Matthew Pouliot

Jose Fernandez
AP Photo

The Marlins’ asking price for Jose Fernandez sounds pretty reasonable

24 Comments

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
AP Photo
36 Comments

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
AP Photo
29 Comments

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.

 

Cubs sign INF/OF Zobrist to four-year, $56 million pact

Ben Zobrist
18 Comments

The Cubs have beaten out the Mets, Nationals and Giants for Ben Zobrist‘s services.

He’s getting a four-year, $56 million contract.

Zobrist, who turns 35 in May, won a World Series with Kansas City after hitting .276/.359/.450 in 467 at-bats for the A’s and Royals last year. One of the game’s most consistent hitters, he’s batted between .269 and .276 each of the last five years, also posting at least a .350 OBP each season.

Unfortunately, Zobrist’s defensive numbers took a huge hit last year, both as a second baseman and as an outfielder. One could choose to ignore those metrics, but those are the same metrics that rated him as such a valuable defender earlier in his career.

Zobrist has indicated he’d prefer to focus on one position next year. The Cubs have the ability to trade Starlin Castro and/or Javier Baez and turn second base over to Zobrist. Left field is also an option, though that depends on what happens with Kyle Schwarber. Whether it happens in 2016 or not, Zobrist figures to spend the majority of his contract as a corner outfielder.

Report: Braves sign Tyler Flowers to two-year deal

Tyler Flowers
1 Comment

The rebuilding Braves have decided to go with a catching duo of 39-year-old A.J. Pierzynski and 30-year-old Tyler Flowers after signing Flowers to a two-year deal on Tuesday.

USATODAY’s Bob Nightengale reports that the contract is worth $5.3 million.

Flowers, a former Braves prospect, hit .239/.295/.356 in 331 at-bats as the White Sox’s primary catcher last year. He’s a career .223/.289/.376 hitter in 1,267 at-bats. While he wasn’t previously known for his defense, he’s recently gotten very good grades for his pitch-framing.

The Braves’ addition means there’s no longer any room on the team for former top prospect Cristian Bethancourt, who is out of options. He’ll likely be traded in the coming months.