B.J. Upton was among the many center fielders consistently linked to the Nationals at the trade deadline and the Rays placed him on revocable waivers yesterday, potentially setting up a trade.
However, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post “some Nationals scouts are lukewarm on him, especially at the plate” and “there’s healthy debate within the Nationals about the merits of making Upton their answer in center field.”
And rightfully so. Upton’s defense is excellent, but he’s hit just .235 with a .313 on-base percentage and .396 slugging percentage in 419 games during the past three seasons, including .224 with a .694 OPS this year.
He’s still just 26 years old, but Upton is in line for at least $6 million via arbitration next season and will then be eligible for free agency. Tampa Bay has Desmond Jennings as the heir apparent in center field, so their interest in getting something for Upton before he leaves for nothing is easy to understand. He may not make it to the Nationals on waivers anyway, in which case the current speculation will be moot, but all the Upton-to-Washington rumors figure to come alive again this offseason.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.