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Ian Kinsler Trade Rumors: Latest News and Speculation on Tigers 2B

In an effort to lower their payroll heading into 2017, the Detroit Tigers are reportedly willing to trade second baseman Ian Kinsler.

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Kinsler Could Be on the Move, LA a Possibility

Sunday, Jan. 15 

“The Tigers are a willing trade partner because they’re trying to get rid of payroll. Kinsler is still a top player, and he only has two years remaining on his deal,” a major league executive told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were mentioned as a potential suitor if they are unable to land Minnesota Twins star Brian Dozier.

Kinsler, 34, hit .288/.348/.484 with 28 home runs and 83 RBI last season. It was his first 20-homer year since 2011, and he posted 5.8 wins above replacement, the second-best number of his career, per FanGraphs. He also won his first Gold Glove at second base.

Kinsler credited his experience for his improvements as a fielder, per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press

Obviously being a veteran and playing a lot of years, a lot of repetition, a lot of practice, obviously being more and more comfortable with the game, that all plays into it. It’s really about understanding yourself and what plays you expect yourself to make and how to get certain balls and how to make it easier on yourself and all of that stuff starts to happen quicker and quicker the older you get. That’s my experience and I don’t really plan on slowing down.

Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported the Dodgers and Tigers initially discussed a Kinsler move in November. Kinsler has a partial no-trade clause, which includes Los Angeles, so he would have to approve any trade. His agent, Jay Franklin, told Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that Kinsler would not approve a trade to any team on his no-trade list without an extension. 

“His ultimate goal is no different than when he went from the Rangers to the Tigers. He wants to win. If anyone knows Ian Kinsler, he has always been that type of guy,” Franklin said.

Per Spotrac, Kinsler is scheduled to make $11 million in 2017, and the Tigers hold a club option of $10 million for 2018—a paltry sum for someone with his history of production. It’s possible Kinsler doubles his salary on a per-year basis if he signs an extension, though it’s unlikely any team will want to carry a deal as he heads into his late 30s.

The best-case scenario for Kinsler might be a trade with a team that’s willing to tack on a couple of years to his deal now before the age curve kicks in. 


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Chad Bettis Declared Cancer-Free After November Surgery

Colorado Rockies pitcher Chad Bettis has been declared cancer-free after a November surgery removed a malignant testicle.

“I’m feeling great. Got an early Christmas present. Doctor said I was cancer-free. Ready to push forward,” Bettis said on MLB Network Radio on Wednesday.

Bettis, 27, is expected to be ready for spring training. He went 14-8 with a 4.79 ERA and 1.41 WHIP across 32 starts last season.

“My understanding is that I will be physically ready to have a normal spring training, and I greatly look forward to the upcoming season,” Bettis told’s Jerry Crasnick. “I thank my friends and family for their love and kindness and ask that privacy be shown to both my wife and myself until spring training begins.”

A former second-round pick, Bettis is 23-19 with a 5.01 ERA and 1.49 WHIP since first coming up to the majors in 2013. He has been part of the Rockies’ regular starting rotation in each of the last two seasons. While his standard numbers aren’t impressive, Bettis has posted a combined 4.4 WAR in 2015 and 2016, with his FIP indicating he’s a product of bad luck, per FanGraphs.

The Rockies don’t have much in the way of elite starting pitching, so Bettis’ health is paramount to their 2017 chances. Bettis will likely be their No. 2 or No. 3 starter if he gets clearance from doctors to pitch in the regular season.

Of course, all of this pales in comparison to the good news that Bettis has been given a clean bill of health. Bettis said he will have to undergo a blood test every three to six months going forward, but he was not subject to any chemotherapy or radiation treatment, per Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post.

“This only reinforces my belief that each of us needs to be totally in tune with our own physical health, and that taking action sooner than later when we feel like something is off can sometimes literally be the difference between life and death,” Bettis told Crasnick. 


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Joe Blanton: Latest News, Rumors and Speculation on RP

Joe Blanton is dangerously close to going into the new year without a new team, but it appears his market is heating up. 

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Blanton Drawing Interest from Multiple Teams

Tuesday, Dec. 27

Jerry Crasnick of reported teams are expressing increased interest in Blanton with most elite relievers signed. He points to a return to the Los Angeles Dodgers as a possibility.

The 36-year-old converted starter posted a 2.48 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 75 appearances last season in Los Angeles. He struck out a batter per inning while converting 28 holds as a setup man for Kenley Jansen.

The Dodgers already reportedly re-signed longtime closer Jansen earlier this offseason, per Jim Bowden of ESPN and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Bringing back Blanton would solidify a back half that helped lead Los Angeles to within two games of a World Series berth.

The move to the pen, which began in 2015, gave Blanton a new lease on a career that appeared to be nearing an end. He retired from baseball in 2014 after failing to make the Oakland Athletics roster and following a four-year stretch of futility as a starter. 

“I had my time starting. Now it’s kind of my second career and I’ve really enjoyed it,” Blanton said in August, per Corey Seidman of “I’m proud of what I did [starting]. A lot of people had better careers and a lot of people had worse careers. But I’m proud of what I did, I did it for a long time. I’m happy with where I’m at right now.”

Blanton shouldn’t have any trouble finding a market for his services, even if he doesn’t return to Los Angeles. His underlying numbers were generally pretty solid, though he did have times where he struggled with command. If his walk rate returns to his career average, Blanton should enjoy as much if not more success in 2017 as an eighth-inning option.

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Ender Inciarte, Braves Agree to New Contract: Latest Details and Reaction

The Atlanta Braves and outfielder Ender Inciarte agreed to a five-year, $30.5 million extension Friday that carries a club option for a sixth year.

“We are thrilled to announce an extension for Ender,” Braves general manager John Coppolella said in a statement. “We feel that he’s the best defensive center fielder in baseball and one of the best leadoff hitters in the game. Ender brings so much to our club, on and off the field, and we are happy to have him under club control for at least the next six years.”

Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reported the financial terms of the deal. Inciarte and the Braves were scheduled to head to salary arbitration if a deal was not completed.

Inciarte, 26, hit .291/.351/.381 with three home runs and 29 runs batted in last season. He came to Atlanta last winter with shortstop Dansby Swanson as part of the package the Arizona Diamondbacks sent back for right-hander Shelby Miller.

While his offensive numbers are middling, Inciarte has developed a reputation as one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball. He won his first Gold Glove in 2016 on the back of a series of spectacular catches that drew him comparisons to former Braves great Andruw Jones.

“It seemed like before, he had trouble getting jumps on balls and always made up for it with his speed,” former Diamondbacks teammate Brad Ziegler told Mark Simon of “But now he’s gotten really good at reading the ball off the bat, and it’s put him on another level. He’s become a star player. He’s a lot better at deciding when to go for the risky play. He’s really special to watch.”

FanGraphs’ defensive metrics ranked Inciarte third among qualifying center fielders last season. Kevin Pillar and Adam Eaton both played more games than Inciarte’s 131, so the Braves star might have been able to challenge both if it weren’t for an early stint on the disabled list.

Inciarte also began showing signs of developing into a reliable hitter toward the top of the order. He hit for a solid average over his two years in Arizona (.292), but 2016 was the first sign he was beginning to learn patience at the plate. After drawing just 51 walks during his first two MLB seasons, Inciarte set a career high with 45 in 2016.

Even if he never develops much pop—13 home runs in 381 games indicates it’s unlikely—Inciarte is a gem in what could become one of the best trades in Braves history.


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Edwin Encarnacion to Indians: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Over the last five years, Edwin Encarnacion has hit 193 home runs while emerging as one of MLB‘s most reliable power bats. The Cleveland Indians will hope he’ll continue that pace for at least another three years. 

Encarnacion agreed to a three-year deal with a club option for a fourth, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan confirmed the news and added the deal is worth $65 million total, including a $5 million buyout on the club option. 

According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the deal could reach $80 million if the fourth-year option is exercised.

USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale noted that nabbing Encarnacion should keep the Indians in the American League pennant race: 

Encarnacion spent the past seven-plus seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays after being acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in a 2009 deal.

Inconsistent and somewhat maligned during his time in Cincinnati, Encarnacion emerged as a star north of the border. He has made three of the last four American League All-Star teams, belted no fewer than 34 home runs in any of the last five seasons and tied with David Ortiz for the AL lead in RBI (127) in 2016.

“There have been a lot of ups and down in the last six years in my career here with Toronto,” Encarnacion said, per John Lott of Blue Jays Nation. “But it’s more good things that happened to me than bad things happened. So I feel good, the way I’ve been for this organization, and I feel very proud.”

Encarnacion and Jose Bautista have anchored the middle of a Blue Jays lineup that’s reached the postseason each of the last two years. Most expected Toronto to attempt to bring Encarnacion back, but even he seemed resigned to his tenure ending late in 2016.

“You feel sad because I want to be here, but it’s not my decision,” Encarnacion said. “Now we have to wait and see what’s going to happen.”

While it’s always risky to lock in a player approaching his 34th birthday on a long-term deal, Encarnacion showed no signs of slowing in 2016. He matched a career high with 42 home runs, producing a .263/.357/.529 slash line. His peripherals were slightly down from last season, but Encarnacion played in 160 games for the first time in his career. 

What’s more, the Blue Jays also showed more of an interest in getting him out into the field. Encarnacion nearly split his first base and designated hitting duties down the middle, which could provide Cleveland with a blueprint. He’s still a mostly dreadful fielder—Encarnacion has produced a positive defensive rating just once in his career—but getting him to border on passable would help. 

With the Indians, Encarnacion will look to bolster the reigning AL champs’ offerings at the plate one year after they pined for some extra power. 

Cleveland ranked 10th out of 15 AL teams in total home runs, and that mark stands to improve quite a bit if Encarnacion can replicate the success he experienced in Toronto. 

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Jimmy Rollins to Giants: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Jimmy Rollins isn’t ready to call it a career just yet. The veteran shortstop agreed to a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants on Monday, where he’ll attempt to make the 25-man roster out of spring training.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the news.

Rollins, 38, spent the 2016 season with the Chicago White Sox. He hit .221/.295/.329 with two home runs and eight runs batted in while playing in 41 games. The White Sox designated Rollins for assignment in June, and he did not latch on with another big league club.

Rollins spent his first 15 MLB seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, earning three-All-Star selections, four Gold Gloves and the 2007 National League MVP. He is the Phillies’ all-time hits leader and stayed with the franchise through lean years before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 2015 season.

That one-year stint was largely unproductive, with Rollins failing to post one win above replacement (minimum 20 games) for the first time in his career, per FanGraphs. He compounded that with an even worse stint in Chicago, and it seemingly looked like his career was over.

Still, it’s not a surprise Rollins would look to prolong his career. He told reporters before the 2016 season that he planned to play “until basically they take the uniform and tell me to go coach somewhere.”

The Giants already have a talented young shortstop in Brandon Crawford, so it’s unlikely Rollins will find much playing time at his regular position. They don’t have much in the way of platoon infielders, however, so Rollins will need to prove he can play away from shortstop. His only fielding experience away from short was one brief appearance at second base with the Phillies in 2002.

The Giants will need Rollins to prove he can play some at second and maybe even third to justify giving him a roster spot. It’s likely they’ll bring in other low-cost options who will compete for a utility spot. While none will have Rollins’ resume—he ranks among the greatest Phillies in history—his performance over the last two years doesn’t speak to his having much left in the tank.


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MLB Rumors: Latest Buzz on Free Agency and J.D. Martinez Trade

With the holiday season fast approaching, most major business around Major League Baseball is nearing its conclusion. Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Yoenis Cespedes have all found huge contracts, as have Justin Turner, Mark Melancon and Dexter Fowler.

Other lesser free agents, like Neil Walker and Jeremy Hellickson, accepted huge one-year qualifying offers to stick around in their current digs. The stragglers remaining on the market consist of two big-time sluggers being tepidly pursued due to their qualifying offers (Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista) and another who packs a lot of pop to go with bouts of inconsistency (Mark Trumbo).

As such, some teams have turned to stoking the trade hot stove to land an impact player. Others remain hopeful on the free-agent market that the likes of Encarnacion or Bautista will lower their prices, or perhaps another bargain will emerge on a short-term contract.

Here’s an updated look at one of the biggest names generating trade buzz and some free-agency talk.


Orioles Back Away from Trumbo Talks

Trumbo is the most attainable slugger left on the market. He does not come attached to a qualifying offer, which would force teams to surrender a first-round pick in exchange for his services. He’s also a deeply flawed player and one of the worst individual defenders in baseball when on the field—he absolutely needs to hit with elite power to be effective.

In 2016, Trumbo did just that. His 47 home runs blasted his previous career high and were four more than anyone else. It speaks to his level of poor defensive skills that Trumbo walked away with just 2.2 wins above replacement last season, per FanGraphs.

With most teams recognizing Trumbo is better off as a designated hitter—especially as his next contract takes him deeper into his 30s—the market has been tepid. Even 10 years ago, Trumbo likely would have commanded a multiyear deal that pushed close to nine figures. Now he’s having trouble finding a deal he’s even willing to take.

 of MASN reported the Orioles have grown disillusioned with Trumbo’s asking price and pulled their offer. ESPN’s Buster Olney previously reported Baltimore offered a four-year deal worth between $52 million and $55 million, while Trumbo’s counter asked for $75 million to $80 million over the same stretch.

The Orioles are the more realistic party in this scenario. No team in its right mind should be offering Trumbo $20 million per season. He’d belted 36 home runs total over his previous two seasons before breaking out in 2016 and was actually worth -1.2 wins in 2014

It’s possible the Orioles can wait this out and get Trumbo’s price to come down into their range.


Orioles Still Not Ruling Out Wieters Return

The Orioles signed catcher Welington Castillo last week to a one-year, $6 million contract, which carries a $7 million player option for 2018. Castillo will likely walk into 2017 as Baltimore’s starting backstop, and he comes on a relative bargain.

Most assumed Castillo’s signing would mark the end of Matt Wieters‘ time in Baltimore. Wieters, a 2007 first-round pick, has spent his entire career in the Baltimore organization. He never became the superstar many pegged coming out of Georgia Tech but put together a solid 124-game campaign in 2016 after having his previous two years mired by injuries.

The market has nonetheless been slow, with agent Scott Boras acknowledging it’ll likely be January before Wieters finds a contract.

“The clubs that need catching are pretty well-defined,” Boras said, per Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. “Some are thinking about moving players to make room for him, so the timetable always on catching, I don’t know what it is; it’s always been—I can’t think of one I’ve represented that didn’t sign in January, but they do.”

Given the market, Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reported a potential Wieters-Baltimore reunion shouldn’t be ruled out. It wouldn’t make all that much sense on paper. The Orioles already have a solid defensive backup in Caleb Joseph, who some have argued is a better all-around catcher than Castillo. 

The only logical scenario in which Wieters returns is one where he accepts a 50-50 platoon with Castillo on a short-term deal. That’ll likely be a nonstarter for the Boras client, who will want either a long-term deal or a clear starting job.

But the Orioles like late-winter signings, so it’s not entirely out of the question.


Tigers Looking to Move J.D. Martinez

Two years away from potentially hitting the free-agent market, J.D. Martinez has become a hot commodity in trade circles. Jerry Crasnick of reported the Tigers are open to moving Martinez but are having trouble finding teams willing to part with their asking price. Detroit, a team with deep pockets and the ability to pay Martinez long term, is looking for “young, controllable talent” as part of any package.

The asking price is understandable. Martinez has produced 10.8 wins over the last three seasons, per FanGraphs, and still hit .307/.373/.535 with 22 home runs and 68 runs batted in despite missing 42 games in 2016. That absence helped lead to the worst defensive season of his career, but Martinez is a four- or five-win player when he plays even average defense.

There aren’t many teams around baseball that couldn’t use someone like Martinez. The Tigers could use him. That’s why they’ve set the price so high.

But it’s also why they’re going to have trouble finding a suitor until someone gets desperate. 

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MLB, Under Armour Announce 10-Year Deal for On-Field Uniforms

Under Armour is coming to Major League Baseball. The apparel company announced a 10-year partnership with MLB on Monday that will make it baseball’s official uniform supplier beginning in 2020.

“We are excited to build on our partnership with Under Armour, a powerful global brand that continues to grow exponentially, and Fanatics, an industry leader in sports licensing,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Under Armour’s marketing ability and brand status are a perfect fit to showcase our players and provide an even stronger connection between our game and its young fans and players.”

The deal marks Under Armour’s first foray into supplying professional uniforms. Its marketing had largely been tied to individual players at this point, with the brand making major headway thanks to the success of its athletes in recent seasons.

Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw and San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey spearhead the group of MLB players that Under Armour sponsors. Harper’s 10-year endorsement contract is the largest in history given to a baseball player.

Fanatics, the third partner in the deal, will manage the distribution of new Under Armour products related to MLB. These new products will be available before the uniform deal kicks in. Fanatics executive chairman Michael Rubin detailed the partnership in a statement:

This partnership epitomizes our next-generation model, which brings much-needed agility to the industry, enhancing both assortment and speed to market of MLB merchandise for teams, fans and retailers. Both Fanatics and Under Armour get to do what each does best, while joining forces with an innovative and tech-savvy league to help grow the game of baseball through a pioneering new business model better suited to today’s digital economy.

Majestic Athletic has supplied MLB’s uniforms since 2005. The MLB licensing deal was the biggest contract for the apparel company, which also has partnerships with a number of overseas baseball teams. 

On Tuesday, Paul Lukas of noted, “While the Majestic logo has appeared on MLB sleeves, the Under Armour logo will be appearing on the upper-right chest area.”

Moving to Under Armour only further cements a relationship with the company that has been growing since the turn of the century. The Baltimore-based company has supplied base-layer equipment since 2000 and became MLB’s footwear supplier in 2011.

The agreement also avoids Nike’s monopoly on uniform supply to the nation’s three largest sports. The NBA and NFL already have deals in place with Nike for their jerseys that span the foreseeable future. With Adidas landing the next NHL contract in 2015, MLB was the only possible major North American professional partner with which Under Armour could expand its brand.


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Bud Selig, John Schuerholz Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame: Details, Reaction

Former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and Atlanta Braves president and longtime executive John Schuerholz were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday by the Today’s Game Era Committee.

David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the news. The 16-person committee unanimously elected Schuerholz, while Selig received 15 votes.

“To say this is a significant day in my life would be an understatement. I consider myself very fortunate,” Selig said, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

This is the first year of the Today’s Game Era Committee voting, which aims to add deserving names from the modern era who have not been selected on the writers’ ballots.

George Steinbrenner, Lou Piniella, Mark McGwire, Davey Johnson, Orel Hershiser, Will Clark, Albert Belle and Harold Baines were also considered but did not receive enough votes. Piniella was the only person other than Selig or Schuerholz to receive more than five votes, per Baseball America.

Candidates needed 75 percent of the vote to make the Hall of Fame.

Selig, 82, served as MLB’s commissioner from September 1992 (acting) to January 2015. He oversaw some of the sport’s greatest moments of growth and perhaps the lowest moment in MLB history, with the 1994 work stoppage causing the cancelation of the World Series.

Baseball also underwent massive scrutiny under Selig for its lack of performance-enhancing-drug policy, which allowed home run records to be broken in part because of steroid use. The latter half of Selig’s tenure was largely about eradicating those issues and pushing the game into the 21st century. MLB now has perhaps the most stringent drug-testing policy of all four major professional sports in the U.S., and he turned the commissionership over to Rob Manfred after years of steady financial growth.

Schuerholz, 76, is a long-tenured baseball executive who had Hall of Fame-worthy runs with the Kansas City Royals and Braves. He spent the formative part of his career in Kansas City, moving up in the organization to eventually serve a successful general manager term. He was instrumental in building the Royals’ 1985 World Series team before joining Atlanta in 1990.

With the Braves, Schuerholz built a dynasty throughout the 1990s with a successful pitching staff. The Braves reached the World Series four times and won it in 1995, their first and only title since moving from Milwaukee.


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Edinson Volquez to Marlins: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

Free-agent starting pitcher Edinson Volquez and the Miami Marlins reportedly agreed to terms on a contract on Monday.

The Miami Herald‘s Clark Spencer first reported the news, while Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports confirmed the news and added the deal is for two years and $22 million pending a physical. 

In his second season with the Kansas City Royals, Volquez compiled a 10-11 record with a 5.37 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. He gave up more than a hit per inning and allowed a career-worst 23 home runs. FanGraphs‘ WAR formula measured his performance as being 1.1 wins worse than he was in 2015, when he was an integral part of the staff that led Kansas City to the World Series.

“I think I was kind of struggling all year,” Volquez said, according to the Associated Press (h/t the Washington Times). “It was one of those years. Everything doesn’t go your way.”

While far from his best year, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see the Royals take a chance on Volquez in 2017. The $11 million price tag isn’t all that exorbitant for a reliable arm. The Royals will likely wind up paying as much, if not more, to replace him with another veteran.

And even though Volquez wasn’t at his best, he wasn’t all that bad once you dig a little deeper. His ERA was nearly a full run worse than his FIP, his home run-to-fly ball ratio leaped nearly 5 percent from 2015 and opponents raised their average on balls in play by 29 points, per FanGraphs. A 1.5 WAR wasn’t what the Royals expected, but that’s still roughly in line with what an $11 million arm will produce nowadays.

If anything, Volquez got a little unlucky in 2016.

Now he heads to a Marlins rotation in desperate need of some help after staff ace Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident in September. The Marlins staff is shaping up to include Volquez alongside Adam Conley, Tom Koehler and Wei-Yin Chen.

The Marlins staff compiled a 4.05 ERA last season, good enough for sixth in the National League.

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