Recently, Padres third baseman Chase Headley said he won’t negotiate a contract extension with the team during the season. Headley is eligible for his fourth year of arbitration going into 2014, after which he would become eligible for free agency. Headley has, for a while, been one of the most bandied-about names in trade rumors, but Jon Heyman reports the Padres have no intention of moving their star.
Padres people see Headley as part of their future and believe the team has played well enough with the current crop that they aren’t eager to trade their star to obtain a prospect package.
“We can’t wait forever,” [Padres GM Josh] Byrnes said. “We have a group that’s trying to take it to the next level. And that’s what we’re hoping to do.”
Headley finished fifth in NL MVP voting last year with an. 855 OPS, 31 home runs, and a league-leading 115 RBI playing half his games in one of baseball’s most pitcher-friendly ballparks. He is off to a great start once again, carrying a .912 OPS into tonight’s game against the Nationals.
The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.
I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.
Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.
Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.
To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.