A's and Reds swap unwanted Taveras and Miles

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ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports the A’s have acquired Willy Taveras and Adam Rosales from the Reds for Aaron Miles and a player to be named later or cash.
Miles went from Chicago to Oakland in the December trade for Jake Fox because the Cubs wanted to dump his $2.7 million salary, but he lasted all of two months with the A’s and has now been swapped for Tavaras and his $4 million salary.
Taveras lost his starting job to Drew Stubbs after batting .240/.275/.285 in 140 games last season to rank among the worst hitters in baseball. He still has plenty of speed and plays good defense, so unlike Miles he’s not totally useless. After five seasons in the minors Rosales finally got an extended look in the majors last year, but struggled and projects as little more than a solid bench player.
In other words, the A’s-Reds swap may contain the least combined value of any three-player trade of major leaguers in baseball history. Oakland “wins” in the same sense that someone trading a month-old turkey sandwich for a year-old ham sandwich is technically getting the better deal, but in the end you don’t want to eat any of it.
Mostly the trade makes me wonder what the A’s are doing, because they just got finished lessening the outfield logjam by trading Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham to the Padres for Kevin Kouzmanoff. Now they’re dealing for Taveras (although they may end up just releasing him) and are reportedly close to signing Gabe Gross, which would leave the following outfielders to sort through:
Coco Crisp
Rajai Davis
Ryan Sweeney
Travis Buck
Jack Cust
Willy Taveras
Gabe Gross
Eric Patterson
Cust will be primarily a designated hitter, but that’s still an awful lot of bodies for three spots and most of them have similar skill sets. Which is to say they run fast, play good defense, and can’t really hit. If the A’s use Cust at DH and Crisp in center field they could form a pair of lefty-righty platoons with Sweeney-Davis and Gross-Taveras, but that would a) devote six roster spots to the outfield, b) still leave Buck and perhaps Patterson at Triple-A, and c) be horrible offensively.
One of the most-quoted lines in Moneyball comes when a scout questions a player’s physique and general manager Billy Beane defiantly responds: “We’re not selling jeans here.” However, after looking at that list of outfielders it’s tough not to conclude that Oakland is now very much in the denim business.
UPDATE: Taveras won’t be doing any modeling for the A’s, denim or otherwise. They’ve already designated him for assignment.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.

Cubs extend Pedro Strop through 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Pedro Strop #46 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.

Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.

The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.

Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.