Javier Vazquez is not going to Anaheim

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Javier Vazquez headshot.pngAngelswin.com (found via MLB.com) reports that the Angels are interested in Braves’ starter Javier Vazquez.  That’s well and good, but the article only makes brief mention of Vazquez’s limited no trade clause that allows him to veto a deal to western division teams. A very personal clause for Vazquez, as the entire reason for it was just how miserable he was when he pitched for the Diamondbacks, rendering a flight back home to visit his family in Puerto Rico (and vice-versa) an all-day affair.

In light of that, one of Angelswin.com’s arguments — “It’s possible a contract extension could entice the Vazquez camp to waive the no trade clause to an AL or NL West club,” makes no sense. He wants no part of the west. If the NTC was gone and the trade was made, he’d immediately go back to the east once the contract expires at the end of next season.

Any Angels-Braves trade seems pretty hard to see happening right now. If, as reported on Tuesday, the Braves want the Angels to take Derek Lowe, they’re either going to have to pony up a lot of cash in the deal or accept Gary Matthews, Jr. in return, and no one really wants that. If the Braves want to land Juan Rivera and maybe another valuable player or prospect, they’d have to give up Vazquez, and that’s out of their control for the reasons stated above.

Time to look elsewhere, Atlanta. Heck, why not look within the division. If the Mets are willing to make a complicated trade for Bronson Arroyo, why not Derek Lowe? I mean, if you were worried about New York Met Derek Lowe coming back to bite you in the butt later, you wouldn’t be shopping him now anyway, would you?

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.