Author: Bill Baer

Dave Stewart, Chip Hale
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

D-Backs GM Dave Stewart offers some strange logic to defend the Shelby Miller trade

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Though it came as a surprise, no one questioned the Diamondbacks’ decision to sign ace starter Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206.5 million contract. And though that signing pushed the Diamondbacks clearly into contention mode, the club’s acquisition of starter Shelby Miller raised a few eyebrows. The club sent breakout outfielder Ender Inciarte, 2015 #1 overall draft pick Dansby Swanson, and pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves.

That is a lot to pay for a starter that, while good, has never posted an ERA below 3.00 and has crossed the 200-inning threshold only once. Sure, Miller is young, but he is only under team control for three more seasons and will get progressively more expensive while moving from a pitcher-friendly ballpark to a hitter-friendly park.

GM Dave Stewart resorted to some curious logic to defend the trade. Via Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports on Wednesday:

Reminded – or, perhaps, informed – that he gave an excessive amount to acquire Miller, Stewart, stone-faced, responded, “I would say that is incorrect. That’s three players. And, believe me, they’re very highly regarded players, but three players do not make our future.”

Besides, he said, a year ago Miller was traded for outfielder Jason Heyward, “And right now Jason Heyward is looking for $200 million. So we got a guy, quite frankly, if you value it that way, we got great value.”

By this logic, shortstop Jean Segura is valuable because the Angels sent him to the Brewers in exchange for Greinke in July 2012. There are numerous other examples one could use to point out the flaw in Stewart’s line of reasoning. Wayward pitcher Phillippe Aumont was one of three players the Mariners sent to the Phillies in exchange for Cliff Lee, who signed for $120 million. The Brewers sent Matt LaPorta, among others, to the Indians in July 2008 for CC Sabathia, who eventually signed for $122 million.

It’s not the first time Stewart has said something… questionable. Neil Weinberg ran down a handful at FanGraphs. Included is a gem from this past July in which Stewart did not know exactly how hard Touki Toussaint threw his fastball.

The Diamondbacks keep things interesting, that’s for sure.

The Braves are trying to unload Nick Swisher

Nick Swisher
AP Photo/Charles Krupa
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MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports that the Braves are trying to trade outfielder Nick Swisher. This comes as no surprise as the club has sold off most of its remaining assets already this offseason, having previously dealt shortstop Andrelton Simmons, outfielder Cameron Maybin, and starter Shelby Miller.

The Braves acquired Swisher along with outfielder Michael Bourn from the Indians this past August in exchange for infielder Chris Johnson. The Braves owe Swisher the balance of his $16 million salary for the 2016 season, some of which is being paid for by the Indians, who sent $10 million to the Braves along with the two players. Bowman notes that the Braves would have to cover a large portion of Swisher’s remaining salary in order to facilitate a trade.

Swisher, 35, hit a paltry .196/.312/.320 with six home runs and 25 RBI between the Indians and the Braves. It marked his second consecutive season with dismal numbers, including a combined -2.4 WAR, according to Baseball Reference. Only Will Middlebrooks (-2.5) has been less valuable. Ryan Howard is tied wish Swisher at -2.4.

Royals, Joakim Soria agree on a three-year, $25 million deal

Joakim Soria
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Update (1:25 AM EST): Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has confirmed the contract length and value. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Soria’s contract includes a mutual option for a fourth year.

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting that the Royals and reliever Joakim Soria are finalizing a three-year contract. MLB.com’s Jason Beck hears that the deal is worth $25 million. Soria will slot into the back end of the Royals’ bullpen behind closer Wade Davis, handling the late innings with Kelvin Herrera. Soria is effectively replacing Ryan Madson, who recently signed with the Athletics.

Soria, 31, finished the 2015 season with a 2.53 ERA and a 64/19 K/BB ratio over 67 2/3 innings. 41 of those innings came with the Tigers before they dealt him to the Pirates at the trade deadline in July.

The Twins, Tigers, and Rangers had expressed interest in Soria before the Royals emerged victorious.

This will be Soria’s second stint with the Royals. The club had selected him from the Padres in the Rule 5 draft December 2006. He spent six years in Kansas City before signing with the Rangers as a free agent in December 2012.

Report: Tigers close to signing Mark Lowe to a two-year deal

Mark Lowe
AP Photo/Stephen Brashear
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports the Tigers are close to signing reliever Mark Lowe to a two-year deal. He’ll serve as the set-up man ahead of closer Francisco Rodriguez, who was also acquired during this offseason.

Lowe, 32, had an outstanding 2015 season with the Mariners and Blue Jays. He compiled a 1.96 ERA with a 61/12 K/BB ratio over 55 innings. The Mariners dealt the veteran of 10 seasons to the Jays at the trade deadline at the end of July, acquiring Rob Rasmussen, Nick Wells, and Jake Brentz in return.

Reds willing to trade everyone, including Todd Frazier

Todd Frazier
AP Photo/John Minchillo
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We learned on Saturday that Reds first baseman Joey Votto isn’t willing to waive his no-trade clause. Aside from him, the Reds are willing to trade anyone on their roster, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

The Reds and Dodgers are reportedly in serious trade talks involving closer Aroldis Chapman, but the Reds would even be willing to move All-Star third baseman Todd Frazier as well. Heyman notes that the Diamondbacks had interest in second baseman Brandon Phillips at one point, but the two clubs haven’t discussed a trade in recent times.

Outfielder Jay Bruce is another candidate to be traded, with the Orioles having shown interest last month. Bruce has a limited no-trade clause and can block trades to the Yankees, Red Sox, Athletics, Rays, Marlins, Twins, Indians, and Diamondbacks.