Phillies “in serious talks” with Astros for Wilton Lopez


Jim Salisbury of reports that the Phillies are “in serious talks” with the Astros for right-hander Wilton Lopez, who would take over as the primary setup man in front of closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Lopez’s price tag won’t be cheap, as he’s thrown 204 innings with a 2.64 ERA during the past three seasons, remains bargain-priced entering his first year of arbitration eligibility at age 29, and is under team control through 2015.

Lopez saved 10 games after taking over for Brett Myers as the Astros’ closer down the stretch and posted a fantastic 54/8 K/BB ratio in 66 innings overall this year while allowing just four homers in 260 plate appearances. His fastball averaged 92.4 miles per hour and he was among the league leaders in ground-ball percentage.

No word yet on what the Astros would get in return, but it’s a safe bet they’re targeting prospects rather than big leaguers.

Ryan Zimmerman’s spring training has been . . . weird

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Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played in exactly one Grapefruit league game this year, and that was way back on March 2. Since then he has been totally absent from the Nats’ big league spring games, playing instead on the back fields in sim games and in minor league contests.

While that’s not an unusual course of action for an injured or rehabbing player, both Zimmerman and the Nationals insist that there is nothing wrong with him. Per this report from MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, they’re saying that Zimmerman “simply prefers to get his work done in the more controlled environment of minor league games, where the rules are lax.” He doesn’t have to dive for balls, he can lead off every inning, etc. Manager Dave Martinez says Zimmerman simply doesn’t like the usual spring training grind and that this is working for him so he’s fine with it too.

Are you buyin’ that? Not sure I’m buyin’ that.

I suppose weirder things have happened. The Minnesota Twins once let Jack Morris go back to his farm in between starts rather than stay with the club. Other accommodations have been made for veterans, especially in spring training. But this is way more in keeping with a team hiding an injury. Though I have no idea why the Nats would choose to hide an injury to Zimmerman. They’ve talked at length about Daniel Murphy‘s knees and Adam Eaton‘s seemingly never-ending rehab. If Zimmerman has some aches and pains, you’d think they’d talk about it.

On the other hand, if this is a legit story and it is simply an accommodation for a veteran who doesn’t like the normal spring training grind, look for Zimmerman to be a trailblazer, because there are a LOT of dudes who hate spring training too and would love to change things up like this.