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NL Notes: Brewers, Pirates, Diamondbacks [2/19/2017 GMT]

Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun revealed Saturday that he made one change to his no-trade clause during the offseason, though he didn’t offer details, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The only teams to which Braun couldn’t block a trade in 2016 were the Angels, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Marlins and Padres. He nearly ended up with the Dodgers last August, of course, but the Brewers haven’t engaged in serious talks regarding Braun with LA or any other club since, according to Haudricourt. If the Brewers don’t deal Braun by May 24, he’ll gain 10-and-5 rights and have the ability to prevent Milwaukee from sending him to any of the majors’ other 29 teams. Nevertheless, the Brewers feel no urgency to move the longtime franchise cornerstone anytime soon. “He’s signed for four more years, and a lot of these players have a chance to be here for the same period of time, so this group is going to be together and he’s going to be one of them,” declared manager Craig Counsell. The 33-year-old Braun is still due $76MM, including a $4MM buyout in 2021.

More from the National League:

  • The myriad trade rumors centering on Pirates right fielder Andrew McCutchen during the winter were “more smoke than fire,” general manager Neal Huntington informed Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Even if that’s true, Stark is skeptical that the 30-year-old McCutchen will finish 2017 in a Pirates uniform. Huntington, though, hasn’t ruled out retaining the five-time All-Star until at least the expiration of his contract after the 2018 season. “Occasionally, we’ve traded a player like (Neil) Walker or (Mark) Melancon,” Huntington said. “So that’s become the narrative, that we’re always going to trade those players before their contract expires. But that’s just not the case.” McCutchen, for his part, felt “disrespected” at certain times during a down 2016, sources told Stark, but Huntington “would love him to be a Pirate for the rest of his life.” However, Huntington knows that finding “financial common ground” with the former center fielder will be challenging.
  • With a new front office in place, “there’s a sense of urgency” for the Diamondbacks to bounce back from a disastrous 2016 and break their five-year playoff drought, center fielder A.J. Pollock told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Pollock, who missed nearly all of 2016 after fracturing his right elbow April 1, has never reached the postseason and could be running out of chances to accomplish that feat with the D-backs. The 29-year-old is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2018 campaign, which would give him a max of two more seasons to get to the playoffs in Arizona if the team doesn’t re-sign him. He realizes, too, that GM Mike Hazen could decide to rebuild during that period if the club doesn’t show significant improvement this year. “You do think about it,” Pollock admitted. “A lot of guys – we’re talking about it. I think the best record I’ve been a part of on this team is 81-81. We really, really want to do well. We’ve got a lot of work to do, obviously.”
  • Jung Ho Kang’s legal troubles might affect how the Pirates deploy second baseman Josh Harrison this year, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Harrison could go from the team’s top option at the keystone back to a utility role, which he had filled prior to last season, if Kang misses notable time on account of his third DUI arrest. Harrison is open to shifting around the diamond, telling Biertempfel: “Regardless of where I played last year, certain instances might call for me (to move). Who would I be to say, ‘No, I won’t go (to third)?'” Regarding Harrison, manager Clint Hurdle commented that there’s a “buy-in (to move) that’s real with him. I do think his versatility can help him.” Harrison batted a meager .283/.311/.388 last season, though the torn thumb ligament he suffered in 2015 may have contributed to his drop-off. “If it was cold or if I didn’t hit a ball right, just rolling over that joint sometimes would be painful enough to where I would know that it was still there,” said Harrison, who’s now healthy.
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