Seven teams interested in Chase Headley

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Buster Olney probably doesn’t know it yet, but CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman reports that the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Indians, Orioles, Pirates and at least two other teams have “some level of interest in” Padres third baseman Chase Headley.

The 28-year-old Headley should have been the Padres’ All-Star on merit. He’s hit .271/.373/.421 with eight homers, 42 RBI and 10 steals this season. Last year, he hit .330/.399/.465 outside of Petco Park, and he’s at .275/.378/.471 in road games this year.

The Padres are sure to put a high price on Headley. He’s making a modest $3.475 million this year and probably won’t get much more than $5 million in arbitration next year. He won’t be a free agent until after the 2014 season.

Pittsburgh would certainly be an interesting destination for Headley. The Padres would surely like to get their hands on a couple of the Pirates’ better pitching prospects, and the Pirates would stand to upgrade not only their offense but also their defense by moving Pedro Alvarez to first base.

Alas, he’d probably help the Dodgers more than any other team. Not only have they gotten little out of third base, but Headley has hit .327/.409/.509 in 110 career at-bats at Dodger Stadium.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.