Trevor Hoffman keeping his eye on the Diamondbacks

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Just one day after we learned that Trevor Hoffman would return for another season if given a chance to close, the all-time saves leader tells Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com that he sees a potential fit with the Diamondbacks.

The chances of Hoffman finding another closing gig are slim, but he isn’t completely off base. Not only are the D-Backs without an in-house favorite for the ninth inning next season, but they also recently hired former Padres GM Kevin Towers as their new general manager.

“I’ve known K.T. for such a long time and I figured having a little history there would help,” Hoffman said about playing in Phoenix, which would keep him close to home. “But I don’t know. I’m coming off a tough year. I don’t know if people are going to be turned off by that or not. I hope the strong second half I had will compensate.”

“Usually [money] is what it always comes down to,” Hoffman said. “It’ll be interesting to see if [the D-backs] get back to me. I’m open for anything. I want to take a look at all my options.”

Hoffman, who turned 43 last month, posted a 5.89 ERA and 30/19 K/BB ratio over 47 1/3 innings with the Brewers this past season. Much was made of his early season struggles — something his agent Rick Thurman blames on triceps tendinitis, by the way — but Hoffman actually had a 2.66 ERA and 13/6 K/BB ratio over 20 1/3 innings during the second half of the season, reaching the 600-save plateau in September.

Thurman said he has has yet to speak directly with Towers, but talked to the Diamondbacks last Friday about Hoffman and a number of his other clients, including Brian Fuentes and Octavio Dotel, both of whom also closed games last season.

Hoffman could probably find a job if he is willing to work on the cheap, but don’t forget that Rafael Soriano, Scott Downs, J.J. Putz, Kevin Gregg, Kerry Wood, Joaquin Benoit and Koji Uehara, among others (including that Mariano guy), are all free agents, as well. With only so many closer gigs to go around, the reality is that we may have seen the last of “Hells Bells.”

Braves release James Loney

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Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.

Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.

Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.