Both the Angels and Dodgers have ongoing interest in free agent Chase Utley, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com tweets. A source tells Stark that the veteran would like to play in his native California, and it seems he’ll have options to do just that. Utley has been consistently linked to the Dodgers since they declined his $15MM option, and agent Joel Wolfe recently went on-record to state that five or six teams have expressed interest in Utley as a “mostly everyday infielder.” From my vantage point, the Angels have a clearer path to regular (or near-regular) at-bats for Utley. The Dodgers have multiple infield options, including Enrique Hernandez and Jose Peraza.
A few more notes on the free-agent market…
- Another former Phillies stalwart, Shane Victorino, is telling clubs that he intends to return to switch hitting in advance of the 2016 season, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. “I am finding out that not switch-hitting and not doing things from both sides of the plate had lots to do with the way my body has felt,” Victorino told Rosenthal. “Going back and doing things from both sides is such a good thing for my body now that I can physically do it again.”
- Within that same piece, Rosenthal notes that the Cubs are “busy” looking for a center fielder but are faced with relatively limited options. Dexter Fowler is a possibility for the Cubs but is currently exploring the open market. Signing Jason Heyward to play center field is an option, but the team would then need to address its rotation in a cost-effective manner by trading a young bat such as Jorge Soler or Javier Baez. If Soler ends up being the price to bolster the rotation, then the outfield would, of course, remain an issue.
- The Rangers still love Mike Napoli, tweets MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, but general manager Jon Daniels indicated today that his club may not have the “right spot” to fit Napoli into the mix next season. Sullivan’s Seattle counterpart, Greg Johns, however, tweets that Napoli could potentially be of interest to the Mariners, who have a need at first base after trading both Logan Morrison and Mark Trumbo this offseason. Napoli struggled for much of the season in Boston but was reinvigorated by a return to the Lone Star State, hitting .295/.396/.513 in 91 plate appearances with the Rangers. His cumulative .278/.391/.563 line against lefties last year indicates that Napoli, at the very least, is still a highly potent platoon option.
- Sticking with former Rangers, right-hander Colby Lewis tells Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram that Dr. Keith Meister gave him a “thumbs up” on his left knee (links to Twitter). Lewis has been working out and expects to be 100 percent for Spring Training. Many teams have contacted his agents at Octagon, says Lewis, though he remains hopeful that the Rangers will be interested after his latest knee exam. There’s some interest on both sides, according to Wilson.
- The Giants consider Jeff Samardzija and Mike Leake fallback plans in the event that they’re unable to lure Zack Greinke away from L.A., tweets Rosenthal. John Lackey, too, is a consideration for San Francisco. There’s no word yet on a decision from Greinke, who is said to be choosing between the Dodgers and Giants.
- In the wake of yesterday’s tender deadline, MLB.com’s Zachary Finkelstein identified five non-tendered players that are still worthy of roster spots and can be potential bargains for clubs in 2016 (and, in some cases, beyond). Henderson Alvarez tops the list and is followed by Pedro Alvarez, Chris Carter, Tyler Flowers and Neftali Feliz. Alvarez’s youth and track record, the power of Alvarez and Carter, the pitch-framing abilities of Flowers and still-strong velocity plus a nice finish for Feliz give some elements of value to each, he writes.