Previewing Saturday's Rising Stars Game

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afl.pngAs Aaron noted on Friday, Stephen Strasburg was scratched from Saturday’s Rising Stars Game in the Arizona Fall League due to a strained muscle in his neck.
Bummer. But for those of you who are jonesin’ for some live
baseball, many of baseball’s top prospects will still be on display
tonight on MLB Network at 8pm ET.

Tommy Mendoza (Angels) will replace
Strasburg on the roster for the East team and oppose 2009
first-round pick Mike Minor (Braves), who starts for the West.

Rising Stars East lineup:
CF Jose Tabata (Pirates), SS Starlin Castro (Cubs), 1B Brandon Snyder
(Orioles), LF Grant Desme (Athletics), DH Brandon Allen (Diamondbacks),
Buster Posey (Giants), RF Domonic Brown (Phillies), 3B Joshua Bell
(Orioles), 2B Jemile Weeks (Athletics), RHP Mendoza (Angels).

Rising Stars West

CF Dustin Ackley (Mariners), RF Jordan Danks (White Sox), 3B Mike
Moustakas (Royals), LF Chris Heisey (Reds), 1B Yonder Alonso (Reds), DH
Darryl Jones (Cardinals), 2B Lance Zawadzki (Padres), C Jason Castro
(Astros), SS Carlos Triunfel (Mariners), LHP Minor (Braves).

Full rosters can be seen here, although Mendoza replaced Strasburg, Bell replaced Josh Vitters (Cubs) and Brandon Erbe (Orioles) will replaced by a player to be announced.

Just a few quick items of note out of the AFL:

– Starlin Castro has been a
sensation for the Mesa Solar Sox, leading the league in batting at .424
(28-for-66) with one home run, nine RBI, five stolen bases and 13 runs
scored in 18 games. It’s dangerous to look too much into AFL numbers,
but the 19-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic
is already drawing comparisons to Hanley Ramirez and Derek Jeter.
He batted .299/.342/.392 with three home runs, 49 RBI, 28 stolen bases
and 56 runs scored between High Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee
this season. Look for him to rise on prospects lists over the winter.

– Grant Desme has been a monster for
the Phoenix Desert Dogs, leading the league with 10 home runs in just
79 at-bats. How well is he swinging the bat? Chris Heisey (Reds),
Brandon Laird (Yankees), Corey Brown (Athletics) and Russ Mitchell
(Dodgers) are tied for second in the league with five home runs.

– While Strasburg has garnered much
of the attention since being drafted by the Nationals in June, their
other first-round pick Drew Storen (No. 10) might be ready to make the
jump to the big club next season. After posting an impressive 1.95 ERA,
0.74 WHIP and 49/8 K/BB ratio in 37 innings between three levels in the
Nationals system in 2009, the 22-year-old right-hander has an 0.93 ERA,
two saves and a 9/1 K/BB ratio 9 2/3 innings in the AFL. He’s leaving
little doubt to the notion that he will be the Nationals’ closer before
very long.

Orioles acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners for Steve Clevenger

Mark Trumbo
AP Photo/Joe Nicholson
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As first reported by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma Tribune and now confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mariners have traded first baseman and corner outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Orioles in exchange for catcher and first baseman Steve Clevenger. There is also a second player headed to Baltimore in the deal.

This feels like an admission from the O’s that they’re not going to be able to re-sign Chris Davis, who is said to be looking for more than $150 million in free agency.

Clevenger was out of options and the Orioles have both Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph coming back at the catcher position. Wieters was due to become a free agent but accepted a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Baltimore last month.

Trumbo has always been a low-OBP guy and he rates as a poor defender everywhere he has played, but the 29-year-old has averaged 31 homers and 96 RBI for every 162 games in his six-year major league career. Camden Yards is a much better place than Safeco Field for him to show that power.

Cardinals finished runner-up to Red Sox in David Price sweepstakes

David Price
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

These kind of after-the-ink-has-dried reports have to be taken with a grain of salt for a variety of reasons, but they’re fantastic conversation-starters …

Bob Nightengale of USA Today says the Cardinals “finished runner-up” to the Red Sox in the bidding for free agent left-hander David Price, who signed with Boston on Monday for a record seven years and $217 million.

There were reports early on that the Red Sox were going to have to overpay on Price because he wanted to either stay in Toronto or make the move to the more pitcher-friendly National League. And maybe they did go significantly above and beyond the next-best offer to land him.

But the report from Nightengale serves as an indication that the Cardinals are ready and willing to spend big money ahead of next week’s Winter Meetings in Nashville. Does that chunk of change now get directed toward Jason Heyward? Or might the Cardinals pounce one of the falling dominos in this still-loaded starting pitching market? What about both?

St. Louis lost Lance Lynn to Tommy John surgery last month and both Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha carry some injury concerns into 2016. There’s money to spend there with a new billion-dollar local television deal about ready to kick in.

Pirates expressing interest in Justin Masterson

Justin Masterson
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has become the king of the reclamation project. And it sounds like he’s about to take on another big one …

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the Pirates have expressed interest in free agent Justin Masterson. The expectation is that it will be a one-year deal with the goal of rebuilding the right-hander’s value in an environment where many other struggling veteran pitchers have executed significant career turnarounds.

Masterson earned his first (and only) All-Star nod in 2013 when he registered a 3.45 ERA, 195 strikeouts, and three shutouts in 32 appearances with the Indians. But he had a 5.88 ERA in 128 2/3 innings between Cleveland and St. Louis in 2014 and he continued struggling to the tune of a 5.61 ERA with the Red Sox in 2015.

It’s not clear whether the Bucs would try him as a starter or reliever.

Zack Greinke deal “could come soon,” Dodgers and Giants lead the bidding

Zack Greinke
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Jordan Zimmermann signed with the Tigers on Sunday for five years, $110 million. David Price signed with the Red Sox on Tuesday for seven years, $217 million.

Two big dominos have fallen in this loaded free agent market for starting pitchers, and another big one is about to go …

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says a deal for Zack Greinke “could come soon” and it’s currently “Dodgers vs. Giants” at the top of the bidding ladder.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick confirms that both the Dodgers and Giants are looking for an answer from Greinke, adding that the 32-year-old right-hander seeks a five- or six-year deal with a greater average annual value (AAV) than what Price just secured from Boston. That number would be $31 million, so we’re talking something close to $32 million through 2020-2021.

Greinke opted out of the remaining three years and $71 million contract with Los Angeles in October after posting a 1.66 ERA and 0.84 WHIP across 222 2/3 regular-season innings in 2015. He finished second to the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta in the National League Cy Young Award balloting.