Report: Rays close to trading Akinori Iwamura

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Mark Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that the Rays “are on the verge of completing a trade” for Akinori Iwamura.
Recent speculation had the Dodgers and Cubs interested in Iwamura, but Topkin writes that “an unexpected team” would be the destination. Tampa Bay holds a $4.85 million option or $550,000 buyout on Iwamura for 2010 and apparently has no plans to bring him back with Ben Zobrist and prospect Sean Rodriguez available to play second base.
Iwamura missed three months with a torn ACL in his left knee, which is a big concern for a player whose game is based largely on speed. Not only is his range at second base now in question, 12 percent of Iwamura’s career hits haven’t left the infield.
However, if most of his speed and mobility return following the injury Iwamura is a solid all-around player who offers an average glove at second or third base with a career .281/.354/.393 mark at the plate. A left-handed hitter with good plate discipline and modest power, he has on-base percentages of .359, .349, and .355 in three seasons since coming over from Japan while actually performing better against southpaws.
Solid defense, good speed, and a .350 OBP would be nice fit for any number of teams, particularly if the Rays are primarily looking to avoid paying the $550,000 buyout. Tampa Bay has until one day after the World Series to make a decision on Iwamura’s option, so a trade could happen quickly.
UPDATE: Topkin reports that the mystery is … the Pirates. We’ll have a full analysis once the details are announced, but for now Pittsburgh strikes me as an odd fit to say the least.

Nick Senzel to miss a few weeks due to ankle injury

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Reds prospect Nick Senzel will miss at least the next few weeks due to a sprained right ankle, Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Senzel suffered the injury in a minor league game on Monday, sliding into second base.

Last week, the Reds reassigned Senzel to minor league camp. His agent, Joel Wolfe, called it an “egregious case of service time manipulation.” The matter has been cleanly resolved with the injury, not unlike Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.

Senzel, 23, is the Reds’ No. 1 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He was getting work in center field this spring after playing second and third base last year (and even a game at shortstop) in the minors. With Triple-A Louisville, Senzel hit .310/.378/.509 with six home runs and 25 RBI in 193 plate appearances.