Free agent Cody Ross seeks three-year deal

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An NL official told ESPN’s Buster Olney that free agent Cody Ross is currently seeking a three-year deal.

The 31-year-old Ross was a disappointment for the Giants last season, finishing at .240/.325/.405 with 14 homers and 52 RBI in 405 at-bats. He’d seem to fall in line behind Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham among free agent outfielders, and neither of those two is a lock to get a three-year deal.

What Ross does have going for him is that he’s an above average defender in a corner and an adequate center fielder. However, since he finished at .804 in his first year of regular playing time with the Marlins in 2008, his OPS has dipped each season. He ended up at .790 in 2009, .735 in 2010 and .730 in 2011. Also, the bulk of his production comes against left-handers: he’s hit .282/.349/.563 versus southpaws in his career, compared to .253/.313/.414 against righties.

The total package makes Ross a fringe regular, though he’d be an outstanding fourth outfielder as a starter against lefties and an occasional fill-in against righties. Had he entered free agency a year ago, there’s a chance he might have gotten that three-year deal. Coming off a mediocre 2011, he’ll be fortunate if someone antes up $10 million for two years.

The Cards dealt Stephen Piscotty to the A’s, in part, so he could be near his ailing mother

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Last night we wrote about the rumored deal between the Cardinals and the Athletics for Stephen Piscotty. The deal is now official, with Piscotty going to Oakland for minor leaguers Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock.

Something else emerged about the deal today: a big reason why St. Louis traded Piscotty to Oakland as opposed to another team was so that he could be near his mother, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease last May. Piscotty and his family are from Pleasanton, California, about 35 miles from Oakland.

Here’s Cardinals GM John Mozeliak:

This was certainly a baseball trade — Piscotty became expendable for the Cardinals after they acquired Marcell Ozuna yesterday — but it was one which could’ve been made with any team with a couple of red or white chip prospects. That Mozeliak considered Piscotty’s personal situation in making the deal with the A’s is a credit to him and his staff.

The 26-year-old Piscotty hit .235 with nine homers and 39 RBIs in 107 games last season. He has hit .268 with 38 homers and 163 RBIs in 2+ major league seasons. He agreed to a six-year, $33.5 million contract extension last spring.

As for the prospects in return: Munoz, 22, hit .300 with 13 homers and 68 RBIs this year for Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville. Schrock, 23, batted .321 with seven homers and 46 RBIs for Midland, and was a Texas League All-Star.