Red Sox show interest in Colorado’s Ryan Spilborghs

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For about three years now, the Red Sox have alternated between showing interest in Ryan Spilborghs and Chris Iannetta from the Rockies.  Maybe they’ll actually get one of the two this time.

A NL source confirmed to CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam that Boston is again interested in Spilborghs and that the Rockies have a scout at Fenway Park tonight.  That last part doesn’t make a whole lot of sense — it’s hard to see the Red Sox dealing someone from the current major league roster for Spilborghs — but who really knows?

Spilborghs’ trade value is as low as it’s ever been.  He’s hit just .223/.303/.324 with three homers in 179 at-bats this season, and he’s at a totally unacceptable .135/.196/.202 in 89 at-bats away from Coors Field.

Still, the 31-year-old Spilborghs has turned in a few excellent seasons as a part-timer.  He finished with OPSs of .848 in 2007, .875 in 2008 and .797 last year while averaging about 270 at-bats per season.  He’s used most often against lefties, but he hit righties just fine, too, with a career .751 OPS (.811 versus southpaws).

If the Red Sox get him, it would like to be serve as a right fielder against left-handers.  Both Josh Reddick and J.D. Drew are left-handed hitters and Darnell McDonald has been a pretty big bust in his chances to face lefties this season, though he has picked it up of late.

The Red Sox, though, wouldn’t give up much for him.  While Spilborghs is under control for next year, he’ll cost a bit more than $2 million in arbitation, so he would be a non-tender candidate.  The Rockies would have been far more likely to get a legitimate prospect for him had they moved him last year.

Update: McAdam added some clarification on his previous tweet:

Should have made clear: Rockies scout at Fenway not looking for return on a Spilborghs deal. Would be mid-level prospect only on exchange

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.