UPDATE: Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM reports that the deal is done. The Red Sox are sending Marco Scutaro to the Rockies for right-hander Clayton Mortensen. Colorado will be responsible for Scutaro’s entire $6 million salary this season.
Mortensen, a 2007 supplemental first-round pick of the Cardinals, posted a 3.86 ERA and 30/24 K/BB ratio over 58 1/3 innings at the major league level last season. The 26-year-old sinkerballer had a ground ball rate of 52.7 percent, so he could have some value out of Boston’s bullpen, but this was a pure salary dump.
6:06 PM: Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe and Alex Speier of WEEI.com are both hearing that a deal is “likely” to get done. These guys might have the same source.
Anyway, while moving Scutaro could free up salary to sign Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson, Speier mentions that the Red Sox could also consider a trade with the White Sox for right-hander Gavin Floyd. Floyd, who turns 29 later this month, is owed $7 million this season and his contract includes a $9.5 million option for 2013.
5:56 PM: The Rockies’ efforts to acquire Marco Sctuaro from the Red Sox hit a snag yesterday, but Troy Renck of the Denver Post now hears that the two sides are “finishing up” a trade.
The Red Sox are expected to receive a pitcher in return and Renck names right-hander Clayton Mortensen as a possibility. It’s hard to believe they wouldn’t get more in return, even if the Rockies are picking up most or all of Scutaro’s $6 million salary for 2012. It will be interesting to see if the Red Sox also try to get Jonathan Herrera, who could be thrown into the mix at shortstop with the likes of Mike Aviles, Nick Punto and possibly Jose Iglesias.
Scutaro would immediately slot in as the starting second baseman for the Rockies. The 36-year-old batted .299/.358/.423 with seven homers, 54 RBI and a .781 OPS over 113 games in 2011. He would be a marked improvement from a group that combined to bat just .256/.304/.351 with a .655 OPS last season.
As for the Red Sox, it appears they are motivated to move Sctuaro in order to clear some salary to sign a starting pitcher like Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.