Here’s the latest from around the NL Central…
- The Reds’ rebuild has unsurprisingly been a big subject among fans during the team’s winter caravan tour, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon writes. In response to one fan question during a Q & A session, president of baseball operations Walt Jocketty said the decisions to trade Aroldis Chapman and Todd Frazier were made since neither player was likely to re-sign a long-term deal to remain in Cincinnati. “We felt they were at the peak of their value for what we’d get in return. These were not easy decisions,” Jocketty said. In another response, Jocketty said that the team was able to accomplish “most of” its offseason goals, as the team’s lack of success in finding trade partners for Brandon Phillips or Jay Bruce is “not necessarily” an impediment to their rebuilding plans.
- Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage is entering the last year of his contract and wants to remain with the club, he tells Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Searage is universally regarded as one of baseball’s best pitching coaches, as his track record with veteran reclamation projects has been a major part of the Pirates’ recent success and also played a part in their offseason strategy. As Cook notes, the “Ray will make him better” mantra undoubtedly informed the Bucs’ acquisitions of Jon Niese, Ryan Vogelsong, Juan Nicasio, Neftali Feliz and Kyle Lobstein.
- Josh Bell is the Pirates’ long-term answer at first base and he could begin to help at the position as soon as the 2016 season, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Bell still has some questions to answer (namely about his defense, ability to hit left-handed pitching and whether he can consistently generate power) but he carries a lot of potential to solidify what has been a revolving door position for the Pirates. As Sawchik notes, 44 different players have played at least one game at first for Pittsburgh since 2004.
- Stephen Piscotty has big shoes to fill in taking over from Jason Heyward as the Cardinals’ everyday right fielder, but as MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch writes, the Cards are confident Piscotty can continue his development from highly-touted prospect to star rookie to Major League regular.
- In other NL Central news from the last 24 hours, the Brewers swung a big five-player trade with the Diamondbacks that sent Jean Segura to Arizona and brought Aaron Hill and Chase Anderson to Milwaukee…there haven’t been any new Brandon Phillips trade talks, so it looks like Phillips will begin the season with the Reds…we collected some Brewers notes containing comments from Mark Attanasio, Matt Garza and Ryan Braun.