Kosuke Fukudome’s four-year, $48 million contract comes to an end in 60 games, but it sounds like the disappointing outfielder may not be in Chicago when that happens.
Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports that “at least four teams are zeroing in on” Fukudome as a trade target and presumably even Cubs general manager Jim Hendry can see clearly enough through his rose-colored glasses to get whatever value he can out of him.
Chicago hasn’t gotten what it paid for in Fukudome, whose post-April fades, inability to hit left-handed pitching, and lack of power combined to make him much less of an impact player than expected, but as a platoon corner outfielder he’s still plenty useful and has posted a .369 on-base percentage in 511 games.
Levine speculates that the Indians are one of the teams interested in Fukudome, whose contract gives him the ability to block a trade to six undisclosed teams. Assuming the Cubs are willing to pay most of the $4 million or so he’s still owed in order to get even a mid-level prospect, Fukudome is a smart target for contenders looking to add a solid bat versus right-handed pitching without giving up a ton.
Scott Kazmir won’t begin the regular season in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Manager Dave Roberts said after Kazmir’s Cactus League outing on Sunday that it “doesn’t make sense” for the ailing Kazmir to break camp in the rotation, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. The lefty will instead rehab some more and join the rotation at a later time.
Kazmir has been battling a hip issue which has caused his mechanics to suffer. He was clocked in the low 80’s 10 days ago and wasn’t much better on Sunday afternoon.
Last season with the Dodgers, Kazmir posted a 4.56 ERA with a 134/52 K/BB ratio in 136 1/3 innings, his worst numbers since returning to the majors in 2013.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that Robert Gsellman has won the No. 4 spot in the Mets’ starting rotation. He adds that the Mets are likely to play things cautiously with lefty Steven Matz. The fifth and final rotation spot will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo.
Gsellman, 23, has had a great spring. The right-hander has allowed three earned runs on 15 hits and four walks with nine strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings. That is on the heels of seven solid starts at the end of the 2016 season during which he yielded 12 earned runs on 40 hits and 12 walks with 40 strikeouts in 41 innings.
Matz, 25, is dealing with irritation in his left elbow. He had surgery in October to remove a bone spur and was a Tommy John patient several years ago. It sounds like the Mets are leaning towards having him start the season on the disabled list.
Wheeler, 26, isn’t having a great spring. He’s surrendered seven runs in 7 1/3 innings. Lugo has given up three earned runs in seven spring innings and also looked solid in the World Baseball Classic although he took the loss in the final against the United States.