Padres ‘trying to do something dramatic’ for big bat?

The Padres haven’t been much of a factor in the National League West of late, winning no more than 77 games in four straight seasons and six of the past seven. Their last playoff appearance came in 2006.

But San Diego is trying to reverse that trend, and new general manager A.J. Preller could do something splashy to accomplish that.

Speaking on MLB Network on Friday morning, Ken Rosenthal reported that the club still could go in different directions but that, “the way it appears they are going is big and trying to do something dramatic.” Rosenthal said the Padres had “kicked the tires” on outfielder Jason Heyward before the Braves shipped him to the Cardinals instead, and they still are looking into a trade for a big-time hitter such as the Reds’ Jay Bruce or the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp.

It’s understandable why the Padres would explore such a deal, considering they finished last in the Majors in runs, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage last season. However, MLB.com Padres beat writer Corey Brock reported recently that the club was strongly considering holding on to young starting pitchers Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner, who along with fellow right-hander Ian Kennedy, have been rumored as potential trade chips to acquire offense.

So perhaps San Diego will look to the free-agent market instead. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reported Friday morning that the club has emerged as one of two frontrunners, along with Atlanta, for Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas. The 24-year-old, who possesses big power but faces questions about his defense, is said to be seeking at least a five-year deal with an annual value of about $15 million.

An even more expensive target would be third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who is believed to be a likely candidate to either return to the Giants or depart for Boston. Yet the Padres, who traded third baseman Chase Headley at the deadline last year, surprisingly have entered the bidding, according Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

First baseman Adam LaRoche is another free-agent hitter who has been linked to San Diego, though he also has reportedly received a two-year offer from the Marlins.

– Andrew Simon

Padres, Braves in hunt for Tomas

The race to sign Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas is heating up once again.

The Braves and Padres have emerged as the frontrunners in the Tomas’ sweepstakes and top officials from both clubs are expected to meet with him this weekend in the Dominican Republic, according to industry sources.

What’s more, sources indicate Tomas is currently mulling offers and his camp is considering attending Winter Meetings in San Diego next month. The slugger is believed to be seeking at least a five to seven year deal with an annual salary near $15 million, but the Tomas’ camp has not ruled out the possibility of signing a short-term, high-value deal that would allow him to return to the market sooner rather than later.

Tomas, who turned 24 on Nov. 14, left Cuba last summer and trained six days a week for four months until the rules allowed him to begin working out on a baseball field in early September. He starred in a showcase in front of scouts from all 30 Major League team later in the month and held private workouts for the D-backs, Dodgers, Mariners, Giants, Padres, Phillies, Rangers, Red Sox and Royals in the weeks that followed.

The Phillies were previously mentioned as the favorite to land the slugger.

Tomas played five seasons for the Havana Industriales in the Serie Nacional in Cuba, which means he was subjected to the international signing guidelines. Overall, he hit 30 home runs with 104 RBIs in 205 regular-season games for the Industriales, starting in 2008. However, he never played more than 69 games during the Serie Nacional’s 90-game regular season and did not play during the 2010-11 season.

The son of a fuel truck driver, Tomas is from the La Cuevita San Miguel del Padron section of Havana. He began playing baseball at age 6 with the other neighborhood children in the street, and he often tagged along with his grandfather to watch the hometown Havana Industriales play.

Check mlb.com for updates

Dodgers acquire Peralta from Rays

The Dodgers and Rays completed a four-player trade Thursday night in advance of the reserve list deadline.

Tampa Bay sent veteran right-hander Joel Peralta and Minor League lefty Adam Liberatore to Los Angeles in exchange for right-handers Jose Dominguez and Greg Harris.

In four seasons with the Rays from 2011-14, Peralta set club records with 296 appearances and 115 holds. He also led the Majors in appearances in that span. Last season, the 38-year-old reliever pitched in 69 games with a 4.41 ERA, his highest mark since 2009. He’s due $2.5 million next season, the first of three club options.

Dominguez, 24, made five appearances with the Dodgers in 2014 and went 1-2 with 10 saves and a 3.24 ERA with Triple-A Albuquerque.

The Rays added Dominguez and five others — pitchers Matt Andriese and Grayson Garvin, infielder Ryan Brett, outfielder Mikie Mahtook and catcher Justin O’Conner — to their 40-man roster and designated Cole Figueroa, Michael Kohn and Jose Molina for assignment.

Molina spent the last three years in Tampa Bay, playing in 281 games. The 39-year-old backstop made 70 starts at catcher in 2014 and hit .178/.230/.187.

 – Chad Thornburg

Four teams remain in the mix for Sandoval

The Giants, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Padres continued their pursuit of free agent Pablo Sandoval on Thursday.

San Francisco and Boston remain the favorites to land the third baseman, and MLB.com’s Ian Browne reported Thursday morning that Boston is close to making an offer. Sandoval met with the Red Sox on both Tuesday and Wednesday in Boston.

The Blue Jays were also preparing a significant offer for Sandoval, according to several reports, however, general manager Anthopoulos downplayed the possibility of another imminent acquisition. The club signed catcher Russell Martin to a five-year, $82 million deal earlier this week.

Toronto’s policy of not exceeding five years on contracts could also provide an obstacle to the signing.

Also in the mix are the Padres. According to CBSSports.com, the club has made Sandoval a priority this offseason, though like Toronto, San Diego could be priced out in a bidding war.

- Chad Thornburg

Report: White Sox, Mariners, Orioles considering Melky

There are at least a trio of teams who are strong potential suitors for free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera, CBSSports.com‘s Jon Heyman has reported, and they span the country.

The White Sox “are considering a pursuit” of Cabrera in their quest to find a left-handed bat for their lineup. Heyman said the Mariners “could make sense” as a landing spot, and the Orioles if Baltimore doesn’t re-sign Nick Markakis.

Cabrera would likely slot into the No. 2 spot of the batting order in Chicago where, Heyman points out, the White Sox posted just a .279 on-base percentage (second-to-last in baseball).

Cabrera did receive a one-year, $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Blue Jays that he rejected. Heyman says Toronto has engaged in long-term talks with Cabrera but their signing of Russell Martin and pursuit of Pablo Sandoval makes it less likely.

– Joey Nowak

Sources: Tigers talked catching with Astros

The Tigers picked up the club option on Alex Avila’s contract earlier this week, but they remain in the rumor mill surrounding catching. While sources confirmed a report from FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi that Detroit had talks with the Astros about their catching surplus, the sources said talks ended with the Tigers moving on.

The Astros have three catchers on their roster following the addition of former Angels catcher Hank Conger two weeks ago. The Tigers talks were believed to center around switch-hitting backup Carlos Corporan, who has pounded Tigers pitching the last two years (9-for-22, 3 HRs, 4 RBIs). Two of those home runs came off Max Scherzer in 2013. Corporan also homered off Evan Reed this past May.

Corporan, who turns 31 in January, is a .226 career hitter with 17 home runs and 63 RBIs in 199 career games. He would make sense as an offensive backup to a defensive-minded catcher, especially if the Tigers were to trade Avila and go with prospect James McCann or Bryan Holaday behind the plate. He set a career high with 48 starts for the Astros this past season, though it’s unclear whether he could fill a platoon role.

The talks supposedly took place prior to the Tigers picking up Avila’s $5.4 million option for 2015. The option pickup, however, doesn’t necessarily guarantee Avila staying put. The move only guarantees cost certainty with Avila, rather than going to arbitration, in his final season before he’s eligible for free agency.

Jason Beck

Royals: Life after Billy Butler

It was not unexpected when the Royals did not re-sign Billy Butler and the veteran first baseman/designated hitter signed elsewhere, but now the young Royals will be looking to fill the void left by one of the franchise’s most recognizable players.

Butler signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the A’s this week, a much bigger contract than Kansas City was able/willing to write out.

“Billy’s been a terrific player for us, he’s been outstanding in the community, he’s obviously a homegrown player and huge in our success. And Billy’s a fun player to watch in the batter’s box, there’s no doubt,” Royals GM Dayton Moore said.

“But we felt we wanted to free up our resources to use them to build a team with a little better balance going forward. We have to replace a starting pitcher [James Shields], we want to continue to try to improve our bullpen … with some more depth.”

The Royals now turn their attention to right field, where they hope they can find someone to play both that position and occasionally DH. Nori Aoki, a free agent, is an option to return.

The Kansas City Star‘s Andy McCullough wrote that the Royals worked out Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas this week in the Dominican Republic, but he is expected to see a contract north of $70 million, which may also be too lofty for Kansas City. McCullough also says a Torii Hunter-Carlos Peguero duo is possible, with a handful of KC players rotating in the DH role.

– Joey Nowak

Report: Nats starters “available”

Bob Nightengale of USA Today is reporting that the Nationals have said starting pitchers Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister are both available for trade if a team presents the right deal.

Nightengale makes it clear that the Nats are not trying to dump salary, but both pitchers will be free agents in a year and Washington is willing to listen if a team is interested. Both pitchers — Zimmermann in particular — are sure to land significant contracts if they hit the free agent market, and the Nats may never get a better return for them than they will now.

There was a Chicago Sun-Times report two weeks ago that linked Zimmermann to the Cubs, but it has since lost traction.

– Joey Nowak

Phillies backing off Tomas

The Phillies, once considered favorites to land free agent outfielder Yasmany Tomas, have cooled on the idea of signing the 23-year-old Cuban defector, according to Major League sources.

While the Phils, who had a private workout with Tomas, still like his bat there are concerns about his defense. They now view him as more of a designated hitter-type player, the sources added.

Of course, that thinking could change if the price for Tomas, once estimated to be as high as $100 million, begins to come down. The Phillies are trying to trade right fielder Marlon Byrd with an eye toward moving Domonic Brown from left to right. That would mean they would need to fill the vacancy in left internally (Grady Sizemore, Darin Ruf, Aaron Altherr) or from outside the organization.

Meanwhile, the primary offseason goal is to add at least two starting pitchers to a rotation that currently features left-handers Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee – their 2014 Opening Day starter who is a question after missing the final two months of the season with a flexor pronator strain.

– Paul Hagen

Tomas to meet with teams at Winter Meetings

Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas is expected to be one of the most sought-after free agents of the offseason, and CBSSports.com‘s Jon Heyman is reporting that the slugger will be meeting with MLB clubs at the upcoming Winter Meetings in San Diego.

Tomas is also expected to command a deal bigger than the six-year, $72.5-million contract that Rusney Castillo received from the Red Sox.

Heyman says the Phillies, Giants and Padres have long been considered the front-runners, but the Royals — perhaps because of the loss of Billy Butler and the hole in right field — and “several other surprise teams” have recently joined the fray.

Heyman also suggests that there is some disagreement on where Tomas could play in the big leagues, with evaluators saying everything from corner outfield spots to third base.

– Joey Nowak

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