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March 6, 2017

Rumor Roundup

Taking Sides

by Ashley Varela


Abad foregoes camp competition for World Baseball Classic

Red Sox relief candidate Fernando Abad will participate in his first World Baseball Classic for Team Dominican. Playing in the WBC is generally regarded as an honor, but in this case it might compromise his chances of making the Opening Day roster.

That’s the sentiment Red Sox manager John Farrell conveyed to the media on Sunday, telling Jen McCaffrey of MassLive.com that although he respects Abad’s decision to represent his country, he is concerned that the left-hander will miss out on a critical period of “constant evaluating” that will shape the bullpen ahead of Opening Day. Complicating matters is Abad’s performance this spring, which has been both limited and lackluster. The 31-year-old has a lot to improve from the 5.79 DRA and -0.4 WARP he produced with the Twins and Red Sox in 2016, while fellow lefty candidate Robby Scott has drawn nothing but praise from Farrell for his composure and control on the mound.

Scott brings the added benefit of a younger, healthier arm, and one that pitched to a 1.67 DRA for Triple-A Pawtucket and debuted to modest fanfare at the end of the Red Sox’s 2016 run. Abad, meanwhile, is just three seasons removed from his peak performance and sub-2.00 ERA with the Athletics, though his proven track record and veteran presence will mean little if he can’t back it up on the mound again this season.

Rays, Mets, Royals, Blue Jays consider Lawrie

Brett Lawrie is in the market for a new team after the White Sox placed the infielder on release waivers Friday. By this point in the offseason, most clubs are a few position battles away from locking down their Opening Day rosters, but there appear to be a handful who are willing to take flyers on the 27-year-old. According to ESPN’s Jim Bowden, the list reportedly includes the Rays, Mets, Royals, and Blue Jays.

Lawrie’s stock has plummeted of late, including a 2016 decline at the plate with questionable defense following a conversion to second base and a season-ending hamstring injury in July. He’s unlikely to see a return to the 4.0 WARP he amassed with the Blue Jays back in 2012, but given a full recovery, should provide a capable right-handed bat off the bench and middling-to-decent defense at second and third base. Of the four suitors in question, the Blue Jays seem the least likely to solicit Lawrie’s services despite being the only team with previous ties to him. Josh Donaldson has third base on lock, while Devon Travis would only require a short-term sub at second base until he fully recovers from a knee injury.

The Rays have a similar situation with Evan Longoria and Brad Miller, and would likely stick Lawrie alongside fellow infield backups Tim Beckham and Nick Franklin. The Mets, on the other hand, are dealing with a rash of infield injuries and could presumably carve out a spot for another, healthier candidate–assuming, of course, that Lawrie’s hamstring issues don’t resurface in 2017. The Royals’ roster is neither injured nor short on middle infielders, but manager Ned Yost worries that none of them are suited for an everyday role and is considering a second base rotation during the regular season.

Royals appear uninterested in extending top four players

On Sunday, Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain verbalized his desire to sign a long-term extension, but the team has yet to reciprocate the feeling. In fact, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says they may not be interested in extending any of their impending free agents, including first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas, and shortstop Alcides Escobar.

Should the Royals have a change of heart and attempt to retain one or two of the players on a short-term basis, Heyman believes they’ll give preference to Hosmer. The so-called “golden boy” of Kansas City, Hosmer was rumored to be in extension talks with the club earlier this offseason, but talks stalled as the infielder contemplated free agency and a salary figure north of $100 million.

If the Royals can’t net Hosmer, they could conceivably pursue some combination of Moustakas, Cain, and Escobar. Heyman reports that Cain was seeking a six-year commitment from the team, but hasn’t been in talks with them for some time now. As the outfielder told FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal last month, he realizes the chances of keeping the Royals’ core intact by Opening Day 2018 are “slim to none.”

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

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