Report: Cardinals covet Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson

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There’s been some speculation that the Rays would make a run at Colby Rasmus should the Cardinals make their center fielder available.  Now we know whom the Cardinals would ask for in return.  According to the Post-Dispatch’s Joe Strauss, Jeremy Hellickson is the pitcher the team most covets in any potential deal.

And for good reason.  Hellickson entered the season as one of the top three pitching prospects in baseball, and he’s very much in the Rookie of the Year race with an 8-7 record and a 3.21 ERA in 16 starts for the Rays.  He might not quite have Michael Pineda’s ceiling, but he could be one of the game’s top 30 starters for a long time.

So, even with Rasmus as a potential return, it’s highly unlikely that the Rays will move Hellickson.  He’ll make barely more than the minimum through 2013, and he’s not going to be a free agent until after 2016.  If the Rays were to dip into their stellar rotation depth in order to upgrade elsewhere, then such a deal would be far more likely to involve Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.