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December 10, 2013

Rumor Roundup

Winter Meetings Day One Notes

by Daniel Rathman

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The Winter Meetings are underway in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Here’s a look at the early buzz from the Swan and Dolphin Resort.

Mariners likely to move prospects for big-league help
Take a good look at the top 10 prospects and under-25 talents on these lists—if your favorite team has major-league players to sell, there is a good chance that some of those young players will soon don its uniform.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweeted what seemed obvious last week when the Mariners struck a 10-year, $240 million deal with Robinson Cano: GM Jack Zduriencik is angling to build an immediate contender, and he has the talent to acquire the upgrades he needs.

Right-hander Taijuan Walker, no. 1 on both of the afore-linked lists, is the hottest commodity, but infielder Nick Franklin is the most likely player to be traded, since Cano has usurped his projected position. The Mariners could use either or both of them in a package to obtain left-hander David Price from the Rays, which Heyman believes is their “top priority.” However, Zduriencik told reporters yesterday, “I expect Taijuan to be with us.”

Delmon Young attempting to become a serviceable first baseman
When the Phillies inked Delmon Young to a one-year deal in January, they included a “weight clause” in the contract through which the former Tiger could earn $600,000 on top of his $750,000 guaranteed salary. Young tipped the scales at more than 240 pounds when he hit the free-agent market, and since he would have to play the outfield in Philadelphia, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. gave him an extra incentive to slim down.

The plan worked, to an extent, as Young delivered better-than-replacement-level performance for the first time in three years. He was still well below average in the outfield, but at least the GIF-worthy adventures were few and far between.

Young now weighs 219 pounds, and according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, he is attempting to do something that he has never done in his professional career. All 799 of Young’s defensive appearances have come in the outfield, but he would like to add first base to the skills list on his résumé in a bid to help his agent, Arn Tellem, drum up interest this winter.

The 28-year-old Young was canned from the Phillies organization in mid-August, when he rejected a minor-league assignment, and he signed a pro-rated pact with the Rays two weeks later, providing manager Joe Maddon with additional depth as a September call-up. Young batted .258/.329/.452 with the Rays and compiled a .343 on-base percentage versus left-handers for the season. If he proves capable of manning first base, he might land another guaranteed contract as a part-time player who can handle three positions in a pinch.

Mutual interest between Pirates, Bronson Arroyo
The Pirates may need a starting pitcher to supplant A.J. Burnett, if the soon-to-be-37-year-old decides to retire. Bronson Arroyo, who is about two months younger than Burnett but has no plans to hang up his cleats, might just be the man for the job.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Pirates representatives are expected to meet with Arroyo’s agent, Terry Bross. The interest is hardly one-sided, as Rob Biertempfel, who covers the Bucs for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, heard from a source that Arroyo would strongly consider jumping ship from the division rival Reds.

If Arroyo reaches an agreement with the Pirates, he would come full circle, rejoining the organization that selected him in the third round of the 1995 draft, and with which he spent parts of three major-league seasons. The Red Sox claimed Arroyo off of waivers before the 2003 campaign, and in the decade since he left Pittsburgh, Arroyo has won a World Series, earned an All-Star Game appearance, and picked up a Gold Glove.

Half the league has called about Arroyo, per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, but all 15 of those clubs have stopped short of putting money on the table. Perhaps the Pirates will change that when Neal Huntington sits down with Bross this week. Or perhaps it changed last night, when Rosenthal reported that talks between Bross and the Twins were “gaining momentum.”

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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