Some items from around the division…
- The Pirates have said they intend to use Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow and Chad Kuhl as starters when the three young arms are promoted to the majors, though Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes that if all three are called up this season, the Bucs may not have enough rotation space. The Pirates have one starter likely to be shifted out (Juan Nicasio) and Sawchik figures Jon Niese’s recent good form has solidified his starting spot.
- This could leave Jeff Locke fighting for his job, though Sawchik hears from scouts that Locke has some trade value if the Pirates wanted to address their rotation surplus by making a deal. The six-year veteran has been a decent back-of-the-rotation arm for the Bucs over the last three seasons, capable of eating innings (a career-high 168 1/3 frames in 2015) and keeping the ball in the park (a career 50.7% grounder rate) while not recording many strikeouts. This season, however, Locke has not pitched very well, posting a 5.08 ERA, 5.6 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 and an even 50.0% grounder rate over 51 1/3 innings.
- Also from Sawchik’s piece, he opines that Rich Hill would make sense as a trade deadline target for the Pirates. Of course, given Hill’s strong performance and low cost (roughly $4MM still owed this season), the A’s lefty could be one of the deadline’s most sought-after trade chips. In Pittsburgh’s case, acquiring Hill could allow them to keep Glasnow or Kuhl in the minors until next season.
- If the Reds intend to trade Zack Cozart, Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer suggests that the club should move the shortstop before the deadline rather than wait until the offseason. Anything can happen to lower a player’s value if you wait too long to make a trade, Buchanan argues, as the Reds discovered with Aroldis Chapman last year. Cozart’s value may be at an all-time high since, in addition to his usual excellent defense, he’s been an above-average (104 wRC+) shortstop bat for the last two seasons.
- At age 35, Ben Zobrist is on pace for the best season of his 11-year career and he has been one of the major reasons for the Cubs’ league-best record, Toni Ginnetti of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. While it’s only two months into Zobrist’s four-year/$56MM contract, the big investment in a mid-30’s player has thus far worked out spectacularly well for the Cubs. Zobrist enters today’s play hitting .351/.451/.542 with seven homers and 36 runs scored; his OBP leads all qualified Major League hitters.
- In NL Central news from earlier today, the Cardinals’ punishment for the Astros computer breach scandal isn’t likely to be issued before June’s amateur draft.