FanRag’s Jon Heyman tackles a number of slow-starting teams in the intro to his weekly notes columns, getting the opinions of rival scouts and executives on the slow starts from the Cardinals, Giants, Blue Jays and Rangers. Heyman spoke to Giants GM Bobby Evans on his club’s issues in left field, with Evans conceding, “We don’t have a true left fielder. We’re going to have to mix and match.” Heyman notes that veteran infielder Aaron Hill is expected to get some looks in left field. San Francisco elected to move on from Angel Pagan this offseason and entered the year with a platoon of Jarrett Parker and Chris Marrero in left field, but Parker will now miss significant time following a broken clavicle. And it appears to be too late to turn back to Pagan, who told El Vocero yesterday that he’s planning to sit out the 2017 season to spend time with his wife and children.
- There’s “no evidence of any real trade talk” between the Brewers and Dodgers involving Ryan Braun, per Heyman. He notes that the Brewers may feel a slight sense of urgency due to the fact that Braun will achieve 10-and-5 rights on May 24 (thus allowing him full veto power over any trade). The improved production out of Yasiel Puig could make Braun a less appealing target, as Puig himself has the ability to be a dynamic weapon against lefties if he can return to form. Even if Braun does ultimately reach 1o-and-5 status, Heyman notes that the Dodgers are said to be his preferred destination in a trade, so he could very well approve the deal after that point.
- Also of note to Dodgers fans, Los Angeles showed interest in right-hander Brad Ziegler this offseason and were willing to discuss something in the range of $12MM over two years. Ziegler, instead, signed with the Marlins for two years and a total of $16MM. To this point, he’s yielded just one run with a 6-to-1 K/BB ratio and a ridiculous 81 percent ground-ball rate through his first eight innings.
- Multiple teams inquired with the Brewers about right-hander Wily Peralta this spring, but Milwaukee clearly didn’t find an offer to its liking. “We’re very comfortable having him as part of our rotation,” GM David Stearns tells Heyman. The 27-year-old Peralta has a 2.65 ERA through his first three starts, though his strong work dates back further than Opening Day. While Peralta’s 2016 numbers look pedestrian at best, he posted a 2.92 ERA through 61 1/3 innings after being recalled from a Triple-A demotion early last August. In his past 13 MLB starts, Peralta has a 2.86 ERA with 7.3 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 51.2 percent ground-ball rate. He’s controllable for two seasons beyond the 2017 campaign, and it’s easy to envision him emerging as a trade candidate this summer if he continues to perform anywhere near that level.
- J.J. Hardy’s lengthy injury history will make the Orioles unlikely to pick up his $14MM club option at season’s end. However, Heyman adds that even if the O’s do move on from Hardy, they’re not likely to displace Manny Machado from third base given his excellence (and, presumably, his comfort level) at the hot corner. Rather, the team figures to shop for a shortstop next offseason. The 2017-18 free agent crop at shortstop figures to be headlined by Zack Cozart, with alternative options including Eduardo Nunez, Alcides Escobar and Danny Espinosa. Baltimore could, of course, turn to the trade market for some shortstop help as well. Ryan Mountcastle is the team’s top-regarded minor league shortstop, but the 20-year-old former first-rounder opened the season in Class-A Advanced and many scouting reports question his ability to remain at short in the long run.
- The Tigers are planning to be “extra cautious” with right fielder J.D. Martinez as he returns from a foot injury, Heyman writes. However, there’s little chance of the Tigers pursuing him as a free agent this offseason due to the fact that the team still intends to trim down its long-term payroll outlook. Re-signing Martinez, who ranked sixth on MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings earlier today, could require another sizable commitment of five or more years if Martinez has a typical season at the plate.