• The Chicago Cubs are indeed receiving inquiries on center fielder Marlon Byrd, as first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times. But at this a point, a trade is unlikely.
Byrd, 34, would fit with Atlanta, Washington and Philadelphia, among other clubs. But the payrolls of most teams are set, and Byrd will earn $6.5 million this season.
The Cubs could include the bulk of that salary to get better prospects in a deal, but teams probably aren’t willing to give up significant prospects for Byrd, either.
A trade in July would be more realistic, enabling center-field prospect Brett Jackson to complete his development at Triple A.
Jackson has joked with Byrd this spring about pushing the veteran into retirement. There is little chance that happens, but Jackson probably will push Byrd out of Chicago.
• The Braves are looking for an outfielder, preferably right-handed, who could platoon in left while Martin Prado replaces Chipper Jones at third base.
The ability of the player to spell Michael Bourn in center would be a plus — and the cheaper the player is, the better.
FOXSports.com'ss Jon Paul Morosi reported that the Braves inquired on the San Diego Padres’ Wil Venable, a left-handed hitter, only to be told that he wasn’t available. Venable earns $1.475 million.
The Nationals’ Roger Bernardina, another left-handed hitter, also is the kind of player who would fit for the Braves, assuming the Nats were willing to trade him within the division.
Bernadina, who is in his final season before arbitration, is part of the Nats’ center-field mix. Rival officials, however, say that Bernadina is not a favorite of GM Mike Rizzo’s, and the Nats could platoon Rick Ankiel and Brett Carroll in center as they await the arrival of Bryce Harper.
• The Blue Jays aren’t drawing much trade interest in outfielder Travis Snider, whom the team recently demoted to Triple A. Rival clubs like Snider, but know the Jays are unlikely to move him when his value is down.
The Jays’ reluctance to give up on Snider, 24, is understandable for other reasons as well. First off, the Jays might need Snider at some point this season. Second, a talented young player can haunt a team that gives up on him too quickly.
Case in point: Brandon Phillips.
Phillips, like Snider, was rushed to the majors at a young age, then spent several years trying to establish himself with Cleveland. The Indians traded him when he was 25, and Phillips went on to become a star with the Cincinnati Reds.
• In picking the Arizona Diamondbacks to win the National League, I mentioned three young starting pitchers who could jump into the D-Backs’ rotation this season, if necessary.
Actually, there are five — not just right-hander Trevor Bauer and lefties Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin, but also lefty Wade Miley and righty Charles Brewer. Corbin, by the way, threw five no-hit innings against Colorado on Tuesday.
The D-Backs seek a long-term solution at catcher — Miguel Montero is a free agent after this season, and the team is thin at the position in the minors. Club officials have targeted 10 to 15 potential trade candidates, and eventually could use their relative surplus of starting pitching to acquire the catcher they need.
• Speaking of the D-Backs, they expect shortstop Stephen Drew to return from a broken right ankle by the middle of May, and possibly early in May.
Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald will cover the position in Drew’s absence; the D-Backs, who survived without Drew for nearly three months last season, including playoffs, figure they can endure another six weeks.
Third base also is an interesting position for the D-Backs. Ryan Roberts and Geoff Blum will open the season in a platoon, but the D-Backs have a long-term solution, Matt Davidson, who will open at Class AA and likely is a year away.
• And finally, new Yankees designated hitter Raul Ibanez said that Alex Rodriguez has walloped two of the hardest-hit balls that he has ever seen this spring.
The first was an opposite-field homer off the Phillies’ Roy Halladay on the first pitch A-Rod saw in the Grapefruit League. The second was a homer to left off the Nationals’ Craig Stammen.
“It almost looks like the field is too small for him,” said Ibanez, who previously was teammates with Rodriguez in Seattle from 1996 to 2000.
Rodriguez has not hit another homer this spring, but he entered Tuesday night batting .294/.415/.559 in 40 plate appearances.
Of course, A-Rod looked great a year ago at this time as well, but he eventually required surgery on his right knee and played in only 99 games.
— Ken Rosenthal