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February 20, 2013

Rumor Roundup

Fishing for Carp

by Daniel Rathman

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Mike Carp, a victim of the Mariners’ logjam at the corner positions and in the designated-hitter slot, was designated for assignment on Feb. 12. That kept him out Zachary Levine’s Meeting of the Mariner DHs on Tuesday and should ensure that he will be en route to his third professional organization before the end of the workweek. Where might Carp be headed? Let’s take a look…

Carp should probably pack his bags
The Brewers, who are scrambling for a stopgap first baseman after learning that Mat Gamel will miss the entire 2013 season with a re-torn ACL in his right knee, were considered the most likely destination for Carp earlier this week. MLB.com beat writer Adam McCalvy confirmed that general manager Doug Melvin had contacted his former assistant, Jack Zduriencik, about the 26-year-old Carp. But, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, less than 24 hours later, Melvin changed his mind.

Meanwhile, the clock kept ticking on the Mariners’ 10-day window to find a new home for Carp, who hit just .213/.312/.341 last season, but smacked 12 home runs in just 313 plate appearances in 2011. A left-handed hitter, Carp has actually fared better against southpaws (.275 TAv, versus .254 against righties) in his brief major-league career, but his strikeout rate and poor defensive profile limit his value. Once thought to be a potential “above-average big league first baseman,” Carp now seems destined to face annual roster battles and bounce between teams in need of corner-position depth each spring, unless he can regain the shine that has worn off his bat.

As Nick Cafardo, the national baseball writer for the Boston Globe, pointed out yesterday afternoon, the Mariners must trade Carp by tomorrow night, and Zduriencik is reportedly fielding calls from three of his counterparts. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is one of them, and Boston’s connection to Carp goes back at least a month, to this tweet from Cafardo’s Globe colleague Peter Abraham. Jeff Luhnow of the Astros and Terry Ryan of the Twins are also at least kicking the tires on a deal.

The Red Sox’ interest in Carp is difficult to gauge, because Cherington inked free agent Lyle Overbay to a minor-league pact earlier this month, seemingly addressing the lack of veteran depth behind new first baseman Mike Napoli. Boston also tacked Mark Hamilton onto its list of non-roster invitees in January, and with Mauro Gomez floating around, too, there is not much room for another defensively limited bat. Carp could give manager John Farrell a lefty backup to left fielder Jonny Gomes, but his reverse-split résumé casts doubt on the feasibility of that arrangement. Moreover, Farrell already has a strong candidate for the timeshare in switch-hitter Daniel Nava, who owns a .286 TAv versus northpaws in limited big-league action and showed impressive plate discipline last year.

Houston also seems to have a glut at the positions where Carp can play, with Brett Wallace projected to start at first base, former first baseman Carlos Pena on track to be the team’s first full-time designated hitter, and newly acquired slugger Chris Carter potentially in line for at-bats at both of those spots, as well as left field. That list also does not include the team’s Rule 5 Draft selection, Nate Freiman, a 6-foot-8 first baseman who made a positive first impression on his skipper, Bo Porter. With no hope of contending in 2013, the Astros could stockpile low-cost talents like Carp and cross their fingers for a rebound to their erstwhile upside, but spots are hard to come by, even on Houston’s gutted roster.

That brings us to the Twins, who—based simply on this glance through rosters and depth charts—might now be the most logical landing spot. Our own Jason Martinez lists Jeff Clement and non-roster invitee Brandon Boggs as manager Ron Gardenhire’s current corner-position reserves, with Chris Herrmann on the bubble and number-three prospect Aaron Hicks set to begin the year in Triple-A. Carp could provide healthy competition for Clement, a former Mariner, whose .218/.277/.317 career triple-slash line inspires little confidence. His ability to feign competence in the outfield might also be an advantage, since Clement—once a catcher, but now essentially restricted to first base—offers little in the way of versatility.

All we know about Carp’s destination right now is that we’ll know more soon. Stay tuned.

Five more suspected Biogenesis clients emerge, Gio Gonzalez cleared
The Nationals and their fans can breathe a sigh of relief: According to ESPN’s Mike Fish and T.J. Quinn, who on Tuesday unveiled the latest developments in the Biogenesis scandal, Gonzalez is no longer in any danger of being suspended for his ties to the Miami-area clinic. Five other major leaguers, though, might soon be forced to answer questions about their relationships with the clinic’s operator, Anthony Bosch.

The new quintet includes Everth Cabrera, Fautino De Los Santos, Fernando Martinez, Jordan Norberto, and Cesar Puello. Fish and Quinn pointed out that all five are either currently represented by, or were at one point clients of, agents Sam and Seth Levinson of ACES, who have fervently denied any connection to Bosch, despite a mounting list of clients with ties to the clinic. It’s unclear whether any of the players could be in line for a 50-game ban, but in each case, proof of receipt or use would be required in order to trigger consequences from the league.  

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

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