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Moncada hopes to sign by February 23
The Yoan Moncada saga appears to be headed for the stretch run. Moncada’s agent, David Hastings, told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN on Wednesday night that his client has four or five more private workouts scheduled within the next week and intends to make a decision by February 23rd. The first of those private workouts was for the Dodgers on Thursday in Clearwater, where several high-level Dodgers executives were on hand to watch, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. This is now the second time that top Dodgers front office personnel have seen Moncada in person and Hastings indicated to Crasnick that several of the other workouts held in the upcoming week will also be follow-ups.

The Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox are still believed to be the favorites to land Moncada, but the Padres could end being a wild card in the bidding. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tweeted earlier this week that the Padres held a private workout for Moncada and that they “plan to be aggressive in bidding for him.” Regarding the Dodgers, it doesn’t appear any potential pursuit of fellow Cuban Hector Olivera will affect their bidding for Moncada. This, from J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles Daily News Group:

As for Olivera, one more team to add to the mix for the 29-year-old infielder could be the Angels. In yesterday’s roundup, I mentioned that the Dodgers, Padres, Athletics and Giants all showed notable presence at Olivera’s final public showcase in the Dominican Republic. Yesterday, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweeted yesterday that the Angels have also shown interest. Fletcher cautioned that it’s not yet clear how serious that interest is, but Olivera would be a ideal fit for the Angels considering that Josh Rutledge and Grant Green currently sit atop their second base depth chart.

Papelbon trade remains unlikely between Brewers and Phillies
As is the case with Cole Hamels, it’s becoming seemingly more likely that Jonathan Papelbon will begin the season in Philadelphia. A potential trade between the Phillies and Brewers was nixed at the end of January and according to Ken Rosenthal, further trade discussions between the two teams recently fell through.

Rosenthal writes that the Phillies were willing to kick back a significant amount of money to cover Papelbon’s contract (he’s owed $13 million this year and has a $13 million vesting option for 2016 that he reportedly wants guaranteed to waive his no-trade clause) if the Brewers sent back one of their top prospects, but Milwaukee balked at the proposal. The Brewers then countered with a straight-up swap of Papelbon for Jonathan Broxton, a move that would save the Phillies at least $15 million over the next two years. The Phillies declined.

The Brewers have little incentive to part ways with a top minor-league talent for Papelbon as long as Francisco Rodriguez remains an alternative option on the market. Rosenthal also wrote within the article that the Brewers are still in talks with Rodrigurez, who is reportedly seeking a two-year deal. There has been very little interest on the Papelbon trade front aside from with the Brewers this offseason, which Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last week that the team is trying to use as leverage in negotiations.

On Thursday, Haudricourt reiterated that message on WIsports.com, saying, “I know they’d like to get Papelbon, but they want to do it on their terms and they’re waiting to see just how badly the Phillies want to trade him. … He has a high salary with a high vesting option and they want to get something back for him if they pick up any of the money. I think the Brewers are playing a bit of chicken with them.”

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