Aaron Gleeman

jason marquis getty

Raisel Iglesias and Jason Marquis are in the Reds’ rotation, Paul Maholm is out

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Earlier this week the Reds announced that they’re shifting Tony Cingrani to the bullpen–against the left-hander’s wishes–and today they announced that both Raisel Iglesias and Jason Marquis will have spots in the Opening Day rotation.

Iglesias was signed out of Cuba for $27 million last year, but at the time many people viewed him as more likely to be a reliever in the majors. However, he’s impressed manager Bryan Price with eight scoreless innings this spring.

Marquis is a 36-year-old veteran of 14 seasons for eight different teams, but didn’t pitch in the majors at all last year following Tommy John elbow surgery. Before his elbow gave out Marquis pitched reasonably well for the Padres in 2012 and 2013, but he hasn’t posted an ERA below 4.00 since way back in 2004. He’s probably just keeping the spot warm until Homer Bailey is healthy.

Also of note: Cincinnati informed left-hander Paul Maholm that he’s now competing for a bullpen spot, which could mean he’ll opt out of his minor-league contract in the hopes some other team still views him as a potential starter.

Need a lefty? Orioles “are open to trading” Brian Matusz

St. Louis Cardinals v Baltimore Orioles
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According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com the Orioles “are open to trading” left-hander Brian Matusz and “are willing to include cash in a deal” to cover part of his $3.2 million salary.

Earlier this week the Baltimore Sun reported that the Mets were scouting Matusz as they look for a lefty to add to the bullpen, so clearly the former No. 4 overall pick in the draft has been made available.

Matusz has been very effective since shifting from the rotation to the bullpen full time in 2013, posting a combined 3.51 ERA with a 103/33 K/BB ratio in 103 innings. His salary might be a little pricey for a middle reliever and it’s possible the Orioles asking price is considered steep, but he could help a lot of bullpens across MLB.

Report: Phillies willing to pay teams $50 million to take Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard Getty
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Ryan Howard has two years and $60 million left on his $125 million contract and Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com reports that the Phillies are willing to cover $50 million of that money if a team trades for him.

That sounds like a lot and it is, but it also means any team trading for Howard would still have to commit to paying $10 million for two seasons of a 35-year-old, poor defensive first baseman who slugged just .380 last season and has a combined .720 OPS during the past three seasons.

Howard has essentially been a replacement-level first baseman for a long time now, meaning teams can typically find his level of production–low batting average, decent power, .700 OPS–in lots of first basemen available for minor-league deals and waiver claims every year. Those guys cost $500,000 per season, not $5 million.

My guess it that if the Phillies are truly committed to moving Howard they’re going to need an injury to cause some team to get desperate or they’re going to need to essentially eat his entire contract while also requiring a low-level prospect in return.

Francisco Liriano named Opening Day starter by the Pirates

francisco liriano getty
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Francisco Liriano, who re-signed with the Pirates for three years and $39 million this offseason, has been named the team’s Opening Day starter for the second straight season.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle also announced that Gerrit Cole and A.J. Burnett will follow him in the rotation. Charlie Morton and either Vance Worley or Jeff Locke will grab the other two spots.

Liriano got off to a poor start last year, but then posted a 2.20 ERA with 94 strikeouts in 86 innings after the All-Star break.

Ron Gardenhire returned to Twins camp as a “fan” (and with cigars)

gardenhire in dugout
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Ron Gardenhire was fired as the Twins’ manager after 13 seasons on the job, but he remains on very good terms with the organization and showed up to spring training today to hang out.

Here’s what that looked like:

Walking around camp chomping on a cigar is a power move, but having a second cigar at the ready in a Ziploc bag is on another level. And who among us can’t appreciate a “UW-Stout Blue Devils Dad” t-shirt.