Rockies, Giants, Padres interested in trade for Mets right-hander Dillon Gee

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The Mets have been shopping Dillon Gee for most of the winter and it appears that they could finally find a match soon, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes that the Rockies, Giants, and Padres are all looking at a possible trade.

Gee is one of many names the Rockies are considering, but the alternatives aren’t very appealing. We heard this morning that free agent right-hander Ryan Vogelsong was a possibility and it was reported last week that the club has “mild interest” in Marlins right-hander Dan Haren. Thomas Harding of MLB.com writes that the Rockies are expected to make moves for their rotation this week, so we could see something go down soon.

Gee is more of a back-end starter, compiling a 3.91 ERA over 103 starts and three relief appearances in the majors. Relevant to the Rockies, he owns a 45.6 percent ground ball rate for his career. MLB Trade Rumors projects the 28-year-old to earn around $5.1 million next season via arbitration. He’s under team control through 2016.

More position players have pitched this year than ever

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Yesterday, in Milwaukee, utilityman Hernan Perez pitched two scoreless innings, and backup catcher Erik Kratz pitched one himself, mopping up in a blowout loss to the Dodgers. In doing so they became the 31st and 32nd position players to pitch this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the most position players who have taken the mound in a season in the Expansion Era, which began in 1961. Presumably far fewer ever did so when the league had only 16 teams.

It’s pretty remarkable to set that record now, in this age of 13 and sometimes 14-man pitching staffs. That’s especially true when teams shuttle guys back and forth from the minors more often than they ever have before and when, due to the shortened, 10-day disabled list, it’s easier to give guys breaks because of “injuries” than it ever has been.

Pitcher usage is driving this, however. While teams carry far more relievers than they ever have before, they actually carry far fewer swingmen or mopup men who are capable of throwing multiple innings in a blowout to save other pitchers’ arms. Rather, teams focus on max-effort, high-velocity relievers who go one or two innings tops, thus requiring catchers and utility guys to help do the mopping that actual pitchers used to do.

I don’t know if that’s a bad thing necessarily — some of these backup catchers throw harder than a lot of pitchers did 30 years ago and it’s always kind of fun to see a position player pitch — but it is yet another way the game has changed due to a focus on specialization and velocity when it comes to pitchers.