- It’s unclear how many “untouchable” players the Orioles have, but second baseman Jonathan Schoop, outfielder Trey Mancini and reliever Mychal Givens are among them, an executive from outside the organization told Kubatko at the Winter Meetings. The lone player of those three who’s not under control for the long haul is Schoop, who has two arbitration-eligible years remaining. The Orioles will attempt to extend him sometime soon, Kubatko suggests. Mancini is controllable for the next half-decade, including two pre-arb campaigns, while Givens is under wraps for four more seasons (he’ll be eligible for arbitration in a year).
- While talking Manny Machado with the Cardinals, the Orioles showed interest in a trio of right-handers – Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty and Jordan Hicks – as well as catcher Carson Kelly, Kubatko relays. In acquiring Weaver and Flaherty, the Orioles would accomplish their goal of getting two major league-ready starters for their top player. Of course, it’s questionable whether the Cardinals would even part with one (let alone both) for a single year of Machado. Weaver held his own across 60 1/3 innings last season for the Cards, who may not be in position to lose another starter with free agent Lance Lynn likely set to depart, while Flaherty ranks as MLB.com’s 48th-best prospect.
- The Orioles are reportedly trying to acquire Royals left-hander Danny Duffy, but Kubatko throws cold water on the possibility. Baltimore is indeed interested in Duffy, but it’s unlikely a deal with Kansas City will come together, in part because the Royals aren’t “aggressively shopping” the soon-to-be 29-year-old, Kubatko hears.
- Although the Orioles are seeking a left-handed hitter, they don’t seem to have interest in free agent Jon Jay, per Kubatko. That differs from previous offseasons when Jay was on the O’s radar, he notes. Conversely, Baltimore could consider Preston Tucker, whom the Astros designated for assignment Friday.
Dec. 16: Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports tweets a breakdown of Gregerson’s contract. The reliever is guaranteed $5MM in both 2018 and 2019, with a vesting option for 2020 that requires him to appear in either 60 games in 2019 or 130 games total in 2018 and 2019 combined. It also appears as though he must be healthy for the option to vest on the latter condition. Gregerson can earn up to $1MM in incentives.
Dec. 13: The deal is now official, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com tweets.
Dec 10: The Cardinals and free agent reliever Luke Gregerson have agreed to a two-year, $11MM contract with an option, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (via Twitter). It’ll be a $5MM club option or a $6MM vesting option (with a $1MM buyout), Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. The option will vest at 60 games in 2019 or 130 games from 2018-19, Nightengale adds. He’ll make $5MM in both guaranteed years of the pact, per Ken Davidoff of the New York Post (Twitter link).
[RELATED: Updated Cardinals Depth Chart]
The deal is pending a physical, which Gregerson will take Tuesday, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link). Gregerson is an O’Connell Sports Management client.
This will be the second stint with the St. Louis organization for the right-handed Gregerson, whom the Cardinals selected in the 28th round of the 2006 draft. Gregerson never got past the Double-A level during his first go-around with the franchise, though, as the Redbirds traded him to the Padres in 2009 in a deal involving shortstop Khalil Greene.
Gregerson made his major league debut the same year of the trade and quickly became a highly effective member of the Padres’ bullpen. He stuck with the Friars through 2013 before pitching for the Athletics (2014) and Astros (2015-17). Although the 33-year-old Gregerson has never been a hard thrower, he has nonetheless registered excellent numbers across 599 innings, with a 3.02 ERA, 9.12 K/9, 2.55 BB/9 and a 50.9 percent groundball rate. Gregerson has been quite durable along the way, having never pitched fewer than 55 2/3 frames in any season, and he brings experience as a setup man and a closer.
Although Gregerson is coming off a season in which he recorded a career-worst 4.57 ERA as a member of the title-winning Astros, his year wasn’t devoid of positives. With 61 innings, he eclipsed the 60-frame mark for the sixth time. Gregerson also continued to put up appealing strikeout, walk and groundball numbers (10.33, 2.95 and 50.0 in those respective categories), and he notched the third-highest swinging-strike rate of his career (15.6 percent).
If the career-worst home run-to-fly ball rate (23.6 percent) Gregerson logged in 2017 proves to be an aberration, he should be a quality piece for a Cards bullpen in need of aid. With Trevor Rosenthal, Seung Hwan Oh, Juan Nicasio and Zach Duke currently on the open market, St. Louis has been on the lookout for relief help since last season concluded. Gregerson may be the first of multiple pickups this offseason for the club’s bullpen, and he’s clearly the most established member of a group that includes a few solid holdovers in Brett Cecil, Tyler Lyons, Matthew Bowman, Sam Tuivailala and John Brebbia.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
John Mozeliak (President of Baseball Operations for the Cardinals) expressed that he’s content with his club’s rotation, via Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver, and the recently-signed Miles Mikolas are likely to occupy the first four spots in the rotation. Mozeliak says that a lot depends on how Adam Wainwright looks; however, John Gant and Tyler Lyons could also be in the mix. Mozeliak feels as though the Cards are “fine,” which would seem to make it less likely that St. Louis will be in the mix for big names such as Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta.
More pitching notes from around the league…
- Free agent Jesse Chavez has offers from five different MLB clubs to fill a starter/long reliever role, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports, adding that the right-hander is expected to make a decision this weekend. Chavez pitched 138 innings for the Angels in 2017, and although his 5.35 ERA seems somewhat uninspiring, his 4.43 xFIP suggests he might have pitched a bit better than the surface results indicate. He also walked fewer than three batters per nine innings for the third season in a row. In addition to the Angels, Chavez has pitched for the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Athletics, Royals and Pirates over the course of his ten-year big league career.
- The Reds have recently spoken with right-hander Craig Stammen, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports. Sheldon notes that Stammen is a product of the University of Dayton, which is within an hour of Cincinnati. The 33-year-old reliever tossed 80 1/3 innings across 60 appearances for the Friars in 2017, posting a 3.14 ERA. Stammen began his big league career as a starter for the Nationals, but has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen since 2011.
- Before choosing to sign with the Twins, Fernando Rodney had offers from three other big league clubs. The Rangers, Mets and Tigers all tried to sign the right-hander, according to a tweet from Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. Rodney will reportedly have a chance to hold down the closer role in Minnesota this season; he can earn up to $6MM if he meets incentives in his contract, which includes a club option for the 2019 season.
TODAY: The move is official, with Miami announcing it.
YESTERDAY, 5:05pm: The Marlins will also receive pitching prospects Zac Gallen and Daniel Castano, per Spencer (Twitter link). Gallen, a 22-year-old righty, ranks as the Cardinals’ 13th-best prospect at MLB.com. The outlet did not rank Castano among the Cardinals’ top 30 prospects, on the other hand. The 23-year-old left-hander, a 19th-round pick in 2016, spent last season at the low-A level and posted a 2.57 ERA, 8.01 K/9 against 1.29 BB/9 and a 51.9 percent groundball rate over 14 starts (91 innings).
4:35pm: Sierra is in the deal, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter.
1:54pm: There are three other prospects in the deal, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. But those are lesser assets and Alcantara is considered the centerpiece of the swap.
1:12: Young righty Sandy Alcantara is going to Miami in the deal, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. Goold had mentioned his possible inclusion; Alcantara was slated to join the Fish in the scuttled Stanton deal.
Alcantara, 22, reached the majors briefly in 2017 as a reliever, but he’s seen as a high-ceiling starting prospect. Over 125 1/3 Double-A innings in his first attempt at the upper minors, Alcantara posted a 4.31 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. We did not learn much from his first eight appearances in the majors, but Alcantara did show a 98+ mph fastball and generated swings and misses at a robust 17.4% rate.
12:49pm: It sounds as if young arms will make up a significant part of the return, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeting the package will include multiple pitchers and a position player. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch adds some more detail, saying the Cards “offered a pitching prospect as the centerpiece of a deal” and that an outfielder will be among the players changing hands.
12:06pm: The Cardinals have struck a deal to acquire outfielder Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins, according to Craig Mish of MLB Network Radio (via Twitter). MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez confirms the move on Twitter but notes it is pending a physical. Indications earlier today were that the deal was moving closer, and it has evidently now been completed.
Ozuna, who turned 27 earlier in the offseason, is projected by MLBTR to earn $10.9MM in his second-to-last season of arbitration eligibility. At his age and with his track record of productivity, that’s a bargain rate of pay — which, no doubt, will be reflected in the still-unknown trade return for Miami.
While the teams had attempted to line up on a deal for slugger Giancarlo Stanton, those efforts were nixed when Stanton declined to waive his no-trade clause to go to St. Louis. But the talks weren’t for naught: they also paved the way to today’s reported agreement on Ozuna, who has no trade protections.
The Cardinals have looked far and wide for bats this winter as they seek to consolidate a broad group of talent into a few more premium lineup pieces. Ozuna certainly represents the top-end bat they were in search of — at least, that is, so long as he can replicate something like his 2017 output.
In the just-finished campaign, Ozuna drove the ball out of the yard 37 times, carried a personal-high 9.4% walk rate, and ended with an appealing .312/.376/.548 slash line over 679 plate appearances. That’s a big step forward for a player who had hewed closer to league-average production over his prior two seasons.
Beyond the fact that Ozuna has not yet repeated that level of output, there are a few other slight red flags. He carried a .355 BABIP that’s unlikely to be replicated and was perhaps a bit fortunate to send 23.4% of the fly balls he hit out of the park. On the whole, though, Ozuna has always been considered a player with the talent for this sort of dominance, and his healthy 39.1% hard-hit rate shows he was rewarded for making good contact.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Cards plan to utilize Ozuna, who has previously spent time in center field but shifted to the corner in 2017. He graded quite well upon the move and has at times done the same up the middle. That leaves the team with a variety of players who could be described similarly in regard to their glovework.
Odds are, the Cardinals will plan to give primary time to Ozuna, Tommy Pham, and Dexter Fowler. Perhaps which player plays center is less important than the fact that the club will feel it has three useful defenders on the grass. Regardless, that would leave Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk among those looking at possible reserve duty.
More likely, one or both will be traded. Piscotty and Grichuk, after all, both hit from the right side — as do the three top outfielders (with Fowler representing switch-hitting option who fares better traditionally from the right side). Indeed, the Cards could move yet more pieces from a 40-man roster that is full of right-handed-hitting outfielders, some of whom could be included in this trade. The only southpaw-swinging outfield bat currently on hand is youngster Magneuris Sierra. He might be destined for some added seasoning, so perhaps it’s not inconceivable that St. Louis could end up seeking another reserve piece that hits from the left side or perhaps look for creative ways to boost the functionality of the team’s infielders.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Red Sox have designs on adding the two top position players on the free agent market, according to the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman, with ongoing pursuit of both J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer. Interestingly, Silverman notes that Boston would likely look to shed some of its obligations to Hanley Ramirez by dealing him away in the event it can acquire both players.
That scenario seems to be one of several possibilities still remaining for the Red Sox, who are one of the many teams with plenty of work yet to do in settling their regular lineups. Here’s a look in at the latest notes on bats from around the game:
- Orioles VP of baseball ops Dan Duquette made clear today that he does not foresee striking a deal involving third baseman Manny Machado that is contingent upon extension negotiations, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post was among those to report on Twitter. In other words, it seems any acquiring team would be gaining just one year of control over over Machado. Sherman also hears that the odds are in favor of a deal at this point, tweeting that the White Sox and Cardinals are the “most aggressive” teams in pursuit of the young superstar.
- For the White Sox, the interest in Machado does not include an intention to flip him in a later swap, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). While Chicago has made an “impressive” bid for Machado, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Nightengale also says that the belief on the South Side is that others have offered more. Meanwhile, GM Rick Hahn said that the team’s “focus remains on the long term” and says he won’t “make any sort of move that’s aimed at jumping up” into immediate contention. Despite that cold water, he did say the organization is willing to “take some calculated risks along the way.” Just what the team has in mind with this reported pursuit remains a bit of a mystery, but we’ll have to wait and see how things shake out.
- While evidently maintaining interest in Machado and pursuing other fronts, the Cardinals are also still “pushing” the Blue Jays to offer up their own star third baseman, Josh Donaldson, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). At this point, though, there’s no reason to believe that Toronto will budge from its stance on Donaldson — namely, that it’s not interested in moving him for anything approaching a reasonable return.
- Far from dangling Donaldson, it seems the Blue Jays are at least weighing a major addition. The club has interest in free agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). In theory, Cain could coexist with current center fielder Kevin Pillar, though Cain is also most valuable up the middle. The Jays are interested in committing up to four years, says Heyman, but it seems there are indications Cain will have an opportunity to secure a better deal elsewhere. MLBTR predicted that Cain would land four years in free agency; to this point, we haven’t heard much public discussion of his market, but he’s rather clearly the top available center fielder.
- While the Mets were able to come away from the Winter Meetings with a relief arm, they have yet to fill their opening at second base. Per Marc Carig of Newsday, Ian Kinsler was not willing to waive his no-trade rights to go to New York. (All links to Twitter.) The club has a variety of other options still in play, Carig explains, adding that the organization was discussing righty Rafael Montero in talks regarding Kinsler.
Piscotty, who seemed like a shoo-in to leave the Cardinals via trade entering the offseason, became especially superfluous to the Redbirds when they swung a blockbuster to acquire fellow outfielder Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins on Wednesday. That deal left the Cardinals with three highly qualified starting outfielders in Ozuna, Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham, thus leading to the end of Piscotty’s tenure with the club.
[RELATED: Updated Athletics Depth Chart]
Now 26, Piscotty joined the St. Louis organization as a first-round pick in 2012 and flashed moments of brilliance during his short major league stint there. Between his debut in 2015 and the end of the ’16 campign, the right-handed hitter slashed a terrific .282/.348/.467 with 29 home runs and a 3.9 fWAR in 905 plate appearances. The auspicious start to Piscotty’s career was enough to convince the Cardinals to award him a six-year extension worth a guaranteed $33.5MM prior to last season.
Unfortunately for St. Louis, early returns on the newly extended Piscotty weren’t positive in 2017. While Piscotty managed to significantly increase his walk rate to 13 percent (up from around 8 percent from 2015-16), his offensive production took an overall dive as he batted a disappointing .235/.342/.367 with nine homers and a subpar .132 ISO (down 53 points from the previous two seasons).
The Athletics will now hope for a bounce-back from Piscotty, a Northern California native and Stanford alumnus. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday that the Cards hoped a Piscotty trade would give him a chance to be closer to his mother, who’s battling ALS, and they were able to make good on that.
As Piscotty deals with a tragic situation off the field, he may be in line for a revival on it; his age, 2015-16 output and batted-ball misfortune are all encouraging signs. Piscotty finished 2017 with a .319 wOBA, but the number should have been closer to a solid .340, according to Statcast.
If Piscotty does return to something resembling his best form in Oakland, he’ll be an effective, affordable and young piece for the low-payroll club. The A’s saw other position player building blocks in first baseman Matt Olson and third baseman Matt Chapman come to the fore in 2017, and, barring trades, have established hitters on hand in DH Khris Davis, corner outfielder Matt Joyce, second baseman Jed Lowrie and shortstop Marcus Semien. Piscotty, who’s likely to play opposite Joyce in one of the corners next year, is now in line to join a growing group of talent on a rebuilding club.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, who has long reported upon the A’s interest in Piscotty, reported yesterday that the deal was nearing completion and today that a framework was in place (Twitter link). Jon Heyman of FanRag tweeted the deal was in place, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported it was moving forward this morning, and MLB.com’s Jane Lee tweeted the swap was official.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Here are a few recent minor moves that took place amidst the recent flurry of major league rumors and transactions…
- A source tells MLBTR’s Jeff Todd that Felix Doubront has agreed to terms on a contract with the KBO’s Lotte Giants. Doubront hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2015, though he did spend some time with the Triple-A affiliate of the A’s last season. His most successful MLB season came with the Red Sox in 2013, for whom he made 27 starts and two relief appearances spanning 162 1/3 innings. During that year, he compiled 139 strikeouts and pitched to a 4.32 ERA.
- The Rangers have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-hander Zeke Spruill, TR Sullivan of MLB.com tweets. Spruill is best known as one of the five players the Diamondbacks acquired from the Braves in exchange for Justin Upton back in 2013. The sinkerballer pitched a handful of innings across a pair of seasons with Arizona during his MLB career, allowing 16 runs in 34 IP. He’s spent the past two years pitching in Korea.
- Unsurprisingly, yet another international prospect has been signed by the Rangers. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reveals in a tweet that Texas has inked 16-year-old outfielder D’Vaughn Knowles to a deal for $500K. The Bahamian native will join Yenci Pena and Keithron Moss as international players to join the Rangers following Shohei Ohtani’s decision to sign with the Angels.
- Outfielder Cesar Puello has signed with the Diamondbacks on a minors deal and will receive an invite to spring training (hat tip to Nick Piecoro of azcentral.com). Puello made his major league debut last season; the outfielder accrued 39 plate appearances between the Angels and Rays. While his results at the MLB level were rather pedestrian, the Dominican native showed some impressive upside with a .397/.440/.620 across 200 plate appearances at Triple-A Salt Lake, the highest level of the Angels’ farm system. It should be noted that the above slash line came with a .493 BABIP.
- Tony Pena’s son Francisco Pena has earned a minor league pact with the Cardinals, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. He’ll serve as an addition to the Redbirds’ catching depth. Pena has made MLB appearances with the Royals and Orioles, garnering 14 hits in 60 plate appearances (including three home runs).
THURSDAY, 2:53am: Nightengale reports in another tweet that the Orioles are “moving aggressively” on trade talks involving Machado, noting that Baltimore believes they can move him by the end of the week.
THURSDAY, 12:47am: Contrary to Rosenthal’s earlier report, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports via Twitter that the Cardinals have a “strong offer” in place for Machado, though it’s reportedly not as strong as White Sox’ proposal.
THURSDAY, 12:20am: Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (insider subscription required and recommended) reports that the White Sox have been the “most aggressive” suitor for Machado. Their goal seems to be to acquire him and attempt to extend him for the long term. Bob Nightengale adds in a tweet that the offer from Chicago was “the best offer of the dozen offers the Orioles have received.”
Rosenthal also notes that the Giants offered the Orioles a package that included Christian Arroyo. The Cardinals also asked about Machado, but the price was apparently too steep for them.
WEDNESDAY, 7:53pm: It doesn’t appear that a Machado trade will come together during the Winter Meetings, Encina writes.
6:30pm: Several teams have made formal trade offers for Machado, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. The Yankees’ chances of landing him are near zero, a source told Joel Sherman of the New York Post. It seems the Yankees would want to include Jacoby Ellsbury in a a Machado deal to help them stay under the competitive-balance tax threshold, but Sherman doubts he’d waive his no-trade clause to go to Baltimore (Twitter link).
4:33pm: The Orioles are “making good progress” toward a Machado trade, Duquette told Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com and other reporters, though Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com writes that a deal doesn’t appear imminent. There are more than five teams in the running for Machado, Ghiroli adds. The Orioles met with a “couple” of those teams Wednesday, per Encina. Notably, Duquette hasn’t dismissed trading Machado to another AL East team, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com relays (all Twitter links here).
TUESDAY, 6:27pm: The Yankees and White Sox are also interested in Machado, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter link). As mentioned below, Peter Angelos doesn’t want to deal Machado to New York, while the Sox are an interesting suitor that could be looking at Machado as the centerpiece of a return to contention. Cardinals GM Michael Girsch told Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that giving up significant assets for a star player with just one year of control remaining is “not a path we are likely to go down.” Interestingly, this description applies to both Machado and to another oft-mentioned Cards trade target in Josh Donaldson.
4:29pm: “Several clubs” asked the Orioles about Machado today, Dan Duquette told MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli (Twitter links), Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links) and other media. There’s at least a possibility a trade happens, and the Orioles have apparently not discussed an extension with Machado in years, though new negotiations are “under consideration.” The O’s haven’t talked about giving any potential Machado trade partner a 72-hour window to try and negotiate their own extension with the infielder.
1:43pm: The Cardinals have interest in Machado, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. The Phillies are said to be enamored of Machado, too, and there are no doubt a wide variety of other teams lining up to check on in the asking price. Baltimore is receiving a “ton” of interest in Machado, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com tweets.
10:57am: While it’s been reported that the Orioles are at least willing to listen to offers on Manny Machado, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic takes things a step further, reporting that the O’s have asked interested parties to make them offers for the star infielder (subscription required and highly recommended). The term “infielder” is of particular note, as Rosenthal also writes that Machado’s desire is to return to shortstop in 2018 whether he’s in Baltimore or with a new club.
Machado, 25, has long stood out as an on-paper trade candidate given his proximity to free agency and the Orioles’ lack of starting pitching. The O’s, who have been looking to add as many as three starters to their rotation this winter, will be hard-pressed to contend for an AL East title in 2018 (even more so in the wake of the Bronx Bombers’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton). With Machado set to hit the open market next winter in position to land a record-setting contract — assuming a healthy year, anything south of Stanton’s $325MM guarantee would seem to be a nonstarter — it’s difficult to envision him remaining in Baltimore. For the time being, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $17.3MM salary for Machado next year after his final trip through the arbitration process.
The Orioles, per Rosenthal, are aiming to acquire two controllable young starters in any trade for Machado. That’s a lofty ask for a lot of teams, but a win-now club with an ample supply of touted but unproven pitching could look at that as an acceptable price to pay for a player that has been worth better than five wins per season, on average, over the past half decade (despite missing 80 games due to injury in 2014). Notably, Rosenthal adds that owner Peter Angelos does not want to trade with the division-rival Yankees.
Machado didn’t have his best season in 2017, as he got off to a shockingly pedestrian start to the year. Through the season’s first three months, Machado was batting just .216/.289/.423 with an elevated (by his standards) 20.6 percent strikeout rate. Over the final three months, though, the Machado of old resurfaced, as he mashed at a .295/.329/.513 pace with a vastly improved 13.1 percent punchout rate.
Machado has two Gold Gloves and a Platinum Glove to his name at third base and has long graded out as an elite defender there, but there’s little doubt that he could still handle shortstop at an above-average level as well. He logged nearly 400 innings there in 2016, for instance, and drew generally positive marks from Ultimate Zone Rating (+1.9) and Defensive Runs Saved (+3).
From a broader perspective, Machado is one of several players entering his final year of team control in Baltimore. Zach Britton, Adam Jones and Brad Brach are all free agents following the 2018 season, while Jonathan Schoop is controlled for just one year beyond that. Depending on how aggressively the O’s are willing to sell off parts, they could quickly restock their farm with an ample supply of talent by marketing more than one of their soon-to-be free agents, though doing so would also mean largely punting on the 2018 campaign at the very least.
2:28pm: Slusser has added a few more conceivable players in conversations in an updated version of her story. It seems that the sides could be contemplating some of the A’s relief arms.
1:38pm: The dominoes from the Cardinals’ reported acquisition of Marcell Ozuna are beginning to fall, it seems. Per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Athletics’ long-standing interest in Cards outfielder Stephen Piscotty could conceivably come to fruition with a deal before the Winter Meetings end.
Oakland is not willing to part with its best young assets, according to the report, but Slusser says the discussions have revolved around some of the A’s available 40-man assets. One name under consideration, she notes, is infielder Yairo Munoz, a 23-year-old who reached the top level of the minors in 2017.
Piscotty, who’ll soon turn 27, thrived in his first two seasons in the majors, posting a cumulative .282/.348/.467 slash and hitting 29 home runs in his first 905 MLB plate appearances. He ended up striking a six-year, $33.5MM extension at the start of the 2017 campaign.
Things haven’t progressed as hoped since that time, however. Piscotty missed some time due to injury and ended the year with 401 plate appearances of .235/.342/.367 output through 401 trips to the plate. On the positive side, Piscotty did neary double his walk rate to 13.0% even as his power dipped.
Piscotty continues to grade as a solid defender but subpar baserunner. If he can regain his form at the dish, there’s good reason to think he could be a quality regular in the corner — which is just what the A’s are in search of.
11:53am: It seems St. Louis is still not fully zeroed in on Ozuna — or, at least, not just Ozuna. In addition to some pitchers to whom the club has been tied previously, the Cards still seem to have some possible interest in Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, Rosenthal tweets.
And Bob Nightengale tweets the team is “optimistic” of scoring at least one significant hitter with the possibility of another. He also cites Longoria and adds Blue Jays Josh Donaldson as a player who is “in play” for St. Louis, though certainly most indications to date have been that Toronto has little interest in trading him.
11:22am: The Cardinals and Marlins are “making progress” on a deal that would send outfielder Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). These organizations have been tied in chatter of one kind or another for much of the offseason.
We heard yesterday that the Cards were the favorites to land Ozuna. As of that time, though, there were multiple other suitors reportedly still involved and the Cardinals were also eyeing fellow Miami outfielder Christian Yelich.
It is still unclear just how things might come together, but there are quite a number of possible ways the sides could line up. The Cardinals have a host of young outfielders, potentially offering Miami a direct replacement with greater future contract control, along with the sort of youthful pitching that the Marlins covet.
As for Ozuna, he’d be the major stick the Cardinals have sought all winter. While he’s not at the level of former teammate Giancarlo Stanton, he did post an excellent .312/.376/.548 slash with 37 long balls in 2017. And Ozuna is also much friendlier to the checkbook, as he’s projected to earn $10.9MM in his second-to-last season of arbitration eligibility. That relatively light payroll hit might leave the Cards with capacity to make some other impact additions via free agency.