Mets showing “preliminary interest” in Curtis Granderson

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In a report which should come as no surprise, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News passes along word that the Mets have shown “preliminary interest” in free agent outfielder Curtis Granderson.

It would be more noteworthy if the Mets weren’t putting out some early feelers, as they are known to be on the lookout for outfield upgrades and Granderson won’t be nearly expensive as Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin Soo-Choo. The 32-year-old is expected to decline his qualifying offer from the Yankees to test free agency, so he will have draft pick compensation attached, but the Mets would only have to surrender their second-rounder since the club finished with one of the 10 worst records in baseball this past season.

Granderson was limited to just 61 games this season due to injury, but he hit 43 homers last season and 41 the year before. While he would have been looking at a bigger payday if he stayed healthy in his contract year, his power should still land him a nice contract. Our own Matthew Pouliot recently ranked him No. 8 on his top 150 list of free agents.

Starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani will pinch-hit and pinch-run for the Angels in 2018

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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.