Holland interested in Pirates and Rangers
There were two stories centering around left-handed starter Derek Holland this weekend. In the first, Holland’s agent, Michael Martini, told Rob Biertempfel of TribLive.com that the Pirates were on their short list of preferred suitors. Holland entered free agency after the Rangers declined his $11 million contract option and is expected to seek a one-year deal.
The Pirates do not appear to have extended an official offer as of yet, and while the 30-year-old returned to the majors for his first full, healthy season since 2013, his declining command was all too obvious to the Rangers. His -0.1 WARP was the lowest it had been in his eight-year career, weighed down by a 5.40 DRA and 38 perent groundball rate through 107.1 innings.
If there’s any case to be made for the lefty, it’s in Pittsburgh, where the Pirates could benefit from an affordable veteran presence to offset a young rotation and where the coaching staff has a proven track record of rehabbing struggling pitchers. Martini told Biertempfel that Holland was seeking a guaranteed spot in the rotation, but was willing to compete among the Pirates’ younger candidates if need be.
Holland, however, may have other ideas. He spoke to 105.6 The Fan in Dallas over the weekend, where he reiterated his desire to re-sign with the Rangers. He further explained that he was hoping to give his original ballclub every opportunity to make a competing offer, but will respect their decision if they elect to take the pitching staff in a different direction.
Mariners unlikely to re-sign Gutierrez and Lee
The Mariners picked up a solid bat in Danny Valencia on Saturday and the resulting fallout may bring about the end of the Franklin Gutierrez and Dae-ho Lee eras in Seattle. Valencia, 32, is expected to platoon with rookie Dan Vogelbach at first base and could find extra playing time in one of the outfield corners or third base.
According to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune, Mariners’ GM Jerry Dipoto envisions Ben Gamel in one of the outfield corners and Leonys Martin in center field to begin the 2017 season. That leaves Gutierrez, Seth Smith, Nelson Cruz, and Guillermo Heredia to duke it out in the remaining outfield corner. Despite Gutierrez’s right-handed bat, the overcrowding coupled with the 34-year-old’s offensive decline could leave him out in the cold.
Gutierrez batted .246/.329/.452 with a .272 TAv and 14 home runs for the Mariners in 2016, splitting his time between DH and right field. He hadn’t seen significant time in right field since 2008, but was asked to transition from center field in order to platoon with left-handed hitter Seth Smith. Should he re-sign with the Mariners, it will likely be to fill a similarly limited role on the field. Dutton notes that the outfielder has already started to explore his options with other clubs, though any further details have yet to be disclosed.
While the Mariners haven’t completely nixed the idea of bringing Gutierrez back, Dipoto all but announced the team’s intention to cut ties with Dae-ho Lee. Lee, also a free agent this offseason, shared time at first base with former Mariner Adam Lind during the 2016 season. He put up a respectable .261 TAv and 14 home runs in his first 317 major-league plate appearances, but his .261/.329/.446 line against left-handed pitching paled in comparison to Valencia’s .318/.389/.535 mark.
Mets entertaining trade offer from Blue Jays for Bruce
Mets outfielder Jay Bruce hasn’t attracted much attention yet this offseason, and not for any inconceivable reason. The 29-year-old posted standout numbers in Cincinnati, playing to a .301 TAv with 25 home runs and 1.7 WARP through his first 402 PA of the season, but took a nosedive following his trade to the Mets in August. Over the last two months of the regular season, Bruce dented his WARP by -0.3 and batted .219/.294/.391 in 187 PA.
It didn’t help that the Mets already sported a plethora of outfielders, and with Bruce’s cold bat and sub par defensive chops, they might not be so eager to retain him for the coming year–especially if they manage to re-sign Yoenis Cespedes. As things stand now, the team appears to be in a holding pattern, though it certainly doesn’t hurt to test the market for offers.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, can afford to take a rosier perspective on the veteran outfielder. Per Jim Bowden of ESPN, the club has already reached out to the Mets to make an offer for Bruce, though he did not specify what kind of return they were offering. The Jays already tried and failed to trade for Bruce back in February, when a three-team deal involving the Angels was nixed after one of Toronto’s prospects ran into some medical issues, via FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
This time around, Bowden points out, the Blue Jays are gunning for the outfielder as a left-handed platoon option to pair with Melvin Upton. Upton, like Bruce, had difficulty adjusting after a midseason trade to Toronto and batted just .196/.261/.318 with a .209 TAv and four homers in 165 PA. In the event that Cespedes declines the Mets’ offer this offseason and Bruce receives a guaranteed spot in the outfield, the Blue Jays might have an easier time pursuing free agent Josh Reddick instead.