The Phillies sign Yuniesky Betancourt to a minor league deal

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The Phillies have just announced that they’ve signed Yuniesky Betancourt to a minor league deal with an invite to major league spring training. Likely because Ruben Amaro wants me to be happy.

Betancourt hit .228/.256/.400 with seven homers last season and over the course of his career he has been one of the most consistent out-creators in all of baseball. And his defense is poor, despite the fact that he occasionally makes a highlight reel play out of instinct and/or accident.

All of which shouldn’t be the worst thing ever seeing as though this is a minor league deal. Except that the Phillies have a history of giving veterans on minor league deals a decent amount of playing time once the season begins. Juan Pierre and Mike Fontenot each got a lot of playing time for Philly after signing minor league deals last year.

So pray for Jimmy Rollins’ health, Phillies fans. Pray hard.

The Nationals have inquired about Kris Bryant

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The Washington Nationals, fresh off signing Stephen Strasburg to a $245 million deal, are now turning their attention to their third base hole. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that they have made inquiries to the Chicago Cubs about trading for Kris Bryant.

Emphasis on the word “inquiry” because it’d be premature for the Cubs to trade Bryant at the moment, even if they are reported to be considering the possibility.

Bryant and the Cubs are awaiting word from an arbitrator about Bryant’s years-old service time grievance. If Bryant wins, he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Cubs win they control him for two more years. The team may or may not choose to trade him in either case as they are reportedly trying to cut payroll, but the price for him will vary pretty significantly depending on whether or not the acquiring club will receive one or two years of control over the former MVP.

For Washington, this would be a means of replacing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. Or, perhaps, the inquiries are a means of creating a tad more leverage for the Nats as they talk to Rendon’s agent about re-signing him.

Which, in the past, the Nats said they could not do if they also re-signed Strasburg, though I suspect that’s just posturing too. They may not want to spend big money to keep their World Series core together, but they can afford it. They’re going to see, I suspect, an eight-figure uptick in revenue by virtue of being the defending World Series champs. They are poised to receive a significant payout as a result of recent rulings in their own multi-year dispute with the Orioles and the MASN network. They are, of course, owned by billionaire real estate moguls. All of that taken together means that, if they choose to, they can bring back Rendon. Assuming he chooses to come back too.

But, if that doesn’t happen, they appear to be giving themselves options at the hot corner.