Ubaldo Jimenez

Red Sox, Indians still targeting Ubaldo Jimenez

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According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the Red Sox are “aggressively pursuing” Ubaldo Jimenez, while others think the Indians are a “big threat” to land the Rockies right-hander.

Heyman says the Reds and Blue Jays also remain interested and that the Yankees are lurking.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark, on the other hand, reports that the Yankees’ interest “seems to be waning” and that they may now be focused more on Hiroki Kuroda.

From the Rockies’ perspective, the Indians might be a more attractive suitor than the Red Sox.  In Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, they have two pitching prospects superior to any that Boston can offer.  Not that they’d necessarily be willing to part with both.  But they can build an offer around one of the two and maybe outfielder Nick Weglarz.  They’d almost certainly have the best shot of landing Jimenez if they were willing to trade one of the two pitchers and either third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall or second baseman Jason Kipnis.

The Red Sox can’t match that top-level talent, not after trading both Anthony Rizzo and Casey Kelly for Adrian Gonzalez over the winter.  They do have a lot of depth, though, and they could potentially offer the Rockies four or five significant prospects for Jimenez and outfielder Ryan Spilborghs.

An Ubaldo trade looked like a long shot a week ago, and it’s still likely less than 50/50 to get done.  But the way the rumors are heating up suggests that the odds have gotten shorter these last 48 hours.

Astros avoid arbitration with Mike Fiers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 17: Starting pitcher Mike Fiers #54 of the Houston Astros walks to the dugout after pitching an inning during a game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 17, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Astros won the game 2-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.

Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.

Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.

Raines to wear an Expos cap, Pudge to wear a Rangers cap on their Hall of Fame plaques

1990:  Outfielder Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos in action. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule  /Allsport
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There is little if any controversy to be had about the caps this year’s inductees will wear on their Hall of Fame plaques, but in case there was any doubt at all, it was put to rest this afternoon at the Hall of Fame press conference: Tim Raines will wear a Montreal Expos cap and Ivan Rodriguez will wear a Rangers cap. Jeff Bagwell, of course, never played for a team other than the Houston Astros at the big league level.

Though Raines had some good seasons with the Chicago White Sox and though he helped provide a nice kick start to the Yankees dynasty in the mid-1990s, his best seasons, by far, took place while he was an Expo. It’s also the case that the bulk of his Hall of Fame push came from Expos fans. He was particularly boosted by Jonah Keri, who recently wrote a book detailing the history of the Expos. So, yeah, that’s easy.

Rodriguez played 13 of his 21 years with the Texas Rangers, including his MVP 1999 season. He did have some notable years elsewhere, particularly in Detroit where he remains a fan favorite, but it was always going to be the Rangers for him, one would think. Maybe a slight, slight chance that he’d do the blank cap thing, Greg Maddux-style, but smart money was on the Rangers.

With Bagwell, the only question is which Astros cap he’ll wear. There are a couple of applicable ones: the brick red star, which he wore to the World Series in 2005. There’s also the shooting star cap he wore during his best seasons and which Craig Biggio’s plaque displays. He was around for the classic “H” over the star look, but he was just a kid then, so I doubt he’d wear it.

Anyway, sorry to the Marlins fans who wished that Raines and Pudge would wear the fishy-F.