Brandon Allen

Time for Diamondbacks to make a switch at first base?

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Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson named Juan Miranda his primary first baseman at the end of the spring, but he’s obviously never really warmed up to the former Yankee.  As of Friday, Miranda had started just 33 of the team’s 70 games. The decision to release Russell Branyan seemed like just the break Miranda needed to solidify his job, but Gibson has recently gone to Xavier Nady more and more, even against right-handers.

It doesn’t seem entirely fair.  Miranda is hitting just .235 in 132 at-bats this season, but that comes with a .784 OPS.  The NL league average for first baseman this year is a .795 OPS. Nady has just a .683 OPS in his 124 at-bats.

Furthermore, the Diamondbacks are 21-12 with Miranda in the lineup, compared to 17-20 the rest of the time.

Still, Miranda isn’t anything special.  He’s 28, and he’s never going to be anything more than a platoon player.  So if Gibson isn’t happy with him, the Diamondbacks should probably just move on now.

But who to move on to? 25-year-old Brandon Allen has been terrific in Triple-A, hitting .299/.421/.525.  He came up last year and hit .267/.393/.400 in 45 at-bats down the stretch, and he really should have been given more consideration for a starting job this spring.

Then there’s 23-year-old Paul Goldschmidt, the minor league home run leader with 21 bombs for Double-A Mobile.  He is hitting a remarkable .338/.458/.667 in the Southern League.

It certainly wouldn’t be very fair for the Diamondbacks to bypass Allen again.  He has nothing left to prove in Triple-A, while Goldschmidt has yet to receive an at-bat at the level.  Still, there has been more speculation lately that Goldschmidt could be the choice. Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers recently said that he could be added around the All-Star break.

Either way, Miranda’s days with the Diamondbacks may be numbered.  He’s out of options, so it wouldn’t be surprised to see him flipped for a possible bullpen arm at some point within the next few weeks.

Yankees in, Red Sox out on Edwin Encarnacion

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on against the Cleveland Indians during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler AustinGreg Bird combo in 2017.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.

Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.

Report: The Nationals are still in on Chris Sale and Andrew McCutchen

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 05: Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning on September 5, 2016 at U. S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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The Nationals are trying to go big this offseason, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that they are still in trade talks for White Sox’ left-hander Chris Sale and Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Both players figure to command a big return, as Sale delivered another Cy Young-worthy performance in 2016 and, despite a downturn in his production rate, McCutchen is still one of the more coveted sluggers in the National League.

In 2016, Sale led the league in complete games, with six, and turned in a 3.34 ERA and 5.2 fWAR in 226 2/3 innings. While teams have been sniffing around the White Sox’ ace since the trade deadline, the club is expected to maintain a high asking price — so high, said FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, that it may keep the left-hander in Chicago for the foreseeable future.

According to Heyman, four other teams are reportedly in the mix for Sale, including the Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, and Braves, though parts of Rosenthal’s tweet hinted that the Red Sox were maintaining their interest in hopes of striking a more affordable deal. Should the Nationals pursue a deal for Sale, it’s likely that they’d have to move shortstop/center fielder Trea Turner, which they appear reluctant to do.

McCutchen, meanwhile, is also drawing interest around the league after batting .256/.336/.430 with 24 home runs in 675 PA during 2016. He didn’t appear to lose much power in his eighth season with the Pirates, but took considerably fewer walks and struck out at a career-high clip.

The Nationals were said to be in the lead for McCutchen on Thursday, and there was some expectation that the club would wrap up a trade for the center fielder by the non-tender deadline on Friday. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi pointed out that the Rangers were also talking to the Pirates, however, and no deal has come to fruition as of yet.