Marlins acquire left-hander Wade LeBlanc from Padres for catcher John Baker

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The Marlins just announced that they have acquired left-hander Wade LeBlanc from the Padres in exchange for catcher John Baker.

The Marlins have 11 players who are eligible for arbitration this winter and John Buck is already locked in as their primary starting catcher, so swapping Baker for LeBlanc makes plenty of sense.

LeBlanc, 27, went 5-6 with a 4.63 ERA and 51/28 K/BB ratio in 79 2/3 innings over 14 starts with the Padres this season. He will almost certainly miss pitching in the cozy confines of PETCO Park, as evidenced by his 2.97 career ERA at home and 6.16 ERA on the road, but he could be a decent fit in the back of Florida’s rotation. While they remain in the mix for C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle, adding a left-handed starter was a priority for the Marlins this winter.

Baker missed most of the season following Tommy John surgery, but batted .154 (2-for-13) after being activated from the disabled list in September. The 30-year-old backstop is a .271/.356/.401 hitter in the big leagues and has a .782 career OPS against right-handed pitching, so he could make for a nice little tandem with the right-handed hitting Nick Hundley.

The Astros’ pursuit of Sonny Gray is “heating up”

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Jon Morosi of MLB Networks reports that talks are “heating up” between the Astros and Athletics on a Sonny Gray trade. Gray, obviously, would represent a big upgrade for the Astros’ rotation. He has a 3.66 ERA and has struck out 85 batters while walking 28 in 91 innings.

Morosi adds that Gray is not the only option for the Astros, as they are also talking to the Tigers about a potential acquisition of Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson. That would obviously be a much tougher deal to negotiate given Verlander’s 10/5 rights giving him veto power over any trade, not to mention the massive amount of money he’s still owed on his contract.

Also: I’m pretty sure that it’s in the MLB rules that any trade between the Tigers and the Astros has to involve Brad Ausmus, C.J. Nitkowski and Jose Lima, and that’s not possible given their current occupations and/or their deaths in 2010.

Marlins trade David Phelps to the Mariners for four prospects

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The Miami Marlins have sent reliever David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for four prospects. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Ken Rosenthal had rumors of the deal first, Jon Morosi, Jeff Passan and Jon Heyman (among others) all reported the trade at virtually the same time.

Phelps, 30, had a fantastic 2016 season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 64 games while striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings. He’s not been as strong this year, but he’s still been a solid setup man, posting a 3.45 ERA in 44 games while striking out 51 batters and walking 21 in 47 innings. He throws in the mid-90s and induces grounders. The Mariners could probably use rotation help more than bullpen help, but solid innings are solid innings at one point and improving your pen takes some of the pressure off of your rotation. Phelps will help Seattle with that. He’s under team control for next year too, so this is more than a rental.

The top prospect in the deal is Brayan Hernandez, a 19 year-old outfielder from Venezuela, currently playing in low-A ball. Also in the deal: righty Brandon Miller, righty Pablo Lopez and righty Lucas Schiraldi who, yes, is the son of ex-big leaguer Calvin Schiraldi. None of these guys are blue chippers, but you never know what’ll happen. It’s a volume return for the Fish.

We’ve already seen some big bullpen names move, including David Robertson, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Among others who could be moved:  A.J. Ramos (Marlins); Justin Wilson (Tigers); Addison Reed (Mets); Jerry Blevins (Mets); Brad Hand (Padres); Tony Watson (Pirates); Juan Nicasio (Pirates); Brad Brach (Orioles); Drew Storen (Reds); and Raisel Iglesias (Reds).