Upton will likely miss “a couple of days,” but any absence beyond that may be rather concerning.

Here are some more injury notes from around the league:

  • The Giants expect to welcome back outfielder Nori Aoki in relatively short order, as Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports. That’s certainly good news for San Francisco, as a successful return of Aoki (joining Hunter Pence in that regard) would reduce or even eliminate the team’s need to add an outfielder at the deadline.
  • Meanwhile, Giants starter Tim Lincecum has been out with an arm injury, but manager Bruce Bochy revealed today that he’s also received treatment for “degenerative” hip issues, as Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports. The problem, which is not considered to be a threat to his career, has existed since late last year. Lincecum received cortisone shots and is set to resume throwing in a few days, but as Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News wrote earlier today, it’s far from clear whether he’ll ever again impact the Giants staff.
  • Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton is preparing to resume swinging, though his timeframe remains unclear, as Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. While that’s great news for anyone who enjoys the game of baseball, Stanton obviously will not return in time to impact the team’s deadline plans.
  • Spencer provides several other updates on injured Marlins: Righty Jarred Cosart, who was acquired on deadline day last summer has again been diagnosed with vertigo. And fellow starter Henderson Alvarez has struggled quite a bit as he tries to work back from shoulder inflammation on a rehab stint.
  • The Dodgers will welcome back outfielder Carl Crawford from the 60-day DL, as Carlos Collazo writes for MLB.com. A right oblique injury has shelved him for quite some time, and it looks like he’ll be headed for a bench role upon his return. Fellow highly-paid corner outfielder Andre Ethier has played well this year, leaving Crawford without an obvious spot in the regular lineup. It remains to be seen whether the always-active Dodgers will look to move either player (or one of the team’s numerous other options) over the coming weeks.
  • Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau says that he still hopes to make it back to the team this year, as Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes. The veteran has managed to resume baseball activities as he seeks to work back from a concussion and neck sprain, and says the latter is a larger concern than the former. Certainly, it’s good to hear that Morneau’s long battle with concussion issues is not the primary cause for his long absence, and he adds that he has no plans to retire at this point. Morneau once looked like a possible trade candidate, though that ship has probably sailed. It remains to be seen how things will progress on his contract, which includes a $9MM mutual option ($750K club buyout) for next season.
  • The Padres appear set to send righty Brandon Morrow out on a rehab assignment as soon as this weekend, Beth Maiman of MLB.com reports. It will obviously be hard for San Diego to rely on much of a contribution from the 30-year-old in spite of that promising development, as he has dealt with various arm issues for much of his career. Morrow, who was added on a cheap, one-year deal, threw 33 innings of 2.73 ERA ball earlier in the season.

Angels Prioritizing Control In Search For Bat

The AL West-leading Angels have long been said to be searching for a bat, and MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez provides additional details on the club’s thinking. Though the deadline is less than two weeks away, the team is still “casting a wide net.”

Los Angeles does prefer a left-handed bat that can slot in left field, but is even more concerned with obtaining a player that can be controlled past this season. With numerous big league positions set to open up in 2016, it seems that the team is interested in utilizing the deadline as an opportunity to find some answers for the present and the near future.

While the Angels will consider a rental acquisition, says Gonzalez, Justin Upton of the Padres is not among the players being considered. He could be the biggest bat dealt, and the Angels feel that San Diego has placed too high a price tag on the soon-to-be free agent.

The club’s preferred angle, per the report, would be to move starter C.J. Wilson as part of a deal. Though Wilson has been a fairly steady presence in the rotation, the organization would like to move some of his big salary in order to free space under the luxury tax line for the coming offseason.

With the club playing quite well of late, assistant GM Matt Klentak said that it will not be pressed into a move it doesn’t believe in just to get something done. We will continue to survey the trade market for possible upgrades that we feel make sense, but we don’t feel pressure to make a move just for the sake of making a move,” said Klentak. “We believe in the group we have.”


NL Central Notes: Reds, Parra, Bruce, Cardinals, Pirates

It’s more accurate to characterize the Reds as “listening” than in gathering up kindling for a fire sale, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com tweets. Other teams indicate that Cincinnati does not seem to be in a hurry to deal potential rental pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake. It still seems reasonable to expect that both of those soon-to-be free agents will be moved, though the team does have a number of other assets that pose more difficult strategic questions.

Here’s more on the Reds and the rest of the NL Central:

  • Reds reliever Manny Parra has a strained left elbow, leading MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon to suggest on Twitter that the southpaw is unlikely to be dealt this month. The 32-year-old free-agent-to-be has not performed as hoped for since signing a two-year pact with Cincinnati, though he does carry peripherals that suggest he’s been better in 2015 than his current 4.00 ERA. With a $3.5MM salary this season, Parra certainly could be an August trade piece if he’s able to return to health.
  • Some rival executives have speculated that there could be a potential match between the Reds and Royals on outfielder Jay Bruce, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. He adds that Cincinnati scouts have been taking a look at K.C.’s Triple-A and Double-A affiliates. With Alex Gordon out and Alex Rios having struggled (though he has picked things up of late), it’s easy to see why there might be some interest from the Royals in the fairly affordable and talented 28-year-old.
  • While the Cardinals‘ need for a left-handed bat is fairly straightforward to assess, the club’s preferred route on the pitching side is somewhat harder to peg, writes Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The team certainly has rotation options, Strauss explains, and GM John Mozeliak said recently that the quality work of the staff makes it unfair to say the club is “out on the market looking for starting pitching.” But with some cause for trepidation over the number of innings being shouldered by key starters and relievers, says Strauss, it appears likely that St. Louis will look to make some kind of pitching addition (as it has in each of the last four seasons). “I still think we have internal resources to handle the pitching, but I’m not going to ignore the market or not remain opportunistic if something comes up that makes sense for us,” said Mozeliak.
  • The Pirates have at least some interest in Padres outfielder Justin Upton, but will likely look first at infield additions if the team feels it necessary to fill in for the injured Jordy Mercer, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. We just learned that Mercer is expected to miss at least six weeks of action, which certainly suggests the possibility of an acquisition — particularly given that Josh Harrison is also out. Of course, it is entirely unclear whether Pittsburgh will be looking more for a major contributor or a competent fill-in. The latter may be more likely given that both Mercer and Harrison figure to return this year, at least so far as has been reported publicly.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Pitching Market, O’s, Zunino, Inciarte, Astros

In his latest notes post for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal writes that while he opined on Saturday that pitching-hungry GMs should act sooner rather than later, he spoke to one exec yesterday that plans to wait until the trade deadline is nearly at hand, believing prices will drop late in the month. A second exec opined to Rosenthal, though, that the market for pitchers other than Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels will soften in the coming days. Rosenthal gets the sense that the trade market will “erupt” and action will be “frenetic,” but it might take awhile to reach that boiling point.

Some highlights from his column (though I’d recommend checking out the entire column)…

  • Orioles GM Dan Duquette is very serious about wanting to add a bat and has indeed expressed interest in Jay Bruce, Justin Upton and Carlos Gomez, but as Rosenthal notes, the Orioles may have the thinnest farm system in the game. Baseball America ranked Baltimore’s farm just 29th heading into the season, and that was before recent injuries to top arms Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey. The team has some interesting names ready at the Triple-A level, but they also need to replace departing free agents Chris Davis, Matt Wieters and Wei-Yin Chen and will need to rely on the farm to fill some of those holes.
  • The Mariners aren’t just looking for a backup to Mike Zunino, Rosenthal hears, but a veteran option who would allow them to send Zunino back to Triple-A. Of course, he points out the fact that Seattle had such a player in the form of Welington Castillo but traded him to the D-Backs in the Mark Trumbo deal, only to watch Castillo out-hit Trumbo.
  • The Padres talked with the Diamondbacks about a trade that would’ve brought both Aaron Hill and Ender Inciarte to San Diego during Spring Training, and they’ve made a much more recent inquiry on Inciarte than that as well. The D-Backs are also receiving interest in David Peralta, Rosenthal writes, but Arizona isn’t motivated to trade either outfielder. Both are controlled through the 2020 season. Inciarte is a logical trade candidate for the Padres, in my mind, as a plus defender in center field and a left-handed bat — two things which the club currently lacks.
  • The Phillies may end up hanging on to Jeff Francoeur rather than trading him, according to Rosenthal. While a last-place team hanging onto a short-term veteran such as Francoeur seems counter-intuitive, he notes that the return on Francoeur would be extremely minimal, so the team may value his leadership over the warm body they’d receive for trading him. I agree that the return on Francoeur, who’s hitting .257/.288/.449 with suspect range in the corner outfield, wouldn’t be all that exciting.
  • The Astros do want to add a bat, but the team’s search for starting pitcher is a significantly greater priority, sources tell Rosenthal. GM Jeff Luhnow did tell MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart on Friday that getting a bat is a growing area of focus, however, and Chris Carter hasn’t played since Friday due to an ankle sprain. (He and other Houston first basemen have struggled at the plate even when healthy, as well.)