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The latest Machado free-agent rumors

MLB.com

Manny Machado has been one of the game's best players since debuting in 2012, and he is set to cash in as a first-time free agent this offseason.

Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the infielder.

Manny Machado has been one of the game's best players since debuting in 2012, and he is set to cash in as a first-time free agent this offseason.

Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the infielder.

Machado clarifies 'Johnny Hustle' comment
Nov. 20: In an exclusive interview with MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, free-agent superstar Manny Machado clarified his infamous comment from the postseason, in which he said, "I'm not the type of player that's going to be 'Johnny Hustle.'"

"When I was asked that question, I was definitely on the defensive, and I was wrong to answer it the way that I did, because looking back, it doesn't come across how I meant it," Machado said. "For me, I was trying to talk about how I'm not the guy who is eye wash. There's a difference between fake hustle for show and being someone who tries hard to win. I've always been the guy who does whatever he can to win for his team.

"But I know how I said it and how that came across, and it's something I take responsibility for. I look forward to talking with each GM and owner that we meet with about that, or any other questions they have."

Machado also addressed several other questions during the interview, including what a potential timetable might be for his decision on where to sign what is expected to be one of the richest contracts in North American sports history.

At just 26 years old, Machado is a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner, coming off the best offensive season of his career. In a season split between the Orioles and Dodgers, he slashed .297/.367/.538 with 37 home runs and 14 steals. For the second time in his career, he played in all 162 games of the season.

A-Rod touts Machado as 'a great player' and 'a fine young man'
Nov. 20: Alex Rodriguez has acted as a mentor to Manny Machado since Machado was a teenager in Miami -- where both Rodriguez and Machado grew up -- and he still holds a role as an advisor for the Yankees organization, leading some to wonder whether A-Rod could help bring Machado to New York.

Rodriguez, who was in London on Monday as part of MLB's promotional tour for next year's series between the Yankees and the Red Sox at London Stadium, said he hasn't been approached by the Yanks or Machado. But Rodriguez did endorse Machado's talent and character, according to the New York Post.

"I haven't had a chance to talk to [owner] Hal [Steinbrenner] or [GM Brian] Cashman, but I know ownership is as hungry as ever to put a great product and winner on the field," Rodriguez said. "And he's a great player.

"No one has asked me for advice. I do wish Manny well. He's a fine young man. It's a fun part of his career. I would just tell him to eliminate the white noise and focus on the game."

Machado drew criticism in October for admitting in an interview with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) that he wasn't a "Johnny Hustle" type of player, and he was also called a "dirty player" by Christian Yelich of the Brewers after spiking first baseman Jesus Aguilar during the NLCS. The debate about Machado has continued this month, with the infielder expected to command more than $300 million on the free-agent market.

The Athletic's Jayson Stark reported last week that the Yankees were doing "extensive" background work on Machado to determine if he's the right fit for the left side of their infield.

"Any time you're going after a player, due diligence is a part of it," Rodriguez said. "He's a great player and he's young and has played well in the AL East. But Hal and Cashman would be right to do a deep dive on any player, whether it's someone making the minimum [salary] or if it's a big free agent like Manny."

How will Paxton trade impact Yankees' pursuit of Machado?
Nov. 20: The Yankees' trade for James Paxton could have ripple effects beyond the starting pitching market. Those effects could even extend to Machado and Bryce Harper, as one of the major potential suitors for the two superstars has to determine its course for the rest of the offseason.

According to a report from MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi following the Paxton trade, the Yankees do remain involved in the marketplace for high-end position players like Machado. It would be reasonable to think they might become even more involved, since they've now addressed their starting rotation -- and without handing out a big free-agent contract -- but per Morosi, starting pitching actually remains New York's priority even after adding Paxton. That's consistent with the position the Yankees have taken this offseason that they want to add multiple front-end starting pitchers entering 2019.

But Machado-to-New York continues to be on the table, especially compared to Harper. Also per Morosi, the Yankees believe Machado is a better fit for their roster, since he fills a clear need at shortstop with Didi Gregorius recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Not only that, the Paxton trade discussions revealed the Yankees' desire to add an impact shortstop. A source told Morosi that the Yankees asked Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto about the availability of Seattle's star shortstop, Jean Segura, with the possibility of packaging Segura with Paxton. That didn't materialize, so maybe the Yankees will turn their attention to the free-agent market -- and there's no better option there than Machado.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Source: #Yankees mentioned #Mariners SS Jean Segura in trade talks before decision was made to focus on Paxton alone. Segura���s inclusion in the deal would have all but eliminated Yankees as possible destination for Manny Machado. @MLB @MLBNetwork

Reggie Jackson weighs in on Machado-Yankees
Nov. 19: Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said earlier in the week that free agent superstar Manny Machado's comments during the postseason regarding his lack of hustle were "troubling."

Hall of Fame slugger Reggie Jackson, whom the Yankees signed as a free agent back in 1976, spoke to Wallace Matthews of the New York Daily News, saying that Machado's lack of hustle "ain't gonna play here [in New York]."

"I was a pretty good player and I ran hard every single at-bat," Jackson continued. "It takes talent to run fast, but it doesn't take talent to run hard. Effort is the least we can ask of ourselves."

Jackson did take some flak from manager Billy Martin for not running hard after a ball hit by the Red Sox's Jim Rice in a 1977 game, turning a single into a double. An incensed Martin pulled Jackson from the game, leading to a heated argument between the two in the dugout, during which they almost came to blows.

"I only ask one thing of my players," Martin said afterward. "Hustle. If said they hustle for me, they can play for me. I told them in Spring Training. I had a meeting. I told them you play only one way, to win. You play hard and give your 100 percent best. If you don't hustle, I don't accept it. If a player shows up the club, I show up the player."

Video: Cashman discusses how to evaluate free agent Machado

Machado is expected to command a contract somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 years and $300 million or more. The Yankees will open the 2019 season without their starting shortstop, Didi Gregorius, out of action as he recovers from offseason Tommy John surgery. That puts Machado in play for the vacancy, especially considering New York won 100 games in '18 but still lost to the eventual World Series champion Red Sox in the American League Division Series.

Should Yankees go all-in on this year's free-agent class?
Nov. 19: By their lofty "World Series or bust" standards, the Yankees haven't had much success recently. New York hasn't hoisted the Commissioner's Trophy since 2009, and even the Orioles have won the American League East more recently than the Yanks.

ESPN's David Schoenfield thinks Yankees owners Hal and Hank Steinbrenner need to "summon the spirit of their father and go big, ignore the luxury tax, do whatever it takes," and that means going all-in on this year's free-agent class.

Schoenfield outlines a five-move plan for the Yankees to become the best team in baseball, starting with signing infielder Manny Machado and left-hander Patrick Corbin.

Schoenfield thinks the Yanks should trade for Mariners southpaw James Paxton to join Corbin in their revamped rotation, noting that Paxton is projected to earn roughly the same amount as Sonny Gray in arbitration. New York can trade Gray and add Paxton without impacting the payroll. That looks prescient now, as the Yankees acquired Paxton on Monday in a blockbuster deal that sent Justus Sheffield -- the Yankees' No. 1 prospect -- and two other Minor Leaguers to Seattle.

Move No. 4 in Schoenfield's plan is to sign Daniel Murphy to start at first base and fill in at second, replacing the Greg Bird/Neil Walker combination. The Yankees gave more than 700 combined plate appearances to Bird and Walker in 2018, and both posted sub-.675 OPS marks. Schoenfield argues the lefty-swinging Murphy would be a great fit at Yankee Stadium, and points out that the veteran's contact-heavy approach would help to balance New York's strikeout-prone lineup some.

To cap it all off, Schoenfield has signing Bryce Harper as Move No. 5 for New York. In this scenario, Brett Gardner would become the fourth outfielder, with Giancarlo Stanton remaining the club's primary designated hitter.

For the Yankees to pull this off, the Steinbrenners would need to be willing to exceed the $206 million luxury-tax threshold by a significant margin, which isn't out of the question. Before staying under the threshold in 2018, New York paid the tax in every year from 2003, when the system was put in place, to 2017.

Will offseason end with neither Harper nor Machado in Philadelphia?
Nov. 18: The Phillies have long been connected to free-agent superstars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, with many expecting the club to land at least one of them. But what are the chances that Philadelphia comes away with neither player?

That was the most-selected option in a recent MLB Trade Rumors poll, with nearly a third of people (as of Sunday night) voting -- and perhaps hoping, if they are fans of other teams -- that Philadelphia won't sign either Harper or Machado.

Of course, if that scenario happens, it might be because the Phillies decide to take a different route. MLB Network insider Joel Sherman argued Saturday in an article for the New York Post that Philadelphia would be better off signing three or four big-name free agents instead of pouring all of its resources into Harper or Machado.

Are the Phillies facing a choice between Machado now and Trout later?
Nov. 17: The Phillies are considered the favorite to sign at least one of Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. They have the funds. They have the need. They make a lot of sense. But is there a reason to avoid splurging on a free-agent superstar now?

Machado immediately would make the Phillies better. But in a story for the New York Post, MLB Network insider Joel Sherman wonders if Philadelphia really is ready for the next step toward contention -- not to mention, the hype and expectations -- that comes with inking such a star.

It's a fair question after an up-and-down 2018 campaign in Philly. Through early August, the Phillies led the National League East and looked like certain postseason contenders, only to post an NL-worst 16-33 record after Aug. 7. The youngsters who were expected to make up the core of the franchise's next contender have struggled to develop at the Major League level, aside from NL Cy Young Award finalist Aaron Nola  and slugger Rhys Hoskins .

"Wouldn't the Phillies be better off spending $300 million-ish on Patrick CorbinCraig Kimbrel Michael Brantley  and Josh Donaldson  -- or multiple players of that ilk -- to address a roster in need of upgrading in many spots?" Sherman argues. "That at least keeps them out of the ultra-long-term, big-buck risk that would come with Harper or Machado. And the Phillies have to think a little about future financial flexibility for many reasons, none bigger than that Mike Trout  -- who grew up a Phillies fan -- is a free agent in two years."

It's an interesting idea, particularly if Phillies execs don't think the club is one star player away right now and would prefer to enhance multiple areas while also taking more time to evaluate players like Odubel Herrera Maikel Franco Scott Kingery J.P. Crawford Nick Pivetta Nick Williams  and Zach Eflin .

In theory, then, a few of those would improve in 2019 alongside the multiple free-agent reinforcements, and the franchise would be in perfect position for a run at Trout -- at a time when both he and the Phillies could be in their primes together.

Girardi weighs in on Machado and the Yankees
Nov. 17: Former Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he's "not sure from a financial standpoint where Manny [Machado] is going to be and how it fits within [the Yankees'] plans," according to NJ Advanced Media's Brendan Kuty. "There's no doubt that Manny's a great player, but there's a lot of great players that are out there. This is a pretty strong free agent class."

Girardi, who managed the Yankees for a decade from 2008-17, sounded as though he didn't feel New York necessarily needed to add the superstar infielder, though there is a vacancy at shortstop to open the season as Didi Gregorius recovers from Tommy John surgery. Machado is expected to command more than $300 million on this offseason's free-agent market. Girardi went on to say there are a lot of other good options to augment the Yankees' roster after a 100-win season in 2018.

"There are some pretty good bullpen arms that have experience. There are some pretty good outfielders, good infielders," Girardi said. "That's something that they have to decide."

How likely is it Machado stays at SS when he signs?
Nov. 17: Among the many big questions surrounding Manny Machado's free agency -- where will he sign? how much money will he get? -- is whether or not the the former third baseman will remain at shortstop after switching to that position in 2018.

MLB.com's Andrew Simon examines Machado's defensive performance as a shortstop in 2018. In a nutshell? 

"Not satisfied with being a two-time Gold Glove Award winner at third base, where he was widely recognized as one of the game's best defenders, Machado took a chance moving back to his natural position in 2018," Simon writes. "He had started just 49 games there since his big league debut in 2012, and the transition did not go smoothly. Advanced metrics weren't kind to Machado's performance at short, although his numbers improved considerably after his mid-July trade to the Dodgers."

The likely outcome to all of this, then, may be determined by the biggest question about Machado: Where will he sign? If he were to go to, say, the Yankees, there's a chance he would handle shortstop while Didi Gregorius is sidelined in the wake of Tommy John surgery and then shift to third base upon Gregorius' return. If Machado were to head to, say, the Phillies, maybe he stays at shortstop ahead of youngsters Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford.

In other words, while Machado clearly is superior at the hot corner, he should be capable of playing either position on the left side of the infield, at least while he's still in his prime years. But if his new team has a bigger need at one spot over the other, expect him to fill that.

Phils are ready to spend for Machado, other big free agents
Nov. 16: If the Phillies are going to seriously pursue Machado, Bryce Harper and other top free agents, they'll have to be willing to seriously open their wallets. And they're prepared to do just that.

"We're going into this expecting to spend money. And maybe even be a little bit stupid about it," owner John Middleton told USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale at the MLB Owners Meetings.

"It's exciting to contemplate what we may be able to do this offseason. We know the free-agent class this year is really, really good."

Both Machado and Harper could command contracts in the 10-plus year and $300-plus million range. But the Phillies currently have less than $70 million on their payroll for 2019, and only about $50 million committed for 2020 and $15 million for 2021.

They can afford to make a major play in the free-agent market, and it looks like they plan to do it, as they look to make the leap to a playoff contender after fading down the stretch in 2018. In addition to being linked to Machado and Harper, Philadelphia could make a play for a top starter like Patrick Corbin or a reliever like Craig Kimbrel.

Middleton wouldn't refer to Machado or Harper by name, "But," he told Nightengale, "we will be spending."

Playing the blind resume game with Machado and Brantley
Nov. 16: Manny Machado and Michael Brantley are both free agents this offseason. The latter is going to get a fraction of the contract that the former does, for a number of reasons related to age, durability, potential, position value, etc. That is understandable.

What might be surprising, however, is just how close these two have been from a statistical standpoint in recent years. In fact, there's a legitimate argument that Brantley has been (gasp!) a better offensive player than Machado, at least by certain metrics. Hmmm.

MLB Network's Hot Stove Live show made this comparison across the past five seasons in a game of blind resumes:

Machado: .283 AVG, .343 OBP, .502 SLG, 127 OPS+

Brantley: .311 AVG, .371 OBP, .475 SLG, 127 OPS+

Again, none of this is to say that Machado isn't the better free-agent option this winter -- he's five years younger than Brantley, has proved to be more durable and plays a much more valuable defensive position -- but it does go to show how underappreciated Brantley has been.

Video: Blind resumes of MLB's high-profile free agents

Manny Machado

The latest Harper free-agent rumors

MLB.com

After a seven-season tenure with the Nationals that included a National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, an NL MVP Award in 2015 and six All-Star nods, Bryce Harper is now a free agent for the first time.

Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the outfielder.

After a seven-season tenure with the Nationals that included a National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, an NL MVP Award in 2015 and six All-Star nods, Bryce Harper is now a free agent for the first time.

Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the outfielder.

Harper and the Rockies?
Nov. 20: Bryce Harper has been connected with several teams during this Hot Stove season, but a club that would create shock waves if it were to land the superstar slugger is the Rockies. 

USA TODAY Sports' Gabe Lacques suggests the idea isn't as far-fetched as you might think. In fact, he argues Harper and Colorado would be a fit.

"The Rockies should recognize that their window to win may never be better, given their offensive core and that rarest of sights in Denver -- young, capable starting pitching," writes Lacques. "With the status of one franchise player in doubt, locking down another in the near term would ensure them enduring relevance -- along with a powerful shot to win it all now."

Harper playing 81 games a season at hitter-friendly Coors Field is quite a thought. In 90 career plate appearances there, he has a .387/.489/.627 slash line. And even if it's just for one year, can you imagine Harper and Nolan Arenado in the same lineup?

On the other hand, the spacious outfield of Coors Field can be a nightmare for mediocre defensive outfielders. MLB.com's Mike Petriello took a deep dive to investigate the causes behind Harper's poor defense in 2018.

"Defensive Runs Saved scored him a -26, worst of any outfielder who doesn't call massive Coors Field home," Petriello notes. "Ultimate Zone Rating scored him a -14.4, at the bottom of the list. Statcast™ Outs Above Average, which for the moment includes only range and not arm value, puts him at -12, fifth-worst."

That's not to say all is lost, of course. Petriello also writes that "he's still just 26 and enormously talented. Teams aren't just going to assume he can't play defense anymore."

Cashman weighs in on Harper as a potential first baseman
Nov. 20: When agent Scott Boras touted Bryce Harper's ability to play first base two weeks ago, some viewed it as a sales pitch to the Yankees, who don't have an obvious need in the outfield.

In an appearance Tuesday on MLB Network Radio, Yanks general manager Brian Cashman weighed in on Harper as a potential fit and quashed the idea of New York considering him for a position switch.

"People have talked about Bryce Harper being able to play first base, I don't know if he can or can't," Cashman said. "I know he's very athletic, but that's not necessarily a bet I would recommend placing with the amount of money he's expected to get."

Tweet from @MLBNetworkRadio: How much is Bryce Harper on Brian Cashman's radar? @CaseyStern asked him. #Yankees pic.twitter.com/70LmYXZPmc

Cashman again pinpointed the starting rotation as an area of focus, along with addressing the bullpen and covering the absence of shortstop Didi Gregorius, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery and likely won't be ready until the summer. Cashman, though, didn't close the door on signing Harper.

"I'm not ruling anything out," the GM said. "We like to think of ourselves as very progressive and open-minded to any idea, if it's a good idea. My main laser focus currently is on those areas of need, but that doesn't preclude me from, with ownership obviously directing things from above, being open to any idea that makes us the best that we can possibly be."

Is Harper still in play for Yankees after Paxton trade?
Nov. 20: The Yankees' trade for James Paxton could have ripple effects beyond the starting pitching market. Those effects could even extend to Harper and Manny Machado, as one of the major potential suitors for the two superstars has to determine its course for the rest of the offseason.

According to a report from MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi following the Paxton trade, the Yankees do remain involved in the marketplace for high-end position players like Harper. It would be reasonable to think they might become even more involved, since they've now addressed their starting rotation -- and without handing out a big free-agent contract -- but per Morosi, starting pitching actually remains New York's priority even after adding Paxton. That's consistent with the position the Yankees have taken this offseason that they want to add multiple front-end starting pitchers entering 2019.

But don't rule out Harper landing in New York. Also per Morosi, the Yankees have continued to have internal discussions since the beginning of the offseason about signing Harper and playing him at first base, although that's still "unrealistic" at this time.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: #Yankees have had internal discussions this offseason about possibility of signing Bryce Harper to play first base, but one source described that scenario as "unrealistic" -- at least, for now. Full story: https://t.co/eT7SMNRAI8 @MLBNetwork @MLB

Even if that's the case, the Yankees could probably find a place for a player of Harper's caliber, whether it's in the outfield, at first base or even at designated hitter. But someone like Machado might be a better fit, as he fills a clear need for the Yankees at shortstop in Didi Gregorius' absence.

Cardinals president: Team has the payroll room to add a player such as Harper
Nov. 19: The Cardinals have been mentioned as a potential landing spot for Bryce Harper, and team president Bill DeWitt III confirmed the club can afford to hand out $300 million or more in free agency, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"We could do it, sure," DeWitt said. It's about [considering] putting all our eggs in one basket. We have the payroll room."

Tweet from @dgoold: Asked about meeting a whopper, free-agent deal like Harper will command (greater than $300 million), Bill DeWitt III says, ���We could do it, sure. It���s about (considering) putting all our eggs in one basket. We have the payroll room.��� #stlcards #cardinals #MLB

With projected arbitration costs included, Baseball-Reference.com estimates that the Cardinals' payroll will be $136.9 million in 2019. Even if the Cards sign Harper for $35 million, their payroll wouldn't be much higher than it was this past season, and they would still be well below the $206 million luxury-tax threshold. St. Louis also has just $75.4 million committed for 2020, $33.4 million for 2021 and $6.67 million for 2022.

The Cardinals have needs in the bullpen, at third base and in the outfield, so they may choose to spread out their resources. But it's at least financially feasible for the club to sign Harper.

Could the Braves be a surprise suitor for Harper?
Nov. 19: The Athletic's David O'Brien floated the Braves as a potential suitor for Bryce Harper in a tweet on Monday, but a source quickly quashed that possibility, telling O'Brien that Atlanta is not in on the superstar outfielder.

Tweet from @DOBrienATL: And having said that, I was almost immediately assured (again) by someone I trust in these matters that the #Braves are not -- repeat *not* -- in on Harper and this person doesn't think they will be, said no way they'd give 10-year deal, etc. So, there ya go. Quashing my rumor. https://t.co/2hgL9vUkPY

The reigning National League East champions could benefit from Harper's power and patient approach, as Atlanta ranked just 19th in homers and finished in a tie for 19th in walk rate this past season. There's also an obvious need for Harper from a positional standpoint, with right fielder Nick Markakis joining Harper on the free-agent market. And the Braves seemingly have the financial room to sign Harper, with Baseball-Reference.com estimating that they will have an $86 million payroll in 2019, factoring in projected arbitration costs.

But Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos has indicated that he doesn't foresee the club handing out the type of contract -- possibly 10 years for north of $300 million -- it would take to sign Bryce Harper, and O'Brien's source reiterated that point Monday.

Should Yankees go all-in on this year's free-agent class?
Nov. 19: By their lofty "World Series or bust" standards, the Yankees haven't had much success recently. New York hasn't hoisted the Commissioner's Trophy since 2009, and even the Orioles have won the American League East more recently than the Yanks.

ESPN's David Schoenfield thinks Yankees owners Hal and Hank Steinbrenner need to "summon the spirit of their father and go big, ignore the luxury tax, do whatever it takes," and that means going all-in on this year's free-agent class.

Schoenfield outlines a five-move plan for the Yankees to become the best team in baseball, starting with signing infielder Manny Machado and left-hander Patrick Corbin.

Schoenfield thinks the Yanks should trade for Mariners southpaw James Paxton to join Corbin in their revamped rotation, noting that Paxton is projected to earn roughly the same amount as Sonny Gray in arbitration. New York can trade Gray and add Paxton without impacting the payroll. That looks prescient now, as the Yankees acquired Paxton on Monday in a blockbuster deal that sent Justus Sheffield -- the Yankees' No. 1 prospect -- and two other Minor Leaguers to Seattle.

Move No. 4 in Schoenfield's plan is to sign Daniel Murphy to start at first base and fill in at second, replacing the Greg Bird/Neil Walker combination. The Yankees gave more than 700 combined plate appearances to Bird and Walker in 2018, and both posted sub-.675 OPS marks. Schoenfield argues the lefty-swinging Murphy would be a great fit at Yankee Stadium, and points out that the veteran's contact-heavy approach would help to balance New York's strikeout-prone lineup some.

To cap it all off, Schoenfield has signing Bryce Harper as Move No. 5 for New York. In this scenario, Brett Gardner would become the fourth outfielder, with Giancarlo Stanton remaining the club's primary designated hitter.

For the Yankees to pull this off, the Steinbrenners would need to be willing to exceed the $206 million luxury-tax threshold by a significant margin, which isn't out of the question. Before staying under the threshold in 2018, New York paid the tax in every year from 2003, when the system was put in place, to 2017.

Harper in Houston, and for less than $300 million?
Nov. 18: Several Sports Illustrated writers made their predictions for where Bryce Harper would sign this offseason, and for how much. One of the out-of-the-box guesses came from Connor Grossman, who went with the Astros for $280 million over eight years, with an opt-out after 2020.

"I don't think Harper and Scott Boras are going to find a deal that meets their liking in both length and dollars," writes Grossman. "[Yankees general manager] Brian Cashman won't be swooping in with a 10-year, $400 million miracle. So they'll have to 'settle,' which in this case means breaking the average annual value record, joining an uber-talented team and leaving open the possibility of hitting free agency again at 28."

As for the Astros not being widely considered among the favorites to land Harper (like the Phillies and Yankees), Grossman cites the Angels' surprise signing of Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $254 million deal in 2011, as well as the Mariners inking Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million contract in '13, as examples of what can happen when you least expect it. A lineup featuring George Springer, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Harper would be all the more formidable for a club a year removed from winning the World Series.

MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported earlier this month that Houston had a deal in place to acquire Harper at last season's non-waiver Trade Deadline, but it was nixed by Nationals ownership.

Will Cubs join the fray for Harper?
Nov. 18: Although The Athletic reported earlier in November that the Cubs have "financial concerns that may limit their ability and motivation to make a huge splash this winter," the club may nonetheless be involved in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes.

Dan Bernstein of 670 The Score reported Friday that the Cubs are among the teams that are "in" on Harper with negotiations starting to pick up steam.

Tweet from @Bernstein_McK: .@dan_bernstein reporting that the Bryce Harper negotiations are picking up steam and that the Cubs are among the teams "in" on the free agent right fielder. https://t.co/tJn6KQF40G pic.twitter.com/8UfoUewbBg

Of course, the report should be taken with a grain of salt, as Matt Snyder of CBS Sports noted Saturday. The Cubs may simply be floating this as a misdirection to make other teams think they are involved in the Harper bidding, and to avoid backlash from the fan base. Furthermore, Bernstein isn't a known news-breaker, and his report hasn't been confirmed by any local or national reporters of note.

Baseball-reference estimates the Cubs will have a $208.6 million payroll in 2019, putting them over the Competitive Balance Tax threshold of $206 million and subjecting them to a 20 percent tax on all overages. Teams that exceed the threshold by $20 million to $40 million are also required to pay a 12 percent surtax. The Cubs will likely fall into that range if they sign Harper for north of $30 million.

Still, a major free-agent move wouldn't be out of character for the Theo Epstein-led front office, which has signed Jon Lester, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, Yu Darvish and Brandon Morrow to expensive contracts over the past four offseasons.

Will offseason end with neither Harper nor Machado in Philadelphia?
Nov. 18: The Phillies have long been connected to free-agent superstars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, with many expecting the club to land at least one of them. But what are the chances that Philadelphia comes away with neither player?

That was the most-selected option in a recent MLB Trade Rumors poll, with nearly a third of people (as of Sunday night) voting -- and perhaps hoping, if they are fans of other teams -- that Philadelphia won't sign either Harper or Machado.

Of course, if that scenario happens, it might be because the Phillies decide to take a different route. MLB Network insider Joel Sherman argued Saturday in an article for the New York Post that Philadelphia would be better off signing three or four big-name free agents instead of pouring all of its resources into Harper or Machado.

Will a potential TV deal be a factor in whether the Yankees sign Harper?
Nov. 17: Tyler Kepner of the New York Times notes that the Yankees are in negotiations to buy back the YES Network, and that such an acquisition by the franchise may influence whether Bryce Harper ends up in pinstripes next season.

Kepner includes a quote from Harper's agent, Scott Boras, who said, "It's a market within a market that no one's ever talked about." Harper is one of the most exciting players in the game, and his style of play and star power could improve already strong ratings for the YES Network.

Harper has said he wears the No. 34 because the two digits add up to 7, which was the number of his idol, Mickey Mantle. The short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium is certainly an inviting sight for the left-handed slugger, but the Yankees do have a crowded outfield already, and general manager Brian Cashman has said the club's No. 1 priority is starting pitching this offseason.

Are the Phillies facing a choice between Harper now and Trout later?
Nov. 17: The Phillies are considered the odds-on favorite to sign at least one of Bryce Harper or Manny Machado . They have the funds. They have the need. They make a lot of sense. But could there be a reason to avoid splurging on a free-agent superstar now?

Undoubtedly, Harper instantly would make the Phillies better. But in a story for the New York Post, MLB Network insider Joel Sherman wonders if Philadelphia really is ready for the next step toward contention -- not to mention, the hype and expectations -- that comes with inking such a star.

It's a fair question after a roller-coaster 2018 season in Philly. Through early August, the Phillies led the National League East and looked like definite postseason contenders, only to falter to an NL-worst 16-33 record after Aug. 7. The players who were supposed to make up the core of the franchise's next contender have struggled to develop at the Major League level, aside from NL Cy Young Award finalist Aaron Nola  and young slugger Rhys Hoskins .

"Wouldn't the Phillies be better off spending $300 million-ish on Patrick Corbin Craig Kimbrel Michael Brantley  and Josh Donaldson  -- or multiple players of that ilk -- to address a roster in need of upgrading in many spots?" Sherman argues. "That at least keeps them out of the ultra-long-term, big-buck risk that would come with Harper or Machado. And the Phillies have to think a little about future financial flexibility for many reasons, none bigger than that Mike Trout  -- who grew up a Phillies fan -- is a free agent in two years."

It could be a worthwhile approach, especially if Phillies execs don't think the club is one star player away right now and would prefer to enhance multiple areas while also taking more time to evaluate players like Odubel Herrera Maikel Franco Scott Kingery J.P. Crawford Nick Pivetta Nick Williams  and Zach Eflin .

In theory, then, a few of those would improve in 2019 alongside the multiple free-agent reinforcements, putting the franchise in line for a run at Trout -- at a time when both he and the Phillies could be in their primes together.

Is Harper's food preference the key to his free agency?
Nov. 16: Amid peak Hot Stove season, some rumors are more firm, others more frivolous. This one might fall under the latter label, but that doesn't make it any less fun.

As the baseball world awaits Bryce Harper's decision, we're gobbling up just about every tasty morsel of information we can when it comes to the free-agent superstar. TMZ Sports tracked down Harper at LAX and got, well, this delicious scoop, straight from Harper: "Favorite food? Probably Chicago. They got great food. ... Deep dish, of course. Anywhere in New York, of course, you know you can always go out there and eat good food."

Translation: Harper definitely is putting the Cubs, White Sox, Yankees and Mets at the top of his list, right?

In reality, the 26-year-old pointed out that he's still a long way from making any decision with regard to signing what is expected to be a massive, potentially record-breaking contract. But, hey, consider this a little food for thought.

Are Harper's defensive issues an anomaly? How will potential suitors view them?
Nov. 16: Bryce Harper's defensive statistics took a nosedive last season, as the right fielder finished with -26 defensive runs saved, while his arm graded out among the worst in MLB. But his agent, Scott Boras, argues that Harper's hyper-extended knee the season prior impacted his defensive value in 2018, and that it was therefore an anomaly.

How will potential suitors for the free agent superstar view his defensive performance from '18? 

"Teams interested in Harper must decide how much credence they put in Boras' argument, and how much it affects their valuation of the player," writes MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic. "The Nationals evidently were undeterred, making an offer to retain Harper on the final day of the season, albeit one they knew he was almost certain to refuse -- 10 years, $300 million, according to the Washington Post."

One mitigating factor even in the scenario that some clubs are wary of Harper's defense, is his potential as a designated hitter in the AL. 

Harper to the Yankees inevitable?
Nov. 16: While the Yankees have said their main focus this offseason is starting pitching, WEEI's John Tomase suggests one of this offseason's biggest prizes could still end up in pinstripes.

"For now, the Yankees aren't considered favorites to land [Bryce] Harper," Tomase writes. " ... But forgive me for thinking that somehow, someway, the Yankees end up playing a role in this before it's over. It would be a New York kind of move, especially in the wake of a fourth World Series title for the Red Sox since 2004. It could be justified by Harper's age, and man would it make Red Sox-Yankees even more compelling."

Harper has said that he wears the No. 34 because the two digits add up to 7, Mickey Mantle's number. And as a young, exciting and sometimes polarizing superstar, he fits the mold of past Yankee free-agent signings over the years. As for room in New York's outfield, the Yankees re-signed Brett Gardner earlier this offseason, making it a full house. But Tomase argues that the 35-year-old Gardner may not be the answer given his age, and Aaron Hicks is tradable. 

One way or the other, the Yankees being in play for Harper would be very intriguing, to say the least.

Phils ready to spend for Harper, other big free agents
Nov. 16: If the Phillies are going to seriously pursue Harper, Manny Machado and other top free agents, they'll have to be willing to seriously open their wallets. And they're prepared to do just that.

"We're going into this expecting to spend money. And maybe even be a little bit stupid about it," owner John Middleton told USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale at the MLB Owners Meetings.

"It's exciting to contemplate what we may be able to do this offseason. We know the free-agent class this year is really, really good."

Both Harper and Machado could command contracts in the 10-plus year and $300-plus million range. But the Phillies currently have less than $70 million on their payroll for 2019, and only about $50 million committed for 2020 and $15 million for 2021.

They can afford to make a major play in the free-agent market, and it looks like they plan to do it, as they look to make the leap to a playoff contender after fading down the stretch in 2018. In addition to being linked to Harper and Machado, Philadelphia could make a play for a top starter like Patrick Corbin or a reliever like Craig Kimbrel.

Middleton wouldn't refer to Harper or Machado by name, "But," he told Nightengale, "we will be spending."

Cron DFA'd as Rays shuffle 40-man roster

No. 4 prospect Sanchez among those protected from Rule 5 Draft
MLB.com

For the second time in the last calendar year, a roster crunch has forced the Rays to cut ties with an impact bat. On Tuesday, the team parted ways with first baseman/DH C.J. Cron, who was designated for assignment amid a flurry of moves prior to the 8 p.m. ET deadline to protect prospects from the Rule 5 Draft by putting them on the 40-man roster.

The Rays' home run leader in 2018 with 30, Cron slashed .253/.323/.493 in 140 games. No other Tampa Bay player hit more than 14 homers.

For the second time in the last calendar year, a roster crunch has forced the Rays to cut ties with an impact bat. On Tuesday, the team parted ways with first baseman/DH C.J. Cron, who was designated for assignment amid a flurry of moves prior to the 8 p.m. ET deadline to protect prospects from the Rule 5 Draft by putting them on the 40-man roster.

The Rays' home run leader in 2018 with 30, Cron slashed .253/.323/.493 in 140 games. No other Tampa Bay player hit more than 14 homers.

"This was a tough call, given what C.J. did for us last year and what he meant for our group," Rays GM Chaim Bloom said. "We certainly haven't closed off the possibly of a return, but with as many deserving players on our club that need playing time, it didn't make sense for us to commit to him right now. That's what made this tough. I don't think you can take lightly what he produced this past year, and assume you're going to be able to snap your fingers and replace it."

Latest Hot Stove rumors

The Rays also DFA'd right-hander Oliver Drake and left-hander Hody Milner and outrighted righty Jose Mujica to the Minor Leagues. Mujica, 22, is expected to miss the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The moves were made to clear space on the 40-man roster for five blue-chippers, a group headlined by 21-year-old outfielder Jesus Sanchez. Sanchez is ranked by MLB Pipeline as No. 4 on the Rays' Top 30 Prospects list and No. 33 on the Top 100 Prospects overall. Outfielder Joe McCarthy (Tampa Bay's No. 17 prospect), right-hander Ian Gibaut (No. 29), and left-handers Brock Burke and Kyle Bird were also added to the roster and thereby protected from being selected by another club in next month's Rule 5 Draft.

Bloom identified Bird and Burke, the organization's 2018 Pitcher of the Year, as candidates to help the big league club next season. The same likely applies to Gibaut, who posted a 2.09 ERA at Triple-A Durham, and McCarthy, who hit .269/.377/.513 with eight homers in 47 games at Durham.

Bloom was less optimistic about a reunion with Cron, whom the club was unable to trade before Tuesday's deadline. That's what the Rays did earlier this year with Corey Dickerson, who was traded to the Pirates five days after the Rays acquired Cron from the Angels. Coming off an All-Star 2017 in which he hit 27 home runs, Dickerson earned roughly $6 million last season.

Cron's salary was approximately $2.3 million in 2018 and he is due for a raise in his second year of arbitration. Howeer, if he passes through waivers, he'll likely become a free agent, joining a crowded market for first base/DH types that includes Daniel Murphy, Nelson Cruz, Lucas Duda, Matt Holliday, Evan Gattis, Jose Bautista and Matt Adams. Cron's departure slides Ji-Man Choi to the top of the Rays' depth chart at DH, at least for the time being.

"We're optimistic and hopeful we'll put an offense together that will make up for [Cron's] contributions," Bloom said. "It'll be a tall task to replace what he produced."

Tampa Bay's 40-man roster is now full.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

Tampa Bay Rays, C.J. Cron

Hard-throwing prospect added to 40-man roster

MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Hard-throwing pitching prospect Melvin Adon was among a trio of right-handers selected to the Giants' 40-man roster Tuesday ahead of the Dec. 13 Rule 5 Draft.

Adon, whose fastball has reached 102 mph, is coming off an Arizona Fall League campaign in which he struck out 21 and walked three in 12 1/3 innings spanning 10 appearances for Scottsdale. He allowed just seven hits.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Hard-throwing pitching prospect Melvin Adon was among a trio of right-handers selected to the Giants' 40-man roster Tuesday ahead of the Dec. 13 Rule 5 Draft.

Adon, whose fastball has reached 102 mph, is coming off an Arizona Fall League campaign in which he struck out 21 and walked three in 12 1/3 innings spanning 10 appearances for Scottsdale. He allowed just seven hits.

The 24-year-old Adon, who's ranked 19th among Giants prospects by MLB Pipeline, also finished 2-5 with a 4.87 ERA in 16 appearances (15 starts) this year at Class A Advanced San Jose.

"He's a very talented young man with a great arm and a bright future ahead once he gains confidence and controls the strike zone better," said Giants special assistant Will Clark, who scouted Adon this past season.

Others added to the 40-man roster were Sam Coonrod and Logan Webb.

Coonrod, 26, spent most of 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Ranked No. 30 on MLB Pipeline's organizational prospects list, he struck out 23 in 11 2/3 innings over 10 appearances, which were divided between Rookie League and San Jose.

Webb split the 2018 season between San Jose and Double-A Richmond. His combined ERA was 2.41 in 27 games (26 starts). A California League Mid-Season All-Star as well as the Giants' No. 11 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, Webb limited right-handed batters to a .187 average.

The Giants also outrighted right-hander Chase Johnson to Triple-A Sacramento. San Francisco lost right-hander Julian Fernandez, who was claimed off waivers by the Marlins.

San Francisco has 36 players on its 40-man roster.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants

SD clears 40-man space with 3 deals; 4 DFA'd

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' youth movement, which recently turned a depleted farm system into the best in baseball, made a dent into the big league roster on Tuesday afternoon.

General manager A.J. Preller needed to clear space for seven prospects to be added to the 40-man roster, lest they be exposed to next month's Rule 5 Draft. He got creative in doing so, parting with a handful of veterans.

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' youth movement, which recently turned a depleted farm system into the best in baseball, made a dent into the big league roster on Tuesday afternoon.

General manager A.J. Preller needed to clear space for seven prospects to be added to the 40-man roster, lest they be exposed to next month's Rule 5 Draft. He got creative in doing so, parting with a handful of veterans.

The Padres traded a trio of right-handers on Tuesday and designated four players for assignment, including Christian Villanueva and Cory Spangenberg.

• Villanueva DFA'd, could move to Japan

They did so in order for the following seven prospects to be added to the 40-man roster:

• RHP Chris Paddack (Padres' No. 5 prospect according to MLB Pipeline)
• RHP Anderson Espinoza (No. 12)
• C Austin Allen (No. 25)
• OF Edward Olivares (No. 28)
• RHP Pedro Avila (No. 29)
• 3B Ty France (unranked)
• RHP Gerardo Reyes (unranked)

None of those players were particularly surprising additions. Their status on the 40-man means they won't be eligible to be picked in the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 13 at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, where longtime Minor Leaguers can be selected by other clubs but must remain on the big league roster all season or be offered back to their original team.

The five top-30 prospects listed above were always likely to be added to the roster. All five would've been projected as early Rule 5 selections if they were left exposed.

Video: Top Prospects: Chris Paddack, RHP, Padres

France and Reyes, too, would've been candidates to be taken. France hit 22 homers last season between Double-A and Triple-A, and he could compete for the job at third base after Villanueva's departure. Reyes, meanwhile, posted a 2.77 ERA and a 29-percent strikeout rate last year and could've easily been stashed in a rival's bullpen if left unprotected.

"There was a real chance he'd get taken if we left him unprotected," Preller said. "You don't want to see that kind of stuff, that kind of velo, from a guy with a lower slot, leave. He keeps getting more consistent. He was a guy we didn't want to risk losing in a Rule 5 situation."

Among the Padres prospects who will be available in next month's Rule 5 Draft are righties Hansel Rodriguez and Trevor Megill and outfielder Michael Gettys. Rodriguez, who was acquired for Melvin Upton Jr. in 2016, was recently shut down in the Arizona Fall League due to olecranon stress reaction issues in his elbow, though the club doesn't believe surgery will be required.

As for the seven players subtracted from the 40-man, here's a look at the moves Preller made to clear some space:

Right-hander Colten Brewer traded to Boston for infielder Esteban Quiroz

Brewer found himself on the roster bubble in a crowded Padres bullpen. He might have cracked the 40-man if not for the trade. But the Padres like what they're getting in Quiroz, so they decided to deal Brewer, a high-spin right-hander who posted a 5.59 ERA in 11 big league appearances last year. Quiroz, a utility infielder, spent most of his career playing in Mexico, but he posted a .283/.406/.547 slash line in the Red Sox system last year, mostly at Double-A.

"He just hits," Preller said. "He hits everywhere he's been. We had a lot of eyes on him in the Fall League, a lot of people that saw him there. He was a guy that's continued to perform, and it's hard to find left-handed bats at the upper levels of the Minor Leagues that can take a walk and do damage."

Right-hander Walker Lockett traded to Cleveland for right-hander Ignacio Feliz

Lockett was always a likely casualty of the roster crunch, and the Padres were pleased with their return for the 24-year-old right-hander. Feliz made 10 starts for the Indians in the Arizona Rookie League, and the 19-year-old posted a 3.00 ERA.

"It's a good arm at the lower levels of the Minor Leagues," Preller said. "We felt like he was a really good get, and he's another guy who we have time in our system to develop and grow and give him a chance to perform."

Lockett spent most of last season at Triple-A El Paso, but he made four big league appearances and allowed 16 runs in 15 innings.

Right-hander Rowan Wick traded to the Cubs for infielder Jason Vosler

Wick, like Brewer, had a case to remain on the 40-man if he weren't dealt. But the Padres landed a high-upside infielder in Vosler, who slugged 23 homers between Double-A and Triple-A in the Cubs' system last year. He batted .251/.340/.467, while playing first, second and third base, and he'll go into camp with a chance to compete for a utility role on the Opening Day roster.

Wick, meanwhile, posted a 6.48 ERA over 10 appearances in his big league-debut season in 2018.

3B Villanueva, IF Spangenberg, RHP Colin Rea and SS Allen Cordoba designated for assignment

Rea and Cordoba hardly qualify as surprises. Both dealt with serious injury issues in 2018. Cordoba, a former Rule 5 selection himself, missed the first half of the year with a concussion, and when he returned, he didn't play a game above Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore. Rea, meanwhile, hasn't been the same since his '16 Tommy John surgery, and he posted a 5.73 ERA in the Minors this year.

As for Villanueva, he appears destined for Japan. The Padres intend to sell his contract rights to a team in Japan, likely the Yomiuri Giants, according to sources. That move opens the Padres' third-base job even more. At this point, it's a near certainty they add another infielder this offseason.

Meanwhile, Spangenberg was due a raise in his second year of arbitration. In all likelihood, that was the driving force behind the Padres' decision to cut ties with him and not fellow infielders Carlos Asuaje and Jose Pirela. Preller, however, refuted that notion. 

"We feel like we have other options and other possibilities that fit a little bit better, some younger players we're going to give opportunity to," Preller said. "He gets a fresh start and a chance to go outside and do something different. From a numbers standpoint, we just felt like we had other options we felt were better fits for our ballclub and our roster setup. It was a tough decision."

Spangenberg, the Padres' first-round Draft selection in 2011, batted .258/.318/.391 in five seasons with the club. But his on-base percentage dipped below .300 in '18, and there wasn't going to be much playing time available in '19 with infield prospects Luis Urias and Fernando Tatis Jr. eventually in the mix.

On the whole, the seven additions and subtractions mean the club's 40-man roster remains full. Further trades or signings of big league players would require other players be removed from the roster.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Pedro Avila, Allen Cordoba, Anderson Espinoza, Edward Olivares, Chris Paddack, Colin Rea, Gerardo Reyes, Cory Spangenberg, Christian Villanueva

Gordon among 3 protected from Rule 5 Draft

Twins also add Wade, Arraez to roster; Busenitz headed to Japan
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins added prospects Nick Gordon, LaMonte Wade and Luis Arraez to their 40-man roster ahead of Tuesday's 7 p.m. CT deadline to protect players from next month's Rule 5 Draft. Additionally, Minnesota sold the rights to reliever Alan Busenitz to the Rakuten Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball's Pacific League in Japan and traded Minor League right-hander Nick Anderson to the Marlins for Minor League infielder Brian Schales.

Gordon, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Twins' No. 5 prospect, is the headliner, while Wade is the club's No. 13 prospect and Arraez is No. 15. Minor Leaguers who were not added to the 40-man roster and are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft include infielder/outfielder Zander Wiel, catcher Brian Navarreto, right-hander Jake Reed and left-hander Tyler Jay. Jay, No. 22, is the only one of that group on the Twins' Top 30 Prospects list.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins added prospects Nick Gordon, LaMonte Wade and Luis Arraez to their 40-man roster ahead of Tuesday's 7 p.m. CT deadline to protect players from next month's Rule 5 Draft. Additionally, Minnesota sold the rights to reliever Alan Busenitz to the Rakuten Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball's Pacific League in Japan and traded Minor League right-hander Nick Anderson to the Marlins for Minor League infielder Brian Schales.

Gordon, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Twins' No. 5 prospect, is the headliner, while Wade is the club's No. 13 prospect and Arraez is No. 15. Minor Leaguers who were not added to the 40-man roster and are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft include infielder/outfielder Zander Wiel, catcher Brian Navarreto, right-hander Jake Reed and left-hander Tyler Jay. Jay, No. 22, is the only one of that group on the Twins' Top 30 Prospects list.

Gordon, 23, hit a combined .248/.298/.355 with seven homers, 23 doubles and 20 stolen bases in 141 games between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester last season. The middle infielder -- and brother to Marlins center fielder Dee Gordon -- struggled in the second half, but is still considered close to reaching the Majors.

Video: MIN@NYY: Gordon makes a tough sliding stop in the 2nd

Wade, 24, also split time between Double-A and Triple-A, batting a combined .257/.360/.380 with 11 homers, 11 doubles and 48 RBIs in 120 games. He has a career .391 on-base percentage in the Minors and can play all three outfield spots.

Arraez hit .310/.361/.397 with three homers, 20 doubles and 36 RBIs in 108 games between Class A Advanced Fort Myers and Chattanooga. The 21-year-old played 67 games at second base, 16 at third base and 14 at shortstop.

Anderson, 27, was a candidate to be added to the 40-man roster after a breakout year that saw him go 8-2 with a 3.30 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 60 innings with Triple-A Rochester, but he was dealt to the Marlins instead. In return, the Twins received Schales, who batted .258/.354/.403 with 10 homers, 27 doubles and 49 RBIs in 127 games at Double-A Jacksonville. The 22-year-old is primarily a third baseman but has seen time at second base as well.

Busenitz, meanwhile, had a strong rookie year in 2017, posting 1.99 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings, but he struggled last season. In 23 appearances, Busenitz posted a 7.82 ERA with 26 strikeouts, 14 walks and eight homers surrendered in 25 1/3 innings. He's the second Twins player this offseason to leave the organization to play in Japan. First baseman Kennys Vargas signed with the Chiba Lotte Marines earlier this month.

The Twins now have 38 players on their 40-man roster.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Luis Arraez, Nick Gordon, LaMonte Wade

Astros fill out 40-man with 2 pitchers, catcher

MLB.com

The Astros added right-hander Rogelio Armenteros, catcher Garrett Stubbs and left-hander Bryan Abreu to their 40-man roster ahead of Tuesday's deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.

Armenteros, 24, is Houston's No. 12 prospect per MLB Pipeline. He spent the 2018 season with Triple-A Fresno, posting a 3.74 ERA in 22 appearances (21 starts).

The Astros added right-hander Rogelio Armenteros, catcher Garrett Stubbs and left-hander Bryan Abreu to their 40-man roster ahead of Tuesday's deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.

Armenteros, 24, is Houston's No. 12 prospect per MLB Pipeline. He spent the 2018 season with Triple-A Fresno, posting a 3.74 ERA in 22 appearances (21 starts).

Stubbs, 25, is the Astros' No. 15 prospect. He hit .310/.382/.455 in 84 games for Fresno last season.

Abreu, 21, posted a 1.49 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 14 appearances (seven starts) between Class A Tri-City and Class A Advanced Quad Cities, striking out 42 percent of the batters he faced.

The Rule 5 Draft takes place on Dec. 13 on the final day of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. Players who signed with their current club at age 18 or younger and have played professionally for at least five years are eligible to be selected, as are those who signed at 19 or older and have at least four years of professional experience. Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Houston Astros

A's acquire Bucs righty, add 4 to 40-man roster

MLB.com

The A's made a series of moves on Tuesday, acquiring right-hander Tanner Anderson from the Pirates and adding outfielders Skye Bolt and Luis Barrera and right-handers Grant Holmes and James Kaprielian to their 40-man roster, effectively shielding them from the Rule 5 Draft.

Oakland will send either a player to be named later or cash to Pittsburgh.

The A's made a series of moves on Tuesday, acquiring right-hander Tanner Anderson from the Pirates and adding outfielders Skye Bolt and Luis Barrera and right-handers Grant Holmes and James Kaprielian to their 40-man roster, effectively shielding them from the Rule 5 Draft.

Oakland will send either a player to be named later or cash to Pittsburgh.

Anderson made his Major League debut with the Pirates in 2018, compiling a 6.35 ERA in 11 1 1/3 innings. The 25-year-old Harvard product struck out 221 in 311 1/3 Minor League innings, pitching to a solid 3.24 ERA over four seasons.

Anderson joins several new additions to Oakland's 40-man roster, which sits at 39 ahead of the Dec. 13 Rule 5 Draft, during which teams select players from other organizations who aren't on their club's 40-man roster.

Players drafted or signed at age 18 or younger are eligible after five Minor League seasons. Those drafted or signed at an older age are eligible after four Minor League seasons. That means any player not on the 40-man roster who signed in 2014 at 18 years or younger or in '15 at 19 years or older is a candidate this year.

Among those left unprotected by the A's: 2015 first-rounder Richie Martin. A late bloomer, Martin finally found his groove this year, hitting .300 while reaching base at a .368 clip and stealing 25 bases while maintaining a strong defensive presence at shortstop.

Bolt was also a member of the A's 2015 Draft class, enjoying his most productive season in 2018. The switch-hitting outfielder combined for 19 homers and an .821 OPS between Class A Advanced Stockton and Double-A Midland. The 24-year-old also totaled 69 RBIs and stole 19 bases.

Like Bolt, Barrera finished the season with Midland, batting .328 with an .828 OPS in 36 games for the RockHounds. He was exposed to the Rule 5 Draft last year, but wasn't selected and remained in the A's organization, now giving them additional depth among a lengthy list of outfielders.

Holmes and Kaprielian are both products of trade, Holmes via the 2016 deal that sent Josh Reddick and Rich Hill to the Dodgers, and Kaprielian through last year's swap with the Yankees for Sonny Gray.

Holmes, 22, concluded his rehab from a nagging shoulder injury in time to make two appearances for Stockton this year. A first-round pick of the Dodgers in 2014, the right-hander has a 4.13 ERA in 92 Minor League outings, 83 of them starts. MLB Pipeline has him ranked as the organization's No. 15 prospect.

Kaprielian, a first-round pick of the Yankees in 2015, comes in at the A's ninth-ranked prospect. He's been out of action since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and hasn't pitched above Class A, but remains an intriguing prospect and is projected to be ready for Spring Training.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

Oakland Athletics, Tanner Anderson

Dietrich DFA'd after Marlins make Minors deal

MLB.com

MIAMI -- The Marlins continued their roster shuffling on Tuesday night by acquiring right-hander Nick Anderson from the Twins in a Minor League deal for third baseman Brian Schales.

To make roster room for Anderson, the Marlins parted with their longest tenured veteran, Derek Dietrich, who was designated for assignment. Miami's roster is at 40.

MIAMI -- The Marlins continued their roster shuffling on Tuesday night by acquiring right-hander Nick Anderson from the Twins in a Minor League deal for third baseman Brian Schales.

To make roster room for Anderson, the Marlins parted with their longest tenured veteran, Derek Dietrich, who was designated for assignment. Miami's roster is at 40.

Anderson, 28, is a 6-foot-5, 195-pounder who went 8-2 with a 3.30 ERA in 39 games (four starts) for Triple-A Rochester this past season.

Schales, drafted by the Marlins in the fourth round in 2014, hit .258 with 10 home runs and 49 RBIs at Double-A Jacksonville.

Dietrich, 29, has been with the Marlins since 2013, playing numerous positions. In 2018, he opened the season primarily in left field. Over 149 games, he had a slash line of .265/.330/.421 with 16 home runs and 45 RBIs.

A left-handed hitter who was popular with Marlins fans, Dietrich had a knack for getting hit by pitches. He was plunked 21 times in 2018 and 93 times in his career.

The question with Dietrich has been finding a position to play. He broke in as a second baseman, and played third, but to get his bat in the lineup, he was moved to left field in '18.

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

The Marlins are aiming to get more athletic, and the organization has a number of young outfielders who are working their way up through the system. Isaac Galloway and Austin Dean are candidates to play left field, with Lewis Brinson in center. Garrett Cooper can also play left field.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Marlins selected the contract of outfielder Monte Harrison, their No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline. Magneuris Sierra is another outfielder on the 40-man roster.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, Derek Dietrich

Perez among 5 prospects added to Jays' 40-man

MLB.com

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays made their final preparations for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft on Tuesday night by adding five Minor League prospects to the 40-man roster.

Toronto selected the contracts of right-handers Hector Perez, Yennsy Diaz, Patrick Murphy, Trent Thornton and Jacob Waguespack. Right-handers Jordan Romano and Jackson McClelland, left-hander Travis Bergen and outfielder Forrest Wall were among the notable omissions.

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays made their final preparations for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft on Tuesday night by adding five Minor League prospects to the 40-man roster.

Toronto selected the contracts of right-handers Hector Perez, Yennsy Diaz, Patrick Murphy, Trent Thornton and Jacob Waguespack. Right-handers Jordan Romano and Jackson McClelland, left-hander Travis Bergen and outfielder Forrest Wall were among the notable omissions.

Teams had until 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday night to add Rule-5 eligible players to the 40-man roster, which was the only way to guarantee their safety before next month's Rule 5 Draft at the annual Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.

Perez is the Blue Jays' No. 11 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, and was a lock to be protected. Murphy's 2.64 ERA over 26 starts at Class A Advanced Dunedin made for an easy decision, while Thornton (No. 22) was essentially guaranteed a spot after he was acquired in Saturday's trade for infielder Aledmys Diaz.

Waguespack, who was acquired in July's trade of Aaron Loup, also made the final cut. At age 25, and with a full season under his belt at Triple-A, the Blue Jays clearly determined he was ready to contribute in the near term and could not be left exposed. Yennsy Diaz earned the other spot after going 10-5 with a 3.05 ERA in 27 appearances (25 starts) between Class A Advanced and low Class A.

Tuesday's deadline exposed the roster crunch the Blue Jays have been preparing for the last several months. Toronto used its remaining five spots on the 40-man roster and yet, some promising prospects had to be left exposed simply because there wasn't enough space.

The Rule 5 Draft includes players who have been in the Minors for at least four or five years, depending on when they signed. Teams pay $100,000 per pick, and the player must remain on the Major League roster for the entire season barring injury. If he doesn't, the prospect has to be offered back to the original club for $50,000.

Toronto's lack of space on the 40-man roster is a good problem to have, but it also comes with clear downfalls. Opposing teams likely will take a long look at Bergen, who was left exposed after posting a 0.95 ERA over 43 appearances in the Minors. The 25-year-old opened the year at Dunedin and later advanced to Double-A New Hampshire, where he struck out 43 over 35 2/3 innings.

Romano and catcher Max Pentecost were left off the Blue Jays' 40-man roster a year ago and experienced the same fate again on Tuesday. Pentecost, a former first-round pick, appeared in a career-high 89 games this year for New Hampshire, but also struggled at the plate with a .684 OPS. Romano posted a 4.13 ERA for New Hampshire and will be viewed as a reliever in the Rule 5 Draft.

Wall, Toronto's No. 24 prospect, was acquired in the deal for Seunghwan Oh. He has a lot of potential, and the Blue Jays don't want to lose him, but he's also still only 22 and has yet to complete a full season at Double-A. It's probably a stretch to think he will be ready for the Majors by the end of March.

Other Blue Jays prospects left exposed include right-handers Corey Copping (acquired in July for John Axford), Jon Harris (first-round pick in 2012) and McClelland (a 15th rounder in 2015), who has reached triple digits with his fastball out of the bullpen.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Hector Perez, Jacob Waguespack

Prospect Ruiz among 5 added to 40-man roster

MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers lined up their 40-man roster for next month's Rule 5 Draft on Tuesday by protecting catcher Keibert Ruiz, right-handed pitchers Yadier Alvarez and Josh Sborz, and infielders Edwin Rios and Matt Beaty.

To make room, the club released right-handed pitcher Tom Koehler and designated for assignment right-handed pitcher Erik Goeddel, left-handed pitcher Zac Rosscup and infielder/outfielder Tim Locastro. Koehler, Goeddel and Rosscup are arbitration eligible and out of options. The Dodgers' Major League roster stands at a full 40.

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers lined up their 40-man roster for next month's Rule 5 Draft on Tuesday by protecting catcher Keibert Ruiz, right-handed pitchers Yadier Alvarez and Josh Sborz, and infielders Edwin Rios and Matt Beaty.

To make room, the club released right-handed pitcher Tom Koehler and designated for assignment right-handed pitcher Erik Goeddel, left-handed pitcher Zac Rosscup and infielder/outfielder Tim Locastro. Koehler, Goeddel and Rosscup are arbitration eligible and out of options. The Dodgers' Major League roster stands at a full 40.

MLB Pipeline ranks Ruiz the No. 2 prospect in the system, Alvarez No. 10, Rios No. 13 and Beaty No. 21. Ranked players not protected were No. 19 Drew Jackson, No. 24 Cristian Santana and No. 29 Andrew Sopko.

Ruiz, 20, is the jewel of a deep corps of the Dodgers' catching prospects. At Double-A Tulsa this year, the switch-hitter batted .268 with 14 doubles, 12 home runs and 47 RBIs in 101 games and threw out 26 percent of would-be basestealers.

Alvarez, 22, is an immensely talented but mercurial righty who went 1-2 with a 4.66 ERA at Tulsa. He pitched only 55 1/3 innings this year with 44 walks.

The 24-year-old Rios posted a .304/.355/.482 slash line with 25 doubles, 10 homers and 55 RBIs at Triple-A Oklahoma City, playing the corner infield positions.

Beaty, 25, had a .277/.378/.406 slash line with 10 doubles, one home run and 12 RBIs in 31 games with Oklahoma City in 2018, also playing the corner infield spots. He missed the first month with an oblique injury and six weeks with a torn thumb ligament.

The 24-year-old Sborz split last season with Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City, combining to go 4-2 with six saves and posting a 3.88 ERA (23 ER/53.1 IP) in 46 relief appearances transitioning from the rotation.

Koehler missed the entire season after blowing out his throwing shoulder capsule in his second Spring Training outing and eventually underwent surgery. He was signed as a free agent last winter to replace set-up reliever Brandon Morrow.

Goeddel, who was claimed off waivers from Seattle on May 18, had a 3.38 ERA in 26 games, but missed the last six weeks of the season with an elbow injury.

Rosscup spent two stints on the disabled list after being claimed off waivers from Colorado on July 11. He had a 4.76 ERA in 17 games, but also struck out 20 in 11 1/3 innings.

Locastro appeared in 18 games for the Dodgers and hit .182 after spending most of the year at OKC.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Cubs add 3 pitchers ahead of roster deadline

Clarkin claimed from White Sox; Wick acquired from Padres; Steele added
MLB.com

The Cubs headed into Tuesday with only one vacancy on their roster. By the end of the day, the team had found a way to add three arms to the fold, including homegrown pitching prospect Justin Steele.

Prior to Tuesday's deadline for setting the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 Draft, Chicago selected Steele's contract from Double-A Tennessee, swung a trade with the Padres to acquire righty Rowan Wick and claimed lefty Ian Clarkin off waivers from the White Sox. With the help of some other transactions, the Cubs' roster still consists of 39 players.

The Cubs headed into Tuesday with only one vacancy on their roster. By the end of the day, the team had found a way to add three arms to the fold, including homegrown pitching prospect Justin Steele.

Prior to Tuesday's deadline for setting the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 Draft, Chicago selected Steele's contract from Double-A Tennessee, swung a trade with the Padres to acquire righty Rowan Wick and claimed lefty Ian Clarkin off waivers from the White Sox. With the help of some other transactions, the Cubs' roster still consists of 39 players.

The Rangers claimed infielder Jack Reinheimer off waivers from the Cubs, who also outrighted outfielder Johnny Field and lefty Jerry Vasto to Triple-A Iowa after both players cleared waivers. In order to land Wick, Chicago dealt infield prospect Jason Vosler to San Diego.

Vosler, who was ranked 28th among the Cubs' Top 30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline, was eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, which is scheduled to take place on Dec. 13 on the final day of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. Players who signed with their current club at age 18 or younger and have played professionally for at least five years are eligible to be selected, as are those who signed at 19 or older and have at least four years of professional experience.

Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000.

Steele -- the Cubs' No. 8-ranked prospect, per MLB Pipeline -- was a fifth-round pick by the Cubs in the 2014 MLB Draft. The left-hander is 15 months removed from Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, but he made a promising return to the mound this past season. After returning to game action in July, Steele posted a 2.31 ERA with 53 strikeouts and 13 walks in 46 2/3 innings (11 starts) across three affiliates.

The 23-year-old Steele reached Double-A by late August and later logged six starts for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League. Over 18 2/3 innings in the AFL, Steele had a 5.79 ERA with 16 strikeouts and 11 walks.

The 26-year-old Wick posted a 6.48 ERA in 10 games with San Diego last season, but spent the bulk of the year between Double-A and Triple-A. In 49 Minor League games last season, Wick fashioned a 2.67 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks in 54 innings. The right-hander averaged 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings, sitting around 94-95 mph with his four-seam fastball, which was balanced with a slider and curveball. 

Video: CWS@SEA: Clarkin completes the two-inning save

Clarkin, 23, has posted a 3.55 ERA in 81 career Minor League games since being selected by the Yankees with the 33rd overall pick in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft (one slot after Yankees star Aaron Judge). Clarkin was traded by New York to the White Sox in July 2017 as part of the blockbuster, seven-player swap that sent David Robertson, Todd Frazier and