Author: Bill Baer

Aaron Barrett
AP Photo/John Minchillo

Aaron Barrett cites overuse as reason for elbow problems

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Nationals reliever Aaron Barrett has had a rough 2015. The right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery in early September, knocking him out of the 2016 season. And last week, he had surgery to remove bone chips and spurs from his left ankle. This, after finishing with a 4.60 ERA in 29 1/3 innings.

As far as the elbow problem is concerned, Barrett says his overuse contributed to the issue. Via the Associated Press:

Barrett said Sunday at Washington’s fan festival that “the bottom line was I was literally just throwing too much.”

[…]

Explained Barrett: “Just basically warming up, not going into the game, then pitching the next game, and then warming up in the sixth inning and then the seventh inning and then pitching in the eighth inning.”

MLB.com’s Andrew Simon provided more of Barrett’s thoughts on Twitter. Barrett talked about his position as a young player leading to feeling like he didn’t have any leverage with which to speak up about his workload. It’s an issue worth consideration. Barrett won’t be eligible for arbitration until after the 2016 season, which means another year of being paid close to the major league minimum salary, and he won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season. Not only are young players prone to the daily up-and-down routines in the bullpen, they’re prone to being sent back-and-forth between the minors and the majors. It’s a tough life.

Mike Leake would give D-Backs a hometown discount, but they don’t want him anymore

Mike Leake
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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Free agent starter Mike Leake is willing to take “significantly less to play at home in Phoenix,” Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. However, Diamondbacks COO Tony La Rosa says it is “probably unlikely” that the club will sign the right-hander. The D-Backs were reportedly interested in Leake earlier this offseason.

The Diamondbacks have already made two big pitching acquisitions. They signed Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206.5 million contract last week. Then, on Tuesday, the D-Backs sent outfielder Ender Inciarte, 2015 number one overall draft pick Dansby Swanson, and pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves for starter Shelby Miller.

The Nationals also had interest in Leake but their interest reportedly cooled last week. The Giants are the only other team with reported interest, but that should pick up as more options fall off the board.

Leake, 28, posted a combined 3.70 ERA with a 119/49 K/BB ratio over 192 innings between the Reds and Giants this past season.

Mozeliak: Cardinals won’t chase outfielders

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The Cardinals watched their former outfielder ink an eight-year, $184 million contract with the division rival Cubs, but GM John Mozeliak says his club won’t chase outfielders. Instead, he’ll focus on starting pitching, as KMOX in St. Louis reports.

They’re not exactly in dire straits sans Jason Heyward, as they have Matt Holliday in left field, Randal Grichuk in center, and Stephen Piscotty in right. All three posted significantly above-average offensive numbers last season, albeit in 350 or fewer plate appearances each.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals have some uncertainty in the starting rotation. Adam Wainwright missed most of the 2015 season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, Lance Lynn will miss all of 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and Jaime Garcia is anything but a sure bet to make it through a season unscathed. Thus, it’s quite understandable why Mozeliak figures rotation depth to be of higher importance than outfield depth.

Video: Bryce Harper lip syncs “My Girl” at Nats Winterfest

Bryce Harper
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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Nats outfielder and reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper was in attendance at Nats Winterfest at the Washington Convention Center over the weekend and provided some entertainment for fans in attendance. The 23-year-old lip synced “My Girl” by The Temptations to a young fan.

Harper has been a target — quite literally — over the years for perceived maturity and attitude issues. But based on what we’ve seen out of him recently, including the way he handled the altercation with teammate Jonathan Papelbon, it seems like that perception may be antiquated.

Mets still unlikely to bring back Yoenis Cespedes after Michael Cuddyer’s retirement

Yoenis Cespedes
AP Photo/Tom Uhlman
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The Mets are an outfielder short following the surprise retirement of Michael Cuddyer, but the team is still unlikely to bring back Yoenis Cespedes, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. If the season were to start today, Juan Lagares would likely handle everyday duties in center field with Michael Conforto in left and Curtis Granderson in right.

In fact, the Mets don’t have any plans to spend big in free agency even with additional money saved from Cuddyer’s retirement. They also don’t plan to deal any of their pitching to address the outfield.

Cespedes was a difference-maker after joining the Mets from the Tigers at the trade deadline. The Cuban slugger hit .287 with 17 home runs and 44 RBI in 249 plate appearances.

The Mets have already added Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera, replacing Daniel Murphy and replacing Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada, respectively. They’ll still have to make another addition or two to maintain their standing in the National League.