Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Cardinals are shopping shortstop Pete Kozma, who is currently on the outside looking in for an Opening Day roster spot with the defending National League champions. Rubin says the Mets probably aren’t interested because Kozma is “not really” an upgrade over projected starting shortstop Ruben Tejada.
Kozma plays decent defense at short, but he was a .236/.308/.344 career hitter in the minor leagues and is a .232/.293/.315 career hitter in the major leagues. The 25-year-old was a first-round pick (18th overall) in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft but hasn’t been able to develop offensively and his past numbers suggest that there is no improvement on the way.
The Cardinals signed shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a four-year, $52 million free agent contract in November and they inked 23-year-old Cuban middle infielder Aledmys Diaz to a four-year, $8 million deal in early March. Daniel Descalso can serve as an emergency backup in the early going for Peralta while Diaz, a Cuban defector who did not play in 2013, gets acclimated to U.S. pro baseball in the minors.
Rubin says the Mets might be going after Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.
Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.
Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.