Fake trade: Fielder to Boston for Ellsbury

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Red Sox acquire first baseman Prince Fielder from the Brewers for outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and RHP Michael Bowden.
Why it works for Boston: Since David Ortiz may be more of a No. 6 hitter going forward, the Red Sox could use a left-handed power presence in the third or fourth spot in the order. Unlike anyone available in free agency this winter, Fielder provides that in spades. He finished third in the majors in OPS, second in homers, tied for first in RBI and fourth in walks this season. Boston can also easily handle his $10.5 million salary, and the team may prefer the short-term commitment to him rather than going to five years to re-sign Jason Bay or six or seven to bring in Matt Holliday.
Why it works for Milwaukee: The Brewers would want a young ace as the primary return for Fielder, but Ellsbury, the major league leader in steals this season, would fit nicely. As is, the Brewers would have to spend about $20 million to bring back Fielder and free agent Mike Cameron next year. They could plug Mat Gamel and Ellsbury into those holes, and since both are making the minimum, use the savings to bring in a pair of quality veteran starters this winter. Plus, they’d get a legitimate rotation option in Bowden, who had a 3.13 ERA in 24 starts as a 22-year-old in Triple-A this year. He projects as more of a No. 4 starter in the AL, but he may be a legit No. 3 in the NL.
Why it won’t happen: Milwaukee would probably hold out for Clay Buchholz in a Fielder deal, and the Red Sox won’t want to trade their young starter after the way he came on in the second half of the year. The Brewers have the ability to hold on to Fielder at his relatively modest salary for one more year and would still be able to get plenty for him in trade next winter, when he’ll have one year to go before free agency. In the meantime, they can shop J.J. Hardy and see if he’ll being a decent starter.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.