FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday that the Mariners were showing “strong interest” in free agents Fernando Rodney and Nelson Cruz. From what Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM is hearing, it sounds like they could be getting serious about signing one of them:
Of course, that the Mariners are interested in Cruz isn’t really news. Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik admitted as much during the team’s recent fan fest, but he also expressed concern about salary demands and the draft pick compensation factor. The Mariners have already given up their second-round pick for Robinson Cano, so signing Cruz would cost them their third-round pick. Keep in mind that they would also give up the draft pool money associated with each pick.
Bowden wrote earlier this afternoon that the Orioles and Rangers are also in the mix for Cruz. However, the Rangers are mostly being viewed as a fallback option in the event that his market completely collapses. Spring training is just a couple of weeks away, so something will have to give soon.
The Brewers and Red Sox have struck a deal. The key part of it: reliever Tyler Thornburg is heading from Milwaukee to Boston. The entire package is not yet known, but there are simultaneous reports that Travis Shaw and two minor leaguers, Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington, are heading to Milwaukee.
Thornburg, 28, is coming off of a fantastic season in which he posted a 2.15 ERA while striking out 90 batters in 67 innings across 67 appearances. Thornburg assumed closer duties and saved 13 games for the Brewers after Milwaukee traded Jeremy Jeffress to Texas. Thorburg will presumably return to a setup roll in Boston behind Craig Kimbrel. The Brewers will likely go with Corey Knebel as their closer in 2017.
Shaw played third base, first base and some outfield for Boston last year but saw his production dip upon being exposed to everyday play for the first time as a big leaguer. The Sox are reportedly going to give Pablo Sandoval a shot to claim the third base job once again this spring, rendering Shaw superfluous.
The Baseball Writers Association of America has elected Claire Smith the winner of the 2017 J.G. Taylor Spink Award. She becomes the first woman to be given baseball writing’s highest honor. She will be honored with the award that is presented annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during Hall of Fame inductions in Cooperstown on July 30.
Smith, 62, covered the New York Yankees for five years beginning in 1983 for the Hartford Courant before becoming a columnist with the New York Times. She later served as an editor and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1998-2007. She is now ESPN’s news editor of remote productions, responsible for the integration of news and analysis in live game broadcasts and the Baseball Tonight and Sports Center studio programs. She is a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and winner of three New York Times Publishers’ Awards.
Smith was named Sports Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists in 1997, received the Mary Garber Pioneer Award from the Association of Women in Sports Media in 2000 and the Sam Lacy Award at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame in 2010. She has served on the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee and was the chair of the New York chapter of the BBWAA in 1995 and 1996.