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December 10, 2014

Rumor Roundup

A Dayton Moore-Atlanta Connection?

by Daniel Rathman

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Royals involved in various trade discussions
In the wake of his club’s march to the American League pennant, general manager Dayton Moore has been quiet in the first few weeks of the offseason. If reports from San Diego are any indication, however, that might soon change.

Right field, previously occupied by current free agent Norichika Aoki, remains open, and after Torii Hunter opted to return to Minnesota, Moore began moving on at least one trade target:

The Braves are known to be shopping Justin Upton, and Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times heard that the Royals are among the teams discussing the outfielder with President of Baseball Operations John Hart.

A 4.5-win player in 2014—his most valuable output since 2011—Upton is owed $14.5 million in the final year of the extension he signed with the Diamondbacks way back on March 3rd, 2010. It’s worth noting that the Royals were on Upton’s original four-team no-trade list, but have since been removed. That hurdle now exists only for the Brewers, Blue Jays, Cubs, and Indians, but it’s worth keeping in mind that Upton KO’d a deal with the Mariners two offseasons ago, when they on the list, in case any of those clubs are reported to have interest.

While hunting for a new right fielder, Moore appears willing to deal his starting second baseman, Omar Infante:

That news comes from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, who had no immediate information on clubs that might be interested in the keystoner, who turns 33 on December 26th.

Unlike Upton, Infante regressed badly in 2014, posting a .234 True Average—his worst since he was a part-time player with the Tigers in 2007—and, if you have faith in FRAA’s interpretation of his defense, an abysmal -14.6 effort in the field. That’s out of line with the same metric’s earlier opinions of Infante’s glovework, so he likely was more of a replacement-level or one-win player this past season, as opposed to a -1.2 WARP trainwreck.

Still, the offensive plunge is disheartening for a player signed through the 2017 season with $25.25 million in guaranteed money left on the deal. Barring a turnaround, Infante’s pact is by far the worst on the Royals’ books, though the dearth of middle-infield talent on the free-agent market might help Moore to find a club willing to take him off Kansas City’s hands.

A’s transitioning from selling to buying
The moves made by Billy Beane to this point in the offseason don’t fit an obvious pattern. Signing Billy Butler to a three-year, $30 million agreement that some deemed too long pointed to a renewed attempt to contend in 2015. Exporting Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, and Jeff Samardzija suggested a rebuilding period was in store. So, what gives?

Joel Sherman of the New York Post was told that Beane plans to reinvest some of the salary he’s shed into free agents:

That means, at least for the moment, Scott Kazmir and other players who might’ve been available in a fire sale should not necessarily pack their bags. Others might soon be looking at real estate in or near the East Bay.

Sherman believes that Beane will confine himself to short-term commitments, both to mitigate risk and to ensure that they become trade assets should the team’s overhaul come up short in the near term.

The A’s did not publicly show any interest in re-signing free agent infielder Alberto Callaspo, who left for Atlanta on Tuesday. That means, with Donaldson, Moss, and Jed Lowrie gone, manager Bob Melvin’s only infield holdovers might be Eric Sogard and Nick Punto, with Stephen Vogt currently in line to see time in left.

Rangers at an impasse in talks with Nationals
The Nats have been shopping starting pitchers Doug Fister and Jordan Zimmermann. The Rangers would love to add an arm of that caliber to their injury-plagued rotation. So, what’s the hold up?

Adam Kilgore, who until recently was the Nationals beat writer for the Washington Post, says it’s GM Mike Rizzo’s desire to pry Rougned Odor, Texas’ top prospect heading into the 2014 campaign and a potential impact player in the middle infield. The Rangers are in no rush to deal Odor, a likely long-term plug for the hole vacated when Ian Kinsler was shipped to Detroit, particular with the health of Jurickson Profar’s shoulder in question.

Odor would fit nicely in Washington, where Anthony Rendon is taking over for Ryan Zimmerman at third base, leaving room for an upgrade at the keystone. Unfortunately for Rizzo, Jon Daniels appears unwilling to budge.

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

Related Content:  Atlanta Braves,  Rumors,  Hot Stove

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