Marlins better off flirting with Jose Reyes than signing him

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Trying to motivate Hanley Ramirez by talking to a shortstop who could supplant him in Miami… that’s a great idea.

Actually signing said injury-prone shortstop to a contract worth in excess of $20 million per year… that might not work out so well.

Jose Reyes would certainly help the Marlins, just like he’d help every team in baseball, but he doesn’t seem like the best use of resources for this winter’s nouveau riche Miami club.

A Reyes signing would force the Marlins to move their incumbent superstar to either center field or third base. Now, that could work out. I was strongly in favor of moving him to center a few years ago, and while Ramirez is a better shortstop now than when he entered the league, he’s never going to be a big asset there. Regardless of whether the Marlins land Reyes or not, Ramirez, who turns 28 in December, figures to require a move by age 31 or 32.

But Ramirez doesn’t want to move. And while the three-time All-Star could use a kick in the rear, the Marlins can’t have him sulking his way through another season. That would almost certainly lead to a trade, with the Marlins getting back only a fraction of what he’s worth.

I can certainly see the Marlins’ attraction here. A lineup with Reyes leading off, Ramirez batting third and future home run champ Mike Stanton in the cleanup spot has the potential to be among the game’s best.

But it also might not gel at any point. Hanley will complain and potentially dog it. Reyes will get hurt. The outfield could be dreadful defensively (putting Ramirez at third base and Emilio Bonifacio in center field is another alternative that might lead of a better defense in the short-term, though I think Hanley is a better fit in center for the long haul).

The upside is enticing, but the Marlins really should pass on Reyes. Now, Albert Pujols… that’s an entirely different matter.

The Tigers are trying to convert Anthony Gose into a pitcher

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Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.

While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.

Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.

Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.