Marlon Byrd Getty

Marlon Byrd traded to Red Sox for Michael Bowden, PTBNL

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UPDATE: Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports that Bowden is indeed headed to Chicago along with a player to be named later. The Cubs will cover “most” of the $6.5 million remaining on Byrd’s contract.

5:51: According to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com, Marlon Byrd confirmed that he has been traded to the Red Sox. The deal will be officially announced after today’s Yankees/Red Sox game. It’s not clear how much of Byrd’s salary the Cubs will cover or who the Red Sox will send to Chicago.

12:42 PM: Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune writes that the Cubs “could be getting” right-hander Michael Bowden, who would get a chance to pitch out of the bullpen.

12:16 PM: Worry no more, Red Sox fans. Your old friends Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are here to help.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is reporting that the Red Sox are closing in on a deal for Cubs’ outfielder Marlon Byrd. Jacoby Ellsbury is currently sidelined with a subluxed right shoulder and Carl Crawford is still on the comeback trail from wrist surgery, so Byrd would be thrown right into the mix with Cody Ross, Ryan Sweeney and Darnell McDonald.

Byrd is off to a woeful start at the plate this season, batting .070/.149/.070 with three singles, three walks and 10 strikeouts over his first 47 plate appearances. The 34-year-old outfielder is owed $6.5 million this this season in the final year of a three-year, $15 million deal, so the Cubs will almost certainly have to cover a large chunk of his remaining salary.

If the deal goes down, it will be interesting to see where the Cubs go from here in their outfield. Tony Campana was called up to replace the injured Ryan Dempster on the active roster, so he’ll presumably start in center field for now, but trading Byrd could speed up the timeline for top prospect outfielder Brett Jackson. There’s also the chance that the Cubs could slide David DeJesus from right to center, move Bryan LaHair to the outfield and promote Anthony Rizzo to play first base.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.