The Orioles and Mets tossed around trade ideas involving not just first baseman Ike Davis, but second baseman Daniel Murphy, and left fielder/first baseman Lucas Duda as well, reports Eduardo Encina of The Baltimore Sun. He writes that the two teams couldn’t reach an agreement because the Mets wanted Orioles top pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez in return.
The Mets are still expected to move at least one of Davis and Duda but a lot of teams have already satisfied their needs for first basemen already. Davis and Murphy are both entering their second year of arbitration eligibility while Duda is entering his first year. The Mets currently have just $45 million committed and would need to double that to reach last year’s Opening Day salary of nearly $94 million, but their focus on making a trade is more about optimal roster construction. Taking Duda out of left field, where he spent most of 2013, and moving him to first base full time in place of Davis gives the Mets a better outfield with Curtis Granderson in left, Juan Lagares in center, and Chris Young in right with Eric Young, Jr. as the fourth outfielder.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉