Seventy-nine players filed for free agency yesterday

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Seventy-nine players filed for free agency yesterday. The two teams with the most filers: the Cardinals with seven and the Dodgers with six.

For the Cardinals: Rick Ankiel, Mark DeRosa, Troy Glaus, Khalil Greene, Matt Holliday, Jason LaRue and John Smoltz.  Off the top of my head in terms of “would I sign them-a-bilitiy”: yes, yes, no, no, yes, no and (regretfully) no.  In making that judgment I’m assuming that they’ll get roughly what they’re really worth as opposed to finding someone to overpay them. Ankiel could be useful if he doesn’t demand too much dough. DeRosa isn’t as valuable as everyone likes to think he is, but he’s solid and versatile.  Holliday is a no-brainer at Matt Holliday dollars but not worth the Mark Teixeira bucks his agent is allegedly seeking. 

The Dodgers have the most potential free agents at 16. Six filed yesterday: Randy Wolf, Jon Garland, Eric Milton, Orlando Hudson, Ronnie Belliard and Doug Mientkiewicz. Same exercise: yes, yes, no, yes, maybe, and no. None of the yeses seem like they”ll break the bank, and all of them could prove useful to any number of teams.  Wolf may make some real money, but he’s a lefty, and lefties always seem to make their money.

Upside to all of this: having fewer kids around will make custody and child support negotiations easier for the McCourts.

The Dodgers have ten other potential free agents, nine of whom are Brad Ausmus, Juan Castro, Mark Loretta, Guillermo Mota, Will Ohman, Vicente Padilla, Jason Schmidt, Jim Thome, and Jeff Weaver.  Outside of Padilla, I can’t feature them really making an effort to keep any of those guys. Maybe Weaver. Things are always more fun when a Weaver is involved.  

And then there’s Manny. His decision on his option is due by November 10th. The odds of him not exercising seem extraordinarily long to the point of absurdity. Boras will probably wait until the last minute though so he can tell everyone he had heard informal expressions of interest from a half dozen teams.

Every team had players filing for free agency except the Yankees and the Phillies, who have been otherwise occupied lately, and the Reds and Pirates who, last I checked, don’t have any players above the age of eight, let alone any high profile free agents.

The Cubs acquire Rex Brothers from the Rockies

Rex Brothers Rockies

The number of people who, if you held a gun to their head, would say that “Rex Brothers” was a game show host and/or local TV news personality from the late 1970s or early 80s is not insignificant. But if you’re a Rockies fan or if spend all day thinking about baseball you know that he’s a reliever who has played in Colorado for the past five years. Now you know him as a reliever for the Cubs:

Brothers — a former Best Shape of His Life All-Star — was pretty good until he hit a brick wall in 2014 and spent most of 2015 in Triple-A. He had something of a bounceback after being called up when rosters expanded in September, but that’s not the sort of thing to excite anyone. He could be useful for the Cubs or just spring training cannon fodder and organizational depth.

Cabrera just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and pitched a grand total of 14 games in the Dominican Summer League. He’s young and was a $250,000 signee from the Dominican as a 16-year-old so, by definition, he’s a project. Worth giving up Rex Brothers for him if you’re the Rockies, worth risking for some depth in the pen if you’re the Cubs.

Diamondbacks hire Dave Magadan as hitting coach

Dave Magadan Rangers
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Steve Gilbert of reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.

Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.

He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.

A’s reacquire Jed Lowrie in trade with Astros

Jed Lowrie

Jed Lowrie, who was traded from the Astros to the A’s in 2013 and then re-signed with the Astros as a free agent last offseason, has now been traded back to the A’s.

Lowrie got a three-year, $23 million deal from the Astros with the idea that he’d play shortstop in the first season and then move to another position whenever stud prospect Carlos Correa arrived. Instead he got hurt right away, Correa became an immediate star, and the Astros weren’t so keen on paying him $15 million over the next two seasons.

He could resume playing shortstop for the A’s, who watched rookie Marcus Semien make an absurd number of errors there this year. Lowrie hit .271 with a .738 OPS in two seasons in Oakland, which is similar to his career totals and makes him a solidly above-average offensive shortstop. There’s a decent chance the A’s will have a Lowrie-Lawrie double-play duo in 2016.

In return the Astros get minor leaguer Brendan McCurry, a 24-year-old right-hander who split 2015 between high Single-A and Double-A with a 1.86 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio in 63 relief innings. He was a 22nd-round draft pick in 2014 and doesn’t have exceptional raw stuff, but McCurry’s numbers are incredible so far.

White Sox sign catcher Alex Avila to a one-year deal

Detroit Tigers' Alex Avila, right, is congratulated by third base coach Dave Clark after his solo home run in the third inning in the second game of a baseball doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

There have been a lot of articles published in the past few days about how to navigate awkward Thanksgiving conversations with your relatives. Heck, we even wrote one.

But there’s always room for more! Such as “How to talk to your father at Thanksgiving dinner about the fact that he let you walk away from the only team you’ve ever known to sign with a division rival.” Which is what Alex Avila will likely be talking about with his father, Tigers GM Al Avila:

The older Avila can’t even say he did it because he’s opposed to nepotism. After all, he just hired his other son — who has had his law degree for just over a year — as the Tigers assistant legal counsel for baseball operations. Though I’m sure that wasn’t nepotism. He probably just aced the interview and impressed everyone more than the other candidates did.

OK, those are jokes. In all seriousness, this is a good move for Alex and Al and, probably, the White Sox. With the emergence of James McCann, there really is not space for Alex Avila in Detroit in anything other than a backup capacity. In Chicago, he’ll get more playing time. At least if he can (a) stay healthy; and (b) not hit .191/.339/.287 again like he did in 2015.