Arizona Diamondbacks v Colorado Rockies

Diamondbacks open to trading a shortstop, perhaps for a catcher

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The Diamondbacks currently have youngsters Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings fighting it out for their shortstop job, but they’ve weighed settling the battle with a trade, the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro reports.

The preference would be to acquire a catcher who could potentially back up Miguel Montero in the near future and eventually supplant him as a starter.

“For us, it would have to be the right deal,” Arizona GM Kevin Towers told Piecoro. “Our biggest needs in our system are catching. If it’s the right, top-notch catching prospect. Someone we could have right behind Miggy. More of an upper-level guy. Maybe a top, upper-end starter. We have a lot of bullpen depth, infielders. Maybe an outfielder, but probably more catching and Double-A, Triple-A type starter.”

Of the two, Owings would likely have the greater trade value because of his offensive potential. Towers might prefer that anyway, as he’s already stated that Gregorius is the favorite to retain the job.

One obvious suitor for either player is the Mets, but Newsday’s Marc Carig says the two sides haven’t talked since the winter meetings. He adds that the Diamondbacks would probably want Travis d’Arnaud in return, which wouldn’t fly. The Mets have another solid catching prospect in Kevin Plawecki, but a source told Carig that he’s not the kind of talent Arizona is requesting.

The Yankees could also use a shortstop of the future, and catching is the one real strength in their farm system; Gary Sanchez has a high ceiling on offense and John Ryan Murphy could be an average regular or at least a really good backup. Towers also has a good working relationship with the Yankees, having worked in their front office before joining the Diamondbacks. A match there could be a possibility.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.

President Obama pardons Willie McCovey

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 06:  San Francisco Giants legend Willie McCovey  waves to the crowd while seating between Jeff Kent (L) and Willie Mays during a ceremony honoring Buster Posey for winning the 2012 National League MVP before the Giants game against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park on April 6, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.

Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.

President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.