Matthew Pouliot

Yunel Escobar

Yunel Escobar a possibility for Rays, A’s and Red Sox

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While there are bigger names out there to be had, perhaps no player is more likely to be traded this week than new Marlins infielder Yunel Escobar.

Escobar was mostly included in the Jose Reyes-Josh Johnson megadeal for salary purposes, and the Marlins have been intent on moving him since the day they picked him up from the Blue Jays. CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler says the A’s, Rays and Yankees are all interested, and FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi says the Red Sox are also in the running.

The A’s, Rays and Red Sox would all be looking at Escobar as a shortstop, while the Yankees would presumably use him at third base until Alex Rodriguez is healthy.

According to Knobler, the Marlins’ talks with the A’s regarding Escobar have centered on prospects Grant Green and Brad Peacock. Green, a former first-round pick, has experience at shortstop, second base and in center field. He hit .296/.338/.458 as a 24-year-old in Triple-A last season. Peacock, who was sent to Oakland from the Nationals in the Gio Gonzalez deal, was 12-9 with a 6.01 ERA and a 139/66 K/BB ratio in 134 2/3 innings in Triple-A last season.

One imagines the A’s would like to see what happens with Stephen Drew before they surrender a prospect for Escobar. They already have an offer out to him.

Red Sox gear up for 85 wins with Shane Victorino in right field

Shane Victorino
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In looking at Shane Victorino’s future last night, I concluded that he wasn’t a bad bet to last as a quality regular for a few more years, in spite of his down 2012 season.

Still, I wouldn’t have recommended wagering $39 million on it.

That’s the gamble the Red Sox took today in committing to Victorino for his age 32-34 seasons. At $13 million per year, it’s hard to imagine him being any sort of bargain. The best-case scenario would seem to have him being worth just what the Red Sox paid for him.

On the other hand, the Red Sox may well have been able to sign B.J. Upton for $16 million per year for his age 28-32 seasons. That comes with some risk as well, but at least Upton has several prime years left and has shown tantalizing glimpses of superstar potential. Victorino’s slide last year suggested that he may be just one or two years away from becoming a fourth outfielder.

So, no, I don’t get this deal. The Red Sox won 69 games last year behind three 90-win clubs in the AL East and a Toronto team that has taken a huge step forward this winter. They’re not a slightly above average right fielder and a quality first baseman away from returning to the postseason. It would have been worth rolling the dice with Upton or maybe even Josh Hamilton if his market didn’t play out as hoped, but barring that, they could have given Ryan Kalish a try and then reevaluated the position next winter.

In the last month, the Red Sox have committed multiyear deals to Victorino, Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes and David Ross to the tune of $34 million per season. They’re probably going to spend another $12 million or so per season on a starting pitcher from the Ryan Dempster genre. That they’re making the team better is a given. That they’re making it better enough to actually go anywhere in 2013 seems pretty unlikely.

Report: Dodgers willing to part with top youngsters for R.A. Dickey

R.A. Dickey
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John Harper of the New York Daily News reports the Dodgers are willing to send shortstop Dee Gordon and right-hander Zach Lee, their No. 1 pitching prospect, to the Mets for R.A. Dickey.

The Mets appear to be seeking two top young talents in return for their Cy Young Award winner, and Gordon and Lee isn’t such a bad offer. Still, it doesn’t fill the Mets’ needs as well as they’d like. The Mets already have a long-term shortstop in Ruben Tejada, and while one can never have too many top pitching prospects, the Mets would rather add a top young outfielder or a catcher. Or maybe both. As a result, it seems unlikely that they’ll take the Dodgers up on the offer.

Gordon, 24, opened last year as the Dodgers’ shortstop and leadoff hitter, but he struggled and got hurt. He ended up hitting .228/.280/.281 with 32 steals in 303 at-bats. In 2011, he hit .304/.325/.362 with 24 steals in 224 at-bats as a rookie.

Lee, 21, went 6-6 with a 4.39 ERA and a 103/32 K/BB ratio in 121 innings between high-A Rancho Cucamonga (a terrific hitting environment) and Double-A Chattanooga last season. He was the Dodgers’ top pick in the 2010 draft

Mariners interested in Michael Bourn, meeting with Scott Boras

Michael Bourn
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When the Mariners announced after the season that they were bringing in the fences at Safeco, the obvious reaction was that they were trying to help their chances of luring a power hitter this winter, and they have been connected to Justin Upton in trade talks and Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Adam LaRoche in free agency. However, according to CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman, it’s not all about power with the Mariners: they’re interested in Michael Bourn and are currently meeting with his agent, Scott Boras.

With B.J. Upton, Angel Pagan and Denard Span all filling vacancies, the market for center fielders would seem to be dwindling some, so it’d be great news for Bourn if the Mariners stayed involved. They might be his best chance of matching the five-year, $75.25 million deal that B.J. Upton got from the Braves.

If the Mariners do get Bourn, they’d likely seek to trade Franklin Gutierrez, even though he’d bring little in return after all of his injuries. He’d make the team very lefty heavy at the top of the order. The Mariners also have left-handed hitters Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, John Jaso and Michael Saunders as likely starters, and Ackley, Seager and Jaso would likely all occupy top-four spots in the lineup if the season started today.

Maybe the Mets should just keep R.A. Dickey

Phil Niekro, R.A. Dickey
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In making it clear just how much he wanted his Royals to trade for R.A. Dickey, Grantland’s Rany Jazayerli put forth a great case for just how valuable Dickey is, especially in light of his willingness to sign a pretty reasonable two- or three-year extension on top of his $5 million contract for 2013.

Just as Jazayerli says, who cares that Dickey is 38? He’s a knuckleballer who just won a Cy Young Award at 37. Until age 36, he had never topped 175 innings in a season as a pro. He certainly hasn’t racked up the pitch counts of the typical 38-year-old hurler. Anyway, he was anything but typical in the first place, given that he’s missing his UCL (a.k.a. the Tommy John ligament) in his elbow.

If Dickey were the typical 38-year-old, then yeah, the Mets probably should trade him, working under the theory that he probably wouldn’t be part of the next good Mets team anyway. But he’s not. There’s good reason to think he has three, four or maybe even five or six years left of quality pitching in him. In my opinion, he’s a better bet to stay healthy than the typical free agent pitcher five or six years younger than he is.

If the Mets could get Wil Myers and a quality pitching prospect from the Royals for Dickey, that would probably be worth doing. Maybe it’s worth doing for Myers alone; I don’t think he’s any sort of lock to develop into an All-Star, but he definitely has the potential. However, the Mets would be much smarter to give him the extension than to trade him for anything less than a top-10 prospect. He’ll still be a top-of-the-rotation starter if the Mets can come up with enough talent around him to make a run in 2014 or ’15.