David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Martin Prado had no problem with the Braves’ request that he move to left field following the trade for Dan Uggla.
General manager Frank Wren talked to Prado after making the trade and quoted the All-Star infielder as saying: “I just want to be a part of this team. I want to contribute. I don’t care where I play.”
Prado deserves credit for taking that stance when many other players have scoffed at position switches, but it’s unclear if keeping Uggla at second base and moving Prado to left field makes sense for the Braves in the first place.
Uggla is universally regarded as a poor defensive second baseman whether you trust your eyes, error totals, mainstream perceptions, or advanced defensive metrics. Prado doesn’t fare exceptionally well in advanced defensive metrics either, but he rates better than Uggla and is generally perceived as clearly above average at second base. So why not use Prado at second base and move Uggla to left field?
On paper that seems like a relative no-brainer that would make the Braves’ defense better, but there are a few other factors at play. For one thing Prado has quite a bit more experience as an outfielder, albeit mostly in winter ball. Beyond that it’s possible Uggla would balk at being asked to switch positions one season away from free agency, as his market value as a left fielder could be quite a bit different than as a second baseman.
And last but not least the Braves are planning for 2011 with the idea that they may need to account for Chipper Jones being out of the lineup for long stretches. Prado would be the fill-in for Jones at third base and it’s likely easier to move him back to the infield and plug in another outfielder than it would be to have Uggla shifting back and forth.
Uggla at second base and Prado in left field probably makes the Braves’ defense worse, but deciding where to play them isn’t quite that simple.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.
Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.
The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.
Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.
Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.
After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.
It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.
Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.
LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.
Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.