UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Tigers and Laird have agreed to a one-year deal, pending a physical.
12:30 PM: It’s backup catcher day here on Hardball Talk. Thanks for joining us.
Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com hears that the Tigers are “on the verge” of bringing back veteran backstop Gerald Laird. They were considering Kelly Shoppach in recent days, but Laird has emerged as their top choice.
Laird, who turned 32 on Sunday, batted .232/.302/.358 with one home run, 12 RBI and a .660 OPS over 108 plate appearances this season serving as Yadier Molina’s backup catcher in St. Louis. He also gunned down 20 percent (4-for-20) of attempted basestealers.
Laird played with the Tigers in 2009 and 2010 before signing with the Cardinals last offseason. Alex Avila led American League catchers with 130 starts this season and Victor Martinez is locked in as the primary designated hitter and third catcher moving forward, so the Tigers need a more reliable alternative than Omir Santos.
The Rockies have signed free agent outfielder/infielder Ian Desmond for five years and $70 million.
Desmond, 31, played his first season as a full-time outfielder with the Rangers in 2016. Before that he was the Nationals shortstop. He’ll almost certainly be an outfielder in Colorado, as the Rockies have Trevor Story at short.
Desmond hit .285/.335/.446 with 22 home runs, 86 RBI, 107 runs scored, and 21 stolen bases in 677 plate appearances. The Rangers had placed a qualifying offer on him which he rejected, so the Rockies will have to give up their first round pick in the 2017 draft, which is 11th overall. That’s the highest pick a team can surrender under the qualifying offer system, as the first ten picks in the draft are protected.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Marlins have signed lefty Jeff Locke. Terms have yet to be disclosed.
Locke was non-tendered by the Pirates last week after putting up a 5.44 ERA over 127.3 innings in 2016. He’s just 29 and, even if he’s never been super great or anything, he has pitched better in the past, posting a career 4.16 ERA before last season.