News flash: pedestrian player with few homers will not be in Home Run Derby

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As we mentioned last night, Robinson Cano is once again the captain of the AL Home Run Derby team and will pick his side’s squad. From the New York Post:

 If you think Royals fans were displeased at Robinson Cano for not naming Billy Butler to the AL’s Home Run Derby team last year, they aren’t going to any happier this year. “No chance,’’ Cano said when asked if he would pick Butler, who has five homers, for this year’s competition at Citi Field.

Question: on what planet would the five-home run-hitting, .408-slugging Butler be a candidate for the team anyway? It was at least plausible for him to be a candidate in 2012, having hit 16 homers at the break and having the Derby in Kansas City, but it’d be silly this year. So why is anyone asking him that question to begin with?

You know — and call me crazy — I’m almost starting to think that reporters like to read storylines into things where they do not naturally exist.

Report: Indians, Padres still talking about starting pitching trade

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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Indians and Padres are still discussing a potential trade for a starting pitcher, namely Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. Rosenthal adds that a deal isn’t close and is unlikely to occur before Opening Day. The Padres are balking at the Indians’ asking prices for the two starters.

The Padres could certainly use an ace at the top of the rotation. With the addition of Manny Machado, the lineup is looking decent, but beyond Joey Lucchesi, the starting pitching doesn’t inspire confidence.

Kluber, who turns 33 years old next month, has club options for the next two seasons at $13.5 million and $14 million with $1 million buyouts each. Last year, the right-hander finished third in AL Cy Young balloting, finishing 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA and a 222/34 K/BB ratio in 215 innings.

Bauer, 28, is earning $13 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration heading into 2020. Last year, Bauer went 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA and a 221/57 K/BB ratio across 175 1/3 innings.

The Indians are the prohibitive favorites in the AL Central once again, but that has as much to do with the mediocrity of the rest of the division as the Indians’ commitment to competing. If the Indians were to trade either or both starters, that would be good news for the Twins, who are projected to be 15 games worse than the Indians but still finish in second place, according to PECOTA from Baseball Prospectus.