The Phillies are “quietly checking on” Josh Hamilton

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In case you forgot, the best things that happens in the offseason is the creation of new metaphors for teams expressing an interest in a player’s services. “Checking in,” “kicking the tires,” “inquiring on” and so many others. I wish the reporters would get even more creative:

  • “The Yankees gave Smith a once-over”
  • “The Dodgers peeped Jones and inspected the cut of his jib”
  • “The Rangers grokked Johnson’s zeitgeist”
  • “The Red Sox peered longingly at Shlabotnik, twirling their hair and biting on the little straw that came in their vodka tonic, suggesting all manner of possibilities, for the night was still young.”

Get going, scribes.  In the meantime, Rosenthal:

Hamilton would appear to be a stretch, both from a financial and baseball perspective. But two industry sources say the Phillies are quietly checking on him. While their background work might only be due diligence, Amaro loves to make a splash, loves to surprise.

Their payroll is already crazy and they probably don’t need another lefty in that lineup, but at least it gave us an excuse to talk about the hot stove euphemisms.

And I’m glad they quietly checked on Hamilton. Little Joshy has had a big day and he’s all tuckered out. Look at him in there. He’s such and angel when he’s sleeping.

The Pirates are, not surprisingly, leaning against trading Andrew McCutchen

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Over the winter there was serious talk about the Pirates trading Andrew McCutchen to the Washington Nationals. His move to left field to allow Starling Marte to take over center further served to make McCutchen a less important part of the Pirates long term plans.

Then the season began, Marte got suspended for PEDs and, after a bumpy start, McCutchen caught fire. He hit .411/.505/.689 in June he has a .333/.444/.561 line in the month of July. For the year he’s now at .292/.384/.507 with 17 homers and 57 RBI. Even with Marte back on the roster, McCutchen is the Pirates’ center fielder. What’s more, the Pirates, after beginning the season slowly have righted the ship somewhat and are now only three games back in the NL Central.

All of which makes this, from Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, unsurprising:

That option is a quite reasonable $14.5 million, so it seems sorta crazy that they wouldn’t pick it up. Of course if they remain coy enough about it for now perhaps someone will bowl them over with an offer. Letting McCutchen walk seems insane. Unloading him for a hefty haul would, well, still be kinda crazy given how popular McCutchen is with the fan base, but not truly insane.

The Brewers are talking to the Tigers about Ian Kinsler, Justin Wilson

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The Brewers were rumored last week to have been “aggressive” in talks for Tigers reliever Justin Wilson. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports, however, that the talks are a bit more wide-ranging than that.

Crasnick says that the two clubs are also discussing Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, potentially in a package deal with Wilson. Crasnick says that the Brewers “would love to have Kinsler,” but their main focus at the moment is pitching help. Of course, the Brewers current second baseman — Jonathan Villar — is hitting a meager .223/.285/.348 in 334 plate appearances.

Kinsler is having a down season for him — .237/.331/.400 — but he’s better than that and, of course, would represent an improvement. He’s under contract through the end of this year but he has a very affordable, $10 million club option for 2018. Wilson will be arbitration-eligible this offseason, so he’s still under team control as well. As such a Kinsler/Wilson package would likely cost the Brewers a high price, so you have to think they’d try to exhaust cheaper options before making such a deal.

The Brewers had been in first place in the NL Central since June 7, but the Cubs caught them yesterday. They’re in a virtual tie, with Chicago percentage points ahead. This should prove to be a very interesting week for the Brewers’ front office.