MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports that Will Middlebrooks’ name has come up in trade talks between the White Sox and Red Sox regarding Jake Peavy.
The Red Sox, on the hunt for a starting pitcher with Clay Buchholz out, scouted Peavy’s last start against the Braves and will take another look at him Thursday, when he matches up against the Tigers and Justin Verlander.
A deal sending Middlebrooks to Chicago would be ironic, since it was Middlebrooks’ emergence that played in a role in the Red Sox practically giving away Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox last summer. If the Red Sox were to part with Middlebrooks now, they’d seemingly be setting themselves up to go forward with a Xander Bogaerts-Jose Iglesias left side of the infield in future years, though Bogaerts probably won’t be up for the start of 2014.
Peavy would be a risky acquisition for Boston. He’s made 30 starts just once since 2007, and he’ll fall short again this year after missing time in the first half with a fractured rib. When healthy, he’s gone 7-4 with a 4.19 ERA and a 69/15 K/BB ratio in 73 innings for the White Sox. And while it’s so long ago that it probably doesn’t matter now, Peavy was a disaster in his only two postseason starts, going 0-2 with a 12.10 ERA for the Padres in consecutive NLDSs with the Padres in 2005 and ’06.
As for his contract situation, Peavy is making $14.5 million both this year and next. He also has a $15 million player option for 2015, but that only kicks in if he throws 400 innings these two years and that probably isn’t happening.
12:02 a.m. EDT update: WEEI’s Alex Speier is already refuting this one. His source says there’s been no mention of Middlebrooks in trade talks.
Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.
Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.
On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.
For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”
Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.
MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”
Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.
The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.