12/06/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 12/07/2018 10:32
It's Hot Stove season, and MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest free agent and trade rumors right here.
No fewer than 14 teams have shown interest in Realmuto
Dec. 7: While the clubs that seemingly have had the most traction in the J.T. Realmutosweepstakes are housed within the Marlins' division, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports in an article for Fancred Sportsthat at least 14 teams have shown interest in the catcher. Per Heyman, the 14 teams include three from the National League West and every NL East club besides the Nationals.
Washington pursued Realmuto last offseason, but the club balked at Miami's asking price and appears to have moved on, acquiring veteran catchers Kurt Suzukiand Yan Gomesin recent weeks. The Marlins are more amenable to moving Realmuto now, after his agent confirmed the catcher won't be signing an extension. '[The Nationals] were a year too early,' a Marlins source told Heyman.
The Mets have recently increased their pursuit, and although New York's already thin farm system lost touted prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to the Mariners in the Robinson Cano-Edwin Diazdeal, the Marlins like Brandon Nimmo, Michael Confortoand Amed Rosario. The Mets may be willing to deal either Nimmo or Conforto in a trade for Realmuto, but Heyman notes the club seems to be resistant on Rosario.
On Thursday, MLB.com's David Adler broke downwhy Realmuto and the Mets are an ideal match, even if it means giving up one or more of the aforementioned assets for the backstop, who is under control for two more seasons.
The three NL West teams Heyman mentioned include the Dodgers, who need a catcher after free agent Yasmani Grandaldeclined a qualifying offer. Los Angeles can offer Miami the young, left-handed-hitting outfielders it seeks as well as top catching prospect Keibert Ruiz. The Rockies and the Giants are the other two. San Francisco has Buster Posey behind the plate, but with the 31-year-old coming off major right hip surgery, it's possible the Giants could soon look to move him to first base.
The Astros have been considered a potential landing spot, but as Heyman points out, their need for a catcher isn't as great after they signed Robinson Chirinosto a one-year contract.
As of late Tuesday, no team was close to trading for Realmuto, but Heyman expects the race to intensify as the Winter Meetings get underway Monday.
Rays have their eye on Morton
Dec. 7: As the Rays look to upgrade their pitching staff following their surprise 90-win season in 2018, Charlie Mortonmight fit the bill.
Tampa Bay is interested in Morton and has had initial conversations with the free-agent right-hander, according to a report from the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkinon Friday.
Morton has had a career resurgence with the Astros over the last two seasons. The 35-year-old went 15-3 with a 3.13 ERA in 30 starts for Houston in 2018, with a career-high 201 strikeouts in 167 innings, although he also battled a right shoulder issue late in the season. Morton could slot in nicely behind Cy Young winner Blake Snellin the Rays' rotation, where Tampa Bay doesn't have a lot of depth, making starting pitching a key area of need this offseason.
The Rays prefer to sign a pitcher to a short-term deal, so Morton could be a good match, as he has suggested he might only want to pitch another few years. There will be competition for his services, though, especially with Patrick Corbinand Nathan Eovaldinow off the market. The Astros, for one, are interested in a reunion with Morton and reportedly made him an offer earlier in the offseason.
Do Phillies prefer Harper or Machado?
Dec. 7: Bryce Harperor Manny Machado? Manny Machado or Bryce Harper? The Phillies, with all the money they have to spend this offseason, are in on one or the other -- maybe even both. While they recently traded for infielder Jean Segurafrom the Mariners, they even more recently missed out on splurging on lefty Patrick Corbin, so the possibility that they could land Harper and/or Machado likely only increased.
But if forced to choose between the two superstars of this free-agent market, does the club have a preference? MLB.com's Todd Zolecki weighs exactly that question. His answer?
'There are indications Philadelphia prefers [Machado] over Harper. Now, Machado is not an iconic player like Harper. He is not as accomplished a hitter as Harper. But he is one of the game's greatest talents and he also plays a premium position. It is why Machado has a career 33.8 WAR, while Harper has a career 27.4 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference. If the Phils can convince Machado to play third base -- his best position -- they will have one of the best left sides of the infield in baseball for years. Oh, Machado could come at a lower price than Harper, too.'
MLB Network insider Jon Heyman is hearing otherwise, though, writingThursday for Fancred Sports that Harper 'is believed to be their top target.' However, a confidant of Harper thinks the outfielder is 'lukewarm on Philly, as a city, anyway.'
If that's the case, then perhaps Machado is the more likely option, whether the Phillies prefer Harper or not.
Happ to become next big Hot Stove pitching target?
Dec. 6: News of Nathan Eovaldi returning to the Red Sox means yet another big-name, high-upside starting pitcher is off the free-agent market only two days after Patrick Corbin agreed to a deal with the Nationals. So ... who's next?
It appears a lot of attention will be shifting toward lefty J.A. Happ, who could be the Yankees' top target now that they've lost out on both Corbin and Eovaldi, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi.
MLB Network insider Jon Heyman also reports that Happ looks like a likely candidate for New York to address its rotation, pointing out that the Yankees -- who reportedly wouldn't offer a sixth year to Corbin -- also didn't want to go beyond three years in its offer to Eovaldi.
There's more buzz surrounding Happ in the wake of Eovaldi's deal, SNY's Andy Martino notes, pointing out the lefty's market indeed is 'intensifying' and one to 'keep an eye on.'
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has been locked in on improving the club's rotation all offseason, having re-signed CC Sabathiaand trading for fellow lefty James Paxtonfrom the Mariners. The team is familiar with Happ, of course, after he pitched very well for New York (7-0, 2.69 ERA, 1.05 WHIP in 11 starts) following his July acquisition from the Blue Jays.
Although he's 36 years old, that late-season performance helped Happ surge toward the open marketand should bring him a three-year deal. That might be more in line with what the Yankees are aiming for when it comes to free-agent pitchers, anyway.
The Phillies also have shown interestin Happ, especially after falling short in their pursuit of Corbin, and the Angels, Brewers and Mets are among other clubs that could be fits for the southpaw.
Indians 'increasingly motivated' to move Kluber or Bauer
Dec. 6: The starting pitching market is moving fast and furious now that top-of-the-line free agents Patrick Corbin (Nationals) and Nathan Eovaldi (Red Sox) have found homes. With the Winter Meetings starting up Monday, well, expect the chase for arms to shift from a sprint to a full-on rat race. And one team, in particular, might be at the center of it all.
The Indians, who have been rumored all offseason to be listening to offers on their top-of-the-rotation pitchers Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauerand Carlos Carrasco, more or less made it obvious that the latter of that trio isn't going anywhere -- not after the righty inked a team-friendly extension that could keep him under club control through the 2023 season.
But what about Kluber -- a 32-year-old two-time AL Cy Young Award winner who can be under control through 2021 at around $50 million -- and Bauer -- a 27-year-old who isn't due for free agency until after '20 and is coming off a breakout year in which he had a 2.21 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP and an 11.3 K/9 rate?
It sounds like the Indians are 'increasingly motivated' to make a move, according to Yahoo's Jeff Passan.
MLB Network insider Joel Sherman is hearing much the same, that Cleveland now will 'be focused on moving' Kluber or Bauer.
It's unlikely, however, the Indians would deal both. The small-market franchise's reason for exploring a trade in the first place is primarily related to finances and payroll, but the team enters 2019 as the three-time reigning AL Central champs -- and should be in line for a fourth straight title, given the rebuilding state of the Twins, Royals, White Sox and Tigers.
So what might a blockbuster for Kluber or Bauer look like? MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince has some ideas, proposing five potential swapscentered around the Indians' biggest needs -- namely outfielders and younger, cheaper pitchers to help Cleveland stay competitive well into the future.
Zack Meisel of The Athletic thinks the Tribe could be the most interesting club(subscription required) to keep tabs on at the upcoming Winter Meetings. 'Those teams falling short in the financial arms race,' Meisel writes, alluding to the clubs who missed out on Corbin and Eovaldi, 'should eventually shift their focus to the Indians,' who 'will field offers for their All-Star hurlers.'
In short, be ready for a lot -- like, a lot -- of rumors surrounding Kluber and Bauer between now and when teams head home from Las Vegas next week. By then, the arms race could have kicked into even a higher gear.
Hamilton could be on Royals' radar
Dec. 6: Former Reds speedster Billy Hamiltonjoined the free-agent market last week when he was non-tendered, and could be on the Royals' radar.
MLB.com's Jeffrey Flanagan suggests Hamilton's skill set could play better at the spacious Kauffman Stadium and notes how Royals general manager Dayton Moore values defense, making Hamilton a potential fit in Kansas City.
Rustin Dodd of The Athletic also reported the Royals are 'looking hard' at Hamilton, a player they've looked into trading for while he was in Cincinnati.
Currently, the Royals' top in-house options in center field are Brett Phillipsand Brian Goodwin, but the role is an open competition heading into spring.
Hamilton's production dipped in 2018 as he posted just a .299 on-base percentage, but he topped 50 steals in four straight seasons from 2014-17 and provides elite playmaking on defense.
Morrow injury increases Cubs need for relievers
Dec. 6: The Cubs could be without Brandon Morrowto begin next season. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein revealed Thursday that Morrow underwent an arthroscopic debridement on his throwing elbow on Nov. 6, and his availability for Opening Day is in jeopardy.
'He's feeling really good one month post-op,' Epstein said. 'Feb. 6 is sort of the target date for him to start throwing. That probably doesn't give him enough time to be fully 100 percent and ready Opening Day, but we think shortly thereafter.'
Chicago was already seeking additional relievers this offseason, and Morrow's injury only increases that need.
'It kind of underscores the need for depth and late-game options early in the year,' Epstein said. 'For him, I think it'll be a positive. It'll mean that we've completely addressed the issues that were bothering him last year instead of waiting for him to come back to make sure. And then also it could really help him be strong late in the season as well.' More >
Veteran relief on Marlins' shopping list
Dec. 6: The Marlins enter the Winter Meetings with all eyes on Realmuto, but he's not the only item on Miami's to-do list. The club also hopes to improve its bullpen depth.
MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reported Thursdaythat the Marlins are exploring the market for at least one veteran reliever, ideally one with late-inning experience but not necessarily a closer.
Frisaro named Jeurys Familia, Jake Diekman, Adam Warrenand Kelvin Herreraas possibilities.
'We've done that in the past, where that veteran has some history closing games,' Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. 'I think when you're talking about that veteran stabilizer in that role, it's someone who has pitched in leverage situations. Someone who is not necessarily a closer, but someone who has pitched in high-leverage situations.'
Are Red Sox out on Kimbrel?
Dec. 6: News that Boston is bringing backright-hander Nathan Eovaldi impacts the market for Craig Kimbrel, because the Red Sox also had been lined up for a possible reunion with the All-Star closer. That may no longer be the case.
MLB.com's Ian Browne explores whether the Red Sox faced an either-or scenariowith Kimbrel and Eovaldi this offseason.
'Of course, the Red Sox would love to have Kimbrel back, but it sounds like the cost could be prohibitive,' Browne writes. 'I just don't think the Red Sox have the budget for both Eovaldi and Kimbrel. They are likely going to have to pick one or the other. Don't forget that there are some star players on the team who are going to need to be paid within the next year or two if Boston wants to keep them, including Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, Xander Bogaertsand possibly J.D. Martinez. By signing both Kimbrel and Eovaldi, you wouldn't be leaving yourself much financial flexibility going forward.'
Kimbrel's free agency already has become a fascinating case, as many believe he is holding up the reliever marketas MassLive.com's Chris Cotillo notes -- by being the top available late-inning arm and by reportedly floating an asking price of a six-year deal. 'Kimbrel is unquestionably the top reliever this winter and will land the largest contract,' Cotillo writes. 'Even if he doesn't land the six-year deal he reportedly desires, he's drawing strong interest, with teams like the Phillies, Braves and Cardinals.'
Is Keuchel now the top free-agent starter?
Dec. 6: The Red Sox worked fast to reunite with Nathan Eovaldi, landing the righty with a four-year dealonly two days after the Nationals gave a reported $140 million over six yearsto lefty Patrick Corbin. Those two represented arguably the top free-agent starting pitchers this offseason.
Does that make Dallas Keuchel-- a reliable, durable, in-his prime southpaw -- the clear No. 1 name among starters on the open market?
The 30-year-old does have an impressive resume, starting with his 2015 AL Cy Young Award. Keuchel also sports a 3.28 ERA over his past five seasons, which is 16th best in baseball over that span (minimum 500 innings pitched). His 950 1/3 frames since '14 also represent the 13th most in MLB.
While Keuchel's repertoire isn't overwhelming -- he's more of a command pitcher who relies on his sinker to get grounders and keep the ball in the park -- his age, performance and experience, including a 3.31 ERA over 51 2/3 postseason innings in his career, suggest he's now ranked No. 1 in the free-agent market for starters.
There's a difference, however, between being considered the top name and being the top target. Other intriguing names in the mix include fellow vets J.A. Happ and Charlie Morton, who have pitched extremely well the past couple of seasons and -- here's the key factor -- should cost less in terms of dollars and years than Keuchel. Same goes for Japanese lefty Yusei Kikuchi, who was posted by the Seibu Lions earlier this weekand is considered an intriguing arm with mid-rotation potential.
With Corbin and Eovaldi off the board, expect Keuchel's name to start getting some buzz heading into the Winter Meetings this weekend. The Reds, in particular, have been after Keuchel, as MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports.
The lefty also could be a fit for the Angels as well as the Yankees and Phillies, both of whom have money to spend and rotations to upgrade after missing out on Corbin and Eovaldi.
Market for 2Bs could start to move soon
Dec. 6: Ready for some musical chairs among free-agent second basemen? It could be on the way with news that Jonathan Schoop, who was non-tendered by the Brewers earlier this offseason, is finalizing a one-year pact with the Twins, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.
Only 27 years old, Schoop looked like a top-of-the-line second baseman this time last year, when he was coming off a 2017 in which he smashed 32 homers and produced an .841 OPS. His 2018, however, was a disappointment, as he struggled with an oblique strain in April and May then saw his homers dip to 21 and OPS plummet to .682 while splitting the year between Baltimore and Milwaukee.
The Twins had been linked to others at the position, including Jed Lowrieand DJ LeMahieu, so this deal likely takes Minnesota out of the picture in that regard.
Yahoo's Jeff Passan speculates that a deep market for second basemen -- one which features Lowrie, LeMahieu, Daniel Murphyand Brian Dozier, among others -- could start to take shape now that Schoop is off the board.
One other bit to take away from Passan's note above is that Lowrie is seeking a multi-year deal. That seems like a good possibility given his production and durability the past two seasons, but with Lowrie's age (34) and a wealth of other options at the position, he may have to work quickly to get such a deal done, especially if Lowrie wants to find a home with a contender at this stage of his career.
Red Sox finalize deal with Eovaldi
Dec. 6: Talks between the Red Sox and Nathan Eovaldi intensified over the past 24 hours, so much so that the two sides have finalized a four-year contract through the 2022 season.
MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reports that the contract is for $68 million. That's quite a payday for Eovaldi, who missed all of 2017 recovering from the second Tommy John surgery in his career before returning to full health and form this past season.
Eovaldi was acquired by the Red Sox in July of last season. He went 3-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 12 regular-season appearances (11 starts), then wowed on the postseason stage, posting a 1.61 ERA in six games (two starts).
Robert Murray of The Athletic had reported on the accelertated negotiations Wednesday, the same day MLB Network insider Jon Heyman had heard a four-year deal worth around $17 million a year was being discussed. An executive from a club believed to be in on Eovaldi told Feinsand on Wednesday that Boston was closing in on a deal, adding that 'the market is really just the Red Sox at this point.'
With Eovaldi returning to the Red Sox, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski will be able to focus at next week's Winter Meetings on fortifying a bullpen that lost Craig Kimbreland key setup man Joe Kellyto free agency.
Are Reds in on Pollock for CF?
Dec. 6: The Reds made it clear earlier this offseason that they have money to spend and are serious players for some of the major free-agent starting pitchers on the market. But the club's recent decision to non-tender Billy Hamilton could change the front office's approach a bit, as there's now a need in center field, too.
The Reds, who have long been linked to starter Dallas Keuchel, remain interested in the lefty, but they're also eyeing A.J. Pollockas a possible fit in center, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports.
In discussing the plans for handling the position, Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams recently saidone option would be to 'pay up for a center fielder and just try to get the complete package you want.'
The top center fielder in free agency, Pollock has shown flashes of an All-Star caliber player both offensively and defensively, but has spent much of his career on the disabled list. Pollock, who turned 31 on Dec. 5, hit .257/.316/.484 with 21 home runs and 13 steals for the D-backs last season, though prior to a mid-May injury, he was slashing .293/.349/.620 with 11 homers and nine steals over his first 40 games of the season.
Dodgers have checked on Abreu, but is he available?
Dec. 6: One big bat was on the move Wednesday with the D-backs sending Paul Goldschmidtto St. Louis, and another emerged in Hot Stove rumors soon after.
The Dodgers reportedly have inquired about White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, according to NBC LA's Michael Duarte.
It's unclear if Chicago plans to move the 31-year-old slugger, who will be a free agent after next season. General manager Rick Hahn told MLB.com's Scott Merkin that figuring out how Abreu fits with the rebuilding franchise is an 'ongoing process' -- but that going into the final year of his contract doesn't mean Abreu can't be a part of the team's future.
Abreu is up for arbitration this winter after earning $13 million in 2018. He's coming off a down year in which he posted career-low marks in batting average (.265), on-base percentage (.325), slugging (.473), home runs (22) and RBIs (78). He was limited to 128 games, missing time due to a procedure to relieve testicular torsion and for an unrelated infection in his thigh, but still made the American League All-Star team and won his second Silver Slugger Award last month.
Will Mariners trade Haniger next?
Dec. 6: The Mariners have traded James Paxton, Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Jean Segura, Mike Zunino, Alex Colomeand others during a whirlwind offseason, and it's fair to wonder if Mitch Hanigeris next.
However, MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reports in an article for The Athletic(subscription required) that the bar for what it would take to land Haniger is even higher than it was for Diaz.
Per Rosenthal's story, Seattle views Haniger as one of the five best corner outfielders in the game, and the club is unlikely to attach the 27-year-old to Kyle Seageras a way to move Seager's contract like it did with Cano and Diaz.
Seager is owed $56 million over the next three years, and his $15 million club option for 2022 becomes a player option if he's traded. As a result, the return for a Seager-Haniger package would likely be much less impressive than one for Haniger alone.
According to assistant general manager Jeff Kingston, the Mariners expect to keep Haniger for 2019 and beyond.
'I don't think we have any plans of moving Mitch,' Kingston said Tuesday on MLB Network Radio. 'He fits for us now, he fits for us moving forward. I think he's somebody that we want to build around.'