With money to spend, the Astros are expected to pursue a big-ticket bat, per Jon Morosi of MLB Network (Twitter links). There has long been at least some reason to believe the ’Stros would be in on free agent Edwin Encarnacion, and that’s a possibility per the report. More intriguingly, though, Morosi suggests that Houston will look into dealing for Tigers superstar Miguel Cabrera. There are a number of barriers to that kind of move, of course. While Morosi posits that fellow Venezuelan Jose Altuve could be part of a sales pitch to get Cabrera to waive his no-trade protection, that’s but one element. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said yesterday that he prefers not to part with young assets to make a deal, and surely Detroit will want something back for a player who is still producing premium offensive numbers at 33 years of age. But he’s getting up in years, is limited to first base or DH, and is still owed $220MM over the next seven seasons.
- Speaking of blockbusters, Morosi also suggests on Twitter that the Rays will be open to scenarios involving star third baseman Evan Longoria. The Dodgers could be one possibility, he posits, at least assuming they don’t land Justin Turner in free agency. Again, it seems there’s reason to avoid running away with expectations. Longoria is fresh off of a strong campaign and is only beginning a reasonable, but hardly cheap $100MM contract extension that was struck way back in 2012. Though Tampa Bay is always a candidate to move salary, and the connection to Rays-turned-Dodgers exec Andrew Friedman is interesting, Los Angeles has proven hesitant to deal away top-quality young assets under his watch. And that’s surely what the Rays would request.
- The Yankees are readying for a possible deal involving catcher/DH Brian McCann, as Ken Davidoff and Joel Sherman of the New York Post report. Although that is hardly a forgone conclusion, it certainly seems as if a trade is a legitimate possibility. New York GM Brian Cashman has chatted with McCann’s agent about the possibility of a trade — the veteran has full no-trade protection — and Cashman acknowledges that there is a lot of interest with a lot of rivals seeking to improve behind the dish. Meanwhile, the long-time Yankees GM noted that he doesn’t foresee striking a major deal for an ace-level starting pitcher, explaining that such a move would be more appropriate if the club were to “feel like you’re one player away.”
- We heard yesterday that the Dodgers will consider dealing veteran infielder (and, more recently, outfielder) Howie Kendrick, with a reunion with the Angels cited as a possibility. But that’s not a very realistic scenario, in the estimation of Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (Twitter links). Though he only requires a one-year commitment, Kendrick also isn’t terribly cheap with $10MM owed for 2017. He’s also a right-handed bat, which wouldn’t be preferred, and has shown signs of decline in the field and at the plate. The Halos are likely “aiming higher,” per Fletcher, who recently broke down some options for the club. Los Angeles isn’t interested in moving Yunel Escobar to second, he notes, but will be pursuing outside additions. Fletcher cites Cesar Hernandez of the Phillies as a trade possibility, with Derek Dietrich of the Marlins and Scooter Gennett of the Brewers also representing possible trade candidates (though both would arguably best be paired with a platoon mate).
- Marlins center fielder Marcell Ozuna has long been a popular name in trade chatter, though he remains in Miami after a strong 2016 season. As MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports, the Marlins aren’t desperate to move him — though they are putting a priority on adding quality starting pitching, and may find that necessary. President of baseball operations Michel Hill explained that the team will continue to put a high price on Ozuna. “We’re not going to sell him on the low, or trade him 20 cents on the dollar, because this is a premium position player with power and athleticism,” said Hill. “I think he showed this year, this is who he is.”
- As the Nationals evaluate their options up the middle with a bit of roster flexibility, the team is amenable to consider moving veteran shortstop Danny Espinosa, GM Mike Rizzo suggested to reporters including Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. Though Rizzo said he’d still be “comfortable” utilizing Espinosa at short, he noted that there a variety of other possibilities. “I could see him as utility player. I could see him as a player you could utilize in a trade context to get another piece that you need,” Rizzo said. “There’s a lot of moving parts we can go, and a lot of different avenues we can attack.” While Espinosa doesn’t have immense trade value — he’s limited offensively and projects to earn $5.3MM in his final season of arbitration eligibility — it’s certainly possible to imagine him being swapped out for another short-term veteran at another area of need (the bullpen, perhaps).