- The Nationals are expected to dangle infielder Yunel Escobar in trade talks next week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. A possible trade of Escobar has long seemed plausible, as Washington has a variety of other right-handed-hitting infield options. He could still be relied upon to hold down the fort at shortstop while Trea Turner finishes his development, but a left-handed bat (such as Ben Zobrist) would probably fit better. As I discussed in breaking down the Nats’ offseason outlook, the club might prefer to reallocate Escobar’s $7MM payroll hit elsewhere.
- The Yankees are participating in wide-ranging trade talks in the run-up to the Winter Meetings, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets, with the one refrain being New York’s focus on adding young rotation pieces. That’s long seemed a defining focus of the winter for GM Brian Cashman, though it remains to be seen what level of starter the team hopes to acquire and what kind of assets it is willing to part with to make a deal.
- Meanwhile, the Padres “continue to push” righty James Shields in trade talks, Olney tweets. Shields will soon turn 34, is coming off of an underwhelming campaign, and is owed $65MM over the next three seasons (including a 2019 option buyout) under his back-loaded deal. Those considerations suggest that San Diego may need to sweeten the pot (with young talent or cash) to find a taker for the contract, but Shields is hardly immovable. To the contrary, he’s still quite a useful pitcher: his 2015 effort did nothing to disturb his record of durability and he actually put up career highs in swinging strike rate (12.4%) and strikeout rate (9.6 K/9).