Report: Cardinals close to getting Holliday from A's

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Rumors about the A’s and Cardinals working on a trade for Matt Holliday
have been swirling for the past couple days, and according to Tim
Kurkjian of ESPN.com the deal is now on the verge of becoming official:

The Athletics and Cardinals are close to completing a trade that
would send outfielder Matt Holliday to St. Louis in exchange for third
baseman Brett Wallace, outfielder Shane Peterson and right-handed
pitcher Clayton Mortensen.

Last night our own Matthew Pouliot analyzed the potential St. Louis-Oakland deal
and concluded that Brett Wallace was a reasonable haul for Holliday, so
under that assumption the A’s would be doing very well by also picking
up 2008 second-round pick Shane Peterson and 2007 first-round pick
Clayton Mortensen (although neither has been all that impressive since
being drafted).

In fact, a Wallace-Peterson-Mortensen return would be fairly similar
in terms of overall value to the three-player package of Carlos
Gonzalez, Huston Street, and Greg Smith that the A’s sent to the
Rockies for Holliday in November. Of course, simply treading water in
the value department while paying Holliday a whole bunch of money isn’t
what the A’s had in mind at the time of the original deal.

On the other hand, merely recouping that value is pretty good with
Holliday hitting .286/.378/.454 after batting .319/.386/.552 in
Colorado. For the Cardinals, giving up last year’s first- and
second-round picks along with a potentially useful 24-year-old pitcher
would be a very steep price for two months of Holliday, but the ability
to either re-sign him at a discount or take draft picks when he walks
as a free agent balances the scales.

All in all, Kurkjian’s reported 3-for-1 deal strikes me as a
reasonable move for both sides and perhaps a slight “win” for the A’s.
Many people believe that Wallace will become a star and at the very
least he looks likely to develop into an impact hitter, but I’m
somewhat skeptical about his true ceiling and if he can’t stick at
third base defensively the Cardinals don’t really have a spot for him
as long as that El Hombre guy is around.

Holliday represents a significant upgrade for the Cardinals, who’ve
been searching for a big bat to hit behind Albert Pujols and rank 14th
in the league with a measly .635 OPS from their left fielders. Two
strong months from Holliday and a pair of draft picks if he leaves as a
free agent could get them into the playoffs and then give them a shot
to select the next Wallace and Peterson come June.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.

Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery could share Cubs’ rotation spot in 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Mike Montgomery #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).

Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.

Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.

Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.