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Baseball Daily Dose

Offseason Dose: Rocky Road?

by Nathan Grimm
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Pitchers and catchers are reporting, but it's reporting on position players that remains the story ahead of camp.

 

We're days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, so be sure to keep refreshing Rotoworld's constantly-updating player news page for all the latest. And while you're at it, follow @Rotoworld_BB and @nate_grimm if you are on Twitter.

 

With spring training right around the corner, a number of high-profile free agents are still without teams. That includes Ian Desmond, who has reportedly been in touch with the Rockies in recent days, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

 

The union would make sense for both sides. Desmond hasn't found many suitors on the free agent market after famously turning down a long-term extension from the Nationals before the 2014 season. A qualifying offer has helped to chill his market.

 

Desmond struggled by his standards this past season, batting .233/.290/.384 with 19 homers and 13 steals. His output in both categories was his lowest in four seasons.

 

The Rockies have the No. 4 overall pick in this summer's MLB Draft, though, meaning they're protected from surrendering their first-round pick if they sign the 30-year-old. And they could have an immediate need depending on the availability of Jose Reyes.

 

Reyes is awaiting a trial for domestic abuse charges in Hawaii earlier this winter, and with MLB's new joint domestic-violence policy, he's likely staring at a suspension of some sort. His absence would create a vacancy at shortstop for the club, which can't seem to decide whether its coming or going in a talented NL West.

 

A one-year deal would seem to make sense, allowing Desmond to re-establish value in the best offensive environment in the league while giving the Rockies a starting-quality shortstop who could also see time as a corner outfielder when Reyes returns. Whether it happens remains to be seen.

 

O's Eyeing Fowler

 

Desmond isn't the only one looking for a new home.

 

Dexter Fowler, another player deemed good enough to garner a qualifying offer from his former team but who has heard crickets on the free agent market, has been in negotiations with the Orioles on a multi-year deal, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. The talks center on a two- or three-year deal paying Fowler $12-13 million per season, Olney reports.

 

It was reported last week that Fowler is the Orioles' "first choice," as Rosenthal put it, in their pursuit of another hitter ahead of camp. The team has already added Korean outfielder Hyun-soo Kim this offseason, but they enter spring with Jimmy Paredes penciled in as their starter in right field.

 

Fowler, an on-base artist who scored 102 runs atop the Cubs' lineup last year, would also fit in well in an Orioles lineup that boasts plenty of pop but had a cumulative .307 on-base percentage last season. Fowler batted .250/.346/.411 with 17 homers and 20 steals in 2015.

 

The contingency with Fowler has been the team's pursuit of starter Yovani Gallardo, another player who would cost a draft pick if signed. The thought has been that signing one would leave the team in a strange gray area between conceding a difficult AL East and going all-in to win in 2016. If the team is able to come to terms with Gallardo -- and Olney says they're confident they will -- then a Fowler agreement is likely to follow.

 

Hamilton Already Hurting

 

Being sidelined with an injury a week before players were even set to report may be a new low, even for Josh Hamilton.

 

Hamilton is fighting soreness in his left knee after an anti-inflammatory shot he received last month wore off.

 

“We’ll hit it with treatment and see if it responds to being active every day. Hopefully it does,” Hamilton, who arrived in Arizona on Sunday, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I’m not really worrying about it. I ran some bases today. It seems like the more I do on it, the better it feels.

 

“I think Doc said it was inflammation of the capsule. I’m wondering why, 2 1/2 weeks later, it started happening again. Is this going to be an ongoing thing? Is this not going to be an ongoing thing? I have those questions, too.”

 

It's certainly not good news for the 34-year-old, who has played just 139 games over the past two seasons. And the Rangers, with no shortage of depth in the outfield (Justin Ruggiano, Joey Gallo, James Jones, Ryan Rua), can afford to be overly cautious with Hamilton over the course of the season.

 

Hamilton's days as a fantasy star are long gone, and his days as being even a passable fantasy contributor are behind him as well. Drafters have taken note of that this spring, as he's currently being taken as the 81st outfielder by ADP.

 

Quick Hits: Michael Brantley, one of the biggest questions marks heading into the season after offseason shoulder surgery, had his first hitting session of the spring on Wednesday. It was also the first time Brantley has hit since undergoing the surgery, a procedure that is still likely to keep him sidelined until late April at the earliest ... Adrian Beltre's agent, Scott Boras, offered hope for an extension between his client and the team, saying the Rangers "want him there, and we're going to work on that." An agreement between the two sides could come together before Opening Day ... In the same breath, Boras said another of his clients, Stephen Strasburg, isn't talking about an extension with his team, the Nationals. Boras said an extension is "something we'll be discussing at the end of the year" ... It has been assumed since comments earlier this year, but it was recently confirmed that A.J. Ramos and Carter Capps will vie for the closer job with the Marlins this spring. Ramos is the incumbent after saving 32 games this past season, but Capps had a ridiculous 1.16 ERA with 58 strikeouts over 31 innings last year with the club ... The Rockies avoided arbitration with D.J. LeMahieu by agreeing to a two-year, $7.8 million contract. LeMahieu earned the raise after batting .301/.358/.388 with six home runs and 23 stolen bases as the starting second baseman this past season ... The Astros and Evan Gattis avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.4 million deal ... The Red Sox signed reliever Carlos Marmol to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Marmol, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2014, posted a 2.03 ERA and 48/27 K/BB ratio over 31 innings with the Indians' Triple-A affiliate last year ... Madison Bumgarner is open to an extension with the Giants but isn't in any hurry. The southpaw said his next deal will come in "due time" despite being the lowest-paid member of the Giants staff ... It's not clear who will start the first game of spring for the Tigers, but manager Brad Ausmus said Justin Verlander will be on the hill for the team's first regular season game. Barring the "unforeseen," as Ausmus put it, the Opening Day start will be Verlander's eighth of his career.