Hot Stove Digest: Will Astros use hacking bounty to acquire Jose Quintana?
Welcome to The Stew’s Hot Stove Digest, our daily rundown of MLB news, rumors and gossip for Hot Stove season. Here you’ll find a quick recap of all the day’s action and other fun stuff from around the internet that we think is worth your time.
MOST INTERESTING RUMOR OF THE DAY: Earlier this week we heard conflicting reports on the Texas Rangers level of interest in acquiring Chicago White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, that could leave the door open for Texas’ other team, the Houston Astros, to ramp up their efforts in the coming weeks.
The Astros are one of several teams that have been connected to Quintana throughout the offseason. However, with the White Sox not budging on their high asking price, we’ve yet to see any team get particularly close to a deal. But that could change now that the Astros circumstances have changed after they were awarded the Cardinals two top remaining draft picks as punishment for the hacking scandal.
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“We’re hoping something will break,” Crane tells Nightengale. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that … getting two picks from the Cardinals gives us more depth in the system. We’re still looking into it. The thing about pitching is that it keeps games under control. And you got to have someone who can slam that door.”
Whether that someone is Quintana is anyone’s guess, but the Astros are clearly factoring those two draft picks into their plans. The White Sox reportedly asked for a package including young right-hander Joe Musgrove and two additional prospects believed to be Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker during previous talks. Understandably, the Astros were reluctant to move forward then, but maybe would be more comfortable now knowing they’ll have a chance to replace those prospects quickly.
It’s an interesting dynamic that could definitely help position Houston to strike now or down the road once they’ve made their selections. If they do land Quintana before opening day though, the extra picks will have definitely been a game changer. [USA Today]
LOCKED IN: Speaking of the Astros, they avoided arbitration with veteran reliever Will Harris by agreeing to a new two-year deal. Harris will receive $2.2M in 2017 and $2.8M in 2018. There’s also a club option for 2019 that will range in between $5.5M and $8.5M based on performance. Harris, 32, was an All-Star in 2016. He finished the season with a solid 2.25 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 69/15 K/BB ratio over 64 innings. [@jakemkaplan]
BULLPEN BOOST: The Mets re-signed two relievers and added a third on Friday, helping to boost their bullpen depth. The most notable was veteran Jerry Blevins, who re-signed on a one year, $6M deal with a club option for the 2018 season. The 33-year-old left-hander posted a 2.79 ERA and 52/15 K/BB ratio in 42 innings for the Mets last season. He’ll help cover for the loss of Jeurys Familia, who’s expected to be suspended prior to opening day. [@JonHeyman]
@Ken_Rosenthal">The Mets also re-signed Fernando Salas on a one-year deal, pending a physical. Salas, 31, posted a 2.08 ER and 19/0 K/BB ratio over 17 1/3 innings with the Mets after being acquired from the Angels last season. And finally, they added veteran left-hander Tom Gorzelanny on a minor league deal. Gorzelanny appeared in just seven for Cleveland in 2016.
WELCOME BACK: The Rays have agreed to a one-year, $2.5M deal to bring back free agent first baseman Logan Morrison. Still only 29, Morrison will look to finally get on track after seeming to have breakout potential following a strong rookie season in 2011. Since, Morrison has floundered. He hit just .238/.319/.414 with 14 homers and 43 RBI over 353 at-bats for the Rays last season, but figures to have first base to himself after the Rays shuffled their infield by trading Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers. [@JeffPassan]
THAT’S NOT ALL: The Rays also have a minor-league deal with veteran infielder Rickie Weeks. The 34-year was a solid contributor against left-handed pitching last season, hitting .284/.368/.642 with six homers. [@TBTimes_Rays]
MOVING ON: Former Giants closer Sergio Romo is reportedly nearing a decision that could see him land with the rival Dodgers. [@JonHeyman]
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BAD START: The Twins have designated slugger Byung-ho Park one year into his four-year, $12M contract. The expectation is that Park will clear waivers due to his remaining salary, thus keeping him in the Twins system. But it’s still possible he’ll be traded or outright released should Minnesota be comfortable eating the money. [Big League Stew]
GOOD LUCK: The Nationals signed free agent Jeremy Guthrie to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. The 37-year-old right-hander posted a troubling 7.17 ERA and 1.77 WHIP across 86 2/3 innings at Triple-A last season, and will be hard pressed to find a job in the Nationals deep starting rotation. [@ChrisCotillo]
DECISION TIME: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says the league will make a decision on whether to punish Jeurys Familia for his Oct. 31 domestic violence arrest before opening day. [Big League Stew]
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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter!