Jed Hoyer is bargain-hunting

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Thumbnail image for jed hoyer padres.jpgAccording to Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Padres have between $5 million-8 million left to spend on free agents this winter.
New general manager Jed Hoyer has spent most of his first offseason on
the sidelines, but he did manage to surprise many around baseball
by inking Kevin Correia to a new contract last month.



While the funds available won’t go far, Center expects to club to be active in the following areas:



Center field: Namely, a righty bat
to balance Tony Gwynn, who is a stretch as anything beyond a part-time outfielder. Reed
Johnson is a possibility there, but he also interests the Yankees as a
reserve.




Catcher: With Henry Blanco leaving
via free agency, the team seeks a veteran catcher to mentor 26-year-old
Nick Hundley. Center sees former Padre and San Diego County resident
Brad Ausmus as a natural fit, though the Padres have yet to contact him.




Middle infield: Center expects Hoyer
to find a veteran defensive specialist as rosters take shape around
baseball during spring training.




Pitching: With a young staff, the Padres could use a veteran presence.



With the odds of an offseason trade
in doubt, the roster likely won’t look much different than what the
club had at the end of the 2009 season. Rumors about an Adrian Gonzalez
trade have been based more on hype than reality and the market for Kevin
Kouzmanoff has taken a hit with several teams filling their
need at the hot corner and Adrian Beltre and Miguel Tejada still
available as a free agents. It all adds up to a pretty underwhelming offseason, but the Padres are hoping to progress from a 37-25 finish to their 2009 campaign.

Watch: Mike Trout ties MLB record with his 25th home run

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It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:

In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.

Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.

Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.

Blue Jays acquire Tom Koehler from Marlins

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The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.

The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.

Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.