MLB roundup: Cespedes seeking extension, Zimmer could pitch in majors this year

Ezra Shaw

News and notes from around baseball on Saturday.

Cespedes seeking extension

Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes says he would like to spend his whole career with Oakland and hopes to sign a contract extension, reports John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Cespedes' words came after the Athletics locked up outfielder Coco Crisp to a two-year extension on Friday.

Cespedes, 28, still has two years remaining on the four-year, $36 million deal he signed prior to the 2012 season as a Cuban defector. He is still owed another $21 million on that original deal. After an excellent rookie season that saw him post an .861 OPS and finish 10th in American League MVP voting, Cespedes dropped off a bit in his sophomore year; he hit just .240/.294/.442, though he still slugged 26 home runs.

Even if his OBP does not recover much going forward, Cespedes' power could still make him a very valuable player à la Mark Trumbo. It would likely take a large deal to keep him in Oakland long-term, so it remains to be seen whether the Athletics will have the funds to pay their outfielder.

Zimmer could pitch in majors this season

The Kansas City Royals' plans for top pitching prospect Kyle Zimmer could involve him pitching for the major league club later in the season, reports Andy McCollough of the Kansas City Star.

Zimmer, the fifth overall selection of the 2012 MLB draft, reached Double-A for the first time in 2013 as he made four starts for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. He struggled at times last year with a 4.32 ERA, including a 4.82 mark in 18 starts for High-A. He also suffered through a bout of biceps tendinitis.

The Royals' current plan has him "peaking" mid-season in the minors, perhaps starting the season in Double-A and being called up to Triple-A Omaha when he's ready. They will then let him loose and hope that he could help the major league squad in a potential playoff push during the final month or so of the 2014 season.

Zimmer was ranked the 24th-best prospect in the game by Baseball America last month.

Cruz signing with Mariners inevitable?

Sources from within baseball believe that it is only a matter of time before the Seattle Mariners sign free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz, reports Buster Olney of ESPN.

Cruz has been linked to the Mariners for much of the offseason as the outfielder has struggled to find a trade partner. Though signing Cruz would require the team to forfeit a draft pick, they would only have to give up their 2014 second-rounder. Seattle already lost their first-round pick due to their signing of Robinson Cano.

At the beginning of the offseason, Cruz had reportedly been looking for a four-year deal worth around $75 million, a number no team appeared likely to offer. Though he had still sought a big contract recently, it seems likely he may have relented on his valuation of himself. At the same time, the Mariners are also reportedly willing to offer him multiple years and are "all-in" on Cruz.

With a young and talented pitching staff, the Mariners have spent big this offseason, mostly on Cano. They also acquired Logan Morrison from the Miami Marlins and signed Corey Hart. Bringing in Cruz would be one more big bat in the middle of the order and, if everything goes right, could put the team in contention in the AL West.

Cruz hit .266/.327/.506 with 27 home runs while playing in just 109 games for the Texas Rangers in 2013 due to a 50-game suspension for his relation to Biogenesis.

Division hurting Orioles' chances at Burnett?

After losing out on Bronson Arroyo, the Baltimore Orioles may also have troubles signing A.J. Burnett in part due to being in the American League, reports Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun.

Burnett would reportedly prefer to play in the National League after coming back for one more season. The Pittsburgh Pirates still remain a top option, while the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals could also be in play if he decides he would rather be near his home in Monkton, Maryland.

Burnett may also not want to head back to the AL East after struggling in his last stint in the division with the New York Yankees. He spent six years in the division between the Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays, but never found as much success as when he was with the Pirates or Marlins in the NL.

Over 30 starts for Pittsburgh last year, Burnett posted a 3.30 ERA while leading the league with 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

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