Thad Levine declines interview for Astros’ GM opening

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The Astros’ hunt for a new general manager began Monday when freshly-approved owner Jim Crane fired Ed Wade. It’s early, but so far the hunt has not been fruitful. In fact, it’s even been a little embarrassing.

Crane and Co. have reached out to Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman, but most insiders believe that to be a longshot. The ‘Stros have also made contact with Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine, but that’s not going to happen either.

According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Levine declined an interview for the GM opening in Houston despite being granted permission to seek employment outside the organization by the Rangers’ higher-ups. He deemed his current job, as an assistant to Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, to be a better situation than a chance to become a primary decision-maker in Houston.

Perhaps Crane is setting the Astros’ sights too high. Friedman is a highly-regarded businessman with a personal interest in the Rays and a track record of success, and Levine is one of the top front office talents in the sport with a comfortable gig in an organization that has made consecutive trips to the World Series.

The Astros have a nice stadium and a new ownership group that seems serious about improving the overall product, but they have much rebuilding ahead and a farm system short on elite prospects.

With the Winter Meetings set to begin early next week, it might be time to begin bottom-feeding.

Francisco Rodriguez is being sued by his former landlord

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John Wisely of the Detroit Free Press reports that current free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez is being sued by his former landlord for damage to the rented property as well as missing artwork. The landlord is asking for $80,000 after having kept Rodriguez’s $15,000 security deposit.

The lawsuit says that Rodriguez damaged a bedroom TV, a crystal floor lamp, glass shelves in the bar, glass tiles in the master bath, and a Moroccan mirror in the powder room. Additionally, the suit claims that the bedding is stained and paint has chipped, as well as other damages. And the piece of art that is allegedly missing, which depicts a tiger, is valued at more than $10,000.

Rodriguez has not yet been served with the suit, but the landlord has been speaking to his managers.

The Nationals released Rodriguez, 35, two weeks ago after having signed him to a minor league contract in late June. He started the season with the Tigers, but struggled to a 7.82 ERA over 25 1/3 innings before being released.

Report: Rays acquire Lucas Duda from the Mets

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MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that the Rays have acquired first baseman Lucas Duda from the Mets. The Mets will receive pitching prospect Drew Smith in return, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

Duda, 31, is batting .246/.347/.532 with 17 home runs and 37 RBI in 291 plate appearances for the Mets this season. He’ll provide a potent bat in the Rays’ lineup as they attempt to overcome their current 2.5-game deficit in the AL East.

Smith, 23, is the Rays’ No. 30 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He ascended from High-A to Triple-A already this season, posting an aggregate 1.60 ERA with a 40/9 K/BB ratio over 45 innings across four stops with High-A Lakeland (Tigers), High-A Charlotte (Rays), Double-A Montgomery, and Triple-A Durham.