It’s not quite a done deal yet, but MLB.com’s Tom Singer brings word that the Pirates are “focusing their quest for pitching help” on Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez and have “pulled the plug on other prospective deals” at the moment in order to concentrate on executing this one potential swap.
Rodriguez has posted a 3.79 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 89/32 K/BB ratio in 130 2/3 innings this season for last-place Houston. The 33-year-old southpaw is owed $13 million in 2013 and carries a $13 million club option (with a $2.5 million buyout) for 2014. He’s making $10 million here in 2012.
The Bucs have been tied recently to left-hander Francisco Liriano of the Twins and Paul Maholm, who is currently with the Cubs but spent the first seven seasons of his major league career with Pittsburgh.
The Pirates entered play Tuesday night with a 54-41 record, ranking second in the National League Central.
UPDATE, 9:08 PM: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that a trade has officially been agreed upon.
UPDATE, 9:33 PM: Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says that Pirates outfield prospect Robbie Grossman is headed to the Astros in the deal. The 22-year-old former sixth-round pick is batting .262/.374/.403 with seven home runs and 35 RBI in 94 games this season at the Double-A level. More to come.
UPDATE, 9:42 PM: According to Heyman, the Astros are also getting Rudy Owens, a 24-year-old left-hander with a 3.14 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 85/25 K/BB ratio in 19 starts this season at Triple-A, and Colton Cain, a 21-year-old southpaw with a 4.20 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 51/25 K/BB ratio in 16 starts this season at High-A.
UPDATE, 9:49 PM: CBS Sports’ Scott Miller adds that the Astros will be sending Pittsburgh “lots” of cash.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.