Padres looking to trade catcher Nick Hundley

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Nick Hundley started two-thirds of the Padres’ games behind the plate last season, his sixth year in San Diego, but now the 30-year-old catcher finds himself playing sparingly behind starter Yasmani Grandal and Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that “the Padres are in active discussions with teams regarding Hundley.”

Hundley is making $4 million in his final season before free agency, so the likely return in a trade won’t be much, but aside from a disastrous 2012 campaign he’s been more or less a league-average hitter and has thrown out 28 percent of stolen base attempts.

He’d be an upgrade for most teams in the backup role and an upgrade for quite a few teams in a starter or quasi-starter capacity, bringing to the table 15-homer power from the right side of the plate.

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Mariners claim Kaleb Cowart off waivers from Angels

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The Mariners announced that the club claimed Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. Interestingly, the Mariners list Cowart as both an outfielder and a right-handed pitcher. Cowart has never pitched professionally, but the Mariners will try him as a two-way player next season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Cowart was a highly regarded pitcher in high school.

Cowart, 26, has played all over the field, spending most of his time at third base and second base, but also logging a handful of innings at first base, shortstop, and left field.  He hasn’t hit much at all, owning a career .177/.241/.293 triple-slash line across 380 plate appearances in the big leagues. It makes sense to try another angle.

Shohei Ohtani, of course, is helping to popularize the rebirth of the two-way player. In his first year in the majors after having played in Japan for five years, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances along with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. Don’t expect Cowart to hit those lofty numbers, but additional versatility could prolong his life in the majors.