Halladay trade waits on extension, other details

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ESPN’s Jayson Stark, who still has some of the best Phillies sources in the business from his days in Philadelphia, appears to have the best handle on the Roy Halladay trade at the moment.
According to his sources, the deal isn’t yet done. Besides the need for Halladay to agree to an extension — reportedly in the three-year, $60 million range — the Jays and Phillies are still fighting over a prospect.
It breaks down like this at the moment:
Phillies: Roy Halladay, Mariners prospect, Mariners prospect
Mariners: Cliff Lee
Blue Jays: Phillippe Aumont (20, from Sea), Travis d’Arnaud (20, from Phil), Phillies prospect
Outfielder Michael Taylor might be that last prospect going to Toronto, though Stark believes the Jays are holding out for fellow outfielder Domonic Brown, the Phillies’ top position prospect. Taylor is no slouch — he ranks as one of top 10 outfield prospects in the minors — but it makes sense that the Phillies would want more. Aumont was turned into a reliever last year, and he’d be an injury risk if thrust back into the rotation. He could be a dominant late-game reliever, but he’s hardly a sure thing. D’Arnaud, a 2007 supplemental first-round pick, has been something of a disappointment and doesn’t currently project as a starting catcher in the majors, though he’s just 20 and there’s plenty of time for that to change.
There’s been little word about the other Mariners properties in the deal. The assumption when the reports leaked was that Brandon Morrow would be involved, and he could make sense in Philadelphia as a setup man. However, if Stark is right that it’s prospects going to the Phillies, then he wouldn’t qualify. Reliever Shawn Kelley also doesn’t fit the prospect description, but he’s another pitcher the Phillies should be interested in. Young outfielder Michael Saunders would be a nice piece for Toronto, but not for the Phillies. Carlos Triunfel’s upside would play anywhere.
That there’s still so much we don’t know makes it too early to name winners and losers here. However, I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to suggest that the Mariners did a great job managing to acquire Cliff Lee when they have so few star prospects to deal from. Also, I’ll be very disappointed with the Jays’ haul if they only end up with Aumont, Taylor and D’Arnaud.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

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.