Marlins close to calling up 20-year-old slugging phenom Mike Stanton

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While the baseball world tries to pin down Stephen Strasburg’s debut, another elite prospect could be on the verge of the majors. Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports that the Marlins may call up 20-year-old outfielder Mike Stanton as soon as June 5.
Picked in the second round of the 2007 draft out of high school, Stanton has emerged as perhaps baseball’s premier power-hitting prospect. Stanton blasted 67 homers in his first two pro seasons, which led all minor leaguers in 2008 and 2009, and has been on fire at Double-A this season with 17 homers and 44 RBIs in 43 games.
Better yet he’s hitting .306 after coming into the season with a .267 career batting average and is walking far more than ever before while cutting down on his strikeouts. Stanton is still six months from his 21st birthday, but hitting .306 with a .440 on-base percentage and .706 slugging percentage at Double-A has likely forced the Marlins’ to speed up his timetable.
Frisaro notes that Stanton has been playing left field recently after previously being a right fielder, which is noteworthy because the Marlins currently have the reigning Rookie of the Year in left field. However, Chris Coghlan is hitting just .218 with a .544 OPS and has the defensive versatility to get into the lineup elsewhere. Another option to make room for Stanton would be moving Cody Ross to center field and benching or demoting Cameron Maybin, who’s hitting just .234 with a .641 OPS.
Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez told Frisaro that Stanton will likely begin his career batting seventh, saying: “I don’t want him feeling he’s the a savior who’s here to save the season.” Maybe not, but as soon as his service time has been sufficiently suppressed Stanton’s arrival will be shaking up the 24-24 team.

Report: Dodgers could pursue three-year deal with Rich Hill

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.

Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.

The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.

Yankees in, Red Sox out on Edwin Encarnacion

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on against the Cleveland Indians during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler AustinGreg Bird combo in 2017.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.

Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.