Diamondbacks to acquire Jason Marquis from the Nationals

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UPDATE: ESPN’s Jim Bowden reports that the Nationals will receive prospect shortstop Zach Walters from Arizona. The Diamondbacks are expected to cover the $2.47 million left on Marquis’ contract.

Walters, 21, is batting .302/.377/.485 with nine homers, 56 RBI and 12 stolen bases over 412 plate appearances with Class A South Bend this season. Baseball America ranked him as the organization’s No. 29 prospect coming into the season.

4:46 PM: FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Diamondbacks have agreed to a trade with the Nationals for right-hander Jason Marquis. It’s not yet known who the Nationals will receive in return or if they will pay any of his remaining salary for this season.

Marquis was scheduled to face the Mets this evening, but Yunesky Maya is expected to start in his place.

The Diamondbacks enter play today four games behind the Giants in the National League West and 4 1/2 behind the Braves in the Wild Card. They have struggled to find a reliable fifth starter for a while now, so Marquis represents an upgrade for the starting rotation.

4:28 PM: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Diamondbacks are working to acquire Jason Marquis from the Nationals.

2:02 PM: Even though they bolstered their staff with the additions of Doug Fister and David Pauley on Saturday, the Tigers are still chasing after Jason Marquis, according to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson.

The Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore reports that the Nats and Tigers were extremely close to a Marquis deal on Thursday.  He indicated that the door was closed after the Fister trade, but Ladson is saying differently.

Kilgore also reported that the Nationals have Yunesky Maya traveling to Washington in case Marquis is traded prior to his scheduled start against the Mets tonight.

Marquis is 8-5 with a 3.95 ERA in 120 2/3 innings for the Nationals this season.  Following Fister’s addition, the Tigers have a rotation of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Fister and Brad Penny.  Penny, who had a dispute with Victor Martinez on the field Thursday, may be the odd-man out if the Tigers acquire another starter.

Michael Bourn opts out of his minor league deal with the Orioles

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Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.

Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.

As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.

Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.

Rob Manfred talks about playing regular season games in Mexico

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The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.

Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”

A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.

Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.

Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.