The Rays have at least opened a dialogue with the Rangers about infielder Jurickson Profar, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. It seems that the discussions are just preliminary at this point, but it does seem there’s a rather intriguing possible match on paper. Tampa Bay is in need of a second baseman after trading Logan Forsythe (and might also like the idea of having another player capable of playing short). For Texas, Profar is something of an underutilized asset; the Rays possess a variety of pitchers that might be of greater function. Of course, lining up on value and finding common ground isn’t as simple as finding mutual interest; it remains to be seen whether these talks will gain traction.
- Veteran second baseman Chase Utley has received “multiple offers” and appears to be nearing a decision, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). We haven’t heard much at all of late as to what teams might be in pursuit — beyond the incumbent Dodgers, at least, though they don’t seem like much of a fit at this point. Still, it’s not surprising to hear of rather robust interest in Utley, who is a highly respected talent and still managed to hit at just below the league-average rate (.252/.319/.396) in near-regular duty last year. He is especially useful against right-handed pitching, and might suit a variety of organizations depending upon how much playing time he is seeking.
- Though the Braves remain interested in bringing back veteran outfielder Jeff Francoeur, per MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, the club is only willing to offer a minor-league deal to do so. Francoeur is still hoping to find a guaranteed contract, though Bowman notes that he has yet to receive such an offer. The 32-year-old spent much of the 2016 season in Atlanta, where he also once starred as a rookie. Over 331 total plate appearances, including a late-season run with the Marlins, he hit just .254/.297/.378.
- Righty Justin Masterson is planning to build up for a late-February showcase, per Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (via Twitter). The 31-year-old last put together a successful MLB campaign back in 2013, with shoulder and knee injuries playing a big role in the 5.79 ERA he has posted ever since (over 188 innings in the 2014-15 seasons). Masterson did pitch last year, throwing 59 1/3 minor-league innings in the Pirates organization, but managed only a 4.85 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9.