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Is there a new leader for Realmuto?

MLB.com

The Marlins reportedly are shopping J.T. Realmuto, who is arguably MLB's best catcher at a time when productive all-around backstops are in short supply.

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

The Marlins reportedly are shopping J.T. Realmuto, who is arguably MLB's best catcher at a time when productive all-around backstops are in short supply.

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

Braves appear to be slight favorites for Realmuto
Dec. 15: The race for J.T. Realmuto may have a new leader, as Craig Mish of SiriusXM reports that the Braves appear to be slight favorites to land the Marlins backstop. Per Mish, third baseman Austin Riley -- Atlanta's No. 5 prospect (No. 43 overall, per MLB Pipeline) -- is on the table, though nothing is imminent.

Tweet from @CraigMish: Sources : Braves appear to be a slight favorite to land Realmuto. Austin Riley is on the table. Lots of moving parts. Mets & Yanks are still in & probably need to outdo ATL to get J.T. Reds have fallen back. TB/SD def in but longshots. Not imminent.

Surprisingly, Mish notes that the Yankees are still in, even though general manager Brian Cashman once again gave Gary Sanchez a vote of confidence as New York's starting catcher during the Winter Meetings and said the club wasn't pursuing any primary backstops.

The Mets also remain in the mix, as do the Rays and Padres, though Mish deemed the latter two clubs "long shots." Meanwhile, the Reds have fallen behind.

Atlanta has one of the top farm systems in baseball, but it's unclear just how far the club is willing to go to get Realmuto when it already has veteran catchers Tyler Flowers and Brian McCann on the roster.

Is there a new team in the mix for Realmuto?
Dec. 14: What, you thought just because the Winter Meetings were over the J.T. Realmuto rumors would stop?

The latest indicates the Brewers could be "a legit player" for the Marlins' All-Star backstop, according to longtime writer Jerry Crasnick, who cites a baseball source saying "I know they've inquired ... I think they'll quietly creep into this." One thing to consider here: Would the Marlins be hesitant to deal with the Brewers again after acquiring a package of prospects from them last year for Christian Yelich, who went on to win National League MVP?

Tweet from @jcrasnick: One MLB personnel man thinks the #Brewers could be a legit player for Realmuto. "I haven't read much about them, but I know they've inquired,'' he said. "They were interested at the trade deadline. I think they'll quietly creep into this.'' https://t.co/2NfxH6D66l

That could mean there's a new team in the mix for Realmuto after reports Thursday suggested the market was down to these six clubs: the Mets, Reds, Braves, Rays, Dodgers and Padres. From that list, Crasnick's baseball executive source also brought up the latter two, pointing out that they could be fits in particular "because they both have catching prospects to send to Miami: Keibert Ruiz in LA, and Francisco Mejia in SD."

Tweet from @jcrasnick: The same exec likes the #Dodgers and #Padres as Realmuto fits because they both have catching prospects to send to Miami: Keibert Ruiz in LA, and Francisco Mejia in SD. The #Marlins currently have Bryan Holaday and Chad Wallach behind Realmuto, so they're thin at the position.

In fact, Mejia and Ruiz are two of the very best catching prospects in baseball. Mejia -- who the Padres acquired from the Indians at the Trade Deadline for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber -- is ranked No. 2 at the position by MLB Pipeline, while Ruiz checks in at No. 3.

This also raises the question of whether the Marlins would prefer to acquire a backstop as part of a return in a potential Realmuto trade, a topic MLB.com's Joe Frisaro explores. Given the club's lack of a capable starter behind Realmuto, the Marlins could struggle to fill the spot otherwise. 

These six teams are in on Realmuto
Dec. 13: The Winter Meetings have wrapped up, and J.T. Realmuto is still a Marlins player. The club, however, appears to have made a lot of headway in terms of fully fleshing out the trade market for its All-Star catcher.

The field is "essentially down to six teams," according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald: the Reds, Rays, Braves, Dodgers, Padres and Mets, the latter of which have been most aggressive in their pursuit of Realmuto under new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.

Tweet from @clarkspencer: The field for J.T. Realmuto is essentially down to six teams: Reds, Mets, Rays, Braves, Dodgers and Padres. But with Winter Meetings wrapping up, no trade expected today. Stay tuned.

Earlier in the week, Realmuto became the hottest topic in Las Vegas as reports surfaced that the Marlins, Mets and Yankees were discussing a three-team blockbuster that would send Realmuto to Queens and Noah Syndergaard to the Bronx. While that appears to have fizzled, the Mets are continuing to be creative and approach the Marlins by trying to work in a third club to make progress toward a deal.

One such scenario involves the Padres, as MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: #Mets have discussed three-team trades with multiple teams trying to get Realmuto, at this point to no avail. Framework of one proposal, per sources: Realmuto-plus to #Mets, Syndergaard to #Padres, young players to #Marlins. Not close. Just one of many ideas kicked around

That's similar to what Andy Martino of SNY has been hearing -- a swap in which the Mets get Realmuto, the Padres land Syndergaard and the Marlins pick up prospects to help their rebuilding process.

Tweet from @martinonyc: Sources: Mets, Padres talking this week about 3 team deal w Marlins. Syndergaard, Realmuto and Padres prospects discussed.Context: This is one of many creative ways to get realmuto that Mets are pursuing. Padres/Marlins/Mets discussions are active, but nothing close to imminent

It's important to note that while these Mets-Marlins-Padres talks are active and ongoing, nothing is especially close, according to both Rosenthal and Martino.

In the meantime, other teams certainly will be looking to wedge their way into the picture for Realmuto, who may be baseball's best all-around backstop. While the Marlins have been patient and don't need to trade the 27-year-old, who is under club control for two more years, at this point it would be surprising if Realmuto is not moved some time soon.

Video: Michael Hill on Winter Meetings, market for Realmuto

Reds enter mix for Realmuto; Braves, Mets involved, too
Dec. 12: The Reds have jumped into the J.T. Realmuto sweepstakes, according to Craig Mish of SiriusXM, though Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald has heard Cincinnati has been interested in the catcher for "a while."

Tweet from @CraigMish: Sources indicate the Cincinnati Reds have jumped into the Realmuto talks. Could be moving up into the candidates to acquire him.

Tweet from @clarkspencer: Reds have been in on Realmuto for ���a while��� I���m told. Not like they suddenly became interested. At least a half-dozen teams still in play, perhaps diminishing chance a deal gets done here in Vegas. https://t.co/y1Fck0VG55

Per Mish, catcher Tucker Barnhart and outfield prospect Taylor Trammell (Cincinnati's No. 2 prospect, No. 17 overall, per MLB Pipeline) are among the names that could highlight a potential package from the Reds. But MLB Network insider Jon Heyman has heard the Reds are refusing to include No. 1 prospect Nick Senzel (No. 6 overall).

Tweet from @CraigMish: Sources indicate the names possibly in a potential deal would be hilighted by top prospect Taylor Trammell and a catcher. Possibly Barnhart.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Reds and Marlins continue to engage on Realmuto, though Cincy has so far held the line and not agreed to include Nick Senzel

MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Braves and Mets remain involved as well.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: J.T. Realmuto trade is possible in the coming days. #Reds, #Mets, #Braves among the teams involved as of this morning. @MLBNetwork @MLB

Realmuto represents a significant upgrade over Barnhart, especially on the offseason end. Barnhart makes sense for Miami, though, as he is just a couple months older than the 27-year-old Realmuto and is signed for the next three years for a base salary of only $9.75 million. Barnhart also has a $7.5 million team option with a $500,000 buyout for 2022. Realmuto, meanwhile, can become a free agent in two years, and his agent has indicated the catcher won't be signing an extension with the Marlins.

Mets' pursuit of Realmuto may be fizzling, but NY not completely out
Dec. 12: The Mets have been the most aggressive suitor for catcher J.T. Realmuto during the Winter Meetings, but their talks with the Marlins may be stalling.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the club hasn't made progress in Realmuto discussions over the last 24 hours and may look at alternatives. One possibility could be signing Martin Maldonado, with whom the club met Tuesday, and putting more resources into the bullpen. The Mets have also met with Wilson Ramos, per Heyman, and Andy Martino of SNY reported Tuesday that Yasmani Grandal is still in play for New York if the club is unable to acquire Realmuto. That said, signing Ramos or Grandal would leave the Mets with less money to add a reliever and an outfielder.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Mets are to lose a bit of confidence in realmuto talks, and are starting to think about the value of acquiring a defensive catcher ��� they met on Maldonado Tuesday ��� and bulking up the bullpen instead.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Mets haven���t given up on Realmuto but haven���t made progress on that front last 24 hours and are looking into alternative plans at the moment. Preference at catcher is to get a strong defender.

The Marlins covet Amed Rosario, as well as outfielders Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto, but the Mets have been hesitant to part with those players.

Granted, all this doesn't mean the club is out of the running. According to MLB Network insider Joel Sherman, the Mets still view Realmuto as a possibility for them.

Tweet from @Joelsherman1: #Mets feel Realmuto is still a possibility for them. This is what I SENSE: Syndergaard off table. #Marlins want Conforto. NYM perhaps willing to mull Rosario/Nimmo/Peterson. Miami has multiple suitors so price will be big.

Realmuto, 27, has been one of the most talked-about trade candidates in recent days, with a potential three-team deal featuring the Marlins and both New York teams drawing significant buzz on Day 1 of the Winter Meetings before petering out. In the discussed trade, Realmuto would have gone to the Mets, with Noah Syndergaard joining the Yankees and prospects presumably heading to the Marlins.

Per Sherman, the Marlins also tried to float the idea that the Yanks were independently trying to acquire Realmuto, but Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the club is pursuing no primary catchers and confirmed that Gary Sanchez is the team's starting backstop.

Tweet from @Joelsherman1: #Marlins have tried to create perception that #Yankees are independently in to try to obtain Realmuto. Cashman said they are pursuing ���no��� primary catchers. Sanchez is the starter, he said.

Adams said to be returning to Nationals

Washington traded slugger to Cardinals last August
MLB.com

The Nationals and free-agent first baseman Matt Adams have agreed to a one-year deal for $4 million, sources told MLB.com. The team has not commented.

Washington dealt Adams to the Cardinals last August following the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Adams hit 21 home runs in 2018, but just three for the Redbirds, for whom he hit .158.

The Nationals and free-agent first baseman Matt Adams have agreed to a one-year deal for $4 million, sources told MLB.com. The team has not commented.

Washington dealt Adams to the Cardinals last August following the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Adams hit 21 home runs in 2018, but just three for the Redbirds, for whom he hit .158.

St. Louis Cardinals, Matt Adams

Source: Rangers mull dealing Minor to Phillies

Veteran lefty may net young, controllable pitching Texas covets
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- The Phillies have expressed interest in left-hander Mike Minor, who is currently the Rangers' No. 1 starter. It is a move Texas has to consider because Philadelphia is deep in young, controllable pitching.

Acquiring young pitching has been the Rangers' goal this offseason, and there could be an attractive match with the Phillies. One source said the Rangers would be willing to trade Minor if the Phillies are willing to give up at least a couple of their better young pitching prospects.

ARLINGTON -- The Phillies have expressed interest in left-hander Mike Minor, who is currently the Rangers' No. 1 starter. It is a move Texas has to consider because Philadelphia is deep in young, controllable pitching.

Acquiring young pitching has been the Rangers' goal this offseason, and there could be an attractive match with the Phillies. One source said the Rangers would be willing to trade Minor if the Phillies are willing to give up at least a couple of their better young pitching prospects.

"We are still in the pursuit [stage]," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said about the overall quest for young pitching. "We probably spent more [time] overall discussing with other teams some of the players on our club that they are interested in, [to] see what fits are there."

Minor made a successful transition to the rotation this past season after an outstanding year as a reliever for the Royals in 2017. He was 12-8 with a 4.18 ERA in the first season of a three-year contract. The Phillies could also be interested in Minor as a reliever and their interest may depend on if they land free agent left-hander Andrew Miller.

The Phillies are deep in young pitching -- including left-handers Ranger Suarez and Cole Irvin, plus right-handers Enyel De Los Santos and Drew Anderson. All were at Triple-A at the end of last season.

Some of the Phillies' best pitching prospects are in the lower levels of the Minors. Right-handers Sixto Sanchez and Adonis Medina, and left-handers David Parkinson and Kyle Young were in Class A, while left-hander JoJo Romero was at Double-A.

• The Rangers are among the teams showing interest in free-agent righty Mike Fiers, according to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com. The Reds, Giants and Nationals are also considered to be in the mix.

Fiers, 33, split the season with the Tigers and the Athletics, going 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in 30 starts and one relief appearance. He would give the Rangers a third proven starter behind Minor and right-hander Lance Lynn. The Rangers reached an agreement on a three-year, $30 million contract with Lynn at the Winter Meetings, but an official announcement is pending a physical.

• Texas has not announced it yet, but it reached an agreement during the Winter Meetings on a Minor League contract with outfielder Danny Santana. He has 364 games of Major League experience with the Twins and Braves. He owns a career batting average of .256 with a .292 on-base percentage and a .375 slugging percentage.

Video: CIN@ATL: Santana hits game-tying RBI double to right

• The Rangers are also working on a Minor League contract for right-handed pitcher Rafael Montero. He was 5-11 with a 5.52 ERA in 18 starts and 16 relief appearances for the Mets in 2017 before missing all of last season because of Tommy John surgery.

• Texas claimed infielder Carlos Asuaje off waivers from the Padres at the Winter Meetings, but he may end up playing in the Korea Baseball Organization.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Mike Minor

Rumors: Kluber, Bauer might not be on market

The latest MLB free agent and trade rumors for Hot Stove season
MLB.com

It's Hot Stove season, and MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest free agent and trade rumors right here.

Free agents, by position
Free agents, by team

It's Hot Stove season, and MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest free agent and trade rumors right here.

Free agents, by position
Free agents, by team

After recent trades, Indians now less likely to move Kluber, Bauer
Dec. 15: The Indians have been expected to trade either Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer at some point this offseason, but the club's recent moves make that less likely.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, Cleveland won't be as motivated by financial concerns after trading Yan Gomes, Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso. The Tribe trimmed roughly $18 million from its 2019 payroll through those deals.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: After trading Edwin, Yonder and Gomes, word is Indians won���t be as ���motivated��� by financial concerns now. Translation: Kluber and Bauer more likely to stay.

Looking to cut costs, Cleveland entered this offseason with a willingness to listen to offers for many of its top players, including Kluber, Bauer and Carlos Carrasco.

After the Indians signed Carrasco to a three-year contract extension, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported that the club was "increasingly motivated" to move either Kluber or Bauer, and trade talks for Kluber picked up steam during the Winter Meetings, per a report from MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi.

If the Indians don't move Kluber or Bauer in the coming weeks, they have the option of revisiting trade discussions down the road. Kluber has club options for $17.5 million in 2019 and $18 million for 2020, while Bauer is two years away from free agency.

Alonso is headed to the White Sox. Is Machado next?
Dec. 15: The White Sox have officially acquired first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians in exchange for Minor League outfielder Alex Call.

Alonso, 31, hit .250/.317/.421 with 23 home runs in 145 games for the Tribe last season, on the heels of an All-Star campaign split between the A's and Mariners, in which he slugged .501 with 28 homers in 142 games. He has an $8 million salary for 2019, and a $9 million club option for '20, with a $1 million buyout.

Alonso is also the brother-in-law of free-agent superstar Manny Machado, who is reportedly scheduled to meet with the White Sox in a matter of days. Chicago has been rumored to be interested in adding Machado to a club that will soon see top talent from the farm system coming into the big leagues. Adding his brother-in-law to the roster may enhance the organization's chances at landing one of the premier talents in the game. More >

White Sox not planning to trade Abreu
Dec. 15: The White Sox just acquired a new first baseman, but that doesn't mean they are looking to move their old one.

While the club officially acquired Yonder Alonso from the Indians on Saturday, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports that the club has "no intention" of dealing Jose Abreu.

Tweet from @BNightengale: Jose Abreu is staying in Chicago. The #Whitesox have no intention trading him

Abreu, 31, can become a free agent a year from now, and the White Sox are likely at least a year away from contending, even if they make a big splash in free agency. Trading Abreu makes sense on paper, but the team seems to value his clubhouse presence perhaps as much as his on-field contributions.

Abreu and Alonso will likely rotate between first base and designated hitter, leaving Daniel Palka with an uncertain role. The 27-year-old flashed strong power as a rookie (27 homers in 449 plate appearances), but he struck out 34.1 percent of the time and logged -11 Defensive Runs Saved. The White Sox may look to limit Palka's playing time in the outfield, whether they acquire Bryce Harper or not. Harper is one of Chicago's top targets, along with Manny Machado.

Keuchel may sign late in offseason
Dec. 15: Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi are off the market, and Charlie Morton and J.A. Happ have reportedly agreed to deals as well, which means Dallas Keuchel is clearly the biggest name remaining among free-agent starters. But the left-hander may not be finding his next team anytime soon.

According to Dennis Lin of The Athletic, Keuchel isn't expected to sign until late in the offseason. Lin reports that the Padres are interested in the southpaw, but his asking price is prohibitive for San Diego. The same likely goes for many other teams.

Tweet from @dennistlin: The Padres have interest in Dallas Keuchel, according to sources, though the asking price is currently prohibitive (likely so for most teams). Keuchel, a Scott Boras client and the top free-agent starter left, isn���t expected to sign until late in the offseason.

Keuchel could be this offseason's version of Jake Arrieta, who entered free agency after the 2017 campaign and didn't sign until March 2018, when he landed with the Phillies on a three-year deal for $75 million -- well below what he was reportedly seeking initially.

The similarities between the two pitchers are striking. Both are Scott Boras clients who won Cy Young Awards in 2015 but showed some signs of decline before hitting the free-agent market. Arrieta rejected a qualifying offer from the Cubs, so Philadelphia had to forfeit a Draft pick to sign him. Teams will need to do the same to add Keuchel, who rejected a qualifying offer from the Astros in November.

Video: MLB Tonight on the Padres' interest in Keuchel

White Sox reportedly have spending limits for Harper, Machado
Dec. 15: The White Sox like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado and are hoping to make one of them the centerpiece of their roster as they emerge from a rebuilding period, but it remains to be seen if the club will actually be among the top bidders for the two superstars. A source tells ESPN's Buster Olney that Chicago is unwilling to make a record-setting offer to either player.

Read the latest Harper rumors here and the latest on Machado here.

Phillies eyeing Minor -- but for what role?
Dec. 15: The Phillies are pursuing a trade for Rangers left-hander Mike Minor, two sources told Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer, but it's unclear where they would use him. Philadelphia is targeting starters and relievers, and Minor happens to be someone with recent experience in both roles.

Minor was a starter with the Braves over the first five seasons of his career, but after missing all of 2015 and 2016 with left shoulder problems, he signed with the Royals and became a full-time reliever in 2017.

The southpaw was excellent pitching out of the bullpen, recording a 2.55 ERA with a 1.02 WHIP and a 10.2 K/9 mark. He averaged 94.7 mph with his four-seam fastball, and yielded an outstanding .249 xwOBA with the pitch, per Statcast™.

Despite that success, Texas used Minor as a starter for the entirety of 2018 after signing him last offseason. Minor finished the season with a 4.18 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and a 7.6 K/9, averaging 92.8 mph with his four-seamer and allowing a .372 xwOBA with the pitch.

Lauber notes that if the Phils are looking at Minor as a reliever, it could indicate the club is "cooling" on left-handed relievers Andrew Miller and Zach Britton. That said, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported Friday that the Phillies have continued to target Miller while engaging with Texas about a deal for Minor.

Tweet from @JeffPassan: As the Phillies pursue pitching, they���ve engaged with the Rangers about left-handed Mike Minor and continued to target left-handed reliever Andrew Miller, league sources tell Yahoo Sports. Minor could start or relieve, and Miller is one of the best relievers left on FA market.

Braves appear to be slight favorites for Realmuto
Dec. 15: The race for J.T. Realmuto may have a new leader, as Craig Mish of SiriusXM reports that the Braves appear to be slight favorites to land the Marlins backstop. But Atlanta isn't the only team in the mix for the 27-year-old.

Read the latest Realmuto rumors here.

Astros eyeing Brantley, Cruz
Dec. 15: The rotation arguably remains the Astros' biggest area of need, but the club is reportedly looking into offensive upgrades as well. According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required), Houston is talking to free agents Michael Brantley and Nelson Cruz and may try to sign both of them.

Check out the most recent Brantley news here and the latest Cruz rumors here.

Brewers considering Lowrie, Murphy
Dec. 15: Although the Brewers' top prospect, second baseman Keston Hiura (No. 30 overall, per MLB Pipeline), may soon be ready to make an impact in the Majors, Milwaukee is showing interest in both Daniel Murphy and Jed Lowrie, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required).

Get the latest on Lowrie here.

Would Phillies splurge on Kimbrel?
Dec. 14: The Phillies have money to spend. We know this. Heck, their owner himself even said they might be a little "stupid" about it. That has led to most people in and around the baseball world expecting said money to go toward a pursuit of Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado. But could those funds make the Phillies a match for someone else instead?

Like, say, Craig Kimbrel?

In an all-encompassing look at where the market stands after the Winter Meetings, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand lists the Phillies as his "potential fit" for Kimbrel.

"The star closer is reportedly seeking a six-year deal worth more than $100 million, which would blow away the previous record of five years and $86 million signed by Aroldis Chapman two years ago," Feinsand writes. "Several executives cast doubt that Kimbrel will be able to score that type of contract, though he could get five years and upwards of $75 million. The Red Sox have been viewed as having moved on from their closer, but they remain a potential landing spot along with the Braves, Phillies and Cardinals."

Given Kimbrel's unprecendented asking price and the Phillies' financial resources -- not to mention, their need for a proven veteran presence to solidify the back end of a promising but very young bullpen -- maybe the two sides make sense as a match. Plus, with all the money the Phillies could spend this winter, it's not as if approaching nine figures for one of the sport's best closers would preclude them from still signing Harper or Machado.

Nats 'leery' of signing Keuchel long term
Dec. 14: After shelling out $140 million and committing six years to Patrick Corbin, the Nationals have some apprehension about dishing out another long-term deal in the starting pitching market -- specifically for Dallas Keuchelaccording to Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports

Keuchel is believed to be seeking a deal in the four- to six-year range, and many analysts predict he will get it. The Nats likely won't be willing to commit that length to the left-hander, per Zuckerman. 

Washington was one of just two clubs last year (with the Red Sox) to exceed the Competitive Balance Tax. Should it again exceed that mark, set for $206 million in 2019, the penalty will rise to the maximum of 50 percent. The club already has committed $525 million to its top three starters -- Corbin, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg -- over separate deals. 

Though they could feature arguably the best 1-2-3 punch in the Majors, the Nats' fourth and fifth starter spots are uncertain, particularly after they traded Tanner Roark to the Reds on Wednesday. The Nats have been linked to Keuchel this offseason, more so before they signed Corbin, but there might be more affordable avenues for them to continue to upgrade the back end of their rotation.

Are the Mets closing in on their next catcher? What about center field?
Dec. 14: The Mets are "very serious" about free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal as their next backstop, according to SNY's Andy Martino, who also notes New York's catching situation may be "moving closer to resolution." Grandal is the best defensive catcher on the market, his struggles behind the plate during the postseason notwithstanding.

Grandal, 30, had his best offensive season to date in 2018, hitting .241/.349/.466 with 24 homers in 140 games for the Dodgers. While the Mets have also been rumored to be among several clubs in pursuit of Marlins trade candidate J.T. Realmuto, the situation appears to remain fluid.

Tweet from @martinonyc: Mets catching situation moving closer to resolution (not sayin tonight, but they���re working hard on it.)I keep hearing from different people that they���re very serious about Yasmani Grandal

The Mets are also continuing a serious pursuit of an upgrade in center field, and free agent A.J. Pollock remains their top choice according to Martino. Pollock, 31, slashed .257/.316/.484 with 21 homers in 113 games for the D-backs last season, though prior to being injured in mid-May, he was hitting .293/.349/.620 with 11 homers in 40 games. He has also proved to be a strong defensive center fielder.

Tweet from @martinonyc: Mets still serious about A.J. Pollock as they weigh catching options

New York has already been very active this offseason, acquiring second baseman Robinson Cano from the Mariners and signing free-agent reliever Jeurys Familia to a three-year deal that reunites him with his former team.

Why Brantley to Braves still makes a lot of sense
Dec. 14: The Braves made the first big free-agent splash of the offseason by signing Josh Donaldson to a one-year, $23 million contract last month, but they've been pretty quiet since then. Will that change?

MLB.com's Richard Justice lists Atlanta as one of his seven teams most likely to make the next big move. In a lot of divisions in baseball, landing Donaldson and catcher Brian McCann in short order, as the Braves did, would be enough for a reigning division champ. But as Justice writes: "In the National League East arms race, it's not enough. So GM Alex Anthopoulos is still thinking big in his pursuit of a corner outfielder, a top-of-the-rotation starter and possibly a reliever."

It's possible the Braves could make a play for Dallas Keuchel to fit near the top of their rotation or sign Zach Britton to fortify the back of their bullpen. But Justice also mentions Michael Brantley, who has been linked aplenty to Atlanta this offseason, as a name for them to consider for corner outfield -- and out of those three players, he might provide the best bang for the buck.

As the top name left on the open market among starters, it's expected Keuchel will score a four- or five-year deal worth upward of $15 million to $20 million per season, which likely would be out of the Braves' price range. Britton will come cheaper than that, but perhaps Atlanta would prefer to spend a similar amount on an everyday outfielder, especially after the division-rival Phillies just added one of their own in Andrew McCutchen.

After all, someone has to replace free agent Nick Markakis' offense and veteran presence. Brantley -- with his elite contact ability and penchant for compiling good at-bats -- could prove valuable for Atlanta, which boasted a potent, yet often impatient, young lineup in 2018.

2B market is starting to move
Dec. 14: Second base is one of the more well-stocked positions in free agency this offseason, but it seems to be starting to roll at long last.

Ian Kinsler and the Padres agreed to a two-year, $8 million deal (with a team option for 2021) on Friday afternoon, sources told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi. He's expected to provide some stability and depth in the infield, while San Diego allows youngsters Fernando Tatis and Jr. Luis Urias -- MLB Pipeline's Nos. 2 and 27 overall prospects, respectively -- to break into the bigs at a comfortable pace.

Tweet from @AJCassavell: Friars view Kinsler as a veteran option who can play multiple spots. If and when Tatis arrives this season, it seems like Urias at 2B, Tatis at SS and Kinsler at 3B is the likeliest option.

Meanwhile, the Cubs and Cardinals are pursuing another veteran in Daniel Descalso -- a versatile infielder who saw most of his action at the keystone with the D-backs the past two years and is coming off a career campaign in 2018 -- according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal and USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: #Cubs in strong pursuit of free-agent infielder Daniel Descalso, sources tell The Athletic.

Tweet from @BNightengale: Daniel Descalso indeed the #Cubs first choice as a super utility player but they just don���t know whether they can afford him in their budget with Descalso also on #Stlcards radar. https://t.co/xRhm6FXK78

This comes on the heels of the Twins recently landing Jonathan Schoop as a bounceback candidate to handle second base in Minnesota.

A number of quality starting players at the position remain on the open market, including Jed Lowrie, DJ LeMahieu, Daniel Murphy, Brian Dozier and Asdrubal Cabrera. With action starting to happen here, it's possible some of the bigger names soon will look to lock in their own deals to avoid falling behind in a plentiful market where the supply appears to outweigh the demand.

Cubs in touch with Tulo
Dec. 14: The Cubs are among the teams that have at least made contact with Troy Tulowitzki's camp after the veteran shortstop was released by the Blue Jays on Tuesday, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. Heyman also reports Chicago will send a scout to one of Tulowitzki's workouts.

Tulowitzki has been plagued by injuries throughout his 12-year Major League career. The five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner has missed most of the last six seasons with a variety of ailments, most recently heel injuries on both feet that required surgery and caused him to miss the entire 2018 season.

Tulowitzki hit .299/.371/.513 (123 OPS+) with 188 home runs in 1,048 games for the Rockies before being traded to Toronto in '15. He appeared in 131 games for the Blue Jays in '16, slashing .254/.318/.443 with 24 homers. The following season, he was limited to 66 games, hitting .249/.300/.378 with seven homers.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Cubs are one of the teams that has at least been in contact with Tulo, and they will send a scout to a workout. There are others though, so they aren���t necessarily the favorite. His agent told @susanslusser there are 6 teams and they will narrow field soon.

Fiers, Sanchez drawing interest from multiple teams
Dec. 14: Free-agent right-hander Mike Fiers is drawing interest from several teams, including the Reds, Giants, Nationals and Rangers, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi. Morosi adds that fellow free agent Anibal Sanchez is also of interest to some of the same clubs, including the Reds and Nationals. The Braves, the veteran right-hander's most recent team, are also in the mix.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Sources: Free agent Mike Fiers drawing interest from multiple clubs, including the Reds, Giants, Nationals and Rangers. Fiers, 33, is coming off a year in which he posted his best full-season ERA as a starter (3.56). @MLB @MLBNetwork

Fiers, 33, posted a 3.56 ERA with the Tigers and A's in 2018, although his FIP was significantly higher, at 4.75. Sanchez, who will be entering his age-35 season, had a strong '18 campaign following three rough seasons to end his tenure in Detroit. While he posted a 5.67 ERA for the Tigers from '15-'17, his ERA in his first year with Atlanta was 2.83 over 25 appearances (24 starts).

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Free agent Anibal Sanchez's marketplace has some overlap with that of Fiers. The Braves (Sanchez's most recent team), Reds and Nationals have shown interest in Sanchez, sources say. @MLB @MLBNetwork

Giants interested in trading for Pillar
Dec. 14: The Giants have had several questions to answer about how they will approach the 2019 season under new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, including whether San Francisco will trade star left-hander Madison Bumgarner this offseason. Another question mark is center field. According to NBC Bay Area, the club may look to Toronto for the answer in a trade for Kevin Pillar.

While San Francisco hopes 25-year-old Steven Duggar is the long-term answer in center, Zaidi reportedly would like a right-handed bat to platoon at the position with the left-handed hitting Duggar. Another potential advantage with a Pillar pickup would be the ability to play two center fielders in the massive AT&T Park outfield at the same time, with Pillar in center and Duggar in right.

Pillar, who turns 30 in January, has always been a defense-first player, hitting .261/.298/.398 with 55 homers in six seasons with the Blue Jays. Duggar appeared in 41 games as a rookie in '18, slashing .255/.303/.390.

White Sox want Harper ... but they have limits

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.

White Sox reportedly have spending limits for Harper, Machado
Dec. 15: The White Sox like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado and are hoping to make one of them the centerpiece of their roster as they emerge from a rebuilding period, but it remains to be seen if the club will actually be among the top bidders for the two superstars.

A source tells ESPN's Buster Olney that Chicago is unwilling to make a record-setting offer to either player.

"The interest of the White Sox is more measured and modest than frenzied, and within more conventional financial bounds," Olney wrote Saturday for ESPN+ (subscription required).

That might not be enough for either player to choose the White Sox, especially with the team unlikely to be a serious contender in 2019 -- even with a big free-agent splash.

As MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal wrote for The Athletic (subscription required) last week, "the prevailing assumption in the industry is that [agent] Scott Boras wants to set new benchmarks with Harper's free-agent deal, whether in total guaranteed salary, average annual value or -- preferably -- both." One would assume Machado's agent, Dan Lozano, wants to do the same, or at least come close.

Rosenthal also recently broke down why signing Harper or Machado would be out of character for White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who has never given out a bigger contract than the six-year, $68 million deal Jose Abreu signed in October 2013.

The 'Updated Harper Destination Power Rankings'
Dec. 13: If you were hoping there'd be some resolution to the Bryce Harper sweepstakes by the end of the Winter Meetings -- you know, since they were held in his hometown of Las Vegas this year -- well, sorry to disappoint.

While the superstar outfielder isn't going to be signing before all the managers and front-office executives depart, that doesn't mean no headway was made on the Harper front. Plus, the baseball world still will be plenty focused on Harper -- as well as his chief competitor for a record-setting contract, Manny Machado -- as we hurtle toward the holiday season.

That in mind, here are the latest "Harper Destination Power Rankings," courtesy of MLB.com's Will Leitch.

The Phillies remain atop the list because they "seem absolutely committed to get one of the two superstars on the market," Leitch writes.

The next two teams? That would be the Dodgers and Yankees, neither of whom has much space in their loaded outfields -- at least, not at the moment. But given the resources, spending power and World-Series-title-or-bust goal, both franchises simply cannot be ruled out.

If there's one dark horse in the chase for Harper, it's the White Sox, who Leitch ranks fourth, stating they "might be the most perfect fit in all of baseball for Harper. Their cascades of young talent will be reaching the Majors in the next few years, right as Harper is in his prime. He'll be surrounded by hyper-talented, cost-controlled stars for the next five or six years, in a division that the White Sox could rule well into the next decade."

So ... what's it gonna be, Bryce?

Who is the front-runner for Harper?
Dec. 12: The Phillies? The Yankees? The Nationals? The Cubs? The Dodgers? All of those teams -- and a few more -- have been linked to Bryce Harper so far this offseason. But which club appears to be in the lead to land the superstar slugger in free agency?

"The front-runner right now, believe it or not, is the Chicago White Sox," CBS Sports Network analyst and former MLB general manager Jim Bowden said Wednesday. "They're the team with the checkbook open. They're being very aggressive."

Tweet from @CBSSportsNet: ���The front runner right now, believe it or not, is the Chicago White Sox.���@JimBowdenGM tells @AdamSchein that it���s the White Sox who are in the lead for Bryce Harper's services. #T2S pic.twitter.com/XoXndaF0F2

With the Winter Meetings being held in Harper's hometown of Las Vegas, the White Sox met with Harper at some point, according to Bowden, who reported that the club stressed the strength of its promising farm system. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez, right-handers Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning, as well as infielder Nick Madrigal -- the club's top pick in the 2018 Draft -- are among the big-name, high-upside prospects who have reached the Major Leagues or should arrive soon.

Will the White Sox pull off a surprise splurge on Harper with a record-setting contract to push the franchise from rebuilding mode toward contention mode in an AL Central division that could be up for grabs as soon as 2020?

Video: Scott Boras discusses the market for Bryce Harper

Boras not ruling out Yankees, Nats as suitors for Harper
Dec. 12: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman all but ruled out the club as a suitor for free agent Bryce Harper earlier this week, saying that there's "no spot" for the 26-year-old in New York's crowded outfield and that using him at first base "isn't an option," according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

And yet, Harper's agent, Scott Boras, isn't ready to say the club is out of the running.

"I've never heard the Yankees say that," Boras said at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday when asked about the team being out on Harper. "It might be that they say things to [the media]. I don't know. I wasn't there.

"As far as the Yankees … you're talking about star players. I go back to Mark Teixeira. The Yankees are very adept; they're smart. If they're going to do something, I think they can earnestly tell you that right now they're not doing it, and have every intention of doing something else when it's best for them to do it. When the nurse walks into the room with the thermometer, the issue is not what the thermometer says that day; the issue is, what's the health of the patient when they're ready to leave the hospital? They're not ready to leave the hospital yet."

Whether it's a smokescreen or not, it benefits Boras for other teams to think the deep-pocketed Yankees are interested in Harper. It's also possible that Cashman's comments were the true smokescreen, as Boras suggested.

The Yankees seem to have a deep outfield, but Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier played a combined 15 games for the club in 2018 due to injuries, while Brett Gardner experienced a steep decline at the plate (86 OPS+). Aaron Hicks has been productive for New York over the past two years, but he has never played more than 137 games in a season and can become a free agent in a year. And with Giancarlo Stanton's injury history, it would be risky for New York to play him in the field every day. That leaves Aaron Judge as the only "sure thing" among the team's outfielders.

Boras also addressed the Nationals, whose principal owner, Mark Lerner, recently acknowledged that he doesn't expect Harper to be back, only for the club's general manager, Mike Rizzo, to say Washington hasn't "closed the door" on a reunion.

"I've talked to Nationals ownership a great deal," Boras said, per MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. "I have a very clear understanding, as does Bryce, of their position. We've always had a great relationship and we'll continue to have a great relationship. I think when they say the door is open, I would certainly pay attention to what they're saying."

Phils get McCutchen -- but they're not out on Harper
Dec. 11: The Phillies' first key free-agent acquisition of the Winter Meetings wasn't for Harper. It was for another outfielder -- Andrew McCutchen -- whom they landed Tuesday on a three-year deal. But Philadelphia wants to be a major player in free agency this offseason, so adding McCutchen doesn't take the club out of the running for Harper.

Per MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, the Phillies are still involved in both the Harper and Manny Machado sweepstakes.

Tweet from @ToddZolecki: Told the McCutchen deal does not remove the #Phillies from Manny Machado and Bryce Harper sweepstakes. Phils might not feel as pressured to spend stupid money to get them, however. Remains to be seen.

That echoes an earlier report from MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal that McCutchen's signing wouldn't preclude Philadelphia from adding another outfielder. That outfielder could be Harper; it could be someone else (say, Michael Brantley).

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: Both @MattGelb and I are hearing same from multiple sources. Told addition of McCutchen would NOT preclude #Phillies from signing another outfielder, whether it���s Harper or someone else. https://t.co/ToylyfCwL7

If it seems like going after Harper on top of McCutchen might make the Phillies outfield too crowded, don't worry. Rosenthal also suggests that getting McCutchen could lead Philadelphia to move one of its younger outfielders in a trade.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: Agreement with McCutchen opens up #Phillies to possibility of trading a younger OFer. Sixto Sanchez, the #Phils��� top pitching prospect, also has been involved in numerous trade discussions, sources say.

On the other hand, signing McCutchen could also be a sign that the Phillies are focusing more on Machado over Harper, as far as marquee free-agent targets. NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury noted that possibility.

What would it take for Harper to land in LA?
Dec. 11: As agent Scott Boras continues to sell Bryce Harper as a player who can make a LeBron James-like impact, both on and off the field, could the 26-year-old outfielder follow in the NBA superstar's footsteps and head to Los Angeles?

It's certainly not out of the question, though it remains unclear if the Dodgers plan to make an aggressive play for the free agent. The contract that Harper is expected to command would be out of character for the Andrew Friedman-led Dodgers front office, which hasn't handed out more than $93 million to any one player despite consistently maintaining a high payroll.

As MLB Network insider Joel Sherman noted in a column for the New York Post on Tuesday, Los Angeles is hesitant to tie up a large portion of its future payroll, which could reduce its flexibility as the retooling Giants and D-backs become serious contenders in the National League West again within the next few years.

But Sherman still envisions a scenario in which Harper lands with the Dodgers.

"Again, it takes dominoes falling," Sherman writes. "Manny Machado would sign with the Phillies; the Nationals, Cardinals and Yankees really would continue to have no interest in Harper; and the only substantial long-term offers would come from someplace like the White Sox. In that scenario, could Harper instead pivot to accept a four-year deal from the Dodgers for a record annual amount and, say, an opt-out after two years to get back into free agency either after his age-27 or -29 season?"

It may also take a trade or two to clear room for Harper in Los Angeles, as the Dodgers have a deep outfield. ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the club has talked to other teams about moving two players from the group of Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson and Cody Bellinger, though there has been no indication that those discussions are connected to Harper.

Tweet from @Buster_ESPN: Dodgers have talked to other teams about moving two outfielders among the group of Kemp, Puig, Pederson, Bellinger, and as they look to re-shape payroll, they are also are prepared to move starting pitchers Rich Hill and Alex Wood.

Can White Sox capitalize on opportunity to land Harper?
Dec. 11: The possibility of the White Sox winning the Bryce Harper sweepstakes "seemingly is growing more realistic," according to Ken Rosenthal's latest column for The Athletic on Tuesday (subscription required). But the question remains, would owner Jerry Reinsdorf be willing to break the bank?

As the Winter Meetings enter their second day, Rosenthal lays out the factors the White Sox have going for and against them. In their favor: other suitors dropping out on Harper, and financial flexibility. Not so much in their favor: the size and type of the deal Harper wants.

Two teams that could have been major players for Harper, the Yankees and Nationals, appear to have dropped out of the running, based on comments from Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Nats owner Mark Lerner in the last few days. And sources have told Rosenthal that another pair of teams that looked like potential landing spots, the Cubs and Cardinals, are also not engaged in pursuit of the superstar outfielder. Teams like the Dodgers and Phillies will likely go after Harper, per Rosenthal, as well as others, but the White Sox look like they might see less competition than they could have.

Rosenthal also notes that no other team has a more favorable payroll situation to making room for Harper. The White Sox have just over $50 million committed for 2019… and just over $5 million committed for 2020. In 2021 and '22, they have just one player under contract, shortstop Tim Anderson.

So they're in prime position to make a marquee signing, especially in a wide-open American League Central. But to actually get Harper, they'd need to hand out a deal the likes of which the franchise never has before.

The White Sox's largest contract ever awarded is Jose Abreu's six-year, $68 million deal signed in 2013. Reinsdorf does not typically give free agents big contracts, and on top of that a source told Rosenthal that Reinsdorf has privately expressed doubt that his club will win the bidding war for Harper. Plus, Harper also likely wants a deal with multiple opt-outs, which would mean the White Sox risking him leaving just as they were poised to contend.

But Chicago's owner has surprised before -- Rosenthal cites his "stunning" signing of Albert Belle to a five-year, $55 million deal in November 1996 -- and now would be the perfect time to do it again.

Does Harper fit with Yankees?
Dec. 10: The Yankees continue to be mentioned as a team that could be a fit for Bryce Harper, but could the club actually fit Harper?

When asked about the superstar, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said there's "no spot" for him in New York's crowded outfield and that deploying him at first base "isn't an option," according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

Tweet from @Feinsand: Asked about Bryce Harper, Brian Cashman rattled off the names of his six outfielders and said there���s no spot. Reiterated that playing Harper at first base isn���t an option for the Yankees.

Indeed, with incumbent starters Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks, as well as returning options Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier as backups, the club is more than set in the outfield. And while the topic of Harper as a first baseman has been floated by his agent, Scott Boras, that possibility doesn't appear to interest Cashman, despite the Yankees relying on the still-unproven Luke Voit and Greg Bird at the position.

If that wasn't a forceful enough take on Harper, Cashman followed up by saying, "I'm surprised [the media is] still asking" about the team's interest, as MLB.com's Bryan Hoch relayed.

Tweet from @BryanHoch: Cashman said that at no point this winter did he talk about getting an outfielder. ���The Harper stuff, I���m surprised you���re still asking.���

Rizzo: Nats not closing door on Harper
Dec. 10: Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner's candid interview with 106.7 The Fan on Friday drew widespread publicity, as Lerner acknowledged that the reported 10-year, $300 million offer Bryce Harper rejected at the end of the regular season was "the best we can do," and indicated that he didn't expect the free-agent outfielder to be back.

And yet, a reunion between Harper and Washington is a possibility that Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo isn't ruling out.

"We haven't closed the door on [Harper]," Rizzo said Monday on MLB Network Radio. "He's a big part of our franchise. He's near and dear to my heart personally, and professionally he's a great player."

Tweet from @MLBNetworkRadio: Mike Rizzo: "We haven't closed the door on Bryce Harper."Plot: [Thickens]#Nationals GM at the #WinterMeetings: pic.twitter.com/I5Aq4SzQiP

The Nats have been one of the busier teams this offseason, acquiring Patrick Corbin, Trevor Rosenthal, Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes, and it's unclear if the club will still be open to giving Harper $300 million should the 26-year-old come back to the negotiating table. But with rivals such as the Phillies expected to be among the bidders for Harper, it is better for the Nats if other teams think Washington might still be in.

Harper to the Cards still a long shot
Dec. 10: The Cardinals got one elite bat in Paul Goldschmidt. Bryce Harper could push them to another level. But as exciting as a lineup anchored by Harper and Goldschmidt would be, that scenario remains unlikely, according to a report from The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal on Monday (subscription required).

Rosenthal cites St. Louis' roster inflexibility as a chief obstacle to signing Harper, even though the Cards might have the payroll flexibility to give the superstar outfielder the type of long-term deal he's looking for.

For one thing, the Cardinals have $49.5 million tied up in Dexter Fowler over the next three seasons, and Rosenthal calls Fowler "virtually impossible to trade" after Fowler struggled through injuries and poor performance in 2018.

Another option to make room for Harper would be to try to move Marcell Ozuna, but he'd also be difficult to trade. Ozuna just had a right shoulder procedure this offseason, and he's also likely to make a sizeable salary in his last year of arbitration before hitting free agency next offseason. Rosenthal shoots down the idea of St. Louis simply cutting ties with Ozuna and eating the money as unreasonable -- both based on how the organization typically acts and because there's a solid chance Ozuna returns healthy and hits like he did in his All-Star 2017 season, when he clubbed 37 homers for the Marlins.

There is one outfielder the Cardinals might reasonably trade: Jose Martinez. But Martinez doesn't slot in as a starter anyway, and his cheap salary could mean St. Louis keeps him around as a bat off the bench.

Rather than an all-out pursuit of Harper, Rosenthal thinks the Cardinals' priority will be to sign a top left-handed reliever like Andrew Miller or Zach Britton.

Crowded Yankees outfield may be obstacle to Harper signing
Dec. 9: The Yankees are among the rumored destinations for Bryce Harper, and while they plan to meet with the free-agent star, there may be some obstacles to any potential signing.

New York is reportedly questioning if there's a place for Harper due to their surplus of outfielders -- including Giancarlo Stanton, who's due to earn $25 million-$32 million per year through 2027 -- per MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. The Yankees are also in the mix for shortstop Manny Machado, who seems to be a more natural fit given Didi Gregorius will miss much of the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The club is said to be prioritizing acquiring another starting pitcher, even after the James Paxton trade, and the price to acquire Harper may prove too high, as Heyman also said New York is unwilling to offer Machado the $300 million contract both he and Harper are rumored to be seeking or perhaps exceed. Harper already turned down a reported 10-year, $300 million offer to remain in Washington, D.C.

Still, the Yankees are among the few teams with the financial means to sign a marquee free agent like Harper. And with Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner publicly acknowledging he doesn't expect Harper to return to the club, the pool of teams that would conceivably add a free-agent contract the size of Harper's to their payroll has shrunk by one.

Boras' handbook compares Harper to LeBron James
Dec. 9: Agent Scott Boras is known for compiling expansive free-agent handbooks extolling his clients' achievements and qualities, and his book on Bryce Harper sounds like a doozy.

According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the document Boras has been giving to Harper suitors is 118 pages and features comparisons both predictable and provocative, an example of the latter being LeBron James.

"My goal in this thing is to let teams know what they're getting," Boras said. "That's why we brought in the LeBron comparisons. A lot of people don't know what he's done by the age of 25, and how that compares to what LeBron James did at 25. You get a very clear path on how hard it is to achieve a standard of excellence in an arena where you're both No. 1 picks, both rookies of year, both MVPs, and set a standard that no one can meet.

"The way to articulate this in true business form is look at the Nats' franchise. It was worth $480 to $500 million before he got there, and now it's worth more than $2 billion. TV ratings have tripled.

"Every GM in baseball wants him because he fills a need, but the owners are pursuing Bryce Harper because they know he can also make them a billion dollars over a period of years."

Per Nightengale, teams haven't made formal bids to Harper yet, nor is Boras making specific contract demands.

"The only thing we know for sure," one GM said, "is that he's looking for more than 10 years and $300 million."

Of course, 10 years and $300 million is what the Nationals reportedly offered at the end of the regular season, and Harper rejected it, prompting Nats owner Mark Lerner to indicate that he didn't think Harper would be back in a revealing interview with 106.7 The Fan on Friday.

"Well, when we met with them and we gave them the offer, we told them, 'This is the best we can do.' We went right to the finish line very quickly,' Lerner said. "And we said, 'If this is of interest to you, please come back to us and we'll see whether we can finish it up.' But we just couldn't afford to put more than that in and still be able to put a team together that had a chance to win the NL East or go farther than that."

Added Lerner: "If he comes back [to the negotiating table], it's a strong possibility that we won't be able to make it work. But I really don't expect him to come back at this point. I think they've decided to move on. There's just too much money out there that he'd be leaving on the table. That's just not Boras' MO to leave money on the table."

Harper and Machado negotiations could drag beyond Winter Meetings
Dec. 9: Those hoping the free-agent odysseys of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will reach their respective conclusions during the Winter Meetings may be disappointed.

According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required), the history between agents Scott Boras and Dan Lozano could be a major factor in negotiations stretching well beyond this week.

Boras, who represents Harper, used to rep Machado as well before losing him to Lozano in 2011 -- the same year Alex Rodriguez, another former Boras client, joined Lozano. As a result, Boras may have extra motivation to get Harper the bigger deal between this offseason's top two free agents.

"The prevailing assumption in the industry is that Boras wants to set new benchmarks with Harper's free-agent deal, whether in total guaranteed salary, average annual value or -- preferably -- both," Rosenthal writes. "Therefore, he will want Machado to sign first, securing the negotiating equivalent of 'last licks,' in which he would step to the plate knowing the number to beat. Boras' track record also indicates he would be willing to go to extra innings, moving at his own pace, stretching talks into January, if necessary."

But as Rosenthal points out, Machado isn't necessarily going to sign quickly. While Lozano isn't the same type of showman as Boras, outdueling his counterpart has to at least be on his mind in some capacity, and Machado is reportedly receiving interest from at least six teams, including the Yankees, Phillies and White Sox.

Meanwhile, Rosenthal notes that some rival agents and club executives think the market for Harper will be limited, given the bar Boras is believed to be setting. "It's Philly bidding against Philly," one agent said of the Harper sweepstakes.

White Sox selling Harper and Machado on a bright future
Dec. 8: The White Sox are willing to break the bank to land Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but it may take more than cash to get one of those players to sign on the dotted line. Chicago also offers one of the biggest media markets in sports, but even that might not be enough.

As a 10-season postseason drought hangs over the franchise, the White Sox will need to sell Harper and Machado on the idea that World Series championship contention is right around the corner as their talent-rich farm system -- led by top prospect Eloy Jimenez (No. 3 overall, per MLB Pipeline) -- continues to bear fruit.

Granted, adding Harper or Machado might not make the White Sox instant contenders, even in the underwhelming American League Central.

The club has major needs on the pitching staff, especially with No. 2 prospect Michael Kopech (No. 19 overall) set to miss all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery, and it's unclear when No. 3 prospect Dylan Cease (No. 25 overall) and No. 6 prospect Dane Dunning (No. 59 overall) will be ready to contribute to the Major League rotation.

But general manager Rick Hahn thinks other players are clued-in enough to understand what the White Sox are building toward.

"You have to understand these guys are professionals, and they understand deep nuances about each individual franchise," Hahn said, according to MLB.com's Scott Merkin. "From a macro standpoint, the idea of potentially being part of a winner in Chicago has very broad appeal.

"From a nuanced standpoint, the chance to be part of the White Sox organization based upon what our future looks like, futures that these players are familiar with and understand having either seen personally some of these young players play or video or talked to other players about them, it's something that they buy into."

While Chicago is likely planning for Jimenez to take over in left field at some point next season, Harper would fit perfectly into the right-field vacancy created when the club non-tendered Avisail Garcia, and the 26-year-old would also give the White Sox a strong left-right tandem of Harper and Jose Abreu in the middle of the order.

Do Phillies prefer Harper or Machado?
Dec. 7: Bryce Harper or Manny Machado? Manny Machado or Bryce Harper? The Phillies, with all the money they have to spend this offseason, are in on one or the other -- maybe even both. While they recently traded for infielder Jean Segura from the Mariners, they even more recently missed out on splurging on lefty Patrick Corbin, so the possibility that they could land Harper and/or Machado likely only increased.

But if forced to choose between the two superstars of this free-agent market, does the club have a preference? MLB.com's Todd Zolecki weighs exactly that question. His answer?

"There are indications Philadelphia prefers [Machado] over Harper. Now, Machado is not an iconic player like Harper. He is not as accomplished a hitter as Harper. But he is one of the game's greatest talents and he also plays a premium position. It is why Machado has a career 33.8 WAR, while Harper has a career 27.4 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference. If the Phils can convince Machado to play third base -- his best position -- they will have one of the best left sides of the infield in baseball for years. Oh, Machado could come at a lower price than Harper, too."

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman is hearing otherwise, though, writing Thursday for Fancred Sports that Harper "is believed to be their top target." However, a confidant of Harper thinks the outfielder is "lukewarm on Philly, as a city, anyway."

If that's the case, then perhaps Machado is the more likely option, whether the Phillies prefer Harper or not. 

Could Cubs be lurking for Harper?
Dec. 4: Despite their perceived financial limitations and with many other clubs in the market for Harper, it's long seemed destined that the Cubs will make at least some push to acquire the six-time All-Star. 

Harper has been connected to the Cubs for some time. He is close friends with Kris Bryant, has a dog named Wrigley and has made various social media quips in recent years poking at his perceived allure for potentially playing on the North Side.

In an article published on Monday for The Athletic (subscription required), Patrick Mooney outlines the logistics for why Chicago will at least check in on Harper soon, particularly with the Winter Meetings beginning on Sunday in Harper's hometown of Las Vegas. 

"Knowing the personalities involved and how they operate, it wouldn't make sense for [president of baseball operations Theo] Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer to decline the opportunity to get some face time with a superstar player, or for super-agent Scott Boras to exclude a big-market team like the Cubs from the negotiations," Mooney writes. 

Epstein has made bold deals in years past when he's explicitly outlined intentions to avoid such moves. After a last-place finish in 2014, he signed Jon Lester to a six-year, $155 million deal. He also shelled out $184 million to Jason Heyward the following offseason for a nine-year contract, and $126 million over six years to Yu Darvish last year. 

Video: Cubs may need to adjust roster to fit Bryce Harper

But the Cubs' financial framework for 2019 is much different than in years past. Mooney outlines that the Cubs already have committed roughly $160 million to 13 players next year, nearly an additional $40 million in projected arbitration raises, with a $13 million earmark for player benefits and an estimate of $5-10 million in what he describes as the "Trade Deadline fund" that the front office holds in reserve. That all puts the Cubs around $220 million in payroll, per Mooney, which is in line to exceed the Competitive Balance Tax that is set for $206 million for 2019.  

Yet despite all of the signs indicating the Cubs won't be in the market for Harper, the club doesn't seem inclined to stand pat -- especially after losing the division lead that it held nearly all season to the Brewers in Game 163 and the NL Wild Card Game against the Rockies at home.  

"Epstein's aggressive style and competitive nature also won't let him bring back essentially the same group of players and hope for different results," Mooney writes. 

Dodgers hope Kelly's 'great stuff' turns into results

Righty reliever had 13/0 K/BB in Boston's run to '18 World Series title
MLB.com @mike_petriello

In certain circles of the baseball internet, there's a long-running joke that Joe Kelly has "great stuff." The humor there is clear: Kelly has elite velocity, averaging 98.1 mph, and he's got a great-looking high-spin curveball, but he's never had the results to match. He's got the tools, he's got the "stuff," and he's long since made the rotation-to-bullpen shift that many failed starters make. It should have clicked by now. It hasn't, stuff or not.

Or it hadn't, at least, until the 2018 playoffs. Kelly threw 11 1/3 innings during Boston's run to a World Series title, striking out 13 while issuing zero walks and allowing only a single earned run. For a pitcher with regular control issues -- his 11.2 percent walk rate was worse than 90 percent of the other pitchers who threw at least 60 innings this year -- it was a stunning turnaround. It was only 11 1/3 innings, sure. But they were great innings.

In certain circles of the baseball internet, there's a long-running joke that Joe Kelly has "great stuff." The humor there is clear: Kelly has elite velocity, averaging 98.1 mph, and he's got a great-looking high-spin curveball, but he's never had the results to match. He's got the tools, he's got the "stuff," and he's long since made the rotation-to-bullpen shift that many failed starters make. It should have clicked by now. It hasn't, stuff or not.

Or it hadn't, at least, until the 2018 playoffs. Kelly threw 11 1/3 innings during Boston's run to a World Series title, striking out 13 while issuing zero walks and allowing only a single earned run. For a pitcher with regular control issues -- his 11.2 percent walk rate was worse than 90 percent of the other pitchers who threw at least 60 innings this year -- it was a stunning turnaround. It was only 11 1/3 innings, sure. But they were great innings.

Six of those innings -- and 10 strikeouts -- came against the Dodgers in the World Series, and they must have been impressed by what they saw, because Kelly is now a Dodger, having reportedly signed a three-year deal worth $25 million to return to his native Southern California and attempt to fill the "2017 Brandon Morrow" role that Los Angeles struggled so badly to replicate in 2018. 

For a fanbase somewhat scarred by failed three-year deals to unimpressive relievers like Brandon League and Matt Guerrier and seemingly apprehensive about this deal, that's really the question here: Can 11 admittedly great innings overshadow the 600-plus up-and-down innings that came before it? The Dodgers appear to be banking that they will.

Video: WS2018 Gm5: Kelly strikes out Bellinger, side in 8th

First off, let's not worry about the contract, because it's exactly what was expected. At FanGraphs, writer Kiley McDaniel projected three years and $24 million before the offseason began, exactly what Jon Heyman had. MLB Trade Rumors suggested three years and $27 million, a nearly identical figure. Three years and $25 million is exactly right, and it's really not that much in a world where Craig Kimbrel reportedly wants north of $100 million. The money is fine. If he succeeds, it's a steal for the team. If he doesn't, it's a drop in the Dodger payroll bucket. 

It doesn't matter what his career stats are, because half of that time was spent trying unsuccessfully to be a starter with St. Louis and Boston. It doesn't matter that he has two career saves, because saves aren't important -- just look at Andrew Miller -- and he's not coming to Los Angeles to unseat Kenley Jansen, anyway. What matters is if the Dodgers think they can take the October version of Kelly and help make that the version they see over the next three seasons -- just like how the Astros have helped talented pitchers improve after arriving in Houston.

Tweet from @bradfo: Joe Kelly had lengthy meeting with Dodgers president Andrew Friedman last Friday. Was blown away by detailed plan of how LA viewed him

Can they? It all depends on if Kelly's October success was small-sample luck, or the results of actual changes. We can say with certainty that he made changes, at least. That's a start. 

Kelly brings an elite skillset 

Obviously, you start with the aforementioned "great stuff," and it's not hard to see what's attracting the Dodgers here. Over 600 pitchers threw at least 100 fastballs, and Kelly's 98.1 mph average velocity was fourth-best. Call it a 99th percentile skill. Over 230 pitchers threw at least 100 curveballs, and Kelly was one of only six to average over 3,000 RPM of spin rate. Call that a 99th percentile skill, too. 

Combine those two skills to find pitchers with similar fastball velocity and curveball spin, and you can't, really. It's difficult to teach velocity or spin, and Kelly is an outlier in both.

(Those two dots nearest him in the upper right are Garrett Richards, who has been so good when healthy that the Padres just gave him a two-year deal despite knowing he won't pitch in 2019, and Ryan Pressly, who, after several unmemorable years in Minnesota, became one of baseball's biggest relief weapons after being traded to the Astros.)

It's easy to see an analytically-inclined team looking at that and thinking that with minor tweaks, they can help him be the next Pressly. 

But if we already saw the beginnings of that ... what changed? How did Kelly manage that October performance in the first place?

What made the October Kelly a different pitcher

Just after the World Series, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand spoke to a Major League scout about whether Kelly's postseason heroics might have increased his market value.

"I think in this day and age, the performance in the postseason won't provide as big a bump as it might have in the past, unless there is data/information that shows a sustainable change to his stuff or how he was using it," the scout said.

That's exactly right. The small sample numbers are nice, but it has to be more than that. There has to be a reason behind it in order to put any stock into it. As you'd expect, there's no shortage of theories here. Two different local reports out of Boston pointed to a meeting Kelly had with the coaching staff during a Sept. 18-20 road trip to New York.

"Basically, went into the clubhouse after the game, said, 'What's going on? What are you feeling?'" said pitching coach Dana LeVangie to the Boston Globe in October. "From that point on, he was willing to buy in to make adjustments. This is where we're at now."

During the same meeting, WEEI reported that a pitch-tipping issue had been identified as well.

It's not hard to see all of those changes happening. First, about the tipping, let's take a look at five randomly-selected Kelly appearances, three from before the coaching meeting, and two after. The only thing they have in common is that they're all at Fenway against righty hitters. See anything notable?

It's pretty clear that Kelly changed the position of his hands as he came to the set position. For most of the year, he would bring them to his chest. After the meeting, and into the playoffs, he would hold them at his waist. If there was concern that runners on base could see his grip and signal to the hitter, or if somehow the batter himself could see what was coming, this is a pretty clear indicator.

Beyond that, it's pretty clear that his pitch usage changed as well, emphasizing the curveball more, and the slider less.

Kelly 2018 regular-season pitch usage

Four-seam: 50 percent
Curve: 19 percent
Slider: 15 percent
Changeup: 11 percent
Sinker: 6 percent

Kelly 2018 postseason pitch usage

Four-seam: 58 percent
Curve: 33 percent
Slider: 0 percent
Changeup: 8 percent
Sinker: 1 percent

While this view doesn't make it clear, the changeup was more prominent in the postseason than it might look, because he had all but abandoned it in the middle of season. (He threw it just 3 percent of the time in June, but 20 percent in September, and it was a big weapon for him in October, as Matt Kemp found out.)

Video: WS2018 Gm1: Kelly K's Kemp on nasty changeup

Now, remember when we talked about the characteristics of his four-seamer and curveball above? Those two pitches comprised 90 percent of his postseason offerings, with the slider and sinker disappearing entirely. (As WEEI reported, Kelly replaced the slider with a pitch that used "the curveball grip but with a velocity more resembling the slider.")

So he used the curve more, and he used it differently. During the regular season, that curve would come on the first pitch 28 percent of the time. In the postseason, hitters would see it 43 percent of the time. When he got to two strikes, out came that 100 mph heat, very regularly high in the strike zone, even more than in the regular season.

Put another way, 49 percent of Kelly's two-strike fastballs were 3 feet or higher in the regular season ... and 71 percent of them were in the postseason.

There's an argument to be made that they could have spent more for a potentially more dominant and reliable reliever like Adam Ottavino, though Ottavino had a poor season as recently as 2017. There's an argument for bigger names with longer track records, like Miller or Zach Britton, though both have had serious injury concerns lately. Most of all, there's an argument that 11 1/3 innings worth of very good work just isn't enough of a look to think that Kelly is somehow improved.

Those are all fair and valid and good arguments. But you can at least see what the Dodgers are thinking here. They're thinking that Pedro Baez, Scott Alexander, Dylan Floro, Tony Cingrani, and friends in front of a coming-off-his-worst-year Jansen isn't enough. They're thinking that Kelly has now had three straight years of postseason success -- in 17 2/3 October innings since 2016, he's yet to walk a single hitter, and has a 0.51 ERA -- and they're thinking that the changes he's made and the ones they may yet make will finally unlock all that talent.

Kelly has always had that "great stuff," obviously. The Dodgers are betting they can turn that into great production. It's not hard to see what they're thinking.

Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Joe Kelly

Tulowitzki, Descalso reportedly on Cubs' radar

MLB.com @MLBastian

Given the situation surrounding shortstop Addison Russell, the Cubs need to have a contingency plan up the middle for the first month of next season. Free agents Troy Tulowitzki and Daniel Descalso are reportedly on Chicago's radar as infield reinforcements.

Russell will be ineligible to play until May 3, while finishing out a 40-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. While he is inactive, the Cubs plan on using Javier Baez at short, creating a temporary vacancy at second base.

Given the situation surrounding shortstop Addison Russell, the Cubs need to have a contingency plan up the middle for the first month of next season. Free agents Troy Tulowitzki and Daniel Descalso are reportedly on Chicago's radar as infield reinforcements.

Russell will be ineligible to play until May 3, while finishing out a 40-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. While he is inactive, the Cubs plan on using Javier Baez at short, creating a temporary vacancy at second base.

Hot Stove Tracker

Chicago could lean on Ben Zobrist, Ian Happ or David Bote as internal options for second, but the team also wants to add more depth this offseason. The Cubs are also searching for some added veteran leadership for their clubhouse. Both Tulowitzki and Descalso fit the positional need, and each has plenty of MLB and postseason experience.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the Cubs are one of six teams believed to be in on Tulowitzki, who was released by the Blue Jays on Tuesday in a surprise move at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. The 34-year-old Tulowitzki is owed $38 million over the next two years, but Toronto will be on the hook for the remaining salary. Any team that signs Tulowitzki would only be required to pay him the league minimum.

Video: Tulo released by Blue Jays, enters free agency

The big question surrounding Tulowitzki is his health, given that the shortstop has not played a Major League game since July 28, 2017, due to foot and ankle injuries. He missed all of 2018 while dealing with bone spurs in each heel. Following Tulowitzki's release, the Cubs began looking into the latest on his health status. Per reports, the veteran has been working out and progressing well in California.

During the Winter Meetings, Cubs manager Joe Maddon was asked for his opinion of Tulowitzki.

"I knew, obviously, him and Longo were buds," said Maddon, referring to Evan Longoria, whom the manager knows from their years with the Rays. "I don't know health-wise where he's at. He was fabulous. When he was in Denver, I loved what I saw. That's been a while ago. I know the health has been an issue lately. I know Longo likes him a lot, which is good enough for me."

A 12-year veteran of the big leagues, Tulowitzki has played in 35 career playoff games, including during the 2007 World Series with the Rockies against the Red Sox.

Video: Daniel Descalso to become free agent ahead of 2019

The Cubs are also in "strong pursuit" of Descalso, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal. The 32-year-old infielder has hit .240 (.694 OPS) over nine years between stops with the Cardinals, Rockies and D-backs. St. Louis is also reportedly interested in the utility infielder, who manned second base (52 games), third (37), first (11) and the outfield (five) with Arizona last season.

Descalso, who won a World Series with the Cardinals in 2011, hit .238 with a career-high 13 home runs, along with 57 RBIs and a .789 OPS in 138 games in 2018. He posted an 111 wRC+, indicating that he was 11 percent above league average offensively. Descalso -- a left-handed hitter -- had a 134 wRC+ against lefties (74 plate appearances) and a 107 wRC+ off righties (349 PAs) last season.

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Chicago Cubs, Daniel Descalso, Troy Tulowitzki

White Sox get Alonso; brother-in-law Manny next?

Veteran is Machado's brother-in-law; expected to split time between first base, DH
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- It doesn't take much of an internet search to find out first baseman Yonder Alonso is the brother-in-law of premium free agent Manny Machado.

That same search turns up that the White Sox are reportedly meeting with Machado this coming week. So, the addition of Alonso via trade from the Indians in exchange for Minor League outfielder Alex Call, a move made official on Saturday morning, figures to help the recruitment cause.

CHICAGO -- It doesn't take much of an internet search to find out first baseman Yonder Alonso is the brother-in-law of premium free agent Manny Machado.

That same search turns up that the White Sox are reportedly meeting with Machado this coming week. So, the addition of Alonso via trade from the Indians in exchange for Minor League outfielder Alex Call, a move made official on Saturday morning, figures to help the recruitment cause.

Hot Stove Tracker

But general manager Rick Hahn, speaking on a conference call on Saturday before going to work the scoreboard at one of his sons' youth hockey games, pointed out this deal was much more than a family affair.

"Fundamentally this is a baseball deal," Hahn said. "We feel this makes us better.

Video: Hahn on White Sox adding Alonso in deal with Indians

"We like how Yonder fits in between the lines and in the clubhouse, and helps further what we're trying to accomplish in 2019 and beyond. The potential ancillary benefits to it in terms of his relationships with others really can't be part of pulling the trigger in making the decision to acquire a big league player, especially a veteran one with this type of contract commitment."

Alonso, 31, hit .250 with 23 home runs, 83 RBIs, 19 doubles and a .738 OPS in '18. He played 138 games at first base for the American League Central champions, and he will split time with Jose Abreu between first and designated hitter. Abreu, who enters his last year of White Sox contractual control, played 114 games at first and served as DH 13 times during an '18 campaign marked with a couple of late injuries.

Abreu has not been a huge fan of the DH role, and Alonso only DHd once in each of the past two seasons. But Hahn talked to Abreu prior to the trade on Friday, and he's excited to have his good friend join the team.

Video: White Sox trade for Yonder Alonso

"If he had his preference, he'd play 162 games per year, all of them at first base," Hahn said of Abreu. "Ultimately as he's gotten older and he's seen the seven and a half or longer month grind as part of being a big leaguer, he knows there's benefit to being off his feet and pacing himself, so he can be strong and continue to be the powerful offensive force that he is at the big league level."

Alonso has an $8 million salary for 2019 and a $9 million option for '20 with a $1 million buyout. Per Cot's Contracts, Alonso's 2020 option is guaranteed if he passes a physical after the 2019 season and has 550 plate appearances in 2019 or 1,100 plate appearances in '18-19 combined.

Plenty of contractual room exists for the White Sox even after adding Alonso's salary, as Spotrac has them just over $33 million pre-arbitration for '19. This Alonso move, which followed the free-agent signing of catcher James McCann on Friday yet to be announced by the White Sox, might indicate a change in direction from fellow premium free agent Bryce Harper. Or the relationship between Machado and Alonso could be just an interesting side note.

Regardless of the potential ancillary benefits mentioned by Hahn, the White Sox are happy to add a player in Alonso, who they pursued via free agency last offseason and have scouted since his days at the University of Miami.

"He provides a nice balance in our lineup and has nothing but a great reputation in terms of his game preparation, his professionalism, and the element of veteran leadership he will add to our clubhouse," Hahn said. "We certainly feel like it improves us in 2019 and like the potential of having him around in 2020 as well."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Yonder Alonso