Some items from around baseball as we head into a new week…
- Brian Dozier is drawing interest from other teams but the Twins aren’t looking to tie Phil Hughes’ contract to Dozier in trade talks, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. Hughes still has three years and $39.6MM remaining on the extension he signed with the Twins prior to the 2015 season, and since inking that new deal, Hughes has struggled badly and battled injury problems. The veteran righty underwent surgery to help alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome last summer, and Hughes believes he can regain his old form now that he’s healthy.
- While Hughes may not be getting shopped, Berardino also notes (Twitter link) that the Twins aren’t looking to add payroll, even after freeing up some money by parting ways with Trevor Plouffe, Kurt Suzuki and Tommy Milone. As one rival official puts it, “everyone knows they’re rebuilding.”
- The Mets don’t seem to be looking for a big change at catcher, as Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports that the team told representatives of a free agent catcher that Travis d’Arnaud will be given every opportunity to succeed next season. Since the Mets offered d’Arnaud as part of trade talks for Jonathan Lucroy over the summer, it’s notable that the team is reaffirming its commitment to the talented but oft-injured catcher, though it could be that New York was more enamored with Lucroy than it is with the options on free agent catching market. Ackert does note that the Mets could look for a more reliable backup, given d’Arnaud’s injury history and the shared offensive struggles of Kevin Plawecki and Rene Rivera.
- Though Nori Aoki has only been an Astro for less than three weeks, the veteran outfielder may now be a non-tender candidate, the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan writes. If the Astros plan to use the newly-signed Josh Reddick in left field, Aoki will be a very highly-paid fourth outfielder (thanks to a projected $6.8MM arbitration salary) and possibly an expendable part. If the Astros use Reddick in right and move George Springer to center field, Aoki will again have more of a clear role, platooning with Jake Marisnick in left. Houston has also been linked to some first baseman in rumors, which could push Yulieski Gurriel to left field and again leave Aoki without regular playing time.
- For the second straight offseason, Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto is acting quickly on lower-profile moves to elevate his team’s talent floor, ESPN.com’s David Schoenfield writes. Additions like Danny Valencia, Richie Shaffer and Carlos Ruiz fill holes and add more valuable depth around the Mariners’ core players, the type of top-to-bottom roster management that former Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik was unable to achieve in his time with the club.
- While several big-name relievers are dominating headlines this winter, MLB.com’s Mike Petriello cites Daniel Hudson, Juan Nicasio and Koji Uehara as relatively inexpensive arms who could provide major dividends in a bullpen next season, perhaps even as closers.