12:00 a.m. EDT update: Upton is staying put for now. The Rays announced after the game that Jennings was being called up, but that he’d be taking shortstop Reid Brignac’s spot. Brignac, whose demotion was long overdue, hit just .193/.234/.219 in 187 at-bats and was losing playing time at shortstop to Sean Rodriguez and Elliot Johnson. Jennings will get starts in left while the Rays figure out what they’re doing with Upton. Sam Fuld will lose some playing time, and Ben Zobrist figures to be used pretty strictly as a second baseman.
11:30 p.m. EDT update: Durham Bulls writer Adam Sobsey confirms that Jennings has been recalled by the Rays. That doesn’t necessarily mean Upton is a goner — the Rays could use Jennings in left field — but the trade possibility remains very much alive.
It sounds like the Rays have made a move, as they just pulled B.J. Upton from the game against the Royals and they scratched Desmond Jennings from Triple-A Durham’s lineup.
Washington has been the most common landing spot for Upton in trade rumors.
Upton was 1-for-4 tonight before being removed. He’s been playing well of late, having hit .270/.333/.429 with three homers and 10 RBI in 16 games this month. The Nationals have long coveted him to fill their hole in center field, and the 26-year-old is under control through 2012.
His replacement in center field with the Rays would be Jennings, who recently returned from a finger injury. He’s hit .286/.426/.510 in 13 games this month and .275/.374/.456 overall for Durham.
Update: For what it’s worth, it’s possible we’re overreacting here. The Rays were down by six runs and had already removed Matt Joyce from the contest. Upton also could have been due a little rest, considering he had started every game since the break. Still, there is a little evidence that something is going on. Draysbay.com reports that Jennings was seen signing something in the managers office at Triple-A Durham before tonight’s game.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.