Jason Marquis is an optimist

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When Jason Marquis signed with the Nats he had a lot to say about bringing a winning attitude to Washington and mentoring the youngins.  That apparently wasn’t just a function of post-deal euphoria, because he’s still bringing the rah-rah.  Asked whether the Nats’ many moves this offseason translate to, say, a .500 record, Marquis wasn’t having any of it:

“No, I don’t see why we can’t shoot for the stars. Why do you want to
limit yourself to 81 wins? Why do I want to limit myself to 15 wins? If
I am taking the ball 34 times, I should win 34 times. We step on the
field 162 times, we should win 162 times. You shouldn’t say ‘let’s win
81 games’ than you putting a number (on it) and you are satisfied with
81 wins. I don’t think you should ever be satisfied.”

I’m torn. On the one hand I hate it when ballplayers talk in those Bull-Durhamesque “I just want to help the ballclub” platitudes, but I also don’t like it when someone comes with the “defeat is not an option/victory is certain/give 110%” rebop either.

I’m not faulting Marquis here — I think he went with the better of the two tacks, and it’s nice to hear optimism in NatsLand, because their fans deserve some of it by now — but I think exchanges like these show the limits of what we can learn from people in the media talking to the guys who throw the baseball.

“Yes, Byron, I think we’ll win 86 games, but will fall out of the wild card race in September when Elijah Dukes develops plantar fasciitis on his plant foot.”

What else can he say?

Angels sign outfielder Rafael Ortega to one-year contract

Rafael Ortega
AP Photo/John Bazemore
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According to the official Twitter account of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the club has agreed to terms on a one-year major league contract with outfielder Rafael Ortega.

It’s worth the MLB minimum, which should be a little north of $507,000 in 2016.

Ortega was once considered a top prospect in the Rockies’ minor league system, but he has made only six total plate appearances at the big league level since signing out of Venezuela in 2008. The 24-year-old batted .286/.367/.378 with two home runs and 17 stolen bases in 131 games this past season for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis.

He’ll be in the running for an Opening Day roster spot next spring in Angels camp.

Report: Ben Zobrist’s price tag is currently four years, $60 million

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Ben Zobrist will turn 35 years old early next summer, but that doesn’t seem to be putting too much of a dent in his free agent value.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the “sense among interested teams” is that Zobrist’s price is currently hovering around four years, $60 million and it “may go higher.”

There was a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on Sunday stating that the Mets have made Zobrist their “No. 1” offseason target, and over a dozen other clubs have linked to him since the World Series ended. That’s the kind of attention you command when you can both hit — Zobrist posted an .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 2015 — and also cover a range of positions defensively.

He makes sense for just about any club looking to contend in the coming seasons.

Wilin Rosario elects to become free agent

Wilin Rosario
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
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Wilin Rosario was designated for assignment by the Rockies late last month. Now, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, the 26-year-old former National League Rookie of the Year vote-getter has elected to become a free agent.

Rosario is a bad defensive catcher and wasn’t much better when the Rockies tried him at first base, but he should draw some interest from American League teams looking for a bench bat and part-time DH.

Rosario slugged 28 home runs for the Rockies in 2012 and he’s averaged 26 home runs for every 162 games over the course of his five-year major league career.

He boasts a .319/.356/.604 career batting line against left-handed pitching.

Orioles acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners for Steve Clevenger

Mark Trumbo
AP Photo/Joe Nicholson

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.