Pittsburgh second baseman Neil Walker will be a free agent next offseason, making him a potential trade candidate, and Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles have talked to the Pirates about acquiring the 30-year-old switch-hitter.
Encina says it’s unclear how far along talks got, but if nothing else it suggests the Pirates are willing to move Walker for the right price. He’s expected to make around $10 million in 2016 via arbitration after hitting .269 with 16 homers and a .756 OPS in 151 games this year.
Walker has spent his entire professional career in the Pirates organization. He was the 11th overall pick in the 2004 draft out of high school, cracked Baseball America’s annual top-100 prospects list four times, and has been the team’s starting second baseman since 2010.
Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis emerged as an early Rookie of the Year contender before a left shoulder injury sidelined him for the final two months of the season.
He underwent what was described as a “cleanup” procedure in September, but today the Blue Jays announced that he’s gone under the knife for a more extensive surgery and faces a 4-5 month recovery timetable. In other words, odds are he’ll begin 2016 where he ended 2015: On the disabled list.
Travis hit .304 with eight homers and an .859 OPS in 62 games before going on the DL. He was replaced as the Blue Jays’ starting second baseman by Ryan Goins and will have to win back his job.
Ron Roenicke is the newest member of manager Mike Scioscia’s coaching staff, joining the Angels as third base coach.
It’s the same role he filled under Scioscia from 2000-2005, at which point he was promoted to bench coach and later left to become the Brewers’ manager in 2011. He was fired in May and joined the Dodgers as third base coach in mid-August, but was not kept around following manager Don Mattingly‘s departure.
Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports that Gary DiSarcina will shift from third base coach to first base coach to make room for Roenicke, who had a 342-331 (.508) record as Brewers manager.
Detroit has been searching for a veteran closer and finally found their man, as Venezuelan reporter Augusto Cardenas writes that the Tigers have acquired Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers in exchange for minor leaguer Javier Betancourt.
This marks the second time the Brewers have traded Rodriguez, who was previously sent to the Orioles for minor leaguer Nick Delmonico in mid-2013 and then re-signed with Milwaukee as a free agent that offseason.
He saved 44 games in 2014 and 38 games this year, logging a total of 125 innings with a 2.66 ERA and 135/29 K/BB ratio between the two seasons. Rodriguez is no longer the flame-throwing phenom from his early Angels days, but at age 34 he remains a high-end reliever and has never struck out fewer than a batter per inning in any season.
Betancourt is a 21-year-old second baseman who spent this year at high Single-A hitting .263 with three homers and a .640 OPS in 122 games. He had similarly underwhelming numbers last season at low Single-A and is not considered a top prospect.
Rodriguez is signed for $7.5 million in 2016 and his contract includes a $6 million team option or $2 million buyout for 2017, so the Tigers are hoping he’ll be a two-year fix for their perpetually shaky bullpen.