Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports brings us this exclusive report:
Burgeoning agent Jay-Z is wooing Los Angeles Dodgers star Yasiel Puig, hoping to add the 22-year-old to the growing stable of athletes he represents, two sources told Yahoo! Sports.
During a mid-June trip to New York, Puig was invited to a party at a club Jay-Z owns after a Dodgers teammate passed along the rapper’s contact information, one source said. Between the lifestyle and marketing plan offered by Roc Nation Sports, Puig left the meeting intrigued.
Roc Nation Sports’ only other baseball client at this point is Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. The newly-founded agency also represents Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, quarterback Geno Smith of the Jets and WNBA rookie Skylar Diggins.
Puig, 22, is batting .407/.441/.659 with eight home runs, five stolen bases, 19 RBI and 26 runs scored through his first 35 major league games. He defected from his native Cuba in 2012 and went on to sign a seven-year, $42 million free agent contract with Los Angeles. He can’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season.
Passan hears that Jay-Z is also courting A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, another Cuban defector.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY reports that the Mariners have received “strong” trade interest for starter Taijuan Walker. The right-hander is currently on the mend from tendinitis in his right foot. He’ll throw a bullpen on Friday at Wrigley Field with scouts in attendance.
Walker, 23, has a 3.66 ERA with an 80/18 K/BB ratio in 86 innings this season. It’s his first bit of sustained success at the major league level. What’s arguably just as intriguing is the fact that Walker will be under team control through 2020.
The Mariners have been hovering around .500 for the last month and entered Thursday six games behind the first-place Rangers in the AL West and 4.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot, behind three other teams as well as the two Wild Card leaders. It’s enough uncertainty which could push the Mariners to sell.
On Monday, we learned that the Mets offered to swap catchers with the Brewers, Travis d'Arnaud for Jonathan Lucroy. The Brewers, as expected, turned that down. The two still continue to discuss a trade involving Lucroy, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports.
The Mets certainly could use some help at catcher. The club has gotten an aggregate .608 OPS from their backstops, the fourth-lowest mark in baseball, ahead of only the Pirates, Rays, and Indians. However, the Mets seem to be behind other teams — including a “mystery” team — in the bidding, according to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball.
Lucroy, who took Thursday off, is batting .300/.361/.486 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI in 371 plate appearances for the Brewers this season. He can become a free agent after the season if his controlling club opts against picking up his $5.25 million option for the 2017 season.