Ryan Theriot

Shortstop now the priority for St. Louis

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After addressing their rotation and the bullpen with Wednesday’s Colby Rasmus swap, the Cardinals are looking for shortstop help, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  He hears that a move is likely and that it could be a “difference-maker.”

Of course, there isn’t really much for difference makers on the shortstop market.  Jose Reyes is unavailable.  Rafael Furcal is the big name, but he’s hitting .195 in 133 at-bats this season.

Shortstops thought to be available at the right price include Washington’s Ian Desmond, Houston’s Clint Barmes and Seattle’s Jack Wilson.  San Diego’s Jason Bartlett is better than that bunch, but it doesn’t appear that the Padres are at all eager to move him.

The Cardinals, though, could stand to do something.  They knew they were taking a hit defensively when they acquired Ryan Theriot to replace Brendan Ryan over the winter, but Theriot hasn’t made up for it with his bat, having hit just .263/.311/.320 in 353 at-bats.  Plus, the Cards are also struggling at second base and Theriot might be more useful there if a full-time shortstop is acquired.

So, let’s see what John Mozeliak can come up with.

Update: For what it’s worth, the Houston Chronicle’s Brian McTaggert is reporting that the Astros have told teams Barmes isn’t available.  Because when you’re cruising toward the worst record in the major leagues and you have a chance to keep a mediocre shortstop that’s going to a free agent at season’s end, you just have to do it.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.