UPDATE: According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, the Rangers are interested in Hawpe. They are considering him as insurance at first base in case Mitch Moreland is slow coming back from wrist surgery.
9:31 PM: Brad Hawpe and Jorge Cantu news on the very same night? This Hot Stove is a-burnin’.
Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com is reporting that Hawpe could be close to signing a minor league contract with a spring training invite. With whom? No idea. But three teams are currently in the mix.
Hawpe signed with the Padres last winter and batted just .231/.301/.344 with four homers, 19 RBI and a .645 OPS over 216 plate appearances before being placed on the disabled list in June with a strained left middle finger. However, his left elbow was the bigger issue, eventually requiring Tommy John surgery in August. The Padres declined his $6 million option for 2012 in October, making him a free agent.
Despite the surgery, Hawpe is said to be healthy and ready to compete for a big league job during spring training. The 32-year-old is coming off two terrible seasons, but handles right-handed pitching pretty well and his home-road splits aren’t as crazy as you’d think for someone who played a large chunk of games in Colorado. He’s worth the gamble, but given his poor reputation as a defender, he’s probably better off in the American League where he could DH.
Jon Heyman reports that the Nationals are closing in on a deal with catcher Matt Wieters. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that it’s a two-year deal. UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is for two years, at $21 million. There is an opt-out for him after year one. He will get $10 million in 2017 and, if he returns in 2018, he’ll get $11 million.
Wieters was not expected to go this long without signing, but his market, which many thought would be robust, never materialized. The Nats had been rumored to be interested for months, but they were apparently waiting to swoop in late and get what one presumes will be a bargain.
Wieters, 30, finished last season hitting .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI in 464 plate appearances. The Nationals currently have Derek Norris and Jose Lobaton, so who falls where in the catcher fight in Washington is unclear, but one presumes that Wieters getting a two-year deal puts him at the top of the depth chart.
Ken Rosenthal has an interesting story up about Sergio Romo as he begins spring training with his new team, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
There is some fun stuff about his family, all Dodgers fans from southern California, but the more notable stuff is about Romo himself, who has dealt with a lot more than has been reported over the past couple of seasons. The loss of three of his four grandparents is a big one, as it has thrust the mantle of head of the family on Romo in ways that he was not fully prepared for. There are also allusions to personal and psychological problems Romo has experienced — there is a vague suggestion of alcohol or maybe just late nights out and perhaps depression, but he is not specific about it — which he worked on with the help of friends and teammates on the Giants and which he now has overcome.
There’s always more going on the lives of baseball players than we as fans know.