Logan Morrison

Logan Morrison would have to be part of the return for Gio Gonzalez

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A quick take on the story Craig relayed earlier. I thought the last paragragh of David Villavicencio’s piece on a possible Gio Gonzalez-to-Florida deal was the most interesting one:

The source says three different players have been discussed as potential pieces for the deal. All three players played significant time with the Marlins last season. It is unlikely that all three would be involved in the deal.

So, we’re talking major leaguers. And that makes it pretty much a given that Logan Morrison is someone being talked about. Mike Stanton has to off-limits, and it’s doubtful that Hanley Ramirez is on the block just yet (even if he is, it’s doubtful the A’s would be a strong suitor there). It’s Morrison.

Morrison would add to Oakland’s crowd of first basemen, but he’s enough better than all of the rest to secure the position immediately. The A’s could also leave him in left field for another year, but first is where he belongs for the long haul and they might as well get started on the transition now, even if it leaves Daric Barton and Brandon Allen without much of a role in Oakland’s plans.

Morrison is the kind of potent bat that the A’s will need to deal Gonzalez. It doesn’t come with premium defense, but he should threaten to make an All-Star team or two before he qualifies for free agency in five years.

Some other names likely being discussed:

Chris Coghlan – The current guess is that Coghlan, the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year, will open next year in the minors after hitting .230/.296/.368 in 269 at-bats last season. He seems primed for a rebound, though, and it would make sense for the Marlins to hang on to him if they trade Morrison.

Ricky Nolasco – The rumor lately is that the Marlins have decided to keep Nolasco, whose trade value is down after seasons of 5.06 and 4.51 ERAs. He’s also on the hook for $22 millon over the next two years. The A’s might be willing to take a shot on him anyway, but only as a secondary piece of the deal.

Chris Volstad – Volstad seems more likely than Nolasco to be part of a deal with the A’s. He probably won’t have a rotation spot anyway if the Marlins bring in another starter. The former first-round pick has been an annual disappointment, but his strikeout rate was up and his walk rate was down last year.

Report: Rays having “advanced talks” with free agent reliever Tommy Hunter

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.

Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.

Pirates sign left-hander Cory Luebke

Cory Luebke Getty
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.

It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.

White Sox reportedly considering Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.

After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.

Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.