Jon Heyman runs down the big ticket trade targets this summer. Heyman’s candidates:
- Cliff Lee. Makes sense to me on some level but I’m a bit skeptical. The Mariners are a disappointment this year, but I don’t think they’re a team that thinks it’s tearing down and rebuilding. If they have a chance to sign Lee, I have to think they’ll stick with him.
- Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman: Heyman has a hard time seeing anyone who both (a) can pick up Oswalt’s salary; but who is also (b) a team Oswalt wants to play for. But we heard the same thing about Jake Peavy last year too, didn’t we? I think that the longer the Astros suck and the more teams who express a moderate interest in Oswalt, the more flexible he becomes on his no trade. It would not surprise me at all to see him in Queens or Los Angels sometime this summer.
- Prince Fielder: Heyman is sharply pessimistic about the Brewers’ chances to sign Fielder. Given the agent involved, it’s probably worth giving such an impression more than the usual credence.
- Ben Sheets: Heyman quotes an AL GM who says Sheets needs to show more consistency before he’s a legit trade chit, but the deeper we go into the season the easier it is to make an argument for consistency. By mid July, the definition of consistency might be 2-3 decent starts.
- Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski: Konerko can veto a trade and Pierzynski will be able to within a couple of weeks due to his 10-5 rights kicking in. Heyman thinks that people will be more interested in Bobby Jenks and J.J. Putz. I think he’s right.
- Other candidates: Adam Dunn, Kevin Millwood, Jake Westbrook, Dan Haren, tons of Royals players, Adrian Gonzalez, Heath Bell. From this list all I can note is how crazy it is that Adrian Gonzalez is only considered a marginal trade candidate this year. One wonders if the Padres’ great run in the early going — which makes Gonzalez all but indispensable — isn’t hurting them in the long run. They’re not going to sign the guy, right? How worse will the prospects they ultimately get for him this offseason be than the ones they could have gotten this summer?
Anyway, it’s only Memorial Day weekend, but it seems like the trade winds are blowing stronger than usual for this time of year. A lot of guys are going to be available. It’s really going to be a buyer’s market, it seems.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
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.