Diamondbacks and Padres have discussed Justin Upton-for-Chase Headley deal

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Justin Upton has been mentioned in trade rumors for a long time now, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a new one. And it’s pretty juicy.

Justin Upton for Chase Headley?

The Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres have held on-and-off discussions about a trade involving those players since July, but the talks have failed to progress, according to major-league sources.

The Diamondbacks, however, continue to discuss Upton with other clubs, including the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners, sources say, while also considering offers for another of their outfielders, Jason Kubel.

Rosenthal speculates that the Padres would likely need to add more to Headley, who is coming off a breakout season in which he finished fifth in the NL MVP balloting. The 28-year-old third baseman projects to make around $8 million via arbitration next season and is under team control through 2014. Meanwhile, Upton doesn’t turn 26 until next August and is under contract for $38.5 million over the next three years. Headley would give the Diamondbacks the third baseman they have been looking for while Jedd Gyorko could take over at third base for the Padres. Talks haven’t gone anywhere and trading within the division is unlikely, but it sure is an interesting scenario.

The Rangers have been connected to Upton all winter and Rosenthal hears that they have been “persistent” and “relentless” in their pursuit. Still, they would prefer to put together a deal with Mike Olt as the centerpiece as opposed to Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar. Unsatisfied, the Diamondbacks believe they could find a better deal with a team like the Mariners, who are desperate to add a power hitter. While Upton has the Mariners on his four-team no-trade list, Rosenthal speculates that they could convince him to accept a deal if they extend his contract. The Braves have also made “strong overtures” for Upton, setting up the possibility of teaming him up with his brother, B.J. Upton, who signed a five-year, $75.25 million contract with the club earlier this offseason.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉