Author: Matthew Pouliot

Michael Bourn

Michael Bourn-to-Phillies possibility heating up

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Things are no longer quiet with Michael Bourn’s market; Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that the Phillies are “past the tire-kicking stage” with the speedy center fielder.

Bourn to the Phillies became a popular rumor as soon as Shane Victorino was dealt to the Dodgers during the season, opening up a big hole in center field. Bourn opened his career with the Phillies before being dealt to Houston for Brad Lidge five years ago.

The Mariners appear to be the other team in on Bourn at the moment. Expectations are that he’ll want a deal bigger than the five-year, $75.25 million contract that B.J. Upton received from the Braves last month. The Phillies were one of the teams trying for Upton, but it’s believed they were offering less than $12 million per year.

Bourn, who turns 30 this month, hit .274/.348/.391 with nine homers and 42 steals for the Braves last season. He’s won two Gold Gloves for his play in center field, and he was deserving of another this year.

Indians, Yankees both in on Mark Reynolds, Kevin Youkilis

Mark Reynolds
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Both the Indians and Yankees have met with the agent for non-tendered infielder Mark Reynolds in Nashville.

Those two teams are also known to be interested in Kevin Youkilis, who lost one lessor suitor when his old team, the White Sox, signed Jeff Keppinger today. Youkilis has also been mentioned in connection with the Dodgers and Philies, but the Indians and Yankees seem like his best bets for now.

The Indians would likely use Youkilis at first base, though they’d have the option of putting him at third if Lonnie Chisenhall struggles. The Yankees want Youkilis as a stopgap third baseman with Alex Rodriguez out for two or three months.

Youkilis’ close relationship with Terry Francona from their days in Boston could come into play with the Indians. Also, Youkilis is from Cincinnati.

As for Reynolds, he offers 30-homer power, but he’s a poor defender at third base, and he’d likely be more valuable playing first, as he did for the Orioles last season. He’d probably come cheaper than Youkilis, and unlike Youkilis, he doesn’t look like a candidate for a multiyear deal.

 

Pirates acquire LHP Andrew Oliver from Tigers

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Left-hander Andrew Oliver, considered one of the bright lights in the Detroit farm system a couple of years ago, was shipped off to Pittsburgh for minor league catcher Ramon Cabrera on Wednesday.

Oliver, a 2009 second-round pick out of Oklahoma State, was rushed to the majors in 2010, only to go 0-4 with a 7.36 ERA in five starts. He also made two starts for the Tigers in 2011, but he spent all of 2012 in Triple-A, going 5-9 with a 4.88 ERA and a 112/88 K/BB ratio in 118 innings. The Tigers tried him as a reliever at the very end of the year, and while he did strike out 20 in 16 2/3 innings, he also walked 12.

Cabrera, the son of former Diamondbacks first baseman and Japan League superstar Alex Cabrera, hit .279/.342/.367 in 384 at-bats for Double-A Altoona last season. The 23-year-old is considered below average defensively and it seems unlikely that his bat would play well anywhere other than catcher, so his chances of having a future in the majors hinges on him improving behind the plate. He could return to Double-A or move up to Triple-A with the Tigers.

There hasn’t been any word yet on whether the Pirates intend to use Oliver as a starter or a reliever, but given that he’s primarily a two-pitch guy with his fastball and slider, the bullpen would make the most sense for him.

Mariners, Phillies weigh Raul Ibanez return

Raul Ibanez
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Having already seen Russell Martin and Eric Chavez sign elsewhere, the Yankees could next lose Raul Ibanez to a more interested suitor. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mariners, Phillies and Rangers are interested in the 40-year-old.

According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, Ibanez would prefer to remain with the Yankees, but he’s growing a bit antsy since they’ve been slow to move. Ibanez already intends to retire to Seattle, so rejoining the Mariners might be attractive to him.

If Ibanez returned to Seattle, it’d be his third stint with the team. He also played for the Phillies from 2009-11. Ibanez hit .240/.308/.453 with 19 homers and 62 RBI in 384 at-bats for the Yankees last season. He also contributed three memorable homers in the postseason.

No progress on Justin Upton four-team trade talks

Justin Upton
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Both CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman and FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal are reporting that talks between the Diamondbacks, Rangers, Indians and maybe the Rays on a Justin Upton deal have failed to progress.

Heyman reports that talks are at a standstill and that the Diamondbacks need more in return for Upton than Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Other than that, he’s not sure what the hold up.

Rosenthal writes that the talks are essentially at the same point where they were since before the start of the meetings.

Heyman previously indicated that the Rangers could send top pitching prospect Martin Perez and more to Cleveland for Cabrera and then use him to get Upton. However, they might also have to send some of their own minor league talent Arizona’s way to make such a deal materialize.

Other variations of the trade have the Diamondbacks trading one of their top young pitchers, Trevor Bauer (their preference) or Tyler Skaggs (Cleveland’s preference) to get Cabrera from the Indians.

Tampa Bay’s involvement in the deal would probably include James Shields going to Texas and then Rangers third baseman Mike Olt getting sent somewhere. Olt would be a fix for the Rays as a long-term first baseman, but he’d have more value to a team that could use him at third.

Anyway, it doesn’t sound like there’s much chance of an Upton trade materializing today. A Jason Kubel deal might be more likely.