Earlier today, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that the Mets, Nationals and Braves were among the teams most interested in Ben Zobrist. The Braves are a somewhat surprising candidate since they appear to be rebuilding, but Rosenthal tweets that Atlanta likes Zobrist as a role model for its young players as the team moves into its new ballpark in 2017. Braves GM John Coppolella declined comment on the report, only telling Rosenthal (Twitter links) that he “can’t comment on any free agent pursuits, but we will explore every possible opportunity to improve [the] club in the short- and long-term. Ben Zobrist brings so much to the table on and off the field that he could help all 30 teams.”
Here’s more from around the NL East…
- Mike Minor’s fate is still up in the air as the Braves approach the non-tender deadline on December 2, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Minor missed all of 2015 recovering from labrum surgery and suffered a setback in early November that has limited him to stretching and range-of-motion exercises. As such, the Braves still haven’t seen Minor throw off a mound, which Copplella indicated a few weeks ago as a significant factor in the team’s decision. The GM tells O’Brien that the Braves are still gathering more information about Minor’s status, and he praised Minor and agent B.B. Abbott for their openness.
- The Mariners still have interest in Marcell Ozuna but they’re unlikely to meet the Marlins’ asking price of Taijuan Walker in exchange, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports (Twitter link). The two teams were known to be discussing possible Ozuna deals earlier this week, with reports coming that Walker “isn’t available” in trade talks.
- Former Marlins manager and GM Dan Jennings tells Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM that he has no regrets about his move from the front office to the dugout, calling it “the best experience he’s had in 30 years in baseball” and saying he “absolutely would do it over again” (Twitter link).
- Jennings also gave his opinion on Ozuna’s struggles in 2015 and the rumors of Jose Fernandez’s issues within the Marlins clubhouse (audio link), saying that he had no issues with Fernandez, calling him “one of the best competitors I’ve ever been around in 30 years.“
- A businessman approached Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria about buying the team only to be told that Loria has no intention of selling, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes. This interested buyer hopes that Loria may change his mind after the Marlins host the 2017 All-Star Game. The Marlins indicated to him that if Loria ever did look to sell the club, the asking price would be $1 billion, well north of the $650MM estimation of the team’s value as calculated by Forbes Magazine.
- Yunel Escobar could be a good trade chip for the Nationals since the club seems to have its starting infield set, MASNsports.com’s Pete Kerzel writes. On the other hand, Escobar could also be valuable depth given some of the question marks surrounding that infield — Anthony Rendon could get hurt, Danny Espinosa could regress to his 2013-14 form or Trea Turner may not quickly adjust to the majors. I would think the Nats may only shop Escobar if they land Zobrist, in which case Espinosa (the better defender) would become the backup infielder.