Report: The Phillies could be a suitor for Asdrubal Cabrera

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After trading Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers, the Phillies now have a vacancy at shortstop. Unless you consider Freddy Galvis an option, that is. With that in mind, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick hears from a source that the Phillies could jump in on free agent infielder Asdrubal Cabrera.

It’s an odd fit at first blush, but Cabrera is coming off a down season where he batted .241/.307/.387 with 14 home runs and 61 RBI over 146 games between the Indians and Nationals. He was similarly underwhelming in 2013, posting a .700 OPS. Assuming Cabrera can’t find a multi-year deal to his liking, he could opt for a one-year deal in hopes of reestablishing his value and testing the market again next winter. There’s upside here for a rebuilding team like the Phillies, who could flip him for prospects if he bounces back. If not, it’s only a one-year deal.

Crasnick writes that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. would likely have to move payroll to sign Cabrera, but Corrine Landrey of Crashburn Alley notes that the team has saved money with A.J. Burnett turning down his 2015 option and the Jimmy Rollins and Antonio Bastardo trades. They could already have enough payroll flexibility.

While Cabrera has primarily played shortstop during his career, he mostly played second base after being traded to Washington this season. His defense has slipped in recent years, so his appeal as a regular shortstop has waned. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman wrote earlier this week that the Athletics, Mets, Cardinals, Twins, and Giants are among the teams with interest in the 29-year-old. However, we can likely take the Giants off that list following their acquisition of Casey McGehee from the Marlins.

Astros owner Crane expects to hire new manager by Feb. 3

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HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Astros owner Jim Crane expects to hire a new manager by Feb. 3.

The Astros need a new manager and general manager after AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow were fired Monday, hours after both were suspended by Major League Baseball for a year for the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

Crane said Friday that he’s interviewed a number of candidates this week and has some more to talk to in the coming days.

Crane refused to answer directly when asked if former Astros player and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was a possibility for the job. But he did say that he had spoken to Biggio, fellow Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell and former Astros star Lance Berkman in the days since the firings.

“We’ve talked to all of our Killer B’s,” Crane said referring to the nickname the three shared while playing for the Astros. “They’ve contacted me and they’ve all expressed that they would like to help. Berkman, Bagwell, Biggio have all called and said: ‘hey, if there’s anything I can do, I’m here for you.’”

“So we’ll continue to visit with those guys and see if there’s something there.”

Crane says his list is still rather extensive and that he hopes to have it narrowed down by the end of next week. He added that he expects most of Hinch’s staff to stay in place regardless of who is hired.

Crane has enlisted the help of three or four employees to help him with the interview process, including some in Houston’s baseball operations department.

“We compare notes,” he said. “I’ve learned a long time ago that you learn a lot if four or five people talk to a key candidate and you get a lot more information. So that’s what we’re doing.”

Crane’ top priority is finding a manager with spring training less than a month away, but he said he would start focusing on the search for a general manager after he hires a manager. He expects to hire a GM before the end of spring training.

“We should have another good season with the team pretty much intact … so I don’t know why a manager wouldn’t want to come in and manage these guys,” he said. “They’re set to win again.”

The penalties announced by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday came after he found illicit use of electronics to steal signs in Houston’s run to the 2017 World Series championship and again in the 2018 season. The Astros were also fined $5 million, which is the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution, and must forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.

The investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s odds of getting a hit.

With much still in flux, Crane was asked what qualities are most important to him in his next manager.

“Someone mature that can handle the group,” he said. “Someone that’s had a little bit of experience in some areas. We’ve just got to find a leader that can handle some pressure and there’s going to be a little bit of pressure from where this team has been in the last few months.”

Despite his comment about experience, Crane said having been a major league manager before is not mandatory to him.

“We made some mistakes,” he said. “We made a decision to let that get behind us. We think the future is bright. We’ll make the adjustments … people think we’re in crisis. I certainly don’t believe that.”