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Brewers' Ryan Braun 'cautiously optimistic' coming off thumb surgery


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is optimistic coming off October thumb surgery. Braun underwent a cryotherapy procedure in Los Angeles on Oct. 2, in which a needle was inserted at the base of his right thumb to essentially freeze a nerve.

"It definitely worked," Braun said Wednesday, per MLB.com. "It makes a huge difference."

Braun swung a bat 10 days after the procedure and was happy the pain in his thumb was gone.

"Right now, I don’t feel any [discomfort], and I haven’t been able to say that for two years," he said. "I think I’ve told you guys, it [bothered him] shaking hands, writing -- you know, just everyday activities. Now I don’t feel it at all, so I’m excited."

While Braun is definitely optimistic, he is also a bit cautious because he isn't in the grind of playing baseball every day. He has received full clearance, however, for all offseason activities.

"I’m encouraged by how it feels, but at the same time, I think I have to be cautiously optimistic [until] I get into spring training and see how it responds," Braun said. "But it hasn’t felt this good in a really long time."


Report: M's have discussed trades for Kemp, Cespedes, Upton


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11/25/2014) The Mariners have discussed trades on multiple right-handed hitting outfielders, including Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and Braves outfielder Justin Upton, according to FOX Sports reporter Jon Morosi.

All three players have been mentioned in trade rumors, and the Cespedes speculation has picked up in the last day with the Red Sox signing Hanley Ramirez, who is expected to move to the outfield. Cespedes and Upton are in the final year of their contracts, while Kemp is signed through 2019.


Report: Blue Jays looking at Jay Bruce


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/25/2014) The Blue Jays are considering trading for Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, according to FoxSports.com.

The team is searching for a left-handed hitter, and Bruce hits the bill. Bruce will make a little over $12 million in both 2015 and 2016. He was a $13 million club option for 2017. 


Report: Rangers, Astros have inquired about Justin Upton


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11/24/2014) The Rangers have inquired about Braves outfielder Justin Upton, according to FOX Sports. The New York Post reported over the weekend the Astros have also inquired about Upton.

According to FOX Sports, the Rangers have shown interest in Upton in the past, but their current offseason focus is more on pitching.


Dodgers' Matt Kemp drawing plenty of interest


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/21/2014) Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp is drawing plenty of interest on the trade market, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

The club is hesitant to deal Kemp, though a trade is possible. Kemp had an up-and-down season with Los Angeles in 2014. He started slowly after coming back from a leg injury, and was initially upset when moved out of center. Things turned in the second half, and Kemp finished with a .287/.346/.506 slash line. The Orioles, Mariners and Blue Jays could all have interest, according to Heyman.


Report: Braves outfielder Justin Upton 'will be moved'


by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11/21/2014) The Braves are looking to trade outfielder Justin Upton, and sources have indicated it’s only a matter of time before he is dealt.

“Justin Upton will be moved,” said another team executive, per the New York Post.

However, if any team is going to trade for Upton, the price will not be cheap. Reports have shown the Braves are asking for more in return than what they received for Jason Heyward.

Upton will make $14.5 million in 2015 and then become a free agent. In 2014, Upton hit .270 with 29 home runs and 102 RBI.

Report: Reds considering dealing high-priced veterans


by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11/21/2014) The Reds are considering lowering their payroll by trading top position players, including slugging outfielder Jay Bruce, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

The team has made no secret of its desire to give up one of its starting pitchers, including premier talents such as Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos. But the Reds are also discussing possible swaps involving two-time All-Star right fielder Jay Bruce, major league sources have told Rosenthal.

The Reds have $75.5 million committed in 2015 and could try to vault back into playoff contention behind a healthy Joey Votto and Bruce. But it might not be a viable financial option. They spent $114 million on payroll last year and are projected to be at $120 million next season. Trading Bruce and one starting pitcher would reduce that figure significantly - Bruce alone will be owed $12 million.

One problem with that tactic is that the Reds would be trading an undervalued Bruce coming off a poor season in which he batted .217 with 18 home runs. However, the power-desperate Padres are reportedly inteterested in obtaining Bruce.


Padres shore up 40-man roster


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/20/2014) The Padres have altered their 40-man roster.

The team purchased the contracts of Tayron Guerrero, Taylor Lindsey and Alex Dickerson . In order to make room for those adds, the team designated both Blaine Boyer and Yeison Ascensio for assignment. 


Report: Reds have talked about dealing Jay Bruce


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/20/2014) The Reds have talked about dealing outfielder Jay Bruce, according to FoxSports.com.

The 27-year-old is a two-time All-Star, but is coming off a poor offensive season. Bruce hit just .217/.281/.373 over 493 at-bats. He missed time during the season due to knee surgery. Bruce is under contract for the next two seasons, and has a club option for 2017. He's expected to be ready for spring training. 


Pirates shore up 40-man roster


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/20/2014) The Pirates have added four players to the 40-man roster on Thursday.

Jameson Taillon , Nick Kingham , Willy Garcia and Elias Diaz all had their contracts purchased. In order to make room on the 40-man roster, the team outrighted Brent Morel and designated Ramon Cabrera for assignment. 


Reds add Kyle Waldrop, Amir Garrett to 40-man roster


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/20/2014) The Reds have added Kyle Waldrop and Amir Garrett to the 40-man roster.

Waldrop is a former first round draft pick with the Twins. Garrett posted a 3.64 ERA over 133 1/3 innings at Class A. 


Dodgers add three to the 40-man roster


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/20/2014) The Dodgers have added three players to the 40-man roster on Thursday.

Zach Lee , Chris Reed and Scott Schebler all had their contracts purchased. All three players will now be ineligible for the Rule-5 draft. 


Nats add four, subtract one from 40-man roster


by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11/20/2014) The Nationals put pitchers A.J. Cole and Matt Grace, infielder Wilmer Difo and outfielder Brian Goodwin on their 40-man roster and outrighted reliever Ryan Mattheus, who becomes a free agent, reports CSNWashington.com.

Mets hitting coach working on strategy to help Lucas Duda vs. LHPs


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11/19/2014) New Mets hitting coach Kevin Long said Wednesday he feels throwing left-handed will help left-handed hitters like Lucas Duda improve against lefties, according to ESPN. Duda hit .180 against lefties in 2014 and is batting .212 against them in his MLB career.

"I'll move over a little bit more so that it makes it more difficult to pick up my arm slot," Long said. "... That should help Lucas, getting to face me a number of times. I know Curtis (Granderson), every time we faced a lefty, and even when we didn't, would take batting practice off me. All of my flips in the cages are left-handed. Obviously the more that you face a lefty, the more comfortable you should become and be."


Curtis Granderson to work with new Mets hitting coach in offseason


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11/19/2014) New Mets hitting coach Kevin Long said Wednesday he expects to spend some time in the offseason working with outfielder Curtis Granderson, who struggled offensively in 2014.

"The main thing I've seen is his hands are kind of moving more than they did when he was with the Yankees," Long said about Granderson, per ESPN. "So we're going to try to just quiet that down a little bit. They're not really getting into a strong position consistently. So we'll work at that. There's a few little, minor other issues that we'll hit. Curtis, he had some streaks this year where he was really swinging the bat well. We'll just try to maintain a little bit more consistency. 

"You know, I think it's tough, too, the first time you come into an organization and you signed a big contract. I think it's a little more difficult than it might seem. In Curtis' case, that probably played into it. I know Brian McCann, as this season progressed over with the Yankees, he got better and better and more comfortable."


Cards release OF Shane Robinson, outright P Keith Butler


by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11/18/2014) The Cardinals released center fielder Shane Robinson and outrighted pitcher Keith Butler to Triple-A Memphis, reports MLBTradeRumors.com. Robinson batted .150 in 60 at-bats this past season. Butler is recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Report: Cruz, Kemp, Upton higher targets for M's than Ramirez


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11/18/2014) While the Mariners look to add a right-handed hitter to their lineup, it appears they are more interested in signing free agent Nelson Cruz or trading for Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp than signing free agent Hanley Ramirez, according to FOX Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal. Braves outfielder Justin Upton also appears to be higher on the Mariners' wish list than Ramirez.

Gonzalez: B.J. Upton open to 'complete reconstruction of swing'


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11/18/2014) Although Braves outfielder B.J. Upton has been mentioned in trade rumors, the team is preparing for the scenario Upton remains on the roster in 2015. Manager Fredi Gonzalez seems optimistic the team can get Upton on the right track after his first two seasons in Atlanta have been disappointing.

"We need to get better with B.J. in center field," Gonzalez told MLB Network Radio on Tuesday. "(Hitting coach) Kevin Seitzer is optimistic and B.J. is open to anything, including complete reconstruction of swing."

Since joining Atlanta in 2013 on a five-year contract, Upton is batting .198 with a .279 on-base percentage, .314 slugging percentage and .593 OPS in 267 games. He hit .255 with a .336 on-base percentage, .422 slugging percentage and .758 OPS in his first eight seasons with the Rays.


Marlins trying to work out new deals for Yelich, Hechavarria


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11/17/2014) Now that the Marlins have signed star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton to a long-term deal, the team is still trying to sign shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and outfielder Christian Yelich to multiyear deals, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

As far as outfielder Marcell Ozuna and starting pitcher Jose Fernandez are concerned, however, it appears it could be a little more difficult to work out contract extensions, especially for Fernandez.


Lineup spot could be key for Jason Heyward


by Al Melchior | Data Analyst
(11/17/2014) Much of the early speculation about Jason Heyward's value as the Cardinals' new right fielder has focused on whether he can recapture the home run power he displayed in 2012. That's a reasonable place to start the discussion, as his home run total has dwindled from 27 to 14 to 11 over the last three seasons, but that's not where the discussion should end.

Even with limited power, Heyward finished last season with the 23rd-highest Fantasy point total among outfielders in standard Head-to-Head leagues. It helped that Heyward stole 20 bases in 24 attempts, walked 67 times and scored 74 runs, and some of that production was aided by his status as the Braves' primary leadoff hitter. One of the least glamorous items on Heyward's 2014 stat line was his 115 singles, but they added to his value and were made possible by the additional plate appearances he received at the top of the order.

By contrast, Heyward ranked 36th among outfielders in Rotisserie value. Given that he is moving to a home park that is tougher on home run hitters than Turner Field was, it might be asking a lot for Heyward to break out as a power hitter in 2015.

At age 25, Heyward could take a step forward and be a top 20 outfielder for all formats, but that could be harder for him to accomplish now that Busch Stadium is his home venue. If Cardinals manager Mike Matheny doesn't see fit to bat Heyward in the leadoff spot, his climb towards Fantasy stardom will only get steeper.


Report: Mariners 'strong suitor' for Braves OF Justin Upton


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11/17/2014) After the Braves traded Jason Heyward to the Cardinals on Monday, it appears as if outfielder Justin Upton could be the next man to leave Atlanta, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today on Monday. Per Nightengale, the Mariners are a strong suitor to acquire the 27-year-old right fielder.

Amid recent reports, president of baseball operations John Hart said he's still willing to have Upton back next season, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"As we sit here today, there certainly is a good chance Justin is back with us next year," Hart said.

Upton batted .270 with 29 homers and 102 RBI in 566 at-bats in 2014.


Braves acquire Miller from Cardinals in exchange for Heyward


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11/17/2014) The Braves and Cardinals announced a significant trade Monday afternoon. The Braves acquired starting pitcher Shelby Miller and pitcher Tyrell Jenkins from St. Louis in exchange for outfielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden.

"It was very difficult to trade Jason, but deal was made to help us short-term and long-term," Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said. "This deal also improves us in an area where we are woefully, woefully thin -- our minor-league system."

Heyward had been mentioned in trade rumors leading up to Monday's deal. He is in the final year of his contract after signing a two-year extension in Feb. 2014. The 25-year-old outfielder is coming off a disappointing 2014 season. He hit .271 with a .384 slugging percentage, .735 OPS, 11 home runs, 26 doubles and 58 RBI in 149 games.

The 24-year-old Miller is also coming off a disappointing campaign. The once highly touted pitching prospect went 10-9 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 32 appearances (31 starts). While he reached a career high in innings (183), Miller struggled with his command (3.6 BB/9) and saw his strikeout rate drop significantly (6.2 K/9).

"As we look at Shelby, we see that he has a chance to become a front-of-line rotation type of guy," Hart said.

Walden, the former Angels' All-Star closer in 2011, is under team control through 2016. He was 0-2 with a 2.88 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and three saves in 58 appearances for Atlanta last season.

Jenkins is a former top-100 prospect whose career has been slowed by a shoulder injury he sustained in 2013. He returned to action in 2014, going 6-5 with a 3.28 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 13 starts at high Class A.


Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton have 13-year, $325-million deal in place


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11/17/2014) The Marlins and star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton have a deal in place for a record $325 million over 13 seasons, team sources told CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Stanton is expected to receive an early opt-out clause and a no-trade provision as part of the deal. The opt-out clause is expected to occur not long after Stanton turns 30 years old.


Report: Rays to receive Justin Williams, Andrew Velazquez


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/14/2014) The Rays will receive outfielder Justin Williams and shortstop Andrew Velazquez from the Diamondbacks, according to azcentral.com.

The 19-year-old Williams hit .351/.403/.467 over 320 at-bats. He did not appear above Class A. Velazquez, 20, hit .290/.367/.428 over 623 at-bats in Class A last season. 


Report: Marlins close to signing Giancarlo Stanton to record deal


by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11/14/2014) Sources have indicated the Marlins are on the verge of signing outfielder Giancarlo Stanton to a 13-year, $325 million contract, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

The deal also reportedly includes a no-trade clause as well as an opt-out clause. Stanton was recently named runner-up to pitcher Clayton Kershaw for NL MVP.


 
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Fan Poll

Which of these third basemen would you want on your teams for the second half?

Nolan Arenado, Rockies
17%
Manny Machado, Orioles
25%
Todd Frazier, Reds
33%
Martin Prado, Diamondbacks
4%
Kyle Seager, Mariners
17%
Pedro Alvarez, Pirates
4%

Total Votes: 3,689