Author: Matthew Pouliot

Brett Lawrie
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A’s, White Sox working on Brett Lawrie deal

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Ignoring all of the fun possibilities a Jed LowrieBrett Lawrie infield affords, the A’s are set to trade Lawrie to the White Sox for a pair of prospects, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports.

In an unrelated move, the A’s are also moving close to adding John Axford to the bullpen, Slusser states.

It’s unclear who the A’s will be getting back from the White Sox in the deal, but it seems they’ve been playing to move Lawrie since the end of the season, if not well before. The 25-year-old hit .260/.299/.407 in what’s expected to go down as his only season in Oakland. He was acquired from the Jays in the Josh Donaldson deal last winter.

The White Sox need all of the infield help they can get, particularly after declining Alexei Ramirez‘s option for 2016. If the season started today, they’d probably open up with Carlos Sanchez at second, Tyler Saladino at shortstop and Mike Olt at third base. None of those are ideal solutions, though Sanchez at least has a very good glove. Shortstop prospect Tim Anderson could arrive at midseason to push Saladino into the utility role for which he’s best suited.

Oakland had been publically stating that Lowrie would play second base next year, but that’s back open again now. Lowrie and Marcus Semien will occupy two of the three non-first base infield spots, with Lowrie probably at second or third and Semien remaining at short. Ideally, they’d do better than Eric Sogard for the remaining starting spot.

Mariners pick up reliever Evan Scribner from the A’s

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Needing to add to their pen after trading Carson Smith, Tom Wilhelmsen and every other reliever they’ve developed in recent years, the Mariners acquired right-hander Evan Scribner from the A’s in exchange for right-handed prospect Trey Cochran-Gill.

It’s a minor deal, for sure, but it should be noted that Scribner is coming off the most remarkable season ever for a reliever with a 4.35 ERA.

Yes, Scribner had a 64/4 K/BB ratio in his 60 innings. Only Eck had ever done better. No one else has even come in over 13:1.

So, how did he end up with a 4.35 ERA? He gave up a whopping 14 homers. He’s the only pitcher in history to end a season with at least three times as many homers allowed as walks issued. After Scribner’s 3.5:1. the next highest ratio of homers to walks was Carlos Silva’s 25 HR/9 BB season in 188 1/3 innings in 2005.

Cochran-Gill, 22, is a decent relief prospect in the Dan Otero mold. He could help the A’s in 2017.

The Marlins’ asking price for Jose Fernandez sounds pretty reasonable

Jose Fernandez
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I mean, as long as one of those isn’t Vin Scully, we got a deal.

D’Backs trade No. 1 overall pick to Braves for Shelby Miller

Shelby Miller
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The Braves wanted a haul if they were going to give up Shelby Miller and they got one from Arizona, landing 2015 first overall pick Dansby Swanson, as well as outfielder Ender Inciarte and right-hander Aaron Blair, in a deal agreed to Tuesday.

The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro was the first to report the players involved.

Miller, 25, was a very attractive piece in trade talks after posting a 3.02 ERA in 205 1/3 innings for Atlanta last year. He’s proven durable thus far, and he’s still three years away from free agency. If he keeps pitching like he did last year, he gives the Diamondbacks a second No. 2 starter along with Patrick Corbin behind ace Zack Greinke. They can then round out the rotation with Robbie Ray and either Rubby De La Rosa or Chase Anderson.

Still, it’s a real whopped of a price to pay. Swanson, a 21-year-old shortstop, hit .289/.394/.482 in low-A ball in his pro debut last season. He projects as a top-of-the-order guy and he should be able to stay at shortstop, though he could also move to second with fellow top shortstop prospect Ozhaino Albies in the Braves system.

Inciarte has quietly been a very valuable player these last two years, hitting .292/.329/.386 in 942 at-bats while playing top-notch defense throughout the infield. He’ll step in as the Braves’ center fielder over Michael Bourn, and if he keeps hitting, he should be able to hold off prospect Mallex Smith to retain the job.

Blair is known for his sinking fastball, and though his strikeout rate fell well off in the upper minors last year, he’s still well regarded as a future middle-of-the-rotation starter. He’ll likely open 2016 in Triple-A.

This makes three of the Braves’ top five or six prospects that came from the Diamondbacks system, with Swanson (the new No. 1) and Blair joining Touki Toussaint, who was picked up in a salary dump last summer.

UPDATE: The Diamondbacks are also getting 20-year-old left-hander Gabe Speier in the deal. Speier, who ranked somewhere in the bottom half of the Braves’ top 30 prospects, was picked up by the Braves last month from the Tigers in the Cameron Maybin trade.

 

Yankees acquire Starlin Castro from Cubs

Starlin Castro
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The Yankees have themselves a new second baseman, acquiring Starlin Castro from the Cubs in exchange for right-hander Adam Warren and a player to be named.

Castro is coming off a disappointing age-25 campaign in which he hit .265/.296/.375 in 547 at-bats. He’s a career .281/.321/.404 hitter in 3,524 at-bats since debuting at age 20.

In return, the Cubs, who just landed Ben Zobrist to take over at second base, pick up a pretty useful piece in Warren, who had a 3.29 ERA in 17 starts and 26 relief appearances for the Yankees last season. He’ll most likely be in the pen initially, but his addition gives the Cubs four experienced rotation fallbacks, what with Travis WoodTrevor Cahill and Clayton Richard already on the roster.

According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports, the Cubs will not be picking up any of the $38 million that Castro is owed over the next four years.

Oddly enough, this trade comes together because of one that never did in July: the A’s sought to get Warren and second baseman Rob Refsnyder from the Yankees for Zobrist then. The Yankees turned them down, not wanting to trade Warren for two months of Zobrist. Now they are trading Warren for a player expendable because another team signed Zobrist.

UPDATE: The player to be named is reportedly veteran utilityman Brendan Ryan.