Rays reportedly on the verge of trading Jason Bartlett

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An already underwhelming crop of free agent shortstops has seen Juan Uribe, Jhonny Peralta, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka come off the market and now it sounds like the Rays are ready to trade Jason Bartlett to one of the teams still looking to fill the position.

Bartlett is coming off a sub par season and will likely make about $5 million in 2011 via arbitration before becoming a free agent, but teams with a hole at the position are running out of other options and he’s certainly a solid enough all-around shortstop to be a nice short-term solution.

Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that “trade talks involving Bartlett have moved to point where the Rays will find an acceptable deal for the shortstop” and previous reports listed the Giants, Cardinals, Orioles, and Nationals among teams interested in him.

Tampa Bay has 25-year-old Reid Brignac ready to step in as the starter, and could use the money saved and players acquired by dealing Bartlett to rebuild the bullpen that figures to lose Joaquin Benoit, Rafael Soriano, and Grant Balfour.

Cubs announce Anthony Iapoce as new hitting coach

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The Cubs announced on Monday afternoon that Anthony Iapoce will take over as the new hitting coach.

Chili Davis was fired as the Cubs’ hitting coach last week. As noted, the Cubs’ offense regressed in a few areas, notably in the power department. Additionally, the offense in general waned as the season went on, which opened up the door for the Brewers to challenge for the NL Central title.

Iapoce, 45, spent the last three years as the Rangers’ hitting coach. The Cubs point out that the Rangers’ offense made great strides in 2017 thanks in part to Iapoce. They are no doubt hoping he can bring the same magic to Chicago. Iapoce was the Cubs’ special assistant to the GM for the three seasons before joining the Rangers.

Though he never made it to the majors, Iapoce did spend time in the Brewers’ minor league system from 1994-2003 and another two in the independent Northern League in 2004-05.