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• Free agents, by position
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Yankees working hard to move Sonny Gray
Jan. 17: When the offseason began, it sounded like a foregone conclusion that the Yankees were going to trade Sonny Gray. It's taken some time, but this looks to be general manager Brian Cashman's focus at the moment, especially now that New York's bullpen reconstruction is in shape with Adam Ottavino coming aboard, according to multiple reports.
The Yankees are "working hard now on a trade" for Gray, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, who says that the Reds, Giants, Brewers, A's, Padres, Braves and Mariners all are among the teams that could be involved in discussions.
Heyman follows up to report that the Yanks "are indeed close" to swapping the starting pitcher, and some clubs also are inquiring about relievers Tommy Kahnle and Jonathan Holder.
The Giants, in particular, are a new name in the mix for Gray, according to Heyman, who cites new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi's familiarity with the right-hander from their time together with the A's several years ago as a potential factor.
Part of the reason the Yankees had been hesitant to go all-in on moving Gray over the past month or so is because CC Sabathia -- who they re-signed for one year -- underwent an angioplasty in December. The veteran lefty, however, has been cleared to begin workouts and resume baseball activities.
With that no longer a concern and the bullpen fully stocked, Cashman clearly is turning his attention back toward trading Gray. And it sounds like something could happen sooner than later.
Kimbrel's top suitors now have one fewer big-name alternative
Jan. 17: And then there was one. Craig Kimbrel is now far and away the best and biggest name left on the free-agent reliever market.
Adam Ottavino, who is coming off a career campaign that vaulted him toward the top of the available late-inning arms this offseason, has agreed to a three-year, $27 million deal with the Yankees, according to multiple reports.
What does this mean for Kimbrel? Mostly good things. For one, it's typically beneficial to be the clear top player at your position still on the board. This increases demand, and because the Yankees were never in on Kimbrel, it doesn't impact the supply -- that is, the teams that could use or have been connected to the seven-time All-Star closer this winter.
As for the clubs that do fit that criteria? The Red Sox, Braves and Phillies all have been linked to Kimbrel, and obviously, none of them landed Ottavino as an alternative to bolster their bullpens. Of that trio, the most heat has been surrounding Boston of late, simply because the reigning World Series winner's bullpen is lacking with Kimbrel out of the picture after being their closer the past three years. Not to mention, setup reliever Joe Kelly inked with the Dodgers this offseason.
The question, though, is whether the Red Sox will ante up to bring back Kimbrel, who reportedly has been seeking a long-term, big-money deal in the range of five years and $80 million. By all indications from president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Boston is not looking to spend anything close to that range for someone to handle the ninth inning. But would the Red Sox feel pressure to try to re-sign Kimbrel -- perhaps at a high average annual value over, say, three seasons? -- now that the AL East-rival Yankees have stockpiled arguably baseball's best bullpen?
The Braves fall in a similar category in that they have a need for Kimbrel but don't seem willing to spend what the righty reliever is hoping to get. That said, a return to Atlanta, with whom the 30-year-old spent his first five big league seasons, would make the reigning NL East champs better -- and be a fun narrative.
As for the Phillies, they have the financial resources to splurge this offseason, and that could include Kimbrel. In recent days, reports have speculated that Philadelphia would like to land one of free-agent superstars Bryce Harper or Manny Machado -- who are considered the club's priorities at the moment -- and then go after another big name or two, including lefty Dallas Keuchel to shore up the rotation and/or Kimbrel to solidify a bullpen that already has added David Robertson.
Video: Ottavino reportedly signs with the Yankees
Trout and Harper? Trout and Machado? Phils are thinking big
Jan. 17: Would you rather have Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, or Trout and Manny Machado? The Phillies see the potential to create a once-in-a-lifetime pairing, and that might be shaping their plans this offseason.
A source with knowledge of those plans has told Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci that while the Phillies could afford both Harper and Machado, they'd actually like to sign just one. Why? So they can still make a run at Trout if he hits free agency after the 2020 season.
Either Harper or Machado, Verducci writes, "would invigorate what for years has been a sleeping giant among Major League franchises." And just imagine if that player were paired with Trout.
But with one eye on Trout and the future, who will Philadelphia focus on out of the two current superstar free agents? That could go either way.
"In one dream scenario," Verducci writes, "the Phillies would field an all-MVP outfield in 2021: Trout, Harper and Andrew McCutchen."
But he also suggests that they might actually slightly prefer Machado -- "if only because club officials met much earlier with Machado than they did with Harper."
Harper and Trout might make a dream outfield, but Trout in the outfield and Machado in the infield would be a dream duo, too.
Which 'mystery teams' may be in on Harper, Machado?
Jan. 17: As the offseason drags on and Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remain unsigned, the door will stay open for more teams to jump into the race, especially if there's a sense that the price to sign them may not be as high as many initially expected.
In an article for ESPN+ (subscription required) on Thursday, Buster Olney listed some of the so-called "mystery teams" that are drawing speculation from industry insiders and broke down each club's chances of signing one of this offseason's superstar free agents.
Olney is hearing the Astros, Giants and Braves being mentioned as potential suitors for Harper; the Yankees and Padres as possible contenders for Machado; and the Rangers, Twins and Cubs as three teams that could sign either player.
Olney thinks most of these clubs will continue to sit out of the proceedings, but he could see Houston entering the mix for Harper if the slugger is willing to accept a shorter-term deal with opt-outs. The Astros nearly acquired Harper before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline this past season, but the Nationals backed out. As Olney points out, the team is in win-now mode, especially with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole set to enter free agency next offseason.
"They've got the money, for sure," said one rival official.
The Astros seemingly have their starting outfield set after signing Michael Brantley, but Harper would represent a massive upgrade in right field over Josh Reddick, who recorded a .718 OPS in 2018.
Olney concedes that it might seem odd to have the Yankees as a potential mystery team for Machado, as they were one of three clubs -- along with the Phillies and White Sox -- to meet with him in December. But with Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu in the fold, New York is not aggressively pursuing Machado at this time. That could change, though, if Machado's asking price falls into a range that the Yankees are more comfortable with.
Which teams might be in on Moustakas?
Jan. 16: In his second straight offseason as a free agent, Mike Moustakas' market has been held up to some degree by the fact that Manny Machado -- the top available shortstop/third baseman -- has yet to choose a team. But that doesn't mean we can't peek at possibilities for Moustakas in the meantime.
One such option is a return to the Brewers, as MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal writes in a story for The Athletic (subscription required). Milwaukee still needs an infielder after being linked to -- but missing out on -- second basemen Brian Dozier (Nationals), Jed Lowrie (Mets) and DJ LeMahieu (Yankees). The Crew acquired Moustakas at the Trade Deadline last season, playing him at the hot corner and shifting regular third baseman Travis Shaw to second. That plan could make sense again in 2019.
The Phillies also appear to be a fit for Moustakas, but only if they miss out on Machado to solidify the left side of their infield. And the Padres have been in the market for an upgrade at third base as well, making them a candidate for Moustakas -- or perhaps for the Phillies' Maikel Franco, who likely would become trade bait if Philadelphia lands either Machado or Moustakas, as Rosenthal suggests.
In ranking the seven best remaining free agents -- other than Machado and Bryce Harper -- MLB.com's Richard Justice puts Moustakas No. 7 and agrees that the Brewers and Padres look like potential landing spots.
What would it take for Angels to keep Trout long term?
Jan. 16: Teams might be coveting Trout already -- but the Angels would prefer that he never get to free agency in 2020.
Trout's the best player in baseball, and he's smack in the middle of his prime at age 27. He's also due to hit the open market when his current six-year, $144.5 million contract runs out. That puts the Angels at something of a crossroad over the next 18 to 24 months.
Will the Halos be able to afford extending Trout a second time, with what almost certainly would have to be a massive, record-breaking deal? Or will they ever actually consider trading their franchise face? Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic considers this in a deep dive into where things stand between the Angels and Trout (subscription required).
For an extension, the expectation would be that Trout could command more than Giancarlo Stanton's $325 million contract -- the largest in history to date. And obviously, whatever happens with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado -- the two top names on the open market this offseason -- is going to impact the cost of signing Trout beyond 2020, too.
A long-term pact takes two to tango, so to speak. "I think it just gets to having overlap," said Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, who previously served as general manager of the Rays when he signed Evan Longoria to a six-year, $100 million extension in 2012. "It's the player really wanting it, the team really wanting it. Usually, when that's the case, you can find an overlap. There are just different points in time where that may not line up perfectly and then it's obviously harder."
And if there isn't overlap, maybe because Trout would prefer to test free agency two years from now rather than re-upping before then? "The Angels have said emphatically they will not trade Trout," Ardaya writes. "But what if they don't feel they can keep him?"
It's not as if the front office hasn't tried hard to build a winning team around Trout. Big money has been spent on Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, C.J. Wilson, Justin Upton and others over the years -- and yet the Halos have made the postseason just once with Trout: a three-game sweep at the hands of the Royals in the 2014 ALDS.
"I could argue that the Angels have tried," said former Marlins president David Samson, who played a big role in Stanton's contract and now is an analyst for CBS Sports. "But Trout cannot guarantee the Angels a ring. He is the face of that franchise, and it is a brutal thing to think about, but if you're not going to win, then paying him that amount of money may not be the best thing for your team's chances to win. But it hurts like hell to lose a player like that."
Red Sox still waiting on Kimbrel?
Jan. 16: Spring Training gets underway in less than a month, and the World Series champion Red Sox still don't have a definite closer. Meanwhile, Craig Kimbrel -- who has held that role with Boston the past three seasons -- also remains available in free agency. Is this lining up to be a reunion after all? More >
D-backs add Flores, likely closing door on Pollock reunion
Jan. 16: When the D-backs traded Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals in early December, many assumed the club was starting a full rebuild, but that hasn't happened. Trade talk surrounding players such as Robbie Ray, Zack Greinke, David Peralta and Nick Ahmed has quieted, and the team is hoping to contend for a postseason berth with its current core, according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com.
With that in mind, could the club look to re-sign A.J. Pollock if he is willing to accept a shorter-term deal? It's possible, but not likely, especially after Arizona reportedly agreed to a one-year contract with Wilmer Flores on Wednesday.
Video: Gilbert on D-backs reportedly signing Flores
Gilbert wrote last week that he thought the D-backs would either sign a center fielder or add a second baseman, allowing Ketel Marte to move to center. The Flores signing seemingly makes it possible for the Marte position switch to happen, leaving Arizona without a spot for Pollock.
Can Nationals afford Harper and Rendon?
Jan. 16: As the baseball world speculates where free agent Bryce Harper will land, the Phillies and the Nationals are seemingly leading the race -- and might be the only two teams in the running -- at this point.
One major advantage the Phils have is that they can likely outbid the Nats for Harper. Washington exceeded the luxury-tax threshold in each of the past two seasons and is going to be up against it again in 2019. The penalties get steeper when teams exceed the threshold in consecutive seasons, and there is also a surtax for exceeding it by $20 to $40 million. Signing Harper would likely put the Nats more than $20 million over the threshold in 2019.
The team also needs to worry about Anthony Rendon 's impending free agency next offseason. According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required), Rendon and agent Scott Boras, who also represents Harper, are seeking a deal similar to Jose Altuve's.
The Astros gave Altuve a five-year, $151 million extension before the 2018 season, covering 2020-24. At the time, Altuve was already under contract for $12.5 million over 2018-19, bringing his total deal to seven years and $163.5 million.
As Rosenthal points out, signing Harper and extending Rendon would likely give the Nats a combined luxury-tax number exceeding $130 million for just five players (Harper, Rendon, Max Scherzer , Stephen Strasburg , Patrick Corbin ) over the next three seasons, assuming Strasburg doesn't opt out after 2019 or 2020.
However, MLB.com's Jamal Collier gets the sense that the Nationals are proceeding as if they can afford both players.
"As recently as the Winter Meetings, [general manager Mike Rizzo] said he felt like there was room for both," Collier said Tuesday on MLB Network. "And I think that when he looks at the number that Rendon just signed for in arbitration -- $18.8 million -- that's about what the Nationals think for an extension, he'll be making over that time. And the fact that they're still in on Harper while negotiating with Rendon makes me think that they think they can sign both.
"It's going to be a matter of what exact number is Harper coming back for. If that number is closer to $400 million, there's probably not room for more. … If that number is closer to 10 years, $300 million, then there's probably a scenario where the Nats can fit both of these guys in. ... But I would certainly say, the way they're operating, the way they're going about their business, they haven't ruled it out, so right now I won't rule it out either."
Video: Can Nationals sign Harper and also extend Rendon?
Four possible fits for Keuchel
Jan. 16: Dallas Keuchel entered the offseason as one of the most accomplished starting pitchers on the free-agent market. With other big names like Patrick Corbin (Nationals), Nathan Eovaldi (Red Sox) and Yusei Kikuchi (Mariners) having signed, Keuchel is unquestionably the top starter left -- and has been for some time.
Although there hasn't been a shortage of rumors surrounding the 31-year-old, it's possible his decision is being held up to some extent by seeing what happens with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado . Their decisions could impact which clubs make a push for Keuchel -- and have the money left for a long-term contract.
Like these four. More >
Ottavino is in good position amid active relief market
Jan. 16: No position has seen more action on the open market this offseason than relievers. Among the many elite late-inning arms to find deals: Andrew Miller (Cardinals), Zach Britton (Yankees), David Robertson (Phillies), Jeurys Familia (Mets) and Joakim Soria (A's).
A number of good relief pitchers remain available, but two stand out above the rest at this point -- Craig Kimbrel and Adam Ottavino .
In a ranking of seven of the top remaining free agents besides Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, MLB.com's Richard Justice ranks Ottavino No. 6 and writes: "Ottavino and Kimbrel are the last of the elite relievers on the market. At 33, he may not get a deal longer than two years, but after a season that included 75 appearances and a 0.991 WHIP for the Rockies, he's going to be a major catch for some team."
Which teams might be in play for Gonzalez?
Jan. 16: Marwin Gonzalez has made a career of flying somewhat under the radar despite being a valuable player who can cut it at just about any position on the diamond. As a free agent, his market has been much the same -- quiet -- but that doesn't mean he's not highly sought-after for what he brings.
Gonzalez's versatility allows him to fit on just about any roster, and while he's one of the better free agents still available, the 29-year-old isn't likely to require a contract that would price him out of most teams' budgets, either. So which club could Gonzalez wind up with? More >
Could a three-team blockbuster involving Kluber work?
Jan. 15: MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi recently reported that the Padres have remained in contact with the Indians about ace right-hander Corey Kluber. But would the Padres insert Kluber into the rotation or try to trade him away to fill another need? And if it's the latter, could a three-team blockbuster actually work?
Dennis Lin of The Athletic reports that San Diego's interest in Kluber is primarily to flip him, because he "does not fit the Padres age-wise." Lin adds that no deal is close, and the Padres are "struggling to line up with trade partners."
The Indians reportedly have made Kluber available on the trade market, but only for a very high price. San Diego has one of the very best farm systems in baseball, and certainly could make a legitimate offer for the two-time AL Cy Young Award winner.
Flipping Kluber to the Reds would send the 32-year-old (33 in April) to a club that has made it clear that upgrading the starting rotation is among its highest priorities. Cincinnati already has acquired right-hander Tanner Roark and left-hander Alex Wood in separate trades.
If infielder Nick Senzel is who the Padres would be looking for to take over at third base, the 23-year-old would appear to fit well in San Diego's rebuild, providing the organization with the No. 6 prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline.
The question, then, becomes: What do the Indians -- the team theoretically unloading Kluber -- get out of this scenario? Cleveland has a major need in the outfield and both the Padres and Reds have some depth at that position, including Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Matt Kemp and Jesse Winker, among others. But it's likely the Tribe would need more pieces -- especially young, cost-controlled players -- to part with arguably its top arm.
Another question is: Could another team or teams be good matches in a Kluber deal? MLB Network analysts Bill Ripken and Ron Darling discussed the notion of the Yankees getting involved, perhaps sending third baseman Miguel Andujar to the Padres to acquire Kluber should San Diego swing a trade with Cleveland. Andujar impressed at the plate in his rookie season, slashing .297/.328/.527 with 27 homers, finishing second in American League Rookie of the Year voting behind the Angels' Shohei Ohtani.
But defense was an issue at the hot corner for Andujar, and with the Yankees recently signing DJ LeMahieu, there's an abundance of infielders in the Bronx. Not only that, there's another potentially big free-agent market following next season, especially if superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado is testing the open market.
"Do they look at DJ LeMahieu on a two-year deal and say, 'OK, why don't you go over there and play third base?,'" asked Ripken. " ... I don't know if he's expendable or not, but DJ LeMahieu, I'm interested in seeing how the Yankees use him."
"I think with the glut of infielders that the Yankees have, this is a real opportunity for them to put a -- would I say No. 2, No. 1-A, No. 1 over Severino?" said Darling. "Whatever it is, you'd have two really good people at the top of that rotation."
Phillies' big plans involve Harper/Machado, other top FAs -- and Trout?!
Jan. 15: One of the popular theories earlier this offseason was that the Phillies had so much money available that not only were they seen as the prohibitive favorite to sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but they actually could consider paying up for both free-agent superstars.
That pie-in-the-sky scenario for Phillies fans isn't happening, according to Matt Gelb of The Athletic (subscription required). But that doesn't mean Philly won't wind up with one of the premier young talents in the sport. On the contrary, it's looking like the club is seen as a favorite -- it's just a matter of which one.
Oh, and the Phillies aren't expected to stop there. That plan to be "a little bit stupid" about how they spend their money, as managing partner John Middleton said earlier in the offseason, very well might be in play.
Phillies team executives "have visions of signing Harper, [lefty starter Dallas] Keuchel and [closer Craig] Kimbrel," according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.
MLB Network insider Jon Heyman is hearing something similar, acknowledging that the Phils are in "excellent position" to sign one of Harper or Machado and still take a look at "other top free agents" like Keuchel, Kimbrel and/or outfielder A.J. Pollock.
And if that's not enough, Heyman also adds that the Phillies "will make a big play" for Mike Trout in two years, when the superstar Angels center fielder is due to hit the open market.
It's one thing to spout all these names and another thing entirely for the Phillies to sign them. But at least, one club looks ready to make some big, bold moves in what has been slow offseason so far.
For the latest Harper rumors, go here. For more on Machado, head here. And this will keep you up to date on Keuchel.
Why Braves may be hesitant to gamble on Pollock, but Mets may not
Jan. 15: Center fielder A.J. Pollock 's market has been limited due to his lengthy injury history: Since 2016, he's only played in 237 games. Last season, he got off to a torrid start, slashing .293/.349/.620 with 11 home runs and nine steals through May 14. But that's when he fractured his thumb on a diving play, causing him to miss nearly two months. From the time he returned on July 2 through the end of the season, he hit just .236/.297/.407 with 10 homers in 73 games.
The former Gold Glove Award winner's skill set and potential are appealing, but the injury concerns surely are giving teams pause when considering him in free agency. Still, if he was amenable to a one-year deal, might the Braves fill their outfield need by signing Pollock?
The franchise still is dealing with the fallout from being hit hard for infractions on the international market and in the MLB Draft in late 2017, and Pollock is tied to Draft-pick compensation for declining the one-year qualifiying offer from the D-backs.
"The [Braves] likely would jump on [Pollock] at a dollar figure it deemed acceptable," MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal writes in a story for The Athletic (subscription required). "But the pick -- which for the Braves would be their second overall choice, likely in the mid-60s -- would be part of the acquisition cost. And the Braves, because of all the young players the penalties cost them and all those they will lose in the future, value the selection more than most clubs."
The Mets, meanwhile, might be amenable to a one-year "pillow" contract with Pollock should he accept one, reports SNY's Andy Martino. Though he's reportedly looking for a deal in the five-year, $80 million range, a one-year deal would give Pollock a chance to show his value over a full season if he can stay healthy, bolstering his free agency going into the '20 season. Another option that may be attractive to the Mets, notes Martino, is a one-year deal with an opt-out for '20. More >
What kind of contract is Gonzalez seeking?
Jan. 15: Because of his recent offensive production in 2017-18 and status as a supremely versatile defender, a number of teams are interested in and good fits for Marwin Gonzalez. One thing that hasn't been made clear to this point in the offseason, however, is what type of deal the veteran free agent may be trying to land.
Part of the reason for that is Gonzalez is not among the very top tier of players available on the open market, so there's been less speculation surrounding him. Another reason is there are fewer past free agents to compare him to because of what he brings to the table on defense.
There is one similar name that could provide a glimpse at what Gonzalez is seeking, though. More >