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.
Would love to see the Braves go out and get Zobrist. Firstly, to keep him out of N.Y and Washington. They have to work harder to stay competitive if they really hope to contend in the new stadium. And the other reason just being I want to see them put a good team on the field. Have been a Braves fan for as long as I have liked baseball but it is really hard to stay positive during this rebuild. As an armchair quarterback, just seems like they are lost on which direction they really want to go. If Ben signs, I hope he gets a team/player agreeable no trade clause. If not, I honestly believe he would only last half a season because you know someone will be willing to overpay for him at the trade deadline if he just puts up his normal production.
Not difficult to see their direction with Zoborist. Upgrade at 2B, while using his utility tag to help with other holes, if the right opportunity becomes available. He could occasionally play SS (resting Aybar) and 3B (if Garcia or whomever needs rest). ATL is first an opportunist, so when his bidding reaches a certain level, they’ll move onto another option. Most likely this will happen — if 20 teams are in on him.
That is just way, way too much of an asking price for Ozuna. He is being so over rated. I watch many Marlins games as a fan of theirs and he is good, but not that good, this guy isn’t some future Adam Jones type, maybe an inferior BJ Upton and that’s tops. He doesn’t like to take pitches and his glove is iffy out in center. I can’t believe they think he’s worth one of the best up and coming starters in the entire game in Taijaun Walker, just ludicrous.
There is a couple of points I’d like to make out: One, he wouldn’t be used in center. The m’s already have a superior defender in Center, and two, “An inferior BJ Upton” is not a good comp at all. BJ is pretty much a bust, and at least Ozuna is still young has has good upside.
i think he means the abstract, ideal version of BJ upton, not the current model.
although, BJ also actually hit fine this year once he got out of atlanta, even though everyone seems to have gotten together and agreed to act like it didn’t happen
2015 melvin upton: .259/.327/.429
2015 justin upton: .251/.336/.454
same team, same park
everyone’s still going around debating exactly what kind of huge contract justin’s going to get and in the next breath talking about melvin as if he’s 100% dead money
Considering Melvin had 350 fewer at bats, It isn’t a great comparison.
i’m not saying it’s the final word on the situation. i just think it’s interesting.
here’s another thing: melvin’s wRC+ for the past 6 years
2010 rays – 107
2011 rays – 113
2012 rays – 108
2013 braves – 56
2014 braves – 75
2015 padres – 110
check for patterns. personally i see one
was it a smallish sample last year? sure. it was *pretty* big though. and it fits perfectly with his old established level. but, no, his career’s over? why would that happen. he’s 30 years old
He was demoted mid-season! He is not worthy nearly a Taijaun Walker level player. I guess if a team was desperate they could dangle that level of talent, but Ozuna is probably not going to garner that type of return.
Taijuan Walker for Ozuna? No way Ozuna is worth a potential #1 starter who’s already shown exceptional pitching ability at the major league level. That is almost a laughable proposition. I suspect Seattle will just shrug that one off and look elsewhere. Walker is a franchise-type player.
Exact reason why I hate the Marlins organization. Walker for Ozuna alone? Utter insanity. 1 billion? 1 billion. Jesus Christ some one has their head up where the sun doesn’t shine
say what you want about the marlins, they’re hardly the first or only team to make eye-watering initial trade demands for their young players. can’t get a good deal if you don’t ask for one
Braves are just posturing on the Zobrist rumors. For what they are attempting to do his signing would make no sense at this time. He’s the piece you add when you’re pushing hard for the playoffs, not a piece JUST to be a player/mentor. Not a smart move for the Braves at this time.
Zobrist is a smart move for any team, just because of his utility
Zobrist can pick the team he wants to play for. Being a older player who enjoyed winning a championship he will pick a team that has playoff potential. Since so many playoff bound teams want him he will not be going to a rebuilding team.
Admiral Rusty T. Shackleford
which is exactly why he would command a solid return at the deadline. Same with the Braves interest in O’Day
After escobars huge year last year, he wont just be depth, if he isnt starting somewhere theres something wrong.