Checking in on the National League…
- The Cubs are “still looking to add depth” to their pitching staff, general manager Jed Hoyer tells Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com. “That’s an annual thing you think about. You prepare for injuries even if some years you go unscathed,” he continued. Starting depth does appear to be an issue at the moment for the Cubs, who lack battle-tested options beyond their current projected rotation of Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Jon Lester, Tyler Chatwood and Mike Montgomery. Of the other healthy starting possibilities on their 40-man roster, only Eddie Butler brings significant experience in the majors, though he hasn’t been particularly successful. Of course, the Cubs would help their cause quite a bit by signing Yu Darvish (who remains on their radar) or bringing in another high-profile starter via free agency or trade.
- The Mets are reportedly interested in free agent infielder Eduardo Nunez, but Mike Puma of the New York Post wonders (on Twitter) if the organization’s hitting philosophy may ultimately prevent a signing from occurring. The club “emphasizes selectivity,” Puma points out, and that’s not the case with Nunez. Among hitters with at least 400 plate appearances last year, he had the seventh-lowest walk percentage (3.7) and the 14th-highest chase rate (39.6 percent).
- Left-hander Josh Smoker went from the Mets to the Pirates in a trade this week, and it didn’t surprise the reliever that he ended up in Pittsburgh (via Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). “I kind of had a feeling that Pittsburgh might have some interest because in the past I had heard rumblings that Pittsburgh had always had a little bit of interest in me,” Smoker said. “I know it’s a team that needs some left-handers, too.” Indeed, Smoker became just the fourth southpaw on the Bucs’ 40-man roster. While Smoker has only managed a 5.02 ERA across 71 2/3 career innings, he’s hopeful renowned Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage will be able to help him break out with his new team. After the trade, Smoker discussed Searage with his friend, former Pirates reliever Matt Capps, who offered praise for the pitching guru.