• The recent four-player Yankees-Mariners trade likely will be debated for years.
One good sign for the Mariners: Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers, who worked for the Yankees in 2010, is a fan of right-hander Hector Noesi, who went to the Mariners with catcher Jesus Montero for righty Michael Pineda and minor-league righty Jose Campos.
Towers, renowned for his pitching expertise, asked for Noesi as part of a trade package when he spoke with the Yankees about outfielder Justin Upton after the ’10 season, according to a rival executive.
• The obvious benefit of the Nationals’ failure to sign free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder is that it allows the team to retain positional flexibility, particularly in center field.
A long-term deal for Fielder eventually might have forced the Nats to use an outfield of Michael Morse in left, Jayson Werth in center and Bryce Harper in right. Without Fielder, they can move Morse to first after Adam LaRoche plays out his contract this season and pursue a legitimate center fielder.
Michael Bourn, Shane Victorino and B.J. Upton are eligible for free agency next offseason, and the Nats also are high on three of their center-field prospects – Brian Goodwin, Michael Taylor and Eury Perez.
None, though, has yet to play above Class A.
Goodwin, the 34th overall pick in last year’s draft, is the team’s fifth-ranked prospect, according to Baseball America. Taylor, who draws comparisons to Mike Cameron, took perhaps the biggest jump of any player in the system last season. Perez is a speedster with offensive potential.
• As I reported on Twitter earlier this week, the Cubs, Marlins and Tigers are the three clubs scouting Cuban outfielder Yoennis Cespedes most closely in the Dominican.
Cespedes finally hit the open market Wednesday. The bidding for him is certain to be intense, if for no other reason than the new spending limits on international amateur talent will limit clubs in most foreign markets. (Cuban defectors and Asian players who are older than 23 and have more than five years professional experience will not be subject to the restrictions.)
Starting with the 2012-13 signing season, each club will be allocated a signing-bonus pool. The pools will be equal in 2012-13, then will vary based on reverse order of winning percentage thereafter. Clubs that exceed their respective limits will be subject to penalties.
• Remember Kosuke Fukudome?
He remains a free agent, and the Brewers showed interest in him before paying a combined $4.75 million for Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoiki — a $2.5 million posting fee and a two-year, $2.25 million contract.
Fukudome, who had a combined .712 OPS last season for the Cubs and Indians, wants to remain in the majors, according to a source with knowledge of his thinking. Some executives, however, believe he may end up back in Japan.
• Speaking of Japanese players, Rangers right-hander Koji Uehara had such a positive experience in Baltimore, he recommended the Orioles to the two free-agent lefties the team signed out of the Japanese league, Tsuyoshi Wada and Wei-Yin Chen, according to a major-league source.
Uehara invoked his limited no-trade protection to reject a deal to the Blue Jays this week, sources say, prompting the Jays to sign free-agent righty Francisco Cordero to a one-year, $4.5 million contract.
A trade back to the Orioles is a possibility.
• The Red Sox are talking to free-agent right-hander Edwin Jackson, who could be open to a one-year deal.
Two years ago, agent Scott Boras negotiated such a “pillow” contract with the Red Sox for another of his clients, third baseman Adrian Beltre.
One executive, however, points out that the AL East offers no such soft landing for a starting pitcher. If Jackson signs for one year, he might be better off in the NL, where he could produce better numbers before going back into the open market.
— Ken Rosenthal