Chase Headley

Should the Padres lock up their entire infield?

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Padres third baseman Chase Headley will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration going into the 2014 season, after which he would become eligible for free agency. For quite some time, the Padres have been reported as either shopping Headley or guarding him closely with plans to offer him a contract extension. As of now, nothing has happened.

In part due to Headley, the entire Padre infield has been the source of a great deal of production as first baseman Yonder Alonso, second baseman Jedd Gyorko, and shortstop Everth Cabrera are also posting above-average offensive numbers. As a result, Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego suggests the Padres should lock up their entire infield:

The team that has time and again sent its homegrown stars away rather than pay them has in the collective handling of its young talent a chance to change course in a grand way.

Ron Fowler, the Seidlers and the O’Malleys need to allow general manager Josh Byrnes to get underway the process of attempting to lock up Alonso, Jedd Gyorko, Everth Cabrera and, of course, Chase Headley.

All of them.

While having the luxury of writing down an entire infield in permanent marker is appealing, it isn’t necessary. Alonso is pre-arb through 2014 and isn’t eligible for free agency until 2017. Gyorko has all of 205 plate appearances at the Major League level so there is no rush to sign any additional paperwork with him. Cabrera is arb-eligible through 2016. Locking up Headley would be a great first step towards solidifying a great infield, but as it pertains to the other three, the Padres don’t need to worry about that for another year and a half at the earliest.

Max Scherzer still can’t throw fastballs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.

The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.

Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.

The Dodgers asked the Tigers about Justin Verlander this offseason

DETROIT, MI - MAY 18: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches during the first inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on May 18, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.

It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.

Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.

The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.

So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.