A lot of updates today on the two top shortstops available on the market, J.J. Hardy and Jason Bartlett, with the Pittsburgh Pirates involved with both players.
The J.J. Hardy sweepstakes seems to be down to the Baltimore Orioles and the Pirates. Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reports that both teams are still in, and that Cesar Izturis is an option for Baltimore if they miss out on Hardy. Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun mentioned that the Orioles and Twins were in serious negotiations, and that the negotiations included two minor league pitchers, with one of those being Brett Jacobson. However, Kelsie Smith of the Pioneer Press reports that a deal is unlikely to be reached today, and no players have been defined between the two teams. Brittany Ghiroli also mentions that the talks were never close today between the two teams.
As for Jacobson, he’s a relief pitching prospect who is 23 years old, throws in the 92-95 MPH range, and pitched out of high-A the last two seasons. If I’m looking for a comparable arm in the Pirates’ system, I would guess someone like Brian Leach, who projects more as a relief pitching prospect, throws 94-96 MPH, and pitched well in high-A in 2010 at the age of 24.
As for Bartlett, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Rays will definitely trade him, possibly tonight. Sherman says the Orioles are out, and it’s down to the Pirates and the San Diego Padres. Sherman also mentions that Bartlett wants to do an extension with a new team wherever he goes.
There were reports of trade talks between the Orioles and Rays earlier in the week, with the Rays asking for Nolan Reimold and Alfredo Simon. That seems like too much to ask for in exchange for Bartlett, who has been on the decline defensively and who isn’t strong offensively outside of a career year in 2009.
UPDATE 6:09 PM: Two updates on Bartlett. Rob Biertempfel tweets that the Pirates could have the inside track on Bartlett if the Rays drop the demand to include Joel Hanrahan in the swap.
Also, this tweet from the Padres’ MLB.com feed suggests the Rays and Padres could have a deal done today sending Cesar Ramos and Adam Russell to Tampa Bay for Bartlett. Ramos is a left handed starting prospect, and was the #26 prospect in the Padres’ system heading in to the 2009 season. He is coming off a year where he had a 3.28 ERA in 96 innings in AAA, along with a 5.9 K/9 and a 4.0 BB/9 ratio, with an unimpressive appearance in the majors. Russell is a big framed (6′ 8″, 250 pounds) right handed reliever who had a 4.88 ERA in 51.2 innings at AAA in 2010, along with an 8.9 K/9 and a 5.6 BB/9.
That return doesn’t seem like anything near the Reimold/Simon rumor, although there are indications that the Rays might want one of the top San Diego relievers.