The Dodgers indicated at season’s end that they’d likely go into 2013 with Hanley Ramirez at shortstop and Luis Cruz at third. They’d also have the option of going back to former top prospect Dee Gordon at short and shifting Ramirez to third.
As it turns out, though, baseball’s new richest team may go in an entirely different direction at third base. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that they’re considering making a bid for free agent Kevin Youkilis.
The Dodgers would be making another addition even though they currently have eight players on their 40-man roster able to play short and/or third base:
Ramirez: $15.5 million
Juan Uribe: $7 million
Jerry Hairston Jr.: $3.75 million
Nick Punto: $1.5 million
And then Cruz, Gordon, Justin Sellers and Elian Herrera all making close to the minimum.
Obviously, not all of those guys will be around next year. Gordon, Sellers and Herrera figure to head to Triple-A if they’re still in the organization. Uribe will likely be released or traded for another bad contract. Hairston can play the outfield, too, so he’ll stick around. If Cruz starts, then Punto can stick as a reserve. If Cruz is pushed into a utility role, then Punto might be released or traded.
Youkilis is also being looked at by the White Sox and Phillies, sources tell Rosenthal. Still, one imagines that if the Dodgers decide they want him, they won’t be outbid.
My thought is that they’re better off making defense the priority and putting Hanley at third. Cruz is a better shortstop than Ramirez anyway, and he and Gordon can battle it out for a starting job.
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.