The Athletics aren’t the only AL West team interested in Jed Lowrie’s services, as the Rangers have been in talks with the Mets about a deal that would send both Lowrie and Dominic Smith to the Lone Star State, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (subscription required). However, “talks to this point have failed to progress” between the two clubs. It’s fair to guess that Smith was the Rangers’ real target in these negotiations, as Smith would be the sweetener added to the deal in exchange for the Rangers assuming most or all of the remaining $12MM on Lowrie’s contract. New York is reportedly trying to create payroll space by shopping high-priced names like Lowrie or Jeurys Familia to other teams.
Smith is perhaps a bit of a curious fit for the Rangers, given that Texas already has a plethora of left-handed hitting first base/DH/corner outfield types, and only just dealt from that surplus in sending Nomar Mazara to the White Sox. Still, adding a 24-year-old with five seasons of control has obvious value for the Rangers, as Shin-Soo Choo’s contract is up after the 2020 campaign, and Ronald Guzman could become expendable in the event of Smith joining the roster. While Lowrie missed virtually all of 2019 due to injury, he also offers more to Texas than just a salary dump if he’s able to stay healthy. If Lowrie was able to recapture anything close to his 2017-18 form, he’d represent a good third base answer if the Rangers weren’t able to sign Josh Donaldson.
More trade talk as we near the end of the Winter Meetings…
- Though the Blue Jays have been mostly linked to free agents this winter, the club is apparently being just as diligent on the trade front, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi writes. In addition to Toronto’s known interest in Yankees southpaw J.A. Happ, the Jays have checked in with the Red Sox about David Price and Jackie Bradley Jr., and with the Pirates about right-hander Chris Archer and Joe Musgrove. It doesn’t seem like any of these particular options are close, however, as Davidi notes that “the cost in both dollars and prospect capital remains too high” for Price, Bradley, and Happ. The Jays and Pirates have been speculatively linked as trade partners since Ben Cherington recently went from Toronto’s front office to the GM chair in Pittsburgh, though this familiarity may not necessarily be a plus. As Davidi puts it, Cherington “may think too similarly to his former colleagues for a deal to be struck.”
- As the Pirates weigh a lot of interest in Adam Frazier, the Athletics are involved but perhaps no better than Pittsburgh’s third option as a trade partner, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports (Twitter link). The left-handed hitting Frazier would be an ideal fit to help balance out Oakland’s heavily right-handed lineup, and would provide some experience to a young collection of second base candidates. Frazier isn’t old himself (he is a few days away from his 28th birthday) and is still controllable through three years of arbitration eligibility.
- While the Cubs are reportedly working hard towards swinging some (potentially major) trades, the possibility exists that the 2020 roster will look a lot like last year’s edition, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times and other media. “The makings of a very good team is currently under control on our roster, with a chance to win a division. And do that, and you have a chance to have a great October,” Epstein said, though “status quo is not a bad option, but we’re obviously out there looking to make changes and change the dynamic and improve.” It could be that the Cubs won’t become big players in the trade market until most or all of the top free agents have selected their new teams. In the case of Kris Bryant, for example, “officials from two teams aggressively trying to fill third-base needs…said the Cubs were asking too much for Bryant to seriously consider him while other options remained available,” Wittenmyer writes.