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Ruggiano to Mariners – UPDATE

The Cubs dealt outfielder Justin Ruggiano to the Mariners Wednesday for Minor League pitcher Matt Brazis, opening a spot on the 40-man roster. Ruggiano, 32, batted .281 with six home runs and 28 RBIs in 81 games for the Cubs last season, but missed time because of a left hamstring injury suffered in late April. His season ended on Aug. 22 when he fractured his left ankle.

Brazis, 25, is 8-6 with 14 saves and a 2.89 ERA in 100 Minor League relief appearances over three seasons for the Mariners. He split last season between Class A High Desert and Double-A Jackson, going 4-1 with six saves and a 2.36 ERA in 40 appearances. Brazis struck out 84 batters and walked 18 in 72 1/3 innings pitched.

The Cubs do want to add a veteran outfielder, but were looking for players with more experience to be what manager Joe Maddon calls “clubhouse dudes” and help mentor the young guys.

Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown first reported the possible trade on Wednesday.

– Carrie Muskat

Mariners acquire Ruggiano from Cubs

The Mariners reached a deal on Wednesday to acquire outfielder Justin Ruggiano from the Cubs in exchange for Minor League reliever Matt Brazis.

Ruggiano hit a respectable .281/.337/.429 for the Cubs last season, though he was limited to just 81 games by various injuries. He missed time early in the season due to a left hamstring issue before later suffering a left ankle injury that ultimately ended his season on Aug. 22.

Ruggiano should at least provide further outfield depth for the Mariners, who have also been linked to the Phillies’ Marlon Byrd and Washington’s Ian Desmond in recent days. The move to acquire Ruggiano could quiet any talks involving Byrd, but the Mariners could still be interested in adding another solid hitter, such as Desmond.

– Paul Casella

Red Sox acquire Varvaro from Braves

The Braves traded right-handed reliever Anthony Varvaro to the Red Sox on Wednesday in exchange for Minor League right-hander Aaron Kurcz and cash considerations.

Varvaro, who compiled a 2.74 ERA in 123 appearances over the last two seasons, was somewhat surprisingly designated for assignment earlier this week to clear a spot for recently acquired infielder Alberto Callaspo. The hard-throwing righty also racked up 50 strikeouts over 54 2/3 innings this past season.

As for Kurcz, the 24-year-old tallied a 2.14 ERA in 34 appearances this past season for Double-A Portland, while striking out 54 batters over 42 innings.

Given that there was almost zero chance Varvaro was going to pass through waivers unclaimed after being designated earlier this week, it was only a matter of when, not if, the Braves were going to work out a trade inolving the 30-year-old reliever.

– Paul Casella

Justin Ruggiano rumors

According to Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown, the Cubs and Mariners have had conversations about Justin Ruggiano. The outfielder batted .281 in 81 games with the Cubs. His season ended Aug. 22 when he injured his left ankle. Ruggiano also missed time in late April and early May because of a left hamstring injury. The right-handed hitter has a career slash line of .257/.319/.431. The Cubs’ 40-man roster is full after the additions of Jason Hammel and Jon Lester, so the team will have to make some decisions if they are to find room for the so-called “clubhouse dudes” that manager Joe Maddon wants to add.

– Carrie Muskat

Potential Myers deal getting close?

A potential blockbuster deal between the Padres and Rays involving 24-year-old outfielder Wil Myers could be “nearing the finish line,” according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick.

Rumors broke late Tuesday night that the two sides were discussing a possible trade that would send Myers to San Diego, though the potential return package remains unclear. Though little is known at this point about what the Padres might be offering in return, it’s a safe bet that it would involve either top pitching prospect, Matthew Wisler, or right-hander Joe Ross, the club’s No. 8-ranked overall prospect according to MLB.com.

While some reports have suggested a third team could enter the mix to make the deal happen, Crasnick adds that he believes it would be a straight-up deal between the Padres and Rays, with Tampa Bay possibly then flipping one of the players it receives from San Diego in a separate deal.

Despite coming off a disappointing, injury-hampered 2014 campaign, Myers is still just 24 years old and remains under team control through the 2019 season. He’s also only one season removed from posting a .293/.354/.478 batting line en route to being named the 2013 American League Rookie of the Year.

Even after acquiring Matt Kemp from the Dodgers last week, the Padres have continued to explore other options for upgrading what was the league’s worst offense this past season. Pairing Myers alongside Kemp would seem to be a substantial upgrade for the Padres, though it will certainly take a significant haul to make this deal happen.

– Paul Casella

Mariners possibly inquiring about Desmond

The Mariners reportedly “remain a possibility” as a potential landing spot for Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, according to Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com.

Seattle is known to be looking to add more offense this offseason and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported late Tuesday night that he was “hearing rumblings” that the M’s were “closing in on” a trade for another hitter. Crasnick had no other details at the time and it’s unclear whether or not that potential trade he was referencing involved Desmond.

The Mariners have been linked to a number of shortstop rumors this offseason, though those reports mostly involved the club moving one of its own — not bringing in another one. They currently have Brad Miller and Chris Taylor set to battle for the Opening Day job, though Desmond would certainly seem to represent an upgrage over either option.

As for the Nationals, they could be willing to move Desmond this offseason instead of risking losing him to free agency next offseason. He’s owed $11 million next season and, more importantly, he and the Nats haven’t made much progress in their extension talks this offseason.

This appears to be nothing more than speculation at this point, but the potential is certainly there for talks to develop further.

– Paul Casella

Marlins hearing about 1B Jones

With the Marlins set to announce the signing of slugger Michael Morse, MLB.com‘s Joe Frisaro is reporting that the team is now getting calls on first baseman Garrett Jones.

Morse has been primarily an outfielder for his career, but spent significant time at first base last season in San Francisco and figures to be at least a platoon player there, if not the full-time first baseman for the Marlins.

Frisaro also said that “Miami may decide to keep Jones, and use him as a left-handed bat off the bench, either at first base or in right field.” But the Marlins have Justin Bour as a cheaper lefty first base bench option, and Jones “most likely” will be dealt.

– Joey Nowak

Report: Dodgers listening on League

The Dodgers are reportedly interested in making more moves, as Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Los Angeles is listening to trade offers on veteran reliever Brandon League.

Rosenthal tweeted that the Dodgers are willing to pay “almost half” of League’s $7.5 million salary this upcoming season.

The 31-year-old has 74 career saves (37 of them coming in his 2011 All-Star season with the Mariners) but did not record any last year with Los Angeles. He did go 2-3 with a 2.57 ERA in 63 appearances.

League also has a vesting option for 2016: $7.5 million if he finishes 55 games 2015; $8.5 million if he finishes 55 games in 2015 and 100 games in 2014-15; $9 million if he finishes 55 games in 2015 and 150 in 2013-15. He finished 35 games in 2013 and 12 games in 2014.

–  Joey Nowak

Orioles reportedly sign LHR Wright

The Orioles and free-agent reliever Wesley Wright have reportedly agreed to a one-year deal, according to MASN’s Roch Kubatko. Wright spent the entire 2014 season with the Cubs, where he posted a 3.17 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP in 58 appearances. The Orioles have not yet confirmed the deal.

Wright figures to fit into the Baltimore bullpen as a left-handed specialist. Lefty hitters have combined for a .646 OPS against Wright during his seven big league seasons, while righties have posted an .833 mark.

In 2014, lefties actually had a higher batting average against Wright, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The 29-year-old southpaw faced 85 left-handed hitters in ’14, and he didn’t allow an extra-base hit.

Originally drafted by the Dodgers, Wright spent his first five full seasons in the Majors with the Astros.

-AJ Cassavell

Padres eyeing Myers in trade with Rays?

It’s no secret that the Padres are in the market for another bat, and according to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, they could be looking into a potentially “significant trade” with Tampa Bay for 24-year-old outfielder Wil Myers.

It’s hard to gauge how serious these talks are, but Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan says there is optimism a deal gets done and that the two sides are very close. Myers certainly fits the profile of what the Padres are looking for —  an outfielder with some pop who will remain under team control for the foreseeable future. Myers will be arbitration-eligible in 2017, and he won’t become a free agent until after the ’19 season.

After winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2013, Myers struggled mightily this past season. He hit just .222/.294/.320 with six home runs in 87 games, and he missed nearly three months with a wrist injury. Myers returned to the Rays in late August and hit .213 with only five extra-base hits in 34 contests.

It’s unclear whether those poor splits were simply residual effects of the injury. But as ugly as his numbers were in 2014, Myers is only one year removed from his .293/.354/.478 season in ’13 that had many projecting him as one of the best young outfielders in the game.

Myers, once the centerpiece of the deal that sent James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City, would be the Padres’ second major outfield acquisition this offseason. They landed Matt Kemp in a deal with the Dodgers at last week’s Winter Meetings, and they’ve been linked in trade talks with Atlanta for outfielder Justin Upton — though a trade for Myers would most likely put a halt to those.

There have been no reports as to who the Padres have offered the Rays for Myers, but it’s a safe bet that a 24-year-old outfielder with lots of team control won’t come cheap. Padres top prospect Austin Hedges and No. 2 prospect Matt Wisler could be less than a year away from making contributions at the big league level and figure to be at the forefront of any team looking to make a trade with new Padres general manager A.J. Preller.

-AJ Cassavell

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