Tony Gwynn Jr. could be the Dodgers’ starting center fielder

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Tony Gwynn Jr. was non-tendered by the Padres, but ESPN Los Angels reports that he may be good enough to start for the Dodgers:

As he prepared to leave baseball’s quarterly owners’ meetings, [Ned] Colletti said Gwynn’s speed and defensive ability were strong enough that if he can return to form offensively — he hit just .204 for the San Diego Padres last year — he could wind up as the regular center fielder, withMatt Kemp moving to right and Andre Ethier to left.

I don’t know what “return to form” means in DodgerLand, but Gwynn has hit just .244/.323/.314 in 1,054 plate appearances. He’s 28. What you see is what you get.

Which doesn’t mean he’s useless, of course. He’s got a great glove and he’s fast.  If he can pull off even a slight uptick from his career norms — if he can get just one extra flare a week, just one – a gork, a groundball, a groundball with eyes … if he can get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week — he could be a useful starter.

Personally, though, I’d rather have Matt Kemp in center and a nice platoon in left involving Jay Gibbons and someone.

Report: Mets close to a deal with Jose Bautista

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SNY’s Andy Martino reports that the Mets are close to a deal with free agent Jose Bautista. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as the Mets were rumored to be interested in him on Monday, a day after the Braves released him.

Bautista, 37, struggled to a .593 OPS in 40 plate appearances with the Braves. He’s coming off of his worst season as a regular, as he hit .203 in 157 games last year with the Blue Jays.

Bautista mostly played in the outfield for the Jays, but played third base for the Braves. The Mets need depth at both third base and in the outfield due to injuries to Todd Frazier, Yoenis Cespedes, and Juan Lagares.

It will be interesting to see who loses their roster spot to accomodate Bautista. I suggested earlier it should be Jose Reyes.