Jake Westbrook

Talks between Cards and Westbrook already “taking place”

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Things are falling into place for a long-term marriage between the Cardinals and right-hander Jake Westbrook.  The free agent told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in September that he would “definitely” be interested in returning to St. Louis and GM John Mozeliak shared the same feeling last week.

Now Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com is reporting that discussions are “taking place” and that Mozeliak and Co. have expressed a “high level of interest” in retaining their No. 3 starter.

Westbrook, 33, posted a 3.48 ERA and 1.25 WHIP over 12 starts with the Cardinals this season after joining the club as part of a three-team deal in late July.  He had a 4.22 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 33 overall outings with a 128/68 K/BB ratio in 202.2 innings.

The Cards will sport a starting rotation of Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia and Kyle Lohse next season.  If Westbrook is brought back, he would probably slot in between Carpenter and Garcia.  And maybe right after the Rookie of the Year Award candidate.

Now let’s talk money.  Westbrook earned $11 million this past season and will likely be asking for a similar salary over the next 4-5 seasons.  The Cardinals have to pay slugger Albert Pujols soon and must decide if there will be enough money left over for that possibly historic contract extension.

Report: Mariners acquire Chris Heston from the Giants

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network and FOX Sports reports that the Mariners have acquired starter Chris Heston from the Giants. The Giants will receive a player to be named later, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Heston, 28, logged only five innings in the majors this past season as he battled an oblique injury and otherwise spent most of his time with Triple-A Sacramento. Heston was solid out of the Giants’ rotation in 2015, posting a 3.95 ERA with a 141/64 K/BB ratio in 177 2/3 innings over 31 starts.

Heston will be under team control through 2021. He’ll provide depth for the Mariners’ rotation in the meantime.

Joe Nathan wants to pitch in 2017

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 16: Joe Nathan #36 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the ninth inning of the game against the Seattle Mariners at Comerica Park on August 16, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Mariners 4-2.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images
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Joe Nathan‘s agent, David Pepe, says his client wants to pitch in 2017, per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. “He’s like the Energizer Bunny,” Pepe said.

Nathan, 42, came back from Tommy John surgery in July, pitching two scoreless innings for the Cubs with four strikeouts and two walks. The Cubs released him and the Giants picked him up, and Nathan went on to pitch 4 1/3 scoreless innings down the stretch with five strikeouts and two walks.

According to FanGraphs, Nathan’s velocity wasn’t where it used to be, which is to be expected of a pitcher in his 40’s coming back from major elbow surgery. Still, with teams always on the hunt for bullpen depth, it would be shocking if Nathan didn’t get any bites before spring training starts.