UPDATE: This one’s done, according to Dan Hayes of the North County Times. Despite reports of a “twist,” the only hold-up now is a routine physical for all three involved players.
WEDNESDAY: From MLB.com’s Corey Brock comes word that the Padres have landed shortstop Jason Bartlett from the Rays in exchange for two relievers — Cesar Ramos and Adam Russell.
The Rays are prepared to go with the slick-fielding Reid Brignac at shortstop next season and dealt from their surplus of middle infielders in order to tidy up a bullpen that had been ravaged by free agent departures.
Bartlett, 31, posted a poor .254/.324/.350 batting line this past season and probably won’t make much of an improvement while playing half of his games at the massive PETCO Park. But he’s an upgrade over what the Padres trotted out in 2010 and he did register an 879 OPS in 2009 — just one year ago.
Ramos, 26, posted a 3.28 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 96 innings this year at Triple-A. He has some starting experience but will almost certainly be used as a reliever in Tampa. Russell, 27, registered a 1.21 WHIP over 12 relief appearances in 2010.
Over the winter there was serious talk about the Pirates trading Andrew McCutchen to the Washington Nationals. His move to left field to allow Starling Marte to take over center further served to make McCutchen a less important part of the Pirates long term plans.
Then the season began, Marte got suspended for PEDs and, after a bumpy start, McCutchen caught fire. He hit .411/.505/.689 in June he has a .333/.444/.561 line in the month of July. For the year he’s now at .292/.384/.507 with 17 homers and 57 RBI. Even with Marte back on the roster, McCutchen is the Pirates’ center fielder. What’s more, the Pirates, after beginning the season slowly have righted the ship somewhat and are now only three games back in the NL Central.
All of which makes this, from Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, unsurprising:
That option is a quite reasonable $14.5 million, so it seems sorta crazy that they wouldn’t pick it up. Of course if they remain coy enough about it for now perhaps someone will bowl them over with an offer. Letting McCutchen walk seems insane. Unloading him for a hefty haul would, well, still be kinda crazy given how popular McCutchen is with the fan base, but not truly insane.
The Brewers were rumored last week to have been “aggressive” in talks for Tigers reliever Justin Wilson. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports, however, that the talks are a bit more wide-ranging than that.
Crasnick says that the two clubs are also discussing Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, potentially in a package deal with Wilson. Crasnick says that the Brewers “would love to have Kinsler,” but their main focus at the moment is pitching help. Of course, the Brewers current second baseman — Jonathan Villar — is hitting a meager .223/.285/.348 in 334 plate appearances.
Kinsler is having a down season for him — .237/.331/.400 — but he’s better than that and, of course, would represent an improvement. He’s under contract through the end of this year but he has a very affordable, $10 million club option for 2018. Wilson will be arbitration-eligible this offseason, so he’s still under team control as well. As such a Kinsler/Wilson package would likely cost the Brewers a high price, so you have to think they’d try to exhaust cheaper options before making such a deal.
The Brewers had been in first place in the NL Central since June 7, but the Cubs caught them yesterday. They’re in a virtual tie, with Chicago percentage points ahead. This should prove to be a very interesting week for the Brewers’ front office.