Cubs may have to move Kosuke Fukudome before diving into free agency

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Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune writes that the Cubs will be in the market for a power-hitting first baseman this offseason and may even be in the mix for Adam Dunn, but could be pretty limited financially unless they can unload Kosuke Fukudome’s contract:

The Cubs might need to trade Kosuke Fukudome before making an offer for any prominent free agent, though it will be difficult to find a trade partner without taking another overpaid player in return. Hendry did that with Milton Bradley last offseason, paving the way for the signing of center fielder Marlon Byrd.

Obviously swapping Milton Bradley for Carlos Silva worked out brilliantly for the Cubs last offseason, as Silva went 10-6 with a 4.22 ERA in 21 starts while Bradley hit .205 with a .641 OPS in 73 games for the Mariners, but the problem with making a similar swap involving Fukudome is that it won’t actually free up much money to pursue someone like Dunn.

By trading Fukudome the Cubs would clear a spot in the lineup for a good-hitting first baseman, but Sullivan questions “whether the Cubs can accommodate Dunn’s salary” and obviously no teams will be willing to swallow the $13.5 million Fukudome is owed in 2011.

In some respects Fukudome has gotten a bad rap because expectations were pretty high when he signed with the Cubs and his annual post-April fades have been frustrating, but he has hit .259/.368/.410 in three seasons. He’d be useful to a lot of teams as a platoon starter against right-handed pitching, but the question is how much of that $13.5 million the Cubs are willing to eat to move him.

The Cubs might need to trade Kosuke Fukudome before making an offer for any prominent free agent, though it will be difficult to find a trade partner without taking another overpaid player in return. Hendry did that with Milton Bradley last offseason, paving the way for the signing of center fielder Marlon Byrd.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.