Red Sox still need a taker for Lowell

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Already almost dealt in December, Mike Lowell is a man auditioning for work this spring, though he’ll do so with the comfort of a $12 million salary and a no-trade clause that gives him some control over his destiny.
Lowell took batting practice Monday for the first time since the thumb surgery that scuttled the trade that would have sent him and $9 million of his salary to Texas for Max Ramirez. He’ll probably sit out the first bit of the spring, but he isn’t far behind the rest of the Red Sox hitters following the relatively minor procedure.
Whether there’s any real interest in Lowell this spring will probably hinge more on his defense than his offense. Lowell showed diminished range at third base after his Oct. 2008 hip surgery, and the Red Sox weren’t content to go forward with him at the position this year. If he’s moving around better this spring, then he could still function as a legitimate regular for a contender. He’s finished with OPSs of 879, 798 and 811 the last three years.
Still, the Red Sox may need someone to get hurt if they’re going to net any real return for Lowell. The Twins are still undecided at third base, but they did get their second-base upgrade and they won’t mind going with the hot hand between Nick Punto and Brendan Harris at the hot corner. Florida would be an interesting option, given that Lowell was a fan favorite there. Jorge Cantu is penciled in at third base, but he could always be moved back to first if neither Logan Morrison nor Gaby Sanchez makes a splash this spring.
The Rangers added Vladimir Guerrero after the Lowell deal fell apart. They still might have some interest in him as a bench player, but probably not for $3 million. The Blue Jays could use a fallback at third and DH, as well as a right-handed-hitting first baseman. The White Sox might be another fit. Plus, injuries could change things in a hurry. The Braves and Reds are among the teams relying on corner infielders with durability issues. The Red Sox need someone to come calling eventually, because while they could carry him if they need to, Lowell isn’t in their plans for this year.

Dodgers, Reds discussing a Yasiel Puig trade

Yasiel Puig
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Here’s a rumor from yesterday afternoon that sort of fell through the cracks, but it’s fun enough to think about for a few moments: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Dodgers and Reds have had “multiple” trade discussions involving Yasiel Puig.

Puig is a potential trade candidate, either (a) because he’s “disgruntled,” according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times last week; or (b) because the Dodgers want to clear salary and roster spots in order to sign a big-name player, according to Rosenthal here. Many people suspect that the Dodgers are going to make a run at Bryce Harper, for example, and if that’s the case they’d no doubt want to open up right field for him.

It seems questionable that any Reds-Dodgers talks would get a ton of traction, especially given that Rosenthal reports that there’s a possibility of the Dodgers taking on Reds pitcher Homer Bailey and the $28 million he’s still owed in order to get some talent back from the Reds in a trade. That would seem to defeat the purpose of unloading Puig’s salary, but this is the sort of things we all talk about now given that the league has, more or less, a defacto salary cap imposed by the Competitive Balance Tax.