Author: Matthew Pouliot

Rich Dauer, Dexter Fowler, Pedro Alvarez

Report: Phillies talk to Rockies about Dexter Fowler

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The Phillies, having already missed out on B.J. Upton, Angel Pagan and Denard Span as possibilities for center field, have talked to the Rockies about Dexter Fowler, FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports.

The Rockies don’t need to move Fowler, who is due about $5 million in arbitration next year, but they’re open to the possibility if it gets them back some quality pitching. Vance Worley’s name would certainly come up in any talks between the two teams. More available is Tyler Cloyd, who was nearly shipped off to Houston for reliever Wilton Lopez last week.

The 26-year-old Fowler hit .300/.389/.474 with 13 homers and 12 steals in 454 at-bats last season. He’s a career .271/.364/.427 hitter, but much of his production has come at Coors Field. He’s a lifetime .295/.395/.487 hitter at home, compared to .248/.331/.367 on the road.

Mets show interest in Ryan Ludwick

Ryan Ludwick
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It’s about time that somebody did.

Cody Ross is getting all kinds of hits — the latest coming from the Yankees — after batting .267/.326/.481 with 22 homers and 81 RBI in 476 at-bats for the Red Sox last season. The market for Ryan Ludwick, on the other hand, has been very quiet, even though he came in at .275/.346/.531 with 26 homers and 80 RBI in 422 at-bats for the Reds last season.

Of course, Ludwick isn’t known for his consistency. Still, he matches up just fine with Ross over the last three years. He has a 107 OPS+ during that span, while Ross is at 105.

The other thing working in Ludwick’s favor is that he has a big edge over Ross against right-handed pitchers. Ludwick hit .280/.340/.513 against righties in 2012, compared to .256/.308/.422 for Ross. Lifetime, Ludwick has an .811 OPS against righties and a .774 OPS against lefties. Ross has a .727 OPS against righties and a .928 OPS against lefties.

There are reasons to prefer Ross. One is that he’s almost 2 1/2 years younger. He’s also probably the better defender of the two, though Baseball-reference WAR rates them similarly poorly the last couple of years.

On the other hand, there’s one more big reason to prefer Ludwick, and that’s that Ross wants a three-year, $24 million deal. Ludwick seems likely to settle for a one- or two-year contract.

The New York Post’s Joel Sherman says the Mets are interested in Ludwick, though money is tight and it’s iffy whether they’ll be able to afford him. The Reds have an offer on the table to re-sign him, and more suitors could step up once Ross is off the market.

The Adam LaRoche market isn’t so hot and heavy after all

Adam LaRoche
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The Nationals would very much like to keep free agent Adam LaRoche, but they’re sticking to their guns at the moment and only offering a two-year deal. Fortunately for them, it may yet be enough to get a deal done.

According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, the Rangers are not purusing LaRoche, and MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli writes that the Orioles’ interest seems “minimal at best.”

ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported earlier in the day that the Orioles were going in “hard” on LaRoche.

If the Rangers and Orioles aren’t involved, that may leave the Nationals and Mariners as LaRoche’s primary bidders. The Mariners may be legitimate threats there, but one wonders if they’d really overpay for LaRoche when they still have Justin Smoak and maybe Jesus Montero as possible long-term first basemen.

Update: In a twist, FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mariners are interested in acquiring Michael Morse from the Nationals. Presumably, they’d have to leave LaRoche alone and let him go back to Washington in order to have a shot at Morse.

Joe Mauer, David Wright commit to Team USA for WBC

Joe Mauer
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We’ll hear plenty about players opting out of the World Baseball Classic over the next couple of months. How about a couple of guys that are in: Minnesota’s Joe Mauer and the Mets’ David Wright.

The Mauer commitment makes it less of a big deal now if Buster Posey decides not to play for Team USA in March. A Mauer-Posey tag team would be awesome, but Mauer starting with Matt Wieters as a backup would be pretty good as well.

Wright is one of Team USA’s two best options at third base, Evan Longoria being the other. Longoria’s status for the tournament is clear.

The WBC announced 28 commitments in all today. Along with the two for the USA are:

Australia: Liam Hendriks, Grant Balfour
Brazil: Yan Gomes, Andre Rienzo
Canada: Justin Morneau
Chinese Taipei: Hong-Chih Kuo
China: Wei Wang, Ray Chang
Dominican Republic: Robinson Cano, Jose Reyes
Italy: Jason Grilli, Alex Liddi
Japan: Masahiro Tanaka, Shinnosuke Abe
Korea: Seung Yeop Lee, Dan Ho Lee
Mexico: Adrian Gonzalez, Sergio Romo
Netherlands: Andruw Jones, Roger Bernadina
Puerto Rico: Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina
Spain: Engel Beltre, Francisco Figueroa
Venezuela: Miguel Cabrera, Pablo Sandoval

Angel Pagan goes from fringe regular to $40 million player

Angel Pagan
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The Mets were strongly considering non-tendering Angel Pagan rather than pay him $5 million or so for 2012. Instead, they found a taker for him in the Giants, who sent back fellow center fielder Andres Torres and right-hander Ramon Ramirez. It proved to be a great deal for San Francisco, as Pagan proved key in the leadoff spot for the world champs. Meanwhile, the two players the Mets got in return aren’t expected back for 2013.

Pagan will be back with the Giants, of course, courtesy of the new four-year, $40 million deal he agreed to Monday. The 31-year-old’s annual salary will slightly top the $9.8 million he’s made the last three years combined.

For 2013, it seems like a worthy price. Pagan’s .288/.338/.440 line from last season matches up quite well with what he did in 2009 and ’10 before a disappointing 2011 campaign. Plus, Pagan is a fine center fielder, just a bit short of Gold Glove quality. He is a $10 million player right now.

On the other hand, it’s not at all likely that he’ll still be a $10 million player by the time 2015 and ’16 come around. At 31, Pagan should be just wrapping up his prime years now.

According to Baseball Reference, the 10 players most similar to Pagan through age 30 are Felix Jose, Roy Weatherly, Gene Moore, Alex Ochoa, Chris Singleton, Lee Maye, Johnny Grubb, Mitch Webster, Al Zarilla and Irv Noren.

Not one guy from that list was a quality regular from age 31 onwards. Grubb played eight more years and Maye and Webster lasted six more, but they were part-timers. Ochoa was all done in the majors by that age. The other nine averaged 1.7 WAR for the rest of their careers after age 31.

Perhaps that’s not the best list, though. How about this one. Pagan is one of 17 center fielders to post OPSs between .720-.780, hit fewer than 50 homers and steal more than 50 bases from ages 28-30 (Pagan had a .749 OPS, 26 HR and 98 SB from 28-30). Here’s how that group did from 31 onwards:

Matty Alou: .300/.339/.372, 100 OPS+ in 2,400 AB
Marvin Benard: .247/.290/.356, 71 OPS+ in 194 AB
Willie Davis: .288/.316/.425, 109 OPS+ in 3,534 AB
Steve Finley: .267/.333/.471, 106 OPS+ in 6,033 AB
Doug Glanville: .246/.281/.329, 60 OPS+ in 830 AB
Marquis Grissom: .264/.303/.416, 86 OPS+ in 3,817 AB
Ken Landreaux: .239/.295/.348, 78 OPS+ in 465 AB
Brian McRae: .218/.327/.360, 75 OPS+ in 403 AB
Amos Otis: .275/.339/.422, 109 OPS+ in 2,757 AB
Dode Paskert: .260/.340/.365, 107 OPS+ in 3,644 AB
Mickey Rivers: .304/.328/.392, 103 OPS+ in 1,719 AB
Burt Shotten: .260/.353/.320, 104 OPS+ in 2,045 AB
Roy Thomas: .265/.379/.319, 116 OPS+ in 2,266 AB
Milt Thompson: .256/.327/.359, 88 OPS+ in 1,731 AB
Cesar Tovar: .267/.329/.339, 93 OPS+ in 1,975 AB
Devon White: .272/.331/.435, 100 OPS+ in 3,232 AB

Now that’s a better list. I probably could have thrown out Thomas, Paskert and Shotton, all of whom played in the deadball era, but of the remaining 13, there are seven guys who remained pretty productive, depending on what you want your cutoff there to be. The Giants would certainly be pleased if Pagan aged like White.

Regardless, it may be worth paying Pagan $10 million to be a fourth or fifth outfielder in 2016 if he comes through again in 2013. Better if this contract had been a three-year deal, but at least he’s not overpaid immediately.