The Braves and Diamondbacks have recently discussed potential trades involving starter Shelby Miller, but the Braves have been focused on outfielder A.J. Pollock. D-Backs CEO Derrick Hall says that teams inquire on Pollock’s availability “every time”. Hall thinks “it’s almost time to send a message that A.J. is off limits,” as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. “I think it’s safe to categorize him as almost untouchable,” Hall said.
Pollock had an outstanding 2015 season, batting .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, 111 runs scored, and 39 stolen bases while playing above-average defense in the outfield. His 7.4 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference, ranked 10th in baseball. FanGraphs put him at 6.6 WAR, the eighth-highest mark among qualified position players.
Perhaps the most appealing thing about Pollock, however, is his contract status. He is entering his first year of arbitration eligibility and won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2018 season. Rather than trade Pollock, the Diamondbacks might instead pursue a contract extension.
Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News hears that the Angels may make a run at free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
Cespedes hasn’t been mentioned often in the rumor mill so far this offseason, as the Angels and Giants have been the only teams linked to him thus far. However, the slugger should draw plenty of interest as the year draws to a close.
Cespedes, 30, pieced together a career year between the Tigers and Mets in 2015. He hit .291/.328/.542 with 35 home runs and 105 RBI in 676 plate appearances.
The Giants inked starter Jeff Samardzija to a five-year, $90 million deal on Saturday afternoon, but they’re not done yet. We learned earlier that the club is scheduled to meet with free agent super-utility man Ben Zobrist.
Additionally, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes that the Giants are still in on free agent starter Mike Leake and “still like” starter Hisashi Iwakuma. They’re also looking to add a “big bat” such as Yoenis Cespedes or Justin Upton, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY.
The Giants finished six games above .500 during the 2015 season and all of their important players will be returning. One or two more big adds could make them a legitimate National League powerhouse.
After signing Samardzija, the Giants have $137.5 million committed to 12 players, leaving them about $35 million shy of last season’s Opening Day payroll. Ostensibly, they have plenty of wiggle room with the payroll.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is hearing from sources that the Dodgers are making a push for free agent starter Hisashi Iwakuma. He adds that the Dodgers have particular interest in Iwakuma because he would not require as long of a contract due to his age (34).
The Dodgers have thus far come up empty in free agency, as David Price, Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmermann, John Lackey, and Jeff Samardzija — among others — are all off the board.
Iwakuma turned down the Mariners’ $15.8 million qualifying offer, so the Dodgers would forfeit a draft pick in 2016 to sign the right-hander. Iwakuma made only 20 starts this past season as he dealt with a strained lat muscle. He compiled a 3.54 ERA with a 1.064 WHIP and a 111/21 K/BB ratio over 129 2/3 innings.
Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the Twins, Cubs, and Padres have expressed interest in free agent reliever Fernando Rodney.
Rodney, 38, had a miserable 2015 campaign, finishing with a 4.74 ERA and earning the save in only 16 of 23 opportunities. The Mariners traded him to the Cubs near the end of August, and he succeeded in a set-up role, allowing just one earned run on eight hits and four walks with 15 strikeouts in 12 innings.
Due to his age and poor performance throughout most of the past season, Rodney will likely have to accept a set-up role and a one-year deal.