Padres “on verge” of deal with free agent Brad Hawpe

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UPDATE: Dan Hayes of the North County Times was told by a Padres official that the talks are serious, but that “nothing is going to happen either way for a few days.”

8:03 PM: Aaron wrote earlier that the Padres were “interested” in signing free agent Brad Hawpe to play first base.

Now Buster Olney of ESPN.com is reporting that the two sides are “on the verge” of an agreement.

The Friars chased free agent first basemen Derrek Lee and Adam LaRoche earlier this winter, but Hawpe will come far cheaper and could be just as productive if things go right in 2011.

He batted just .245 with a .338 on-base percentage and .419 slugging percentage in 2010 for the Rockies and Rays, but Hawpe still boasts a stellar 862 career OPS and he doesn’t turn 32 years old until June 22 of next year.

PETCO Park is one of the least power-friendly ballparks in all of baseball and doesn’t lend itself to many offensive turnarounds.  Hawpe, though, hit well there during his five-plus seasons in the National League West and may be able to right the ship.

Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title

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The Marlins announced on Sunday that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title when the city of Miami host’s the All-Star Game festivities next month.

Stanton, 27, defeated Todd Frazier in the finals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Petco Park, hitting 20 home runs to Frazier’s 13. Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs in the Derby. This will be the third Home Run Derby in which Stanton has participated.

Stanton also went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to help the Marlins defeat the Cubs 4-2 on Sunday. He’s now batting .274/.357/.551 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 311 plate appearances.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.