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It’s Hot Stove season in baseball, meaning the offseason rumors are flying around. We’ll give you all the signings, trades and rumors you need to know in this post. Keep coming back every day.
Hunter Pence reunites with Giants
San Francisco fan-favorite Hunter Pence is reportedly returning to the Giants on a free-agent deal, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
This makes official a rumor that started early Friday when a fan spotted Pence in an airport on his way to San Francisco, and passed along word to NBC Sports’ Craig Calcaterra. The terms of Pence’s deal, at the moment, aren’t known.
Pence, 36, played in S.F. from 2012 and 2018 and was among the leaders of two championship teams. He left after 2018 when the Giants started to rebuild. He rebuilt too, making over his swing and having an All-Star season in 2019 with the Texas Rangers.
Pence doesn’t figure to make or break the Giants’ season, but the fans love him. On a team that won’t be terribly exciting for its fans, that counts for something.
Feb. 3: Mookie Betts trade reportedly ‘imminent’
The eyes of baseball this week are fixed on the Boston Red Sox and their star outfielder Mookie Betts, who most in the industry believe will be traded before spring training starts in two weeks. One report out of San Diego even has the Betts trade “imminent,” with the Los Angeles Dodgers as favorites and San Diego Padres involved too.
Kevin Acee, who covers the Padres for the San Diego Union-Tribune, reported Monday:
Multiple people close to situation believe resolution on Mookie Betts trade is imminent. (Perspective: some of same people believed similarly last week.) FWIW, feeling now is it happens today/tomorrow.
If favorite exists, it seems to be #Dodgers. But #Padres still engaged.
— Kevin Acee (@sdutKevinAcee) February 3, 2020
Both the Dodgers and the Red Sox have a wealth of prospects from which to deal. The Red Sox will certainly require a few of them for the services of Betts, a former MVP and perennial All-Star who is set to hit free agency after this season.
A couple of differences in the two clubs might be if one of them is willing to take on David Price’s contract in the deal, and if so, how much money they’d want in return from Boston; or if the Padres are firm on including Wil Myers in their end of a deal and if the Red Sox will absorb his contract. Both of these things could make the Dodgers a better fit.
It’s not just Acee saying a Betts trade is happening this week. Ken Rosenthal said the same thing on MLB Network on Monday morning. He said it’s just a matter of when it happens and where Betts go.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) February 3, 2020
Jan. 31: Reds add ex-Cubs reliever Pedro Strop
The moves aren’t stopping for the Cincinnati Reds and their bold offseason.
After already signing Nick Castellanos, Wade Miley and Mike Moustakas, the Reds have now reportedly grabbed ex-Chicago Cubs reliever Pedro Strop on a one-year deal. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal has the news:
Source confirms: Free-agent reliever Pedro Strop in agreement with #Reds on one-year, $1.825M contract. Performance bonuses can raise total value to $3.5M. Represented by Movement Management Group. First reported: @hgomez27.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 30, 2020
Strop, 34, has been with the Cubs for seven years. He’d been a versatile bullpen option, but has also been much better in some years than others. His ERA ballooned to 4.97 last season, but was 2.26 in 2018.
The Reds’ aggressive offseason now extends to their bullpen. They have closer Raisel Iglesias locked in, but Strop should join Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett and Robert Stephenson on the list of Reds’ late-inning options.
Jan. 29: Scott Kazmir attempts comeback
According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, three-time All-Star Scott Kazmir is launching a comeback bid after being absent from MLB for three full seasons.
It's the second time the veteran left-hander has attempted a comeback. His first bid was a big success.
After injuries and ineffectiveness forced Kazmir out of MLB in 2012, he returned one year later and posted three straight quality seasons. Kazmir was so good, he received a three-year, $48 million deal from the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 2016 season. Unfortunately, neck and hip injuries prevented him from fulfilling the contract.
Kazmir, 36, retweeted a video of a recent workout. He says he’s still working to build arm strength. He previously appeared in parts of 12 MLB seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics and lastly the Dodgers. He owns a 4.01 ERA in 1689 2/3 career innings.
Pablo Sandoval staying with Giants
The San Francisco Giants have reached a deal to keep third baseman Pablo Sandoval with the organization. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports it will be a minor-league contract worth $2 million if Sandoval makes the team. The contract includes $750,000 in incentives.
The 33-year-old veteran just completed a five-year, $95 million contract that proved to be a disaster for the Boston Red Sox. He was cut loose by Boston halfway through the deal, though the Red Sox still paid the majority of it. Sandoval played the second half with San Francisco, which is where his career began.
Though his best days appear to be well behind him, Sandoval did post a respectable .268/.313/.507 batting line in 2019. The question now is how healthy he'll be coming off Tommy John surgery in September.
Jan. 28: Mitch Moreland to re-sign with Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox have agreed to re-sign first baseman Mitch Moreland on a one-year deal, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Tuesday. The 34-year-old will receive $2.5 million in 2020. The contract includes a $3 million club option with a $500,000 buyout for 2021.
Moreland spent the first seven years of his MLB career with the Texas Rangers before joining the Red Sox in 2017. Over three seasons in Boston, he's posted a .247/.326/.455 batting line.
Moreland’s best all-around season arguably came in 2017, when he hit 22 homers to go along with a career-high 34 doubles. His most memorable came in 2018, when he earned his lone All-Star selection and contributed to Boston's championship run with a critical three-run pinch-hit home run in Game 4 of the World Series.
The veteran will continue splitting time at first base. He won a Gold Glove there in 2016.
Greg Holland returns to Royals
Three-time All-Star closer Greg Holland will return to the Kansas City Royals, MLB.com's Jeffrey Flanagan reported Tuesday. It's a minor-league agreement that will pay $1.25 million if Holland makes the MLB roster out of spring training.
Holland, 34, was the anchor of Kansas City's bullpen to begin the decade, but missed their run to the World Series title in 2015 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. In six seasons with the Royals, Holland recorded 145 saves.
In 2017, Holland signed with the Colorado Rockies. He racked up an NL-leading 41 saves and earned his third All-Star selection. Since then, Holland has been up and down in respective stints with the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals, posting a 4.61 ERA in 96 appearances. Perhaps a return to KC will get him back on track.
Cubs add former All-Star reliever Jeremy Jeffress
The Chicago Cubs have reportedly bolstered their bullpen with a reliever they know well.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Cubs have signed ex-Milwaukee Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress to a one-year deal that could be a bargain if the reliever returns to All-Star form. He spent the last two years in Milwaukee, one of the Cubs’ division rivals, and also pitched for the Brewers from 2014-16.
Reliever Jeremy Jeffress and the Chicago Cubs are in agreement on a one-year, $850,000 major league contract, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN. Jeffress can earn an additional $200,000 based on games pitched.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 28, 2020
Jeffress, a 32-year-old right-hander, has been up-and-down for a lot of his career — not uncommon for relief pitchers. At his best, he’s an All-Star caliber bullpen arm. In 2018, for example, he had a 1.29 ERA for the Brewers across 76.2 innings. Last year, he had a 5.02 ERA across 52 inning
Jan. 26: Marlins land former All-Star
The Miami Marlins and former All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler agreed to a one-year deal, $3 million contract, ESPN's Jesse Rogers reported Saturday night. The deal includes a $4 million team option for 2021 with a $250K buyout.
Kintzler, 35, is expected to step in as Miami’s primary closer. He saved 28 games for the Minnesota Twins in 2017, which was his lone All-Star season. He was excellent for the Chicago Cubs in a middle relief role last season, posting a 2.68 ERA in 57 innings.
Jan. 25: Nationals to re-sign Ryan Zimmerman
Ryan Zimmerman has been the one constant for the Washington Nationals since the franchise moved from Montreal in 2005. That won’t change in 2020.
According to Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post, the franchise’s all-time leader in nearly every offensive category is coming back on a one-year deal.
The Nationals have an agreement on a one-year deal with Ryan Zimmerman, their all-time leader in games, hits, homers, RBI, etc., according to a person familiar with the deal. It is pending a physical.
— Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga) January 25, 2020
MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports it’s a $2 million deal with up to $3 million in incentives.
Over 15 seasons, Zimmerman has racked up 1,784 hits, 270 home runs and 1,015 RBIs. The only thing missing had been a World Series championship. That came in 2019. It was fitting, too, that Zimmerman drove in the franchise’s first World Series run with a home run against Gerrit Cole.
The 35-year-old won’t be a regular in 2020, but he’ll be needed to help replace the production of the Anthony Rendon.
Cubs closing in on deal with Steven Souza
The Chicago Cubs won’t sit out the entire offseason after all. After a winter of inactivity, the team is closing in on a deal with outfielder Steven Souza, according to Ken Rosenthal. Souza is expected to receive a major-league deal.
Souza, 30, missed all of last season while rehabbing from a devastating knee injury. Over five seasons in the majors, Souza has posted a .233/.323/.417 slash line. Souza should begin the season as the team’s fourth outfielder.
Jan. 23: Padres showing interest in Mookie Betts
Trade rumors surrounding Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts had been dying down over the last few weeks. That changed in an instant on Thursday.
The Athletic’s Dennis Lin reports the Red Sox and San Diego Padres have had discussions about a trade for the former AL MVP. Though Lin also added a deal before opening day is unlikely.
Recent talks between the teams have focused on sending a significant amount of prospect talent and outfielder Wil Myers to Boston, according to sources. Multiple people familiar with the discussions characterized an agreement as unlikely, and the industry consensus is that Betts will be in a Red Sox uniform on Opening Day. Yet both sides appear to have legitimate interest.
At points, the Red Sox have seemed determined to trade Betts in order to slash payroll. Lately though, the team has seemed more focused on keeping Betts and building around him for at least one more season. For that to change, it sounds like San Diego or another team would have to make an overwhelming offer.
Jan. 23: Francisco Liriano signs minor-league deal with Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies have found another candidate for their bullpen. According to Robert Murray, Francisco Liriano has signed a $1.5 million minor-league deal with the club. The deal reportedly has $1.25 million in incentives, which have yet to be revealed.
Liriano, 36, is a consummate journeyman pitcher who has both started and come out of the bullpen in recent years. He was exclusively a reliever in 2019, appearing in 69 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates and ending the year with a 3.47 ERA. With the Detroit Tigers in 2018, he started 26 games and pitched to a 4.58 ERA over 133.2 innings. The Phillies will be Liriano’s seventh team over his 14-plus year career.
The Phillies appear determined to stay under the luxury tax threshold at all costs, and Liriano is just the latest inexpensive veteran they’ve signed lately. They recently signed former closers Drew Storen and Bud Norris to low-cost minor league deals, and obviously hope one of them will work out and contribute to the major league bullpen.
Royals sign Alex Gordon to one-year deal
The Kansas City Royals need some stability on their rebuilding team, and they’ve found it. The Royals have signed outfielder Alex Gordon to one-year deal, which the team announced on Wednesday.
Gordon, who will be 36 at the start of the season, has only played for the Royals over his career. The three-time All-Star was drafted by Kansas City with the second overall pick in 2005 and has taken the field for them ever since his 2007 debut. He hit a productive .266/.345/.396 in 2019 and won his seventh career gold glove.
It wasn’t certain that Gordon would be back with the Royals in 2020, as they declined his $23 million option. Per MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan, Gordon’s 2020 salary will be $4 million.
Gordon is loved and revered in the Royals clubhouse as a veteran and a leader. He may not be the flashiest signing, but with a new manager (Mike Matheny) and a new owner (John Sherman), bringing back Gordon was a no-brainer for the rebuilding Royals.
Jan. 21 Braves sign Felix Hernandez to minor-league deal
The Atlanta Braves are bringing in a former Cy Young award winner on a minor-league deal. Former Seattle Mariners star Felix Hernandez signed a $1 million deal with the club Monday, according to Jon Heyman.
Hernandez, 33, has experienced a major decline over the past couple seasons. Since 2017, he’s posted a 5.42 ERA.
While the Mariners nearly sent Hernandez to the bullpen a number of times, the move never stuck. Outside of one appearance as a reliever, all of Hernandez’s appearances have come as a starter.
The Braves will keep it that way for now. Hernandez will head into spring hoping to win the team’s No. 5 starter job. Even if a strong spring vaults him into that position, Hernandez could have a tough time holding off the Braves’ promising youngsters as the season goes on.
Still, given his history, Hernandez isn’t a terrible low risk, high upside option.
Jan. 16 Braves re-sign Adeiny Hechavarria
Two days after Josh Donaldson agreed to a four-year deal with the Minnesota Twins, the Atlanta Braves re-signed a veteran infielder.
According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, Adeiny Hechvarria is coming back to Atlanta on a one-year deal worth $1 million.
Of course, Braves' fans had hoped Donaldson would be the veteran infielder re-signed by Atlanta this winter. Instead, he's taking his immense power and strong defense up north. Hechavarria isn't nearly the hitter Donaldson is, but he's not exactly without value. He provides strong defense at second base, third base and shortstop, which will certainly earn him playing time.
The Braves have also been linked to Nolan Arenado, though it’s not believed those trade talks will lead to an imminent trade. That puts Atlanta in an interesting position. Will they get aggressive and attempt to add another bat before opening day, or will they roll into 2020 hoping someone steps up?
Jan. 15: Red Sox trade Sam Travis to Rangers
The Boston Red Sox are moving on from once highly regarded prospect Sam Travis.
The team announced Wednesday that Travis has been traded to the Texas Rangers in exchange for left-handed pitcher Jeffrey Springs.
The #RedSox today acquired LHP Jeffrey Springs from the Texas Rangers in exchange for 1B/OF Sam Travis.
To make room for Springs on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox designated LHP Bobby Poyner for assignment.
— Red Sox (@RedSox) January 15, 2020
Travis, 26, rose to No. 3 on MLB Pipeline's list of Top 30 Red Sox prospects in 2017. He has since appeared in 111 major-league games spread out over the last three seasons. During his brief stints, Travis has struggled to produce. He's managed just a .230/.288/.371 batting line with seven homers and 24 RBI.
A fresh start with a new organization could be what Travis needs. The first baseman/outfielder should have a path to playing time. He could form a platoon with incumbent Ronald Guzman or outright take the job if he shows well in spring training. The Rangers also have Joey Gallo and Todd Frazier as first base candidates, but they are expected to man right field and third base respectively.
Springs, 27, posted a 6.40 ERA with 32 strikeouts and 23 walks in 32 1/3 innings with Texas in 2019. He’ll compete for a spot in Boston’s bullpen.
Giants release recently acquired Zack Cozart
The San Francisco Giants have placed infielder Zack Cozart on unconditional release waivers, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reported Wednesday. MLB clubs will have 48 hours to place a claim on Cozart. The claiming team would be required to pay Cozart's full $12.167 million salary for 2020, which makes that scenario unlikely. Once Cozart clears release waivers, he’ll become a free agent.
Cozart, 34, signed a three-year, $38 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels prior to the 2018 season. but struggled living up to the contract mainly due to injuries. He's managed just 360 plate appearances over the last two seasons, and has compiled a meager .190/.261/.296 batting line. In 2017, Cozart put up All-Star numbers, hitting .297 with a career-best 24 home runs.
Though he was never part of the Giants plans, Cozart was acquired in a Dec. 10 trade with the Angels. The Angels were looking to dump Cozart’s salary. The Giants were willing to absorb it in order to acquire top infield prospect Will Wilson in the same trade. Cozart will likely have to settle for a minor-league contract.
Jan. 14: Angels acquire Matt Andriese from Arizona
The Los Angeles Angels added another pitcher on Tuesday, acquiring veteran right-hander Matt Andriese in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
MLB Network's Jon Heyman was the first to report the trade. Arizona will reportedly receive minor-league right-hander Jeremy Beasley.
Andriese, 30, is the latest notable addition to the Angels' staff. They've also acquired Dylan Bundy from Baltimore and signed former Atlanta Braves ace Julio Teheran. With Shohei Ohtani also on his way back from Tommy John surgery, the Angels pitching depth will be stronger. Whether it's strong enough remains to be seen.
Andriese posted a 4.71 ERA in 54 games for Arizona last season. He can start or pitch out of the bullpen, which will provide new manager Joe Maddon with some versatility.
Cardinals replenish outfield depth
Days after trading outfielders Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena to the Tampa Bay Rays, the St. Louis Cardinals have added another outfielder in a trade with the Miami Marlins.
According to Craig Mish of FNTSY Sports Radio, Austin Dean was acquired from Miami in exchange for minor-league outfielder Diowill Burgos.
Dean, 26, will give the Cardinals another bench option. Though he only hit 223/.268/.388 overall in 98 MLB games, he has had success against left-handers at Triple A, boasting a .331/.398/.546 slashline. The Cardinals tend to get the most out of guys considered to be fringe major leaguers, so this could be a breakout spot for Dean.
Jan. 12: Rangers agree to one-year deal with Todd Frazier
The Texas Rangers finally signed a third baseman, but not the one their fans wanted. After missing out on Anthony Rendon, the Rangers signed veteran Todd Frazier to a one-year deal Sunday, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Frazier will make $5 million, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Frazier, 33, hit .251/.329/.443, with 21 home runs, over 499 plate appearances with the New York Mets last season.
The move could signal that the Rangers don’t feel optimistic about trading for Colorado Rockies star Nolan Arenado. The Rangers were rumored to be interested in acquiring Arenado, but appear to have fallen behind both the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals in that pursuit.
Jan. 11: Nolan Arenado headed to NL Central?
With trades involving Mookie Betts and Francisco Lindor seeming less likely this winter, the focus has now turned to Nolan Arenado.
The Colorado Rockies are said to be open to trading their All-World third baseman, and reports have suggested a pair of NL Central rivals — the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals — have emerged as the strongest suitors.
Those rumors were fueled even more on Saturday when MLB analyst Bruce Levine floated a couple wild trade scenarios during an appearance on 670 The Score in Chicago.
What in the what ... @MLBBruceLevine just dropped an insane rumor on @670TheScore: the Cubs are considering trying to trade for Nolan Arenado AND KEEP Kris Bryant as the everyday center fielder.
My god ...
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 11, 2020
That would-be bombshell came immediately after Levine revealed this Cardinals proposal:
Bruce Levine just reported on the radio that the deal discussed between the Cards and Rockies has been:
Dakota Hudson, Carlos Martinez, Tyler O'Neill and Matt Liberatore for Nolan Arenado
— FullCountTommy (@FullCountTommy) January 11, 2020
Both scenarios seem unlikely on the surface. The Cubs say they don't have any money to spend. That would seemingly eliminate any chance of adding Arenado's $172 million contract while keeping Bryant. That doesn’t even take into account the idea of Bryant playing center field every day, which would be wild.
The Cardinals rumored proposal also seems light for a player of Arenado's capability. Then again, it's not like the Rockies have ever excelled in pulling off blockbuster trades.
The overall feeling is that Colorado will hold on to Arenado. At least for now. But with a contract opt-out looming after next season, they'll need to give him reasons to stay.
Jan. 10: Twins give Miguel Sano three-year extension
The Minnesota Twins and third baseman Miguel Sano reportedly agreed to a contract extension on Friday.
ESPN's Jeff Passan was the first to report the three-year agreement. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman says it’s for $27 million, with a fourth-year team option worth $14 million. The Twins can buy out the fourth year for $3 million. The deal not only allowed both sides to avoid arbitration, but it will buy out Sano's first two years of free agency and potentially a third.
Sano, 26, has been up and down since making a strong impression in 2015. After struggling through injuries and hitting below .200 in 2018, he bounced back last season to post a .247/.346/.576 slashline to go along with 34 home runs.
Sano's primary position has been third base, but he's also played first base and spent time as a designated hitter. That's notable given the Twins’ pursuit of free agent Josh Donaldson. In other words, Minnesota locking Sano up should in no way impact their pursuit of the former AL MVP as their everyday third baseman.
Diamondbacks agree to three-year extension with David Peralta
The Arizona Diamondbacks are locking up one of their best hitters. Outfielder David Peralta has reportedly agreed to a three-year, $22 million extension to remain with the club, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
The 32-year-old Peralta battled injuries last season, but still posted a solid .275/.343/.461 slash line. Between 2017 and 2018, Peralta hit .293/.352/.481 for Arizona. Even if he doesn’t return to those numbers, Peralta should still be a useful, middle-of-the-order hitter going forward.
Jan. 9: Rays acquire Jose Martinez from Cardinals, trade Matt Liberatore
The St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays have reportedly agreed to a six-player trade.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Rays have acquired major-league outfielder Jose Martinez, outfield prospect Randy Arozarena, along with a Compensation A pick, from St. Louis in an exchange for a combination of prospects and draft picks that include 20-year-old left-hander Matt Liberatore.
The St. Louis Cardinals are trading OF Jose Martinez, OF Randy Arozarena and a Compensation A pick (after 1st round) to the Tampa Bay Rays for LHP prospect Matt Liberatore, a low-level catching prospect and Compensation B pick (post-2nd), sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 10, 2020
The Rays have been seeking outfield help since trading Tommy Pham to the San Diego Padres earlier in the offseason. Meanwhile, the Cardinals might be looking to clear space in their outfield in order to re-sign free agent Marcell Ozuna.
Some believe St. Louis could also be positioning for an even bigger trade involving Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado.
On the surface, Liberatore appears to be the player worth keeping an eye on. He finished 2019 as Tampa Bay’s No. 4 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline and was ranked No. 41 overall. He could be the focus of another trade, or he could be a big piece of the Cardinals future.
Astros acquire veteran reliever Austin Pruitt from Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays completed a busy Thursday with a minor trade.
According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, veteran reliever Austin Pruitt is headed to the Houston Astros in exchange for minor league right-hander Peyton Battenfield and outfielder Cal Stevenson.
Pruitt, 30, has appeared in 67 games over three MLB seasons, all with the Rays. He’s made 10 starts during that time, posting an overall 4.87 ERA in 199.2 innings. Pruitt pitched at the University of Houston and will likely compete for a bullpen role.
Jan. 8: Indians expect to keep Lindor... for now
Will they or won't they? That has been the question surrounding the Cleveland Indians this winter amid rumors that All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor will be traded.
With spring training a little more than one month away, it’s sounding more “they won’t” than “they will.” At least that’s the word according to team president Chris Antonetti.
Chris Antonetti: "I have never had a different expectation other than Francisco [Lindor] will be our shortstop Opening Day. That was my expectation as the season ended. That’s still my expectation as I’m sitting here today."
— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) January 8, 2020
Some will take Antonetti's “expectations” with a grain of salt considering that Lindor's name has been connected to the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and Cincinnati Reds in various reports this winter. Those reported dialogues indicate the Indians have been wavering on the matter for a few months and that plans can still change at a moment's notice.
What we know for sure is that the 26-year-old Lindor is among the most well-rounded and dynamic players in the game today. That's why there's so much intrigue every time his name is dropped and why there’s so much disappointment that Cleveland would even consider trading Lindor n his prime.
For now, we can safely assume a trade is not imminent. But despite Cleveland’s expectations, we should expect the rumors to keep flying.
Diamondbacks sign Hector Rondon to strengthen bullpen
The Arizona Diamondbacks have added a former closer to their bullpen. Reliever Hector Rondon joined the team on a one-year deal Wednesday, according to Nick Piecoro of azcentral.com. The 32-year-old Rondon is guaranteed $3 million.
Rondon is coming off a season in which he posted a 3.70 ERA with the Houston Astros. After saving 15 games for Houston in 2017, Rondon did not have a save in 2018. He has plenty of experience in that role, however, as Rondon served as the Chicago Cubs’ primary ninth-inning option from 2014 to 2016.
Rondon is expected to open the season in a setup role for Arizona. Rondon could get save chances when Archie Bradley needs a day off.
Jan. 7: White Sox add Steve Cishek to bullpen
The Chicago White Sox continue their aggressive offseason by reportedly adding veteran reliever Steve Cishek to their bullpen. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports the two sides have a one-year deal with an option for a second:
Reliever Steve Cishek and the Chicago White Sox are in agreement on a one-year, $6 million deal, sources familiar with the agreement tell ESPN. The contract includes an option that could take the deal to a second year at $12 million total.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 7, 2020
The White Sox have already added Dallas Keuchel as a free agent, traded for slugger Nomar Mazara and signed catcher Yasmani Grandal. Cishek isn’t on the same level as those moves, but we all know how vital a bullpen is to winning baseball games these days.
In Cishek, the White Sox get a 33-year-old with a 2.96 ERA over 10 seasons. He’s closed for the Marlins and Mariners in the past. The spend the last two seasons on the other side of Chicago, pitching for the Cubs. He made 150 appearances over the past two seasons.
Dodgers buy-low on Jimmy Nelson
The Los Angeles Dodgers are hoping for a bargain in Jimmy Nelson, the ex-Milwaukee Brewers pitcher whose once-promising career has been sidelined by injuries.
Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times broke the news. Nelson, 30, has only made three starts in the past two seasons, pitching in a total of 10 games. The Dodgers’ investment is minimal — $1 million guaranteed in 2020 — but the deal gives Nelson a chance to get paid if he’s healthy and productive.
The Dodgers and Jimmy Nelson have agreed to a deal. It’s for one year plus a vesting mutual option. He’s guaranteed to make a little over $1 million in 2020 but could make over $3 million if healthy.
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) January 7, 2020
The deal, per source, can reach over $13 million over two seasons. Nelson, 30, missed the entire 2018 season with a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder. He dealt with elbow trouble last season and pitched in just 10 games. The Brewers non-tendered him in December.
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) January 7, 2020
Nelson was at his best in 2017, when he went 12-6 with a 3.49 ERA and earned Cy Young votes. He averaged 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings that season and looked primed for a breakout in 2018 before dealing with the shoulder and elbow issues.
Jan. 6: Eric Thames joins crowded Nationals infield
The Nationals continued a busy week with the addition of former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Eric Thames on a one-year deal worth $4 million, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The deal reportedly has a mutual option for 2021.
With the addition of Thames and infielder Starlin Castro plus the re-signings of Howie Kendick and Asdrubal Cabrera, the Nationals infield might suddenly be out of spots for Ryan Zimmerman, currently a free agent. The long-time National has said that his two options are re-signing with Washington and retirement, so the World Series champions might be making the decision for him.
If it wasn’t already clear, adding Thames also means the odds of the Nationals bringing in Josh Donaldson are extraordinarily slim. Instead of the All-Star third baseman, it appears the Nats are going forward with an infield composed of versatile, limited-cost veterans and young talent in Trea Turner and top prospect Carter Kieboom.
Nationals bring back reliever Daniel Hudson on two-year deal
The Nationals want to keep their World Series celebration going. Daniel Hudson, who threw the final pitch during the Nationals’ World Series run, is reportedly finalizing a two-year deal to remain with the team, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The deal is worth $11 million.
Hudson, 32, joined the Nationals in a mid-season trade last year and emerged as one of the team’s most reliable relievers down the stretch. In 25 innings with the team, Hudson posted a 1.44 ERA. He was one of the few relievers manager Davey Martinez trusted in the postseason, and was on the mound when the Nationals won it all.
The move gives the Nationals the strongest bullpen the team has had in years. That should be a frightening thought to every other team looking to take Washington’s crown in 2020.
Jan. 4: Nationals sign Asdrubal Cabrera to one-year, $2.5 million deal
The Washington Nationals have picked up yet another infielder. The team agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million deal with Asdrubal Cabrera on Saturday, according to Jon Heyman.
The signing comes a day after the team brought in Starlin Castro on a two-year deal. Both moves seem to indicate the team is now out on free agent Josh Donaldson. That’s merely speculation, but between Cabrera, Castro, Howie Kendrick and Trea Turner, the team is in good shape in the infield.
If the Nationals are out on Donaldson, that would leave the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins as potential landing spots for the 34-year-old Donaldson.
Padres to re-sign reliever Craig Stammen
The San Diego Padres are keeping a key member of their bullpen after agreeing to re-sign veteran right-hander Crag Stammen.
Robert Murray, who previously wrote for The Athletic, was the first to report the deal. There was originally some confusion about the terms of the agreement. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal now say it’s a two-year deal worth $9 million guaranteed. There’s also a third year team option.
Correction on Stammen terms: Two years, $9M guaranteed, third year is a $4M option or $1M buyout. Potential total value: $12M over three years, $13.5M over three if he reaches every incentive.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 4, 2020
Stammen, 35, has been a reliable member of San Diego's bullpen for the last three seasons. During that time, he's posted a 3.06 ERA over 209 appearances. He will remain in a set up role for standout closer Kirby Yates.
Jan. 3: Starlin Castro joins Nationals on two-year deal
The Washington Nationals and free-agent infielder Starlin Casto have reportedly struck a deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, where Castro figures to be a second baseman.
Free-agent infielder Starlin Castro in agreement with #Nationals, pending physical, sources tell The Athletic. Move would not take them out of Donaldson sweepstakes. Plan is for Castro to play second base.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 3, 2020
We’ve seen Castro in the big leagues for quite a while, but he’s still just 29. He’s spent time with the Cubs, Yankees and Marlins, where last season he hit 22 homers with 86 RBIs and a .736 OPS.
The Nationals’ infield is still a work in progress. They have holes at second and third. They still have an eye on free-agent Josh Donaldson, but Castro provides flexibility if they don’t land him. He played 45 games at third base season, but mostly played second.
Giants add Tyson Ross on minor-league deal
The San Francisco Giants, who are certainly a team gambling on reclamation projects at this point, have reportedly agreed to a minor-league deal with Tyson Ross. The news comes from Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
The #SFGiants signed veteran pitcher Tyson Ross, a Bay Area native, to a minor-league deal. He'll earn $1.75 million w/ $1.75M in incentives if he makes their big-league team. Ross earned $5.75M last year with the #Tigers, but didn't pitch after May 10 with elbow/neck injuries.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 3, 2020
Ross, 32, went to Cal and was drafted by the A’s, but has since played for the Padres, Rangers, Cardinals and Tigers. He was with Detroit last season and made only seven starts. In 2018, he appeared in 31 games for the Padres and Cardinals. He finished the season with a 4.15 ERA, but did better out of the bullpen in St. Louis where he had 2.73 ERA in nine appearances.
Jan. 2: Dodgers 'more likely' to land Mookie Betts than Francisco Lindor
If the Los Angeles Dodgers make a monumental trade this offseason, MLB Network's Jon Morosi believes it's 'more likely' to happen with the Boston Red Sox than the Cleveland Indians.
In a report filed on Thursday, Morosi says talks between the Dodgers and Indians that have centered around shortstop Francisco Lindor have failed to progress throughout the winter. In the same breath, Morosi indicates there's more traction in talks with the Red Sox regarding former AL MVP Mookie Betts.
As a result, sources say the Dodgers’ negotiations with the Red Sox about acquiring Mookie Betts have become at least as frequent -- and perhaps even more involved -- than their talks with the Indians about Lindor.
The Dodgers’ conversations with the Red Sox are said to be more dynamic than the Dodgers-Indians talks, because Boston appears less insistent on Lux. Also, there exists a very real possibility that a Dodgers-Red Sox deal would include multiple players heading to Los Angeles.
David Price is among the other players the Dodgers would be interested in acquiring from Boston. The veteran left-hander has been up and down recently and is still owed $96 million over the next three seasons, but would still be an attractive replacement with Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill leaving the Dodgers in free agency,
A trade involving Betts and Price would give Boston the salary relief its seeking this winter. Though as Morosi notes, it wouldn't be a giveaway situation. The Red Sox will want a haul of major league players and prospects in return. The next few days and weeks will be interesting to monitor.
Nationals reach three-year deal with Will Harris
The Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros in a classic seven-game World Series. Now they’re about to sign away one of Houston’s best relievers.
Veteran right-hander Will Harris and the Nationals are in agreement on a multi-year deal, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale says it’s a three-year contract worth $24 million.
Harris, 35, is coming off arguably the best season of his eight-year MLB career. In 68 regular season appearances, he posted a 1.50 ERA with 62 strikeouts over 60 innings. Over the last five seasons, all of which were spent in Houston, Harris’ collective ERA is 2.36 over 297 innings. That stretch includes an All-Star appearance in 2016.
Also worth noting, Harris allowed just two runs over 9.2 innings in the 2019 postseason. Those came on Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick home runs during the World Series.
Angels to sign veteran catcher Jason Castro
The aggressive Los Angeles Angels have landed another free agent. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports Los Angeles has agreed to a one-year, $6.85 million deal with catcher Jason Castro.
Los Angeles solidified its lineup this winter with the signing of Anthony Rendon. Castro’s signing will likely do more for the team’s defense. He’s regarded as a plus defender at one of the most important positions. He is capable of providing pop though as his 13 homers in 79 games last season indicates.
Nolan Arenado has a ‘50/50 chance’ of getting dealt
Will Nolan Arenado be in a new uniform next season? There’s a “50/50 chance” the Colorado Rockies deal their star third baseman, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network.
With free agency moving swiftly already this winter and plenty of teams trying to get better, the Rockies are at least considering moving Arenado, who is a perennial MVP candidate.
Sources: Nolan Arenado has roughly a 50/50 chance of being traded, with a half-dozen teams having checked in, as I just reported on @MLBNetwork. The #Dodgers are *not* the most likely destination, as #Rockies prefer not to trade Arenado in the division. @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 2, 2020
If the Dodgers are out, one team that may make sense is the Chicago White Sox, since they have the pieces to make a deal work and the desire to win soon. Of course, plenty of teams would be interested in Arenado.
The only thing that might deter teams is the cost. Arenado, 28, and the Rockies signed an eight-year extension worth $255 million last year. He is, however, able to opt-out after the 2021 season.
Dec. 31: Twins offer four-year deal to Josh Donaldson
The Minnesota Twins made a pair of notable New Year's Eve additions by signing pitchers Homer Bailey and Rich Hill to one-year deals. Now the team is looking to bolster its offense after reportedly making a four-year offer to veteran third baseman Josh Donaldson.
The Athletic's Dan Hayes was the first to report the offer. Financial terms were not included in the report. Hayes says the Twins are looking to make up ground after missing out on several of their early free agent targets.
Donaldson, 34, is the best free agent still available. The 2015 AL MVP was healthy and productive with the Atlanta Braves last season, launching 37 home runs to match the second highest total of his career. As for the Twins, they’re bringing back plenty of firepower from an offense that hit an MLB-record 307 home runs last season. But they did lose a combined 48 home runs when C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop both signed with the Detroit Tigers.
The Twins will have some competition for Donaldson as he’s also reportedly drawing interest from the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals.
Rich Hill, Homer Bailey joining Twins
The Minnesota Twins didn’t get a top free-agent pitcher this offseason, so instead they’re buying low on two veterans who could help them make a playoff push. Rich Hill and Homer Bailey are joining the Twins on one-year deals.
The news was first reported by Dan Hayes of The Athletic, and confirmed by the team shortly thereafter. According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, Bailey’s deal is worth $7 million and Hill’s is worth $3 million plus incentives.
Hill is 39 and only pitched in 13 games last season with the Dodgers because of injury, but has largely been productive the last three seasons in L.A. He was 11-5 in 2018 with a 3.66 ERA. Recently, he was in the news for getting arrested for disorderly conduct at a New England Patriots game. He also recently had elbow surgery to repair his previous Tommy John surgery and is expected to be out until June.
Bailey is 33 and was once a good pitcher for the Reds until injuries sidetracked his career. Last year, however, he had his best season since 2013. He was 13-9 with the A’s and Royals, combining for a 4.57 ERA. Not amazing, but better than 2018 when he was 1-14 with a 6.09 ERA.
The Twins won 101 games last year, winning the AL Central crown, but losing to the Yankees in the playoffs. They’re hoping to not only repeat in the AL Central, but also get past the other AL heavyweights in October.
Dec. 28: Marlins add veteran outfielder
The Miami Marlins search for a veteran outfielder ended on Saturday. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports the team has finalized a two-year deal with Corey Dickerson. The deal is for $17.5 million, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.
Miami had also been connected to Yasiel Puig in recent days. It’s not clear whether the addition of Dickerson will change their interest level. Puig will obviously come at a greater cost, and the Marlins aren’t likely to spend a lot in free agency.
Dickerson, 30, has had a few productive seasons in MLB. He was an All-Star for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2017 and a Gold Glove winner for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2018. Last season, he slashed .304/.341/.565 with 12 homers and 59 RBIs over 78 games with Pittsburgh and the Philadelphia Phillies.
Third base market creating intrigue
Two notable dominoes have fallen on the third base market. Mike Moustakas' four-year, $64 million contract with the Cincinnati Reds set the tone. Anthony Rendon's seven-year, $245 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels raised the bar. Now we're waiting to see which domino will fall next.
Josh Donaldson is arguably the best free agent still on the board. But there are other interesting possibilities developing with Colorado Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado and former NL MVP Kris Bryant potentially on the trade market. The next move at third base, whatever it might be, could set off franchise-changing events. That’s especially true if teams get motivated enough to trade for Arenado or Bryant.
FOX Sports' Jon Morosi reported Friday that the Braves have at least discussed the possibility of trading for Arenado.
Sources: #Braves have inquired to #Rockies on a Nolan Arenado trade, although discussions between the teams have not been active recently. Atlanta is said to be wary of the salary commitment but has the sort of prospect group Colorado wants in any Arenado deal. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 27, 2019
Would that represent a fallback option for the Braves if Donaldson goes to Washington? Could the Nationals shift their attention to Bryant if Donaldson goes the other way? And what if the Texas Rangers get involved?
There are a lot of moving parts here. With Rendon already having shaken up the position, it's now possible that four of the hot corner's best could be on the move.
What a wild time.
Rangers eyeing Nicholas Castellanos
As an extension of the third base situation, Morosi believes the Rangers are the most prominent suitors for free agent Nicholas Castellanos.
"When you think about what they were able to do there with the pitching side of things, having some pretty low-cost guys that have filled out the rotation there ... now that frees up all the big-time money for the bat," Morosi said on MLB Network's "Hot Stove" program. "They're still pursuing that. And the fact that they did not bring in Rendon I believe has allowed them to make this play for Castellanos."
If the Rangers spend their money on Castellanos, then Donaldson's decision likely comes down to Atlanta or Washington.
Castellanos, 27, finished with 27 homers and 58 doubles overall last season between Chicago and Detroit. His .321/.356/.646 slash line with Chicago greatly boosted his value. He’s more than a consolation prize, and he’s an ideal fit for Texas.
Dec. 26: Mets, Pirates still talking Starling Marte trade
The New York Mets have been busy during the offseason, but there's one rumored move they haven't completed just yet.
Reports all winter have pointed toward the Mets pursuing a trade for Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte. As MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported Thursday, that door remains wide open.
No evidence anything is close but at some point Mets and Pirates exchanged names on proposed Starling Marte trade. Brandon Nimmo’s name came up but Pirates may prefer prospects. Other teams known to have checked on Marte: Padres, D-Backs, Rangers, others.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 27, 2019
As Heyman also notes, a trade is not imminent. That part is basically the same thing we've heard all along and is probably why fans are shrugging their shoulders rather than sitting on the edge of their seats. That names have been exchanged though gives it a little more juice.
Marte, 31, was an All-Star in 2016 and is coming off back-to-back solid seasons. Overall, he hit .286/.335/..481 with 43 home runs, 154 RBIs and 58 stolen over his last 277 games. In between, he was suspended 80 games for violating MLB's PED policy.
The Marte talks stem from New York’s desire to add a true center fielder for 2020. Jake Marisnick, who was acquired from Houston this month, gives them one option. The Mets also have Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes, if healthy, as outfield options. But they’re all better suited on the corners.
Do White Sox have Yasiel Puig in their sights?
Just when you think the Chicago White Sox are done spending money and adding key free agents, another name has reportedly landed on their wishlist.
According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, the latest free agent to get attention from Chicago is outfielder Yasiel Puig.
According to sources, the White Sox remain engaged with the RF market despite this month's trade for Nomar Mazara. Yasiel Puig appears to be a primary target.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 26, 2019
Though for what it’s worth, Bruce Levine of 670 The Score in Chicago hears there have been no talks between the sides.
The Chicago White Sox have zero negotiations going on with Yasiel Puig’s people according to MLB sources .
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 27, 2019
Puig, 29, split the 2019 season between the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians. He finished with a .267/.327/.458 batting line to go along with 24 total home runs and 84 RBIs. Only two of those home runs came in his 49 games with Cleveland.
The win-now White Sox have already scooped up four notable free agents. That group consists of catcher Yasmani Grandal (four years, $73 million), pitcher Gio Gonzalez (one year, $5 million), former AL Cy Young award winner Dallas Keuchel (three years, $55.5 million) and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion (one year, $12 million). They've also acquired outfielder Nomar Mazara in a trade with the Texas Rangers.
The potential addition of Puig or Nicholas Castellanos, who the team is also reportedly pursuing, would further bolster a lineup that showed promise but lacked power in 2019. Chicago finished with the six fewest home runs in MLB, but the front office seems focused on adding pop.
Reds in talks with Shogo Akiyama
The Cincinnati Reds are another team transitioning from rebuild to win-now mode.
After signing Mike Moustakas to a four-year, $44 million deal and adding veteran pitcher Wade Miley on a two-year, $15 million contract, MLB Network's Jon Heyman says the Reds are now in talks to add Japanese star Shogo Akiyama.
Reds are in talks for CF Shogo Akiyama, previously of Seibu. Thought to have decent chance. @nikkansports was on it
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 26, 2019
The 31-year-old outfielder batted .303/.392/.471 with 20 home runs, 62 RBI, 12 stolen bases, and 112 runs this past season for the Saitama Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball. It's expected that he will transition well and be an immediate contributor in MLB.
Nikkan Sports believes the Reds are the favorites to sign Akiyama. The San Diego Padres are reportedly in the mix as well. A decision is expected before the new year.
Dec. 24: White Sox pursuing free-agent slugger
The Chicago White Sox are leading the offseason in splashy moves and might be poised to make another notable addition.
As MLB Network's Jon Heyman first reported on Monday, the White Sox are in "serious pursuit" of free-agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion and could reach a deal after the holidays.
Chisox said to be very serious in pursuit of Edwin Encarnacion. Nothing likely to be completed/announced til after the holiday but they appear to be at the forefront of talks.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 23, 2019
FOX Sports' Jon Morosi says the White Sox are also considering Nicholas Castellanos, who led MLB with 58 doubles last season while splitting time between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs.
The White Sox won't be able to sign both, but their connection to both strongly suggests they're committed to adding another core bat to go with Jose Abreu, Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez.
Diamondbacks sign Kole Calhoun
A week after making a big splash by signing Madison Bumgarner, the Arizona Diamondbacks made another power move, adding slugger Kole Calhoun. Per multiple reports, the deal is for two years and $16 million with a third-year club option:
Outfielder Kole Calhoun and the Arizona Diamondbacks are in agreement on a two-year, $16 million deal, sources tell ESPN. The contract includes a third-year club option for $9 million. @jonmorosi, @Joelsherman1, @nickpiecoro and @Feinsand were among those with details on it.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 24, 2019
Calhoun has spent his entire seven-year major league career with the Los Angeles Angels, but will switch leagues and cross the state border and head to Phoenix where he will join a team that is aggressively looking to contend with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.
The 32-year-old hit .232 with 33 home runs in 152 games last season with the Angels. Calhoun played collegiately at Arizona State and will return to familiar confines.
By signing Bumgarner and Calhoun, who are both on the south side of 30, the Diamondbacks feel they are ready to push their chips in to contend now — mixing established veterans with a young squad. Maybe they will be the team in 2020 to finally give the Dodgers a run for NL West supremacy.
Dec. 22: Rebuilding Tigers make two additions
Not surprisingly, the rebuilding Detroit Tigers have been among the least aggressive teams during Hot Stove season. That tide turned a bit on Saturday when Detroit reached matching one-year, $6.1 million agreements with veteran sluggers C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop.
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) December 21, 2019
Both players suited up for the AL Central champion Minnesota Twins in 2019, where they contributed to the team's MLB record 307 home runs.
Cron, 29, batted .253/.311/.469 with 25 home runs and 78 RBI. He will serve as the Tigers' starting first baseman in 2020.
Schoop, 28, hit .256/.304/.473 with 23 home runs and 59 RBI. He will step in as Detroit's starting second baseman.
Neither player figures to be a long-term solution in Detroit. Both could be excellent trade chips in July if they put up solid power numbers again.
Dec. 21: Executive thinks Mookie Betts and Francisco Lindor will be traded
A high-ranking MLB executive predicts two of MLB's elite players will be traded this winter.
According to ESPN's Buster Olney, the anonymous source believes the Boston Red Sox will trade Mookie Betts and the Cleveland Indians will trade Francisco Lindor prior to opening day.
High-ranking exec predicts that both Betts and Lindor will be traded this winter. Thinks it makes sense for both Red Sox and Indians to turn page, capitalize on value that is more likely to depreciate in the months ahead as Betts, Lindor edge toward free agency.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 20, 2019
The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reports the Indians have asked teams for their best and final offers so they can assess Lindor's value this weekend. Many are viewing the Indians request as a deadline, though at this point no trade appears to be imminent.
The Red Sox trading Betts would center around their desire to cut payroll. Boston was just hit with a team-record $13.4 million luxury tax bill after missing the postseason with a league-high $228 million payroll. The Indians already traded two-time Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers. They appear headed toward a rebuild.
Ian Kinsler to retire
Veteran infielder Ian Kinsler is set to retire, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Friday.
Kinsler, who has one year and $4.25 million remaining on his contract with the San Diego Padres, will transition into a role in San Diego’s front office.
Ian Kinsler is retiring, but will remain with the #Padres in front-office capacity, sources tell The Athletic. Kinsler is still owed $4.25M on his contract, and will work out a financial settlement with the club. Full story coming shortly.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 20, 2019
The 37-year-old played 14 seasons in MLB. He spent the majority of his career with the Texas Rangers, appearing in back-to-back World Series in 2010 and 2011. After a four-year stint with the Detroit Tigers, Kinsler spent time with the Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox, where he won a World Series ring, before finishing with San Diego.
A herniated cervical disk prevented Kinsler from finishing the 2019 season. He says the condition factored into his decision to retire.
“To be honest, it was a factor in my decision,” Kinsler told The Athletic. “My pride wouldn’t let me go halfway at something that I’ve been doing at 100 percent for my whole baseball life.”
Kinsler will retire one hit shy of 2,000. He earned four All-Star selections, two Gold Glove awards at second base, and finishes with 257 home runs and 243 stolen bases.
Astros will reportedly re-sign Martin Maldonado
The Houston Astros have agreed to a two-year, $7 million deal with catcher Martin Maldonado, reports MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.
C Martin Maldonado has agreed to a two-year, $7M deal with the Astros, per a source. Maldonado had multiple offers, but took less money to return to Houston.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 21, 2019
Based on the report it's clear Maldonado preferred a return to Houston. He served as the personal catcher for Gerrit Cole down the stretch in 2019 after being acquired from the Chicago Cubs. That led to speculation he might join Cole with the Yankees.
The 32-year-old won't provide much offense. He produced a meager .213/.293/.378 slash line in 2019. Maldonado’s defense and game-calling skills are highly regarded though. He should settle into a reserve role in 2020, though the Astros starting job is still open following the retirement of Brian McCann.
Cubs sign Ryan Tepera to one-year deal
The Chicago Cubs added depth to their bullpen Friday, signing veteran Ryan Tepera to a one-year deal.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) December 20, 2019
The Athletic's Sahadev Sharma reports Tepera will earn $900K in the big leagues and $300K in the minors.
The 32-year-old posted a disappointing 4.98 ERA in 2019, but had posted a sub-4.00 ERA in each of the four previous seasons while striking out a batter per inning.
Dec. 19: Nolan Arenado on Rangers radar
The Texas Rangers already pulled off the biggest trade of the offseason, acquiring two-time Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber from the Cleveland Indians.
Could another notable Rangers deal be in the offing?
According to the Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, it's possible.
The Rangers are still looking for an impact bat after missing out on Anthony Rendon. While signing Josh Donaldson remains a possibility, reports suggest it's a fading one. If the Rangers don’t land Donaldson, Rosenthal says their focus could turn to a potential trade for Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado.
The Rangers are among the clubs talking to the Rockies about Arenado, according to major-league sources. The loser of the Donaldson’s tug-of-war between the Braves and Nationals would be another possibility. Both the Cardinals and Dodgers have a longstanding interest in Arenado, though Dodgers officials believe there is little chance the Rockies would trade him within the division.
The Rockies signed Arenado to an eight-year, $260 million contract extension before the 2019 season. That seemingly locked him up for the long-term. However, the deal does include an opt-out after the 2021 season. With that possibility looming, MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported the Rockies would be willing to listen to offers.
Here were the initial thoughts when the Arenado availability came to light https://t.co/MgIGmXwkt3
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 19, 2019
Needless to say, there's enough smoke here to keep our attention.
Reds eyeing Francisco Lindor
Francisco Lindor is another big name that's being mentioned frequently as a trade possibility.
According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, the Cincinnati Reds have emerged as a potential suitor for the perennial All-Star.
The Reds have been engaged with the Indians in talks about the superstar shortstop, according to a source, thrusting Cincinnati into a mix that reportedly includes the Dodgers and Padres, among other clubs. The clubs have not confirmed the talks.
The cross-state rivals were part of a blockbuster trade that sent Yasiel Puig to Cleveland and Trevor Bauer to Cincinnati during the 2019 season.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal adds that trade talks regarding Lindor have “reached a critical stage.” That could be an indication we’ll know if and/or where Lindor will be traded very soon.
Royals add ex-Phillies slugger Maikel Franco on one-year deal
Maikel Franco, who was non-tendered by the Philadelphia Phillies earlier this month, reportedly has a new home. He’s joining the Kansas City Royals where he figures to be their new third baseman.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez first reported the deal was close and Jon Heyman of MLB Network said it was done, along with a $2.95 million salary for Franco. He can earn another $1.05 million in incentives, Heyman reports.
Franco is a former top prospect who never quite made good on his potential in Philly. He did hit 88 homers over the past four seasons, but he slashed .249/.302/.431 over parts of six seasons. For the rebuilding Royals, it’s a wise buy-low move. Franco might add some pop to their lineup, and if he’s good enough, they could flip him at the trade deadline.
Angels sign Julio Teheran to help struggling rotation
The Los Angeles Angels, now needing to fix their struggling rotation after landing Anthony Rendon, have reportedly agreed to terms with ex-Atlanta Braves pitcher Julio Teheran. The news comes to us from Jeff Passan from ESPN, who says it’s a one-year deal:
Right-hander Julio Teheran and the Los Angeles Angels are in agreement on a one-year contract, a source familiar with the deal tells ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 19, 2019
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports the contract will pay Teheran $9 million.
Teheran, 28, was once pegged as Atlanta’s ace but has been mostly up-and-down for his career. Last season, he finished 10-11 with a 3.81 ERA. He was 9-9 with a 3.94 the year before that. The Angels came into the offseason needing high-end starting pitching. Teheran is not that, but he could help an Angels team that ranked 25th in ERA last season.
White Sox agree to one-year deal with Gio Gonzalez
The Chicago White Sox agreed to a deal with a pitcher Thursday, just not the one people expected. The team reportedly agreed to terms with lefty Gio Gonzalez, according to Jon Heyman.
Gonzalez, 34, posted a 3.50 ERA over 87 1/3 innings with the Milwaukee Brewers last season. While the team used Gonzalez as a starter, he rarely pitched into the sixth inning. Gonzalez may be relied upon more with the White Sox, who could use some stability at the back end of their rotation.
The move brings Gonzalez back to the White Sox for the third time. Gonzalez was drafted by the team in 2004, but has never pitched in a major-league game for the White Sox. The team traded him away twice when Gonzalez was in the minors.
The White Sox are still rumored to be pursuing former Los Angeles Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu. The addition of Gonzalez should not prevent the team from also bringing in Ryu.
Brewers fill need at first base with Justin Smoak
The Milwaukee Brewers found their replacement for Eric Thames. The team reportedly agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal with Justin Smoak on Thursday, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.
Smoak, 33, hit .208/.342/.406 over 500 plate appearances with the Toronto Blue Jays last season. He’s a switch hitter who has shown more power against right-handed hitters over his career. Given that, the team could opt to platoon Smoak at first base. Ryan Braun — who played 18 games at first base in 2018 — obliterated left-handed pitching last season.
Dec. 18: Cubs, Nicholas Castellanos reunion unlikely
The Chicago Cubs are facing a payroll crunch and it's showing in the moves the team has and hasn't made this winter. On Wednesday, the Cubs added veteran outfielder Ian Miller on a minor-league deal, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported. That marks the third straight day Chicago has inked a minor-league deal aimed at building cheap depth.
On Tuesday, it was utilityman Hernan Perez. On Monday, it was outfielder Noel Cuevas. Meanwhile, fan and clubhouse favorite Nicholas Castellanos has reportedly remained on the team's radar, but because of the financial situation a deal is unlikely.
Epstein hasn’t been shy about his affection for Castellanos. The right-handed outfielder posted a .321/.356/.646 slash line in 51 games with the Cubs after being traded by Detroit. Perhaps just as importantly, he was a personality that the clubhouse has been lacking. Castellanos’ “Every day is Opening Day” attitude fits in well with Epstein’s calls for urgency.
But with ownership cracking down hard on spending, Epstein has to maneuver around an inelastic budget. Signing Castellanos would require both shedding salary and finding space in the outfield.
The Athletic report notes that Castellanos wants a Cubs reunion. He’s reportedly narrowed his search to the Cubs, Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants. The latter two teams are very clearly willing to spend money this winter, which to the disappointment of Cubs will make them an even longer shot.
Eric Sogard returns to Brewers on one-year deal
Second baseman Eric Sogard is returning to the Milwaukee Brewers. According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Sogard and the Brewers have agreed to a one-year deal with an option for 2021.
Sogard, 33, spent the 2019 season with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays, on a quest to rebuild his value after an abysmal 2018. He did just that, putting up some of the best numbers of his career with a .290/.353/.457 triple slash.
The Brewers were the team that took a chance on Sogard before the 2017 season, signing him to a minor-league contract after he’d missed all of 2016 due to knee surgery. He rewarded them with a .273/.393/.378 batting line over 94 big league games, and even hit a massive three-run home run in his very first game. Now he’s back, and the Brewers are hoping his 2019 numbers follow him into 2020.
Matt Kemp agrees to minor-league deal with Marlins
Matt Kemp has reunited with Don Mattingly. Kemp, 35, reportedly agreed to a minor-league deal with the Miami Marlins on Wednesday, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.
Kemp was limited to just 20 games last season due to injuries and poor play. He hit just .200/.210/.283 in 62 plate appearances. The Reds cut him in May. Kemp was not picked up by another club.
While there’s no guarantee Kemp will make the Marlins, he should have the support of his manager. Mattingly managed Kemp from 2011 to 2014, when both men were with the Dodgers. Kemp had two of his finest seasons during that stretch, finishing second in the MVP voting in 2011.
Dec: 17. Dodgers, Red Sox talking Mookie Betts trade
The Los Angeles Dodgers, eager to finally break their World Series slump, are looking everywhere this offseason for the addition that could get them over the hump. Now, that could also mean Boston Red Sox star outfielder Mookie Betts.
According to Bob Nightengale at USA Today, the Red Sox and Dodgers are “engaged in exploratory trade talks.” The Dodgers, as we’ve talked about already, also covet Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, and he remains their No. 1 trade priority. Writes Nightengale:
The Dodgers’ top priority remains Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, but if the two sides can’t agree on a package for the All-Star, the Dodgers could turn its attention to Boston.
The Red Sox are much more inclined to trade Betts – who’s projected to earn $27-30 million in his final year before free agency – than Cleveland is with Lindor. The Red Sox, who had baseball’s highest payroll at $244 million, and will pay $13 million in luxury tax penalties, want to slash their payroll to be under the $208 million tax threshold in 2020.
According to USA Today’s report, the Dodgers would be willing to part with Corey Seager, their former Rookie of the Year, but not Gavin Lux. Other names in the mix: young catcher Will Smith and outfielders Joc Pederson and Alex Verdugo.
We should make it clear that there’s a lot of space between “exploratory trade talks” and a deal getting close to done. The Dodgers are obviously casting a wide net, so Dodgers fans would be wise not to confuse due diligence with anything being on the immediate horizon.
Brewers sign Ryon Healy to one-year deal
The Milwaukee Brewers added another veteran bat Tuesday after signing corner infielder Ryon Healy to a one-year deal.
Free agent 1B/3B Ryon Healy has been signed to a 1-year contract. pic.twitter.com/UCKd7CkxNE
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) December 17, 2019
Financial terms of the deal have not been announced.
Healy, who turns 28 in January, was limited to 47 games with the Seattle Mariners last season after undergoing hip surgery. He flashed big power in the two previous seasons — combining for 49 home runs — but struggled to produce much beyond that. His career .261/.298/.452 batting line doesn't fuel much excitement about his upside. If healthy though, he could be a solid addition to Milwaukee’s bench.
Cardinals sign Korean pitcher Kwang-hyun Kim
Kim, who has pitched for the SK Wyrens in the Korean Baseball Organization for the past 13 seasons, has been in town for a couple of days undergoing a physical and talking contract with the Cardinals, which includes a "posting" fee to the KBO club.
Kim is said to average 91 to 92 hours an hour with his fastball, with it ticking as high as 96. He also employs a slider to success but control seems his mainstay. He struck out 310 batters and walked only 68 over 326 1/3 innings in his past two seasons.
Kim is 31 years old and would figure to mix into a Cardinals’ starting staff that includes Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson, Miles Mikolas, Adam Wainwright. Carlos Martinez, who was once their ace but most recently was St. Louis’ closer, could factor in there as well.
Contract details have not yet been made public.
Dec. 16: Wade Miley goes to the Reds for $15M over two years
Veteran lefty Wade Miley is headed to his fourth team in four years, as he’s reportedly agreed to a two-year deal worth $15 million to join the Cincinnati Reds. Miley, 33, was solid last year for the Houston Astros, and figures to bolster a Reds rotation that has NL Central contention in its sights.
MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand broke the news:
Miley contract breakdown with Reds, per source:
2022: $10M club option ($1M buyout)
Deal also includes annual performance bonuses up to $500K based on innings pitched.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 17, 2019
With Miley in the mix, the Reds rotation now includes Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer and Anthony DeSclafani. That looks promising on paper, especially when you consider the Reds finished a surprising eighth last season in team ERA.
Miley has bounced around the league, but has been an asset the past two seasons with the Brewers and Astros. Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson worked with Miley in Milwaukee and was one of the reasons Miley chose Cincinnati, according to reports.
Miley was particularly good in the first half of 2019, going 7-4 with a 3.28 ERA. He fell off a bit in the second half with a 5.07 ERA, but he finished the season with a respectable 3.98 ERA and a 14-6 record. The Reds would take that for $15 million.
Twins sign Sergio Romo to one-year deal
The Minnesota Twins are bringing back Sergio Romo for at least another year. The team re-signed Romo to a one-year deal Monday, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.
The deal is worth $5 million, though Romo, 36, can make up to $10 million based on incentives, according to Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic. The deal also includes a club option, meaning Romo could remain with the team in 2021 if he pitches well.
Romo proved to be a solid addition to the Twins down the stretch. After joining the team midseason, Romo posted a 3.18 ERA over 22 2/3 innings.
Astros bring back reliever Joe Smith on two-year deal
The Houston Astros like what they’ve seen from Joe Smith the past couple seasons. The team agreed to bring back the reliever Monday, signing Smith to a two-year deal, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. The deal is reportedly worth $8 million, according to Jake Kaplan of the Athletic.
That’s a small price to pay for a pitcher with Smith’s potential. Smith was limited by an Achilles injury early last season, but put up fantastic numbers once he returned. In 25 innings, Smith posted a sterling 1.80 ERA. Smith has been particularly tough against righties during his career, holding them to a .215/.279/.308 slash line. If he’s healthy, Smith should once again emerge as a strong late-inning option for the Astros.
Brewers sign Avisail Garcia to two-year deal
The Milwaukee Brewers have found their new left fielder. The team reportedly agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with former Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Avisail Garcia on Monday, according to Jon Heyman.
The 28-year-old Garcia is coming off a strong season with the Rays. In 530 plate appearances, Garcia hit .282/.332/.464, with 20 home runs.
Garcia reportedly had longer offers but opted for a two-year deal so he could build up his value, according to Heyman.
Avisail Garcia turned down 3 year deals with Brewers and elsewhere due to the expiring basic agreement in 2 years and the chance to raise the AAV afterward. Betting on himself #brewers
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 16, 2019
The deal also sets up Garcia to become a free agent when Major League Baseball’s collective-bargaining agreement expires. It’s a risky move considering no one knows how negotiations will play out. Garcia must be confident in his abilities.
Dec. 14: Blue Jays looking to sign Hyun-Jin Ryu
The Toronto Blue Jays have been quiet this offseason outside of their two-year, $24 million deal with Tanner Roark. That could change soon though based on the latest reports.
According to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, Toronto is making a serious run at free agent left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu.
The National League Cy Young runner-up showed his ceiling in 2019 thanks to a relatively healthy season. He wasn't able to make every scheduled start, but he made the most of the 29 he did make.
Ryu, 32, finished with a 14-5 record while posting a league-best 2.32 ERA. If signed by Toronto, he would immediately slot in as the team's ace. The Los Angeles Dodgers, with whom Ryu has pitched for his first six MLB seasons, and Minnesota Twins, are other teams reportedly interested.
Corey Kluber drawing interest on trade market
One of the most talked about names on the trade market this week has been two-time AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. The long-time Cleveland Indians ace has been made available in talks and reports on Saturday suggested several teams were showing interest.
However, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, one main suitor has also dropped out of the race,.
As for the Los Angeles Dodgers, they are now among the teams in the mix.
#Dodgers also have been in mix for Kluber, sources say. Unclear where they currently stand.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 15, 2019
MLB’s Network’s Jon Heyman says the San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers are involved as well.
Kluber's 2019 was basically a lost season thanks to a slow start — 5.80 ERA in first seven starts — and a season-ending forearm fracture suffered on May 1. In the five previous seasons, Kluber had been durable and at times dominant, posting a 2.85 ERA over 160 starts.
Heyman previously suggested teams could wait until spring training to gauge Kluber’s health. At this point the market seems to be moving too fast for that to hold true.
Padres checking on top tier pitchers
The San Diego Padres seem prepared to exhaust every option in their pursuit of a top flight starting pitcher.
MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports the Padres are exploring a potential trade for a Cleveland Indians starting pitcher. That interest likely centers around two-time AL Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber. There have been multiple rumors surrounding Kluber this week. The Los Angeles Angels are known to be considering trading for him as well, though Heyman thinks Kluber will need a healthy spring training to improve his value.
The Padres are also reportedly pursuing free agent left-handers Madison Bumgarner and Dallas Keuchel.
Marlins among teams to meet with Yasiel Puig
Interest in free-agent outfielder Yasiel Puig appears to have picked up this week.
According to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, the Miami Marlins — yes, you read that correctly — are known to have held a meeting with Puig at the winter meetings in San Diego. But they weren't alone.
Puig actually met with multiple teams out in San Diego. The other(s) remain #mysteryteams
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 14, 2019
Multiple mystery teams leaves a wide range of possibilities. The Marlins are an undeniably interesting suitor given Puig's rocky past relationship with current Miami manager Don Mattingly. Beyond that, the Marlins aren't typically big players in free agency. They've made it known an outfield power hitter is a priority, which indicates they’re willing to spend there.
Dec. 13: Cubs bring back Morrow on minors deal
The Chicago Cubs have brought back a former closer Brandon Morrow on a minor-league deal, in hopes that they can get a bargain on a return to form. ESPN’s Jesse Rogers had the news:
Cubs and Brandon Morrow agree on a minor league deal, per source. Says his arm is feeling great. Hasn't pitched since before the all-star break in 2018.
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) December 13, 2019
Morrow, 35, spent the last two years with the Cubs — or at least getting paychecks from them. He was injured midway through 2018 and hasn’t pitched since then. Back in 2017, he signed a two-year, $21 million deal with a third-year option that the Cubs bought out at $3 million for 2020. Now they’re bringing him back on a team-friendly deal in hopes that he can find his mojo again. He was an effective reliever for the Dodgers in 2017 and for the Padres the two seasons before that. He did save 22 games for the Cubs in 2018 before being sidetracked by biceps and elbow injuries.
Brewers add veteran Brett Anderson to rotation
The Milwaukee Brewers have announced a one-year deal with veteran left-hander Brett Anderson. It's a guaranteed $5 million deal, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. Anderson can earn up to $2 million in incentives.
It's the latest move aimed at bolstering the Brewers rotation. Milwaukee also signed right-hander Josh Lindblom during the winter meetings.
Anderson, who will be entering his age-32 season, has been limited by injuries throughout his career. That includes two back surgeries. When healthy, he's always flashed promise. That was the case in 2019. In 31 starts for the Oakland Athletics, Anderson posted a 3.89 ERA. He won’t be a high strikeout pitcher, but the Brewers would gladly take a repeat of his 2019 season in 2020.
Rays sign Japanese slugger Tsutsugo
The Tampa Bay Rays have agreed to a deal with Japanese slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, who hit 139 home runs in his last four seasons with the Yokohama Bay Stars of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times has the details:
BREAKING: #Rays finalizing deal to sign Japanese OF/INF/DH Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, a lefty power bat. Two-year deal would be in range of $12M, plus posting fee (about another $2.4M)
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) December 13, 2019
Tsutsugo is 28 and has played left field, first base and third base throughout his career, but most recently has played a lot of outfield. He could move around for the Rays, and also spend time at DH. His best season in Japan came in 2016 when he hit 44 homers with 110 RBIs and had a .322 batting average. At just $12 million over two years, he could be a bargain for the Rays if his bat catches up to major-league pitching.
Dec. 12: Red Sox add left-hander Martin Perez
The Boston Red Sox were active on the final day of the winter meetings, reaching a pair of notable deals for the 2020 season.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports the Red Sox have a one-year agreement with Martin Perez. The veteran left-hander will earn $6 million in 2020. The deal includes a $6.5 million club option for 2021.
Perez, 28, pitched reliably in his first six seasons with the Texas Rangers, but has struggled over the last two, posting a 5.49 ERA in 250.2 innings. He went 10-7 with the Minnesota Twins last season.
The timing is interesting coming off reports that the Red Sox are shopping David Price. Perez could presumably step into the void should Price be traded this winter.
Red Sox also sign infielder Jose Peraza
According to Robert Murray, who previously worked for The Athletic, the Red Sox are also in agreement with free-agent infielder Jose Peraza on a one-year deal.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports the deal will be worth close to $3 million plus incentives.
Once considered a top prospect for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Peraza has been up and down since being traded to the Cincinnati Reds before the 2016 season. He was non-tendered by the Reds after hitting .239/.285/.346 with six home runs in 141 games in 2019.
The 25-year-old provides versatility in the field. He’s spent time at second base, third base and shortstop. Last season he even played some outfield. That’s worth noting with Boston reportedly looking to trade Jackie Bradley Jr. If Peraza’s offense comes around, he could be a bargain.
Yankees bring back Brett Gardner on one-year deal
The New York Yankees are bringing back outfielder Brett Gardner for at least one more season. The team re-signed the 36-year-old Gardner to a one-year, $12.5 million deal Thursday, according to George A. King III of the New York Post.
The deal also contains a $10 million option for a second season, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Last year, Gardner hit .251/.325/.503, with 28 home runs in 550 plate appearances.
Mets sign Rick Porcello to one-year deal
The New York Mets believe they have a bounce-back candidate in Rick Porcello. The team agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal with Porcello on Thursday, according to Jon Heyman.
Porcello, 30, posted a 5.52 ERA over 174 1/3 innings with the Boston Red Sox in 2019. He’ll look to rebuild his value with the Mets so he can receive a more lucrative pay day next offseason. Throughout most of his career, Porcello has been a dependable, mid-rotation starter who can give a team innings.
With the signing, the Mets now have six starting pitchers. The team could look to move one of them in a deal that would give them salary relief, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Dec. 10: Angels have 'expressed interest' in Corey Kluber
The Los Angeles Angels quickly moved on to Plan B after missing out on Gerrit Cole in free agency. On Wednesday, they agreed to a seven-year, $245 million contract with Anthony Rendon.
According to The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya, the Angels might now turn to the trade market to land a starting pitcher, with two-time Cy Young award winner and current Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber appearing to be their top choice.
The Angels have expressed interest in trading for Indians right-hander Corey Kluber, sources tell The Athletic. The club has prioritized its pursuit of Anthony Rendon, but they’re exploring all options.
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) December 12, 2019
Joel Sherman from the New York Post says the Angels also have interest in Cleveland right-hander Carlos Carrasco.
No deal appears imminent, but it is clear that Los Angeles is seeking a frontline starter to help bolster the starting rotation. The Angels starting five has been weak spot for several years and needs to be addressed if the franchise hopes to take a step forward in 2020.
Dodgers have deal with Blake Treinen
One of the top relievers available in free agency has found a new home.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports the Los Angeles Dodgers have reached a one-year, $10 million agreement with former Oakland Athletics closer Blake Treinen.
Right-hander Blake Treinen is in agreement with the Los Angeles Dodgers on a one-year, $10 million deal, sources tell ESPN. Treinen had multiple offers in that range and chose the Dodgers.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 11, 2019
It’s a solid bounce back move for the Dodgers after missing out on Gerrit Cole. The bullpen is a greater area of need for Los Angeles anyway after several key relievers faltered down the stretch in 2019.
Treinen, 31, is one year removed from an All-Star season as the A’s closer. In 80.1 innings, he posted a minuscule 0.78 ERA while notching 38 saves. He lost the closer’s role in 2019, finishing with a disappointing 4.91 ERA in 58.2 innings. The hope for LA is that he’ll settle somewhere in the middle in 2020.
Blue Jays agree to deal with Tanner Roark
The Toronto Blue Jays haven't been heard from much this offseason, but they made a notable move Wednesday after agreeing to terms with free-agent pitcher Tanner Roark.
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) December 11, 2019
MLB Network's Jon Heyman reports it's a two-year, $24 million deal.
Roark, 33, spent most of his career with the Washington Nationals before moving to the Cincinnati Reds and Oakland Athletics last season. He posted an overall 4.35 ERA with 158 strikeouts and 51 walks over 165 1/3 innings. The Blue Jays rotation is ripe with opportunity as the team continues a long-term rebuild. If Roark shows well pitching in the AL East he could become a valuable trade asset in July or next winter.
Brewers sign reliever Josh Lindbloom
The Milwaukee Brewers added another piece to their pitching staff on Wednesday. Veteran right-hander Josh Lindbloom has agreed to a three-year, $9.1 million deal, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.
Lindblom, 32, last pitched in MLB with the Pirates in 2017. He spent the last two seasons pitching in Korea, where he successfully transitioned from reliever to starter. In 363.1 innings, he posted a 2.68 ERA and a 346/67 K/BB ratio. He figures to be a key member of Milwaukee's rotation in 2020.
Rockies re-sign reliever Scott Oberg
The Colorado Rockies are another team that’s been quiet this winter. That changed Wednesday when they re-signed veteran reliever Scott Oberg.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal has the details.
Scott Oberg’s three-year, $13M extension with the #Rockies, first reported by @BNightengale, contains escalators that could increase the three-year total to $15M and the four-year total - if a club option is exercised - to $26M.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2019
Oberg, 29, has been Colorado’s most reliable reliever over the last two seasons, finishing with a 2.45 ERA in 2018 and a 2.25 ERA last season. That’s a bit troubling for Colorado given the money invested in Wade Davis, Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw. Oberg missed the final six weeks of 2019 due to a blood clot in his right arm, but the Rockies clearly feel he’ll be able to bounce back.
Mets nearing deal with Michael Wacha
The New York Mets have found their Zack Wheeler replacement, according to reports. They’re close to a deal with former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha. Joel Sherman of the New York Post was first with the deal and Yahoo Sports’ Matt Ehalt confirmed they’re finishing the final details.
Wacha's deal: $3 million base, $10 million max so incentives heavy, source confirms.
Seems like a good fit for both sides.
Mets not paying a ton for starter they hope can have a bounce back year & Wacha has chance to earn good $ by staying healthy & hit the market next year.
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) December 11, 2019
Wacha, 28, has a 3.91 ERA after seven seasons in St. Louis. It’s been an up-and-down career for Wacha, who was a hot-shot rookie during the Cardinals’ 2013 NL pennant-winning season. He’s never fully lived up that hype. In New York, he’ll be part of a deep pitching staff with Jacod deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.
Dodgers, Indians in ‘serious’ trade talks for Lindor
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians are having “serious” trade talks about Francisco Lindor, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The two sides have talked about Lindor in the past, as he approaches free agency.
The Los Angeles #Dodgers and Cleveland #Indians continue to be engaged in serious trade talks for Cleveland All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor, with Cleveland seeking a package of Dodgers prospects including Gavin Lux and Dustin May.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 11, 2019
While the Dodgers could be a good destination for Lindor before he hits free agency in 2022, there also seem like barriers here. The Dodgers haven’t expressed much interest in trading their top youngsters like Lux and May and the Indians haven’t wanted to part with Indians on the cheap.
Dodgers don’t like their chances for Anthony Rendon
Speaking of the Dodgers and their infield, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that L.A. doesn’t like its chances for Anthony Rendon, now the top free agent on the board.
#Dodgers pessimistic on chances of landing free-agent third baseman Anthony Rendon, sources tell The Athletic. #Rangers remain heavily involved. #Angels also interested, too. #Nationals a long shot; Rendon balked at deferrals in their initial seven-year, $210M-$215M offer.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2019
The Rangers remain the favorites for Rendon, but it’ll be interesting to see if the “all-in” Angels decide to go big there now that they’ve missed out on Gerrit Cole.
Dec. 11: Dodgers turn attention to Madison Bumgarner
After missing out on top pitching target Gerrit Cole, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal says the Los Angeles Dodgers have turned their attention to a long-time rival.
That’s right, Madison Bumgarner, the former ace of the San Francisco Giants, now sits atop the Dodgers wishlist.
#Dodgers will now shift their focus to free-agent left-hander Madison Bumgarner, sources tell The Athletic.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2019
The Dodgers have been connected to several free agents this winter, which is not unusual. Many believe Anthony Rendon is a high priority for them. However, the Bumgarner report indicates that Los Angeles would like to add another proven starter to the mix. It’s not necessarily a need for the Dodgers even if they lose Hyun-Jin Ryu, but it’s clearly a want.
Considering that Bumgarner will come cheaper than Cole, it could allow Los Angeles to make multiple moves and add impact players to both the rotation and lineup. We could know LA’s next move before the winter meetings are over.
White Sox to acquire Nomar Mazara from Rangers
The Chicago White Sox are hoping a change of scenery will help Nomar Mazara find his game.
According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, the Texas Rangers agreed to trade the 24-year-old outfielder on Tuesday night. Outfield prospect Steele Walker is going to Texas in return.
Since debuting at age 21, Mazara has struggled living up to the incredible hype that preceded his MLB debut. In four seasons, he’s compiled a .261/.320/.435 batting line. More shockingly, he’s never hit more than 20 home runs despite possessing immense power. His season homer totals have been 20, 20, 20 and 19 in 2019.
Mazara should take over as Chicago’s every day right fielder.
Astros 'contemplating' Carlos Correa trade, Gerrit Cole offer
The New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels have been front and center in the Gerrit Cole sweepstakes. However, it wouldn't be the winter meetings without a mystery team or two entering the mix.
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Cole's most recent team, the Houston Astros, has "contemplated" ways to bring back their co-ace. In a story that seems related, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal is reporting the Astros might consider trading star shortstop Carlos Correa to ease a potential payroll crunch.
Among the ideas they have entertained in an attempt to alleviate their payroll crunch, according to major-league sources: A trade of shortstop Carlos Correa, the player they selected with the top pick of the 2012 draft.
No deal appears close, and the timing might not be right for such a move, considering that most teams are set at shortstop and Correa’s trade value is down. But at some point, the Astros will need to make difficult decisions, and Correa might be the odd man out.
As Sherman notes, signing Cole would push the Astros over the second luxury tax threshold of $228 million. Trading Correa, who is arbitration eligible through the 2021 season, would remove a potentially large salary from the books. Correa made $5 million in 2019 and would be due a raise.
At this point, bringing back Cole seems like a long shot for the Astros given the competition they’re facing. But it sounds like they are willing to do some serious maneuvering if it becomes a real possibility.
Adam Jones picks Japan
After 14 MLB season in which he ranged from solid to All-Star, Adam Jones is heading overseas. The former Orioles outfielder announced Tuesday that he will play for the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball.
Jones hit .260.313/.414 with 16 homers with the Arizona Diamondbacks last season, which came after 11 years with the Orioles.
Twin announce Pineda and Alex Avila signings
The Twins announced the first two significant moves of their offseason Saturday, signing catcher Alex Avila and starting pitcher Michael Pineda.
Pineda signed a two-year, $20 million contract, according to Dan Hayes of The Athletic. For Avila, the Twins outbid the catcher’s own father, Tigers general manager Al Avila, with a one-year contract worth $4.25 million, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Twins have officially signed C Alex Avila and RHP Michael Pineda to contracts after each player passed a physical.
— LaVelle E. Neal III (@LaVelleNeal) December 11, 2019
David Price being targeted by multiple teams
Another big-name starting pitcher could be on the trade block.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, veteran left-hander David Price has drawn interest from multiple teams as the Boston Red Sox seek ways to cut their payroll.
The Boston Red Sox continue to pursue ways to shed salary, and multiple teams have targeted starter David Price, sources tell ESPN. He is owed $96 million over the next three years. Red Sox could either attach player with value or potentially pay down some of Price's remaining $.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 11, 2019
As Passan notes, Price has three years and $96 million remaining on the seven-year, $217 million deal he signed prior to the 2016 season. That contract made Price the highest paid pitcher in MLB history until Stephen Strasburg’s seven-year, $245 million deal on Monday.
Price, 33, finished 2019 with a 4.28 ERA over 22 starts.
The Red Sox had the highest payroll in MLB in 2019 at $229.1 million, but failed to make the postseason. Controlling owner John Henry has since made it clear he wants the team below the competitive balance tax threshold for the 2020 season.
J.D. Martinez put the team in a crunch when he opted to fulfill the final three years of his contract. The Red Sox still owe him $62 million. The Red Sox have reportedly considered trading outfielder Mookie Betts, who will be a free agent following the 2020, and are actively shopping Jackie Bradley Jr. at the winter meetings, according to reports.
Giants add two veterans to roster
While the baseball world digested the Philadelphia Phillies signing of Didi Gregorius, the San Francisco Giants were busy making two notable additions of their own.
Minutes before that, Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic reported the Giants acquired infielder Zack Cozart and prospect Will Wilson from the Los Angeles Angels for cash considerations.
The Angels have traded Zack Cozart and Will Wilson to the Giants for cash and a PBTNL, source tells The Athletic.
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) December 10, 2019
Both moves have been confirmed by the Giants.
Gausman, 28, had a rough go in 2019, posting a 5.72 ERA over 102 1/3 innings between Atlanta and Cincinnati. He was switched to a relief role late in the season and then non-tendered by the Reds. It’s expected he will return to starting in San Francisco.
Cozart has two years remaining on a three-year, $38 million contract. The prevailing belief is San Francisco made the trade more so to add Will Wilson, who was the Angels first round draft pick in 2019. The young infielder is a highly regarded prospect.
The trade will clear $12 million off the Angels payroll as well. That is significant considering their pursuit of elite free agents like Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon. The Giants have also been connected to some high priced free agents. These additions, while expensive, could serve as insurance in case a bigger deal doesn’t come together.
Nationals have inquired about Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant
The Washington Nationals may lose Anthony Rendon, but the team isn’t going to sit by idly if that happens. The Nats have reportedly made an “initial inquiry” to the Chicago Cubs for third baseman Kris Bryant, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com.
The 27-year-old Bryant is one of the biggest names on the market this offseason. The 3-time All Star and 2016 National League MVP is being dangled by the Cubs so the team can cut salary. Bryant hit .282/.382/.521, with 31 home runs, last season. He’s under team control through 2021, though that could change depending on the result of a grievance Bryant followed years ago. Teams will likely wait until the grievance is resolved before making serious offers for Bryant.
Dec. 9: Gerrit Cole will likely shatter record contract
The Washington Nationals re-signing Stephen Strasburg to a record-breaking seven-year, $245 million contract for a pitcher was music to the ears of free agent Gerrit Cole.
It was already expected that Cole would become the highest paid pitcher in MLB history when he signs this winter. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the numbers could well surpass $300 million, which would shatter the previous record of $217 million held by David Price.
Cole’s final payday is now expected to exceed $300 million — and not by a penny or two. Nine years at $324 million is $36M on avg per year and that is probably not a bad over/under. What Strasburg signed for would move me to take the over on Cole.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 9, 2019
It's been reported all week that the New York Yankees were prepared to offer Cole a record-setting deal, with some adding New York wouldn't be denied in its pursuit. That's certainly going to be tested now given the money Strasburg received. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels are also reportedly in the mix to sign the dominant right-hander.
Cole, 29, is coming off his best season in MLB. In 33 starts, he produced a league-best 2.50 ERA and an Astros single-season franchise record of 326 strikeouts. He also had a 25-start unbeaten streak that was snapped in the World Series.
Rangers sign Joely Rodríguez
The Texas Rangers have been busy adding pitching depth this winter. In addition to Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports they’re also signed left-hander Joely Rodríguez to a two-year, $5.5 million deal.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 10, 2019
The 28-year-old posted a 1.85 ERA over 90 appearances in Japan the last two seasons.
He made 38 appearances for the Philadelphia Phillies between 2016 and 2017. His 5.40 ERA during that time was not notable. However, his 58.3 groundball rate did open some eyes. Rodríguez also spent time in Triple A with the Rangers in 2017, so there’s familiarity here on both sides.
Red Sox actively trying to trade Jackie Bradley Jr.
There's been speculation that the Boston Red Sox would seek to trade former MVP Mookie Betts this winter. While nothing seems to be cooking on that front right now, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe is reporting another Red Sox outfielder, Jackie Bradley Jr., could be on the move.
Couple of #RedSox items;
* They are actively trying to trade Jackie Bradley Jr. and were engaged with the Mets before they turned to Marisnick.
* Sox are not actively involved with any of their free agents (Holt, Porcello, etc) beyond keeping tabs on them.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) December 9, 2019
One of the Red Sox main goals this winter is to reduce payroll. They’re about $10 million above the competitive balance tax threshold at the present time. With Bradley expected to receive at least that much in his final year of arbitration eligibility, trading him would help in that department.
Bradley disappointed at the plate in 2019, hitting .225/.317/.421 with 21 home runs and 62 RBIs in 567 plate appearances. He does remain a strong defender in center field, which is sure to appeal to some teams.
Brewers have interest in Didi Gregorius
Having already lost key free agents like Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas this winter, the Milwaukee Brewers are reportedly looking for pieces to help boost the offense.
According to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, that includes free agent shortstop Didi Gregorius.
Brewers are also in on Gregorius. Milwaukee has lost 14 players off its wild card team. Time to get to work.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 10, 2019
The soon-to-be 30-year-old veteran was limited to 82 games last season after undergoing offseason Tommy John surgery. He never quite looked like himself, hitting just .238/.276/.441 with 16 home runs and 61 RBIs in 344 plate appearances. That's why many believe he'll seek a one-year deal to help rebuild his value.
Milwaukee is currently very thin on the infield with Keston Huira and Orlando Arcia as the only proven options. That makes Gregorius a logical fit. The Cincinnati Reds are also reportedly in the mix.
Nationals not closing door on Anthony Rendon
Before the winter meetings began, Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner claimed his team wouldn’t be able to afford re-signing both Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg in free agency.
However, now that Strasburg has been locked in to a seven-year, $245 million contract that will allow the team to defer money until after the contract expires, general manager Mike Rizzo believes their could be a path to bring back Rendon as well.
“I don’t see this in any way hindering us from the elite players in the game,” Rizzo said. “When you look at those comments and then you look at the structure of this particular deal, Mark realizes there are ways to fit players in.
“There are ways to field a championship roster. The resources have always been there. I don’t expect that to change.”
The Nationals have had a top seven payroll in four of the last five seasons, so Rizzo is correct about the availability of resources.
The question now is just how large Rendon's market will be. He's reportedly drawing significant interest from the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers. That could still push his price tag beyond what the Nationals are willing to pay, but for now it seems foolish to count them out.
Adam Jones could he headed to Japan
The market for veteran outfielder Adam Jones is apparently not developing as he’d hoped. According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the 34-year-old is now considering a move to Japan.
Free-agent OF Adam Jones talking to Orix Buffaloes about multi-year deal, sources tell The Athletic. If he decides to go to Japan, an agreement could come this week.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 9, 2019
Jones also struggled to find a deal last season, waiting until March to sign a one-year, $3 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He appeared in 137 games for Arizona, hitting .260/.313/.414 with 16 homers and 67 RBIs over 528 plate appearances. That’s right in line with his final season in Baltimore one year earlier.
As a five-time MLB All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner, Jones would immediately become one of the biggest stars we’ve seen make the late-career move to Japan.
Dec. 8: Yankees to make record-setting offer to Gerrit Cole
All signs have pointed to the New York Yankees making Gerrit Cole their primary focus in free agency this winter. Terms such as “won’t be denied” have been thrown around to describe their determination to get a deal done.
According to Bob Klapisch of the New York Times, those words will be backed up by the Yankees first offer to Cole. Klapisch reports the Yankees are prepared to put a record-setting seven-year, $245 million contract on the table.
I'm told #Yankees have a seven-year, $245 million offer on the table for Gerrit Cole. Would be a record-setting contract for a pitcher, surpassing Greinke’s $34.4 million AAV. Question is whether #Dodgers or #Angels will go to 8-9 or even 10 years.
— Bob Klapisch (@BobKlap) December 8, 2019
As noted, the deal would surpass Zack Greinke’s $34.4 million annual average and David Price’s overall $217 million contract as the highest ever for a pitcher. It’s expected the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels will make initial offers at this week’s winter meetings.
Dec. 7: Mets are talking to Rick Porcello
The New York Mets are expected to have a lot more spending money once Steven A. Cohen becomes the franchise’s majority owner. In the meantime, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen is looking to make a mark this winter by targeting a former Cy Young award winner in free agency.
According to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, that pitcher is Rick Porcello.
Mets are talking to Rick Porcello. Perhaps AL to NL switch would spark nice bounce back. @matthewcerrone linked Porcello/Mets
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 7, 2019
Porcello's 22 wins and 3.15 ERA were enough to net him the Cy Young in 2016, which was his second season with the Boston Red Sox. The three seasons since have looked a lot like the seven seasons prior in Detroit — inconsistent and uneven. The 30-year-old right-hander is coming off his worst season after posting a 5.52 ERA over 174.1 innings.
Even if the 2016 is an outlier, Porcello does have one thing going for him — his durability. He’s made at least 27 starts in each of his 11 MLB seasons. The price tag isn’t expected to be high either as Porcello attempts to rebuild his value. As Heyman notes, a move to the National League could help in that regard.
If the Mets land Porcello, he would slide into the rotation spot vacated when Zack Wheeler signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Yankees won't be denied in pursuit of Gerrit Cole
If the New York Yankees don't sign Gerrit Cole this winter, it will undoubtedly go down as a major disappointment for the organization and the fans.
According to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, the Yankees have put their "total focus" on signing the free agent right-hander and are determined to not be denied.
Hear Yankees “total focus” right now is on Gerrit Cole. PHI, TEX, LAD, LAA are other teams known to be in but Yankees don’t want to be denied.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 7, 2019
This backs up Thursday's report from ESPN's Jeff Passan, which stated Yankees ownership has given general manager Brian Cashman permission to offer a record-setting contract if necessary to sign the 29-year-old flamethrower. As Heyman notes, several big-spending teams are also in pursuit of Cole, which could send his price tag skyrocketing.
On Saturday, Passan added we’re nearing the point where teams will make their initial offers to Cole.
The Gerrit Cole sweepstakes is moving to the point where teams will be making initial offers in the coming days, sources tell ESPN. The three favorites remain the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 7, 2019
Dec. 7: Trevor Rosenthal reunites with former manager in KC
Trevor Rosenthal was never expected to be a hot commodity this offseason, but he may have landed in the one spot best suited to turn his career around.
The Kansas City Royals announced on Saturday that they signed the 29-year-old right-hander to a minor league deal on Saturday that includes a non-roster invitation to spring training. Notably, Rosenthal will be reunited with manager Mike Matheny, who he played under with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Rosenthal is well known for his historically bad 2019 season at this point — infinite ERAs are hard to forget — but he’s not that far removed from being one of the game’s dominant relievers. Before missing the 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery, Rosenthal saved 121 games over the previous six seasons with a 2.99 ERA and 435 strikeouts in 325 innings.
The Royals could use all the bullpen help they can get, as well. Their 5.07 ERA last season ranked 27th in baseball, and they only had one reliever with at least 40 innings and an ERA under 4.
Dec. 6: Rangers reach two-year agreement with Jordan Lyles
The Texas Rangers will make another notable addition to their starting rotation after reaching two-year, $16 million agreement with veteran right-hander Jordan Lyles.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal was the first to report a deal was reached. ESPN’s Jeff Passan confirmed the financial details.
Right-hander Jordan Lyles and the Texas Rangers are in agreement on a two-year, $16 million deal, sources tell ESPN. @Ken_Rosenthal had Lyles to Texas first.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 7, 2019
Lyles will join Kyle Gibson — who was signed to a three-year, $30 million deal earlier in the offseason — as the newest Rangers hurlers. The rotation is also expected to include Mike Minor and Lance Lynn.
It was a tale of two halves for the 29-year-old right-hander in 2019. Lyles posted a 5.36 ERA in 17 starts for the Pittsburgh Pirates before turning his season completely around after a trade to the Milwaukee Brewers. In 11 starts for Milwaukee, Lyles went 7-1 with a 2.45 ERA.
Phillies make Anthony Rendon top priority
The Philadelphia Phillies are prepared to keep spending after signing Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million.
According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Phillies would even be willing to exceed the league's luxury tax threshold if it means signing Anthony Rendon.
Though the Phillies have not yet held a face-to-face meeting with Rendon, Nightengale's sources tell him that signing the free-agent third baseman has become the team's top priority. It's also noted that Josh Donaldson could be the Phillies fallback option if they fail to sign Rendon.
Rendon, the marquee position player on the free-agent market, is expected to demand a contract that pays close to the eight-year, $260 million extension Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado received last spring. It may be a shorter deal, but likely would be for at least $35 million a year. Donaldson, who will be 34 on Sunday, would come at a cheaper cost, but he also likely will receive at least a three- or four-year contract paying him more than $25 million a season.
The Phillies have remained aggressive after handing out big deals the last two offseasons. That obviously includes Bryce Harper's 13-year, $330 million deal.
Signing Rendon would also take another key player away from the division rival Washington Nationals. The Nationals were able to thrive without Harper, winning the franchise's first-ever World Series championship in 2019. But it would be a much tougher road without Rendon.
Dec. 5: Yankees make Gerrit Cole their top priority
Money will not be an issue in the New York Yankees pursuit of Gerrit Cole.
According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, Yankees' ownership has given general manager Brian Cashman permission to offer a record-setting deal if that's what it takes to bring Cole on board.
Passan adds that Yankees executives believe the bidding war will go beyond $250 million, but that signing Cole is clearly the team's biggest priority this winter.
The commitment from owner Hal Steinbrenner to strongly pursue Cole has emboldened the Yankees, who sent GM Brian Cashman, manager Aaron Boone, pitching coach Matt Blake and longtime Yankees star Andy Pettitte to their meeting in California. The attention paid by New York to embracing modern pitching analysis could appeal to Cole, whose thirst for knowledge and intelligence are among the qualities teams appreciate about him the most, according to sources.
This development would seemingly position the Yankees as favorites to sign Cole.
It was previously unclear how much the Yankees would be willing to spend in free agency this winter. For Cole, they will dig deep. For everyone else, it remains to be seen.
Padres to acquire outfielder Tommy Pham from Rays
Another busy day on the MLB Hot Stove was capped with a trade.
The San Diego Padres will acquire veteran outfielder Tommy Pham from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for slugging outfielder Hunter Renfroe and infield prospect Xavier Edwards.
The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal was the first to report a deal was close. ESPN’s Jeff Passan says the deal is agreed to and adds that another prospect will be headed to the Rays.
The deal sending Tommy Pham from the Tampa Bay Rays to the San Diego Padres is done, sources tell ESPN. Outfielder Hunter Renfroe and middle-infield prospect Xavier Edwards head back to the Rays. Padres will get another minor leaguer.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 6, 2019
The deal will be finalized once the involved parties pass their physical.
Pham, 31, is coming off a solid campaign in which he produced a .273/.369/.450 batting line to go along with 21 home runs and 25 stolen bases. The Padres covet Pham’s ability to get on base, which is an area they struggled with in 2019. Pham is expected to bat second, between Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado.
Renfroe, 27, is expected to bring a power boost to the Rays lineup. He's slugged 85 home runs over the last three seasons, but only has a .231 batting average during that time. Edwards figures to be the more intriguing name in the deal. The 20-year-old shortstop is the No. 5 prospect in San Diego's highly regarded minor league system.
Twins re-sign Michael Pineda for two years
The Minnesota Twins are bringing back a key member of their starting rotation.
Veteran right-hander Michael Pineda has agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal, according to Pierre Noujaim of Fox 9 Minneapolis.
The Athletic’s Dan Hayes adds that the deal is pending a physical.
— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesMLB) December 6, 2019
Pineda, 30, received a 60-game suspension on Sept. 7 for violating the league’s PED policy. The suspension will keep him out for the first five weeks of the 2020 season.
Due to injuries and a 2014 suspension for having pine tar on his neck, Pineda has only completed one full season since his debut in 2011. He most recently missed the entire 2018 season with a torn meniscus in his right knee. He was pretty effective in 26 starts last season, posting a 4.01 ERA.
If, and it’s a big if, Pineda can stay on the field for the duration of this contract, it could be a nice bargain for Minnesota.
Mets acquire Jake Marisnick from Astros
The New York Mets first move since the announcement that the Wilpons will sell the team was ... underwhelming. New York reportedly traded two prospects in exchange for Houston Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick on Thursday, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
The 28-year-old Marisnick hit .233/.289/.411, with 10 home runs, over 318 plate appearances with Houston in 2019. He’s been used as a fourth outfielder throughout his career, and is regarded for playing strong defense. Marisnick is expected to make around $3 million in 2020. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the season.
Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen praised Marisnick’s defensive ability in a release, saying Marisnick is “an elite defender who is an incredibly smart base runner.”
In exchange for Marisnick, Houston received pitcher Blake Taylor and outfielder Kenedy Corona, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Neither player ranked highly in the Mets’ system.
Brewers pick up Omar Narvaez after trade with M’s
The Milwaukee Brewers have found Yasmani Grandal’s replacement. Two weeks after Grandal signed a four-year, $73 million deal with the Chicago White Sox, the Brewers have acquired Omar Narvaez in a trade with the Seattle Mariners.
Narvaez, 27, is regarded as an offense-first catcher. He hit .278/.353/.460, with 22 home runs, in 2019. Narvaez’s wRC+ — an advanced stat that measures offensive performance — wasn’t much worse than Grandal’s last season. Grandal had a 121 wRC+. Narvaez came in at 119.
The two players differ greatly when it comes to defense, however. By many measures, Grandal is considered one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. Narvaez is viewed as one of the worst.
Narvaez is projected to make around $3 million next season. He’s under team control through 2022, giving the Brewers multiple years to turn Narvaez’s defense around.
Dec. 4: Yankees meet with Stephen Strasburg
Stephen Strasburg’s free agency tour made a notable stop on Wednesday.
The 31-year-old right-hander reportedly paid a visit to the New York Yankees in a meeting that MLB.com's Mark Feinsand says went 'well.'
Yankees' meeting with Stephen Strasburg said to have gone well, per source. They talked NY market, the team and its philosophy as the Yankees gave the pitcher an extensive view of the organization. Exact dollars weren't discussed, but the pitching market was certainly referenced.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 5, 2019
The starting pitching market started moving Wednesday after Zack Wheeler agreed to a five-year, $118 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies and Cole Hamels landed a one-year, $18 million contract with the Atlanta Braves.
That news, coupled with Strasburg's meeting, doesn't necessarily mean a deal is imminent. But it does indicate the process is moving much quicker than last winter.
Strasburg is considered the second best free agent pitcher available behind Gerrit Cole. According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Yankees held a four-hour meeting with Cole on Tuesday in which he declared there would be “no west coast bias” in his decision.
The Yankees are clearly doing their due diligence. Though it’s unknown how much money they'll be willing to spend to land a premiere free agent.
Los Angeles Angels trade for Dylan Bundy
The Los Angeles Angels, hungry to bolster their pitching staff this offseason, are hoping they can turn around pitcher Dylan Bundy, the once hyped Baltimore Orioles prospect.
The two teams have swung a deal for Bundy, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2019
Bundy, 27, is a former No. 4-overall pick who was pegged as the Orioles’ ace of the future at one time. Injuries slowed down his development and he’s never been all that great in the big leagues. In five seasons, he has a 38-45 record with a 4.67 ERA. Never has he finished a season with a sub-4.00 ERA. In 2018, he lost the most games in MLB and gave up the most homers.
He’ll get a fresh start now in Anaheim with new manager Joe Maddon and new pitching coach Mickey Callaway. The good thing is that Bundy is still young and could have a positive future ahead in a new uniform if he can reclaim some of what made him a top prospect.
Los Angeles Dodgers meet with Gerrit Cole
Gerrit Cole figures to command the biggest payday on the free-agent market this year, and he’s already met with one of the teams that will have no problem affording him, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Times’ Jorge Castillo reports that Cole and the Dodgers have met with Cole, as they try to square away their offseason plans:
The Dodgers met with the star right-hander, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, as they continue to evaluate their options to improve a roster coming off another disappointing finish. The Angels and New York Yankees reportedly have also met with Cole.
An Orange County native, the 29-year-old Cole was raised minutes from Angel Stadium and attended UCLA but grew up a Yankees fan.
The Times also reports that the Dodgers have met with other top free agents such as Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon, both of whom could also be fits in L.A.
The Dodgers have also met with Stephen Strasburg, the other top-tier right-hander on the market, and third baseman Anthony Rendon this offseason. They also have interest in third baseman Josh Donaldson, who could be had with a three- or four-year deal.
Zack Wheeler, the No. 3 pitcher in the free-agent rankings behind Cole and Strasburg, agreed to a $118 million deal with the Phillies on Wednesday, but Cole and Strasburg are expected to fetch much more than that.
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