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Backs to wall, Brewers erupt with 4 in 1st inning

MLB.com @JoeTrezz

MILWAUKEE -- Maybe it was the sellout crowd. Maybe it was David Freese. Whatever it was, something lit a fire under the Brewers on Friday night at Miller Park.

After Freese led off Game 6 of the National League Championship Series with a home run to give the Dodgers the lead, the Brewers countered in a big way off Hyun-Jin Ryu, batting around to jump out to a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the frame. The four-run output was the largest in any inning this postseason for the Crew, which need a win to force a decisive seventh game.

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MILWAUKEE -- Maybe it was the sellout crowd. Maybe it was David Freese. Whatever it was, something lit a fire under the Brewers on Friday night at Miller Park.

After Freese led off Game 6 of the National League Championship Series with a home run to give the Dodgers the lead, the Brewers countered in a big way off Hyun-Jin Ryu, batting around to jump out to a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the frame. The four-run output was the largest in any inning this postseason for the Crew, which need a win to force a decisive seventh game.

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Jesus Aguilar doubled and drove in two, Mike Moustakas laced an RBI double, and Erik Kratz plated Moustakas with a fourth run by rolling an RBI single into right off Ryu, who needed 31 pitches to escape the frame. Ryu had not allowed four earned runs in any of his 15 regular-season starts.

Tweet from @MLB: Five hits, FOUR runs. The Crew come out SWINGING. #NLCS pic.twitter.com/WrKiDNh7Gg

For the Brewers, the outburst marked a departure. They entered play having scored just three runs over their previous 22 innings, and just seven combined over the three games of this series in Los Angeles. Aguilar, Moustakas and Kratz came in particularly cold, combining to go 7-for-50 (.140) in the series prior to the inning. Aguilar and Moustakas were 0-for-8 with six strikeouts with runners in scoring position before that flurry, and Aguilar had been 0-for-5 with four strikeouts in those spots.

But that all changed after Lorenzo Cain led off against Ryu with an infield single, then advanced to second on a Christian Yelich grounder. Ryan Braun walked, setting up a two-on, one-out situation for Aguilar, who poked a double into the right-field corner. Moustakas then pulled a similar double to score Aguilar, scoring on Kratz's opposite-field hit a batter later. Orlando Arcia followed by punching a single to left -- the fourth consecutive hit off Ryu -- before Miley flied out to end the frame.

It's just the seventh time in 475 half-innings this postseason that a team put up a four-spot or better, according to MLB Network research. Two of the previous six involved a grand slam (Ronald Acuna Jr., Jackie Bradley Jr.).

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

Milwaukee Brewers, Jesus Aguilar

Freese continues G6 heroics with leadoff HR

Dodgers first baseman adds RBI double in 5th to help chase Miley
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

MILWAUKEE -- Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had a hunch about David Freese in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.

He started Freese at leadoff for just the fourth time in his 10-year career and the first time since 2016 -- ostensibly with matchups on his mind, but maybe history, too. Freese promptly crushed a home run to right-center field against Brewers left-hander Wade Miley to hand the Dodgers a 1-0 lead Friday night at Miller Park. Freese also hit an RBI double with one out in the 5th off Miley, who was pulled from the game one batter later after a four-pitch walk to Max Muncy.

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MILWAUKEE -- Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had a hunch about David Freese in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.

He started Freese at leadoff for just the fourth time in his 10-year career and the first time since 2016 -- ostensibly with matchups on his mind, but maybe history, too. Freese promptly crushed a home run to right-center field against Brewers left-hander Wade Miley to hand the Dodgers a 1-0 lead Friday night at Miller Park. Freese also hit an RBI double with one out in the 5th off Miley, who was pulled from the game one batter later after a four-pitch walk to Max Muncy.

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Tweet from @MLB: David ���Game 6��� Freese. #NLCS pic.twitter.com/tAcCRlpEGg

Freese has hit nine home runs in his postseason career, three of them in Game 6s. He went 3-for-4 with one home run and three RBIs in Game 6 of the 2011 NLCS, when the Cardinals beat the Brewers to clinch a trip to the World Series. He went 2-for-5 with one triple, one home run and three RBIs in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, when the Cardinals beat the Rangers in 11 innings, 10-9.

Freese tripled with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to score two runs and tie the game against Texas. He then hit a walk-off homer against Mark Lowe in the 11th to win it.

Todd Zolecki has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Los Angeles Dodgers, David Freese

Erik Kratz's cheering section of fans wearing his previous jerseys is the perfect reminder of his baseball journey

The story of Erik Kratz warrants telling at any opportunity, because it's a truly inspiring example of the power of never giving up. 

Kratz, 38, has been a revelation for the Brewers during their October run, carrying a cumulative .316/.350/.421 line into Milwaukee's critical NLCS Game 6 against the Dodgers on Friday night. 

Trade bait? These players could be

All four LCS teams had highest share of production from swaps
MLB.com @mike_petriello

There's more than one way to build a contending team, obviously. Just look at how the four clubs that reached the League Championship Series this year constructed their rosters.

They can all point to successes in the Draft, both high picks (like first-rounders Walker Buehler and Andrew Benintendi) and low (11th-rounder Joc Pederson or 33rd-rounder Tyler White). They've hit it big by spending in free agency, like with J.D. Martinez or Lorenzo Cain. They all have plenty of examples of little-noticed minor moves that ended up producing surprising breakout stars, like Jesus Aguilar, Justin Turner or Max Muncy, and they've all found gems on the international market, either professionally (like Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda) or as amateurs (like Xander Bogaerts, Jose Altuve and Yasiel Puig).

There's more than one way to build a contending team, obviously. Just look at how the four clubs that reached the League Championship Series this year constructed their rosters.

They can all point to successes in the Draft, both high picks (like first-rounders Walker Buehler and Andrew Benintendi) and low (11th-rounder Joc Pederson or 33rd-rounder Tyler White). They've hit it big by spending in free agency, like with J.D. Martinez or Lorenzo Cain. They all have plenty of examples of little-noticed minor moves that ended up producing surprising breakout stars, like Jesus Aguilar, Justin Turner or Max Muncy, and they've all found gems on the international market, either professionally (like Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda) or as amateurs (like Xander Bogaerts, Jose Altuve and Yasiel Puig).

The point is that there's no one right way to do this. You have to add talent any way you can, and the best teams take those players and make them better. But there is one common thread running through these four clubs, one that could inform you about what to expect in the upcoming Hot Stove season. Each of them added about a third of their team value this year via trade. Each of them has found more value in trade than they have in free agency. 

Think about the names we're seeing on the final four clubs acquired via trade. When we point out that huge names Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Christian Yelich, Gerrit Cole, Josh Hader, Craig Kimbrel, Rick Porcello, Manny Machado, Chris Taylor, Travis Shaw, Corey Knebel, Rich Hill and Mike Moustakas all initially landed with their current club via trade, we're just scratching the surface -- there's also Ryan Pressly, Joe Kelly, Enrique Hernandez, Brock Holt, Steve Pearce and so many others.

In fact, if you look at breakdowns of the different avenues of how each team acquired production this year (expressed in Wins Above Replacement), you can see that for each of our final four teams -- and Major League Baseball as a sport -- the largest share of 2018 production was procured via trade.

Obviously, free agency still has a big role. Cain and Martinez are probably the two largest success stories of teams being aggressive and spending for free agents from last offseason (as we attempted to point out at the time), and the final four have also benefited from Jhoulys Chacin, David Price, Mitch Moreland, Josh Reddick, Joe Smith, Hector Rondon and others. This offseason, Machado, Bryce Harper and Patrick Corbin are going to get enormous contracts -- and they're going to deserve them.

But the once-historic 2018-19 free-agent class no longer looks quite so dynamic, thanks to age and injury. When we look back at last offseason, some of the biggest moves ended up coming via trades -- Yelich and Cole, but also Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Andrew McCutchen, Stephen Piscotty, Matt Kemp, Corey Dickerson, Joey Wendle and Dee Gordon. At least part of the reason is access to younger stars, since baseball has been trending towards youth for years.

All of which is to say that while we focus on Harper and Machado this offseason, the most interesting action might not be in who signs McCutchen, Andrew Miller, Zach Britton or Adam Jones. It might be in who makes the best trade, like Milwaukee did for Yelich. Here are 15 potential names to keep in mind.

C J.T. Realmuto, Marlins
Ever since the Marlins tore it down last offseason by trading Stanton, Yelich, Ozuna and Gordon, the question has been whether they'd continue by trading Realmuto (.277/.340/.484, 21 home runs), who has two seasons left before free agency and is probably the best all-around catcher in the game. It would be nice if Miami could build around him, but if it can't sign him to an extension, we're going to hear his name in many rumors.

Video: Frisaro on Marlins' offseason plans for Realmuto

Working in the Marlins' favor is that the state of catching in the game right now is weak, with many clubs needing a boost, and likely top free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal has done himself no favors with his high-profile struggles in the postseason. Wilson Ramos and Jonathan Lucroy are available as well, but neither is of Realmuto's caliber.

Possible fits: Rays, Red Sox, Nationals, Astros, Rockies, Brewers, Braves

SP Madison Bumgarner, Giants
This can't happen until the Giants name a new general manager, and in some ways it's difficult to envision the new hire arriving and immediately trying to move such an iconic player. Then again, the reason San Francisco even needs a new GM in the first place is that it has finished last and fourth in the past two years. Since the 2016 All-Star break, only the Orioles and White Sox have fewer wins. Change is coming -- and Bumgarner becomes a free agent after 2019.

Video: LAD@SF: Bumgarner K's Kemp to avoid early damage

Possible fits: Yankees, Braves, Angels, Astros, Brewers, Nationals

3B Nolan Arenado, Rockies
We'll admit that the Rockies don't seem likely to want to move Arenado, especially since their weak offense was already an issue even with him, and their main goal ought to be a long-term extension to keep him in Denver alongside Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story, and a good young starting rotation for many years to come. That said, he's entering his final year before free agency, and if they can't reach an agreement, they might not want to simply watch him leave next offseason -- and young Ryan McMahon is ready now.

Possible fits: Phillies, Braves, Indians (if Jose Ramirez plays second), Cardinals, Angels

Video: NL WC: Arenado robs Bryant on remarkable diving stop

1B Paul Goldschmidt, D-Backs
1B Jose Abreu, White Sox
1B Brandon Belt, Giants
1B/RF Jose Martinez, Cardinals
1B Carlos Santana/Justin Bour, Phillies

Let's toss in all of these first basemen together, for one very big reason: the list of free-agent first basemen this offseason is grim. Pearce, Lucas Duda and Matt Adams have their uses, but there might not be a single starting quality first baseman out there. If you want one, you'll need to get one via trade.

In some cases, these are strong hitters in their 30s entering the final years of their contracts (Goldschmidt, Abreu). In others, it's the Phillies desperately needing to move one or both of Santana or Bour to allow Rhys Hoskins to come back to first from the outfield, improving the defense. The Cardinals would do well to find an American League home for the defensively challenged Martinez, while the Giants, if they decide to move Bumgarner, might just want to do it all and trade the constantly underrated Belt too.

Possible fits: Red Sox, Angels, Mariners, Yankees, Twins, Rockies

LF Kyle Schwarber, Cubs
Yes, Schwarber will forever be a legend in Chicago because of what he did in the 2016 World Series, but there was an argument to trade him that offseason, and there remains one today, especially since the firing of hitting coach Chili Davis seems unlikely to be the only change made to what ended up being an unsatisfying offense.

Video: CIN@CHC: Schwarber's homer leads to limbo in 'pen

While Schwarber did improve his defense somewhat, he's turned out to be more of a good player than a great one, with large career platoon splits (.349 OBP/.509 SLG vs righties, just .300 OBP/.308 SLG vs lefties) and probably better suited to some time at DH in the AL -- especially if the Cubs can get pitching in return. He still has three more years left before free agency.

Possible fits: Astros, Rays, Twins, Mariners (if free agent Nelson Cruz departs)

RF Nicholas Castellanos, Tigers
Speaking of corner outfielders who rely far more on slugging value than defense, Castellanos has one more year before free agency, and he just hit .298/.354/.500 with 23 home runs for Detroit. (Along with negative-25 Outs Above Average, the lowest mark in the game.) The rebuilding Tigers are unlikely to contend in his final year, and he would also fit best on an AL team looking to add some slugging and has DH time available. 

Possible fits: Astros, Rays, Twins, Mariners

2B Scooter Gennett, Reds
2B/OF Whit Merrifield, Royals
2B Cesar Hernandez, Phillies

Need a second baseman? There are actually decent options in the free-agent market -- DJ LeMahieu, Jed Lowrie, Brian Dozier or Daniel Murphy -- but teams might also be interested in this younger trio, who are team-controlled for one (Gennett), two (Hernandez), or four (Merrifield) years. 

Video: CLE@KC: Merrifield singles to take MLB lead in hits

If it's power you want, Gennett turned himself from a light-hitting Brewer into a slugging Red, putting up a line of .303/.351/.508 and 50 home runs over the past two years. Merrifield doesn't have that power, but he's stolen 79 bases in 2017-18 and can also play the outfield, to go with his .296/.347/.449 line. Hernandez has spent the past three years as a league-average bat, setting a career-high with 15 homers in 2018, and the Phillies might be motivated to make room to get Scott Kingery back to his natural second-base position.

Possible fits: Dodgers, Indians, Nationals, Red Sox, Twins, Rockies

SP Jon Gray, Rockies
Finally, a change-of-scenery starter. Gray looked like he'd be the next Rockies ace, but he's clearly been surpassed by Kyle Freeland and German Marquez, and he didn't even make Colorado's National League Division Series roster. It's not even about Coors Field in Gray's case, because his career splits are about even. It's that he's been so up and down in his short career that he was even sent to the Minors last summer, yet still had a strikeout rate (24.6 percent) as high as Noah Syndergaard or Clayton Kershaw.

Gray wouldn't come cheaply, because he's still young, talented and would come with three more years of control before free agency. Then again, this could be a good avenue for the Rockies to add the offense or relief pitching they badly need, and a team like the Astros might do wonders to bring out the best in Gray.

Possible fits: Astros, Twins, A's, Brewers, Cubs, Nationals, Mariners

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

Will Machado's bumpy week affect his value?

MLB.com @jonmorosi

Over the past several days, Manny Machado scored the winning run in the 13th inning of a National League Championship Series game, told Ken Rosenthal that hustling to first base is not his "cup of tea," slid impermissibly into second base, and was described as "a dirty player" by the presumptive NL MVP Award winner.

Dizzying? Sure. Flattering? Not especially. And once there are no games left in 2018 -- whether or not Machado's Dodgers win their first World Series in 30 years -- the industry will be left to ponder the price of those perceptions.

Over the past several days, Manny Machado scored the winning run in the 13th inning of a National League Championship Series game, told Ken Rosenthal that hustling to first base is not his "cup of tea," slid impermissibly into second base, and was described as "a dirty player" by the presumptive NL MVP Award winner.

Dizzying? Sure. Flattering? Not especially. And once there are no games left in 2018 -- whether or not Machado's Dodgers win their first World Series in 30 years -- the industry will be left to ponder the price of those perceptions.

To put it bluntly: Will fresh evidence of Machado's flaws -- particularly his admission to Rosenthal that he should "[give] a little more effort" on the field -- cost him in free agency this offseason?

The impact will be "minimal," one high-ranking club executive said Thursday, and others around the industry concurred.

It's impossible to declare with certainty that Machado's market value diminished in recent days. No general manager has told me that last week he was prepared to pay Machado $300 million over 10 years -- and the slew-footing of Jesus Aguilar dropped the figure to a mere $200 million.

Video: NLCS Gm4: Machado on altercation with Aguilar

And even if that were the case, one GM's change in valuation might have little (or no) bearing on the guaranteed amount of Machado's eventual deal, as long as the interest of other clubs remains steady.

Analytical data will heavily influence the years and dollars in every Machado offer; that is generally good news for him, as numbers tend to produce favorable portrayals of 26-year-olds at their athletic peak. In addition, Machado's future earnings will be shaped by the input of executives, scouts, managers and coaches who have followed him for years. And for those close observers, the controversy of the past week has been a reminder -- not a revelation.

Christian Yelich's characterization of Machado's clipping of Aguilar as "a dirty play by a dirty player" was noteworthy. But it was not surprising in light of past incidents, including a takeout slide that injured Boston's Dustin Pedroia last year, charging the mound against Yordano Ventura in 2016, and throwing a bat toward third baseman Josh Donaldson two years earlier.

Video: NLCS Gm4: Yelich reacts to Machado's baserunning

As for his inconsistent effort running to first base, Machado told Rosenthal, "I've done the same thing for eight years." As one longtime scout affirmed to me Thursday: "That's been Manny since Day 1."

Another description of Manny since Day 1: His 175 home runs rank fifth all time among infielders through their age-25 season. The names ahead of him: Alex Rodriguez, Eddie Mathews, Jimmie Foxx and Orlando Cepeda.

In a sport that venerates being available every day, Machado's reliability is beyond reproach. He has played 637 games over the past four regular seasons, the most in the Major Leagues. Machado was one of only seven Major Leaguers to appear in 162 games in 2018.

Machado's ability to play third base or shortstop is valuable to teams, as is his contact rate in a swing-and-miss era. He had the third-fewest strikeouts of any player to produce 30 home runs and 100 RBIs this year.

For all of those reasons, Machado was the most coveted position player in baseball leading up to the non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Phillies wanted him then and probably will try to sign him this offseason. The Yankees are expected to pursue Machado, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, especially with Didi Gregorius coming off Tommy John surgery.

Thus, the effect of a turbulent week on Machado is likely to be "marginal," one rival team official said. Of course, "marginal" is a relative term. If Machado had been in line for a $300 million offer, and now a team loves him 5 percent less, those misadventures on the bases came with a $15 million penalty.

The reality is that Machado will become a very wealthy man this offseason, because your team's front office likely feels similarly about him now as it did last week.

And probably last year, too.

Jon Paul Morosi is a reporter for MLB.com and MLB Network.

Manny Machado

Rumors: Morton, Brantley, Myers, J. Gray, Braves

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

As the postseason concludes, Hot Stove season begins. MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest free agent and trade rumors right here.

• Complete list of free agents this offseason 

As the postseason concludes, Hot Stove season begins. MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest free agent and trade rumors right here.

• Complete list of free agents this offseason 

Morton, Keuchel among Astros' key free agents
Oct. 19: After their hopes of back-to-back World Series titles were dashed by the Red Sox in the ALCS, the Astros now turn their attention to an offseason in which they have a number of key free-agent decisions to make.

The rotation could have a different look next season, with Charlie Morton and Dallas Keuchel entering free agency. Morton has pondered retirement, but he indicated that he'd like to continue his career after Thursday's season-ending loss.

"I'd love to keep playing, I'd love to be an Astro," Morton said, per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. "I'd love to be part of this again. Ultimately, it's not really up to me. It's not solely up to me."

Tweet from @Chandler_Rome: Charlie Morton, who is 34 and a pending free agent: ���I���d love to keep playing, I���d love to be an Astro. I���d love to be part of this again. Ultimately, it���s not really up to me. It���s not solely up to me.���

If Morton decides he wants to come back for one more season, he might be open to accepting a one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer to finish his career with Houston. Keuchel, though, is expected to seek a multi-year deal.

Houston does have several internal options who could step into the rotation if needed, including Brad Peacock, Collin McHugh, Josh James and top prospect Forrest Whitley.

On the other side of the ball, the Astros' don't have to worry about losing anyone from their core of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and George Springer, but utility man Marwin Gonzalez is set for free agency. Houston could look to bring Gonzalez back, as his ability to play all over the diamond while providing above-average offensive production (112 wRC+ from 2014-18) makes him an important part of the roster.

The Astros are also expected to have some turnover at the catching position, with Martin Maldonado headed for free agency and Brian McCann's $15 million club option unlikely to be picked up. Evan Gattis will be a free agent as well, though he made just two appearances behind the plate in 2018. The Astros will probably let Gattis walk, opening up more at-bats for Tyler White at designated hitter in 2019.

To address their need at catcher, Houston could pursue Yasmani Grandal or Wilson Ramos in free agency, or explore a trade for the Marlins' J.T. Realmuto.

What will Indians' outfield look like in 2019?
Oct. 19: With Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall set to hit the open market, the Indians have question marks at all three starting outfield spots for next season. As a result, Brantley is a logical candidate to receive the $17.9 million qualifying offer, in the opinion of MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.

After getting just 101 games and 1.4 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), per FanGraphs, from Brantley over 2016-17, the Indians nonetheless exercised his $12 million option for '18. The move worked out, as Brantley made the All-Star team and produced 3.5 WAR. Brantley also recorded 10.0 WAR from '14-15, so his '18 production wasn't out of the blue.

Moreover, Bastian thinks the Indians could pursue free agent Andrew McCutchen if Brandon Guyer's $3 million option isn't picked up. Guyer's primary role was to platoon against southpaws, and he posted a 120 wRC+ in those situations this past season, compared to a 34 mark vs. righties. McCutchen performed well vs. lefties (128 wRC+) and righties (118 wRC+) in '18, so he wouldn't need to be held to a strict platoon role. More >

Trading Myers a potential option for Padres this offseason
Oct. 19: With first baseman Eric Hosmer signed to a long-term deal and Franmil Reyes and Hunter Renfroe staking claim to the corner-outfield spots, the Padres don't have an obvious position for Wil Myers in 2019.

San Diego has an opening at third base, but Myers struggled defensively in limited action at the position this past season. Although Myers could improve as he gains more experience at the hot corner, he likely brings the most value to the club as a left fielder.

As a result, MLB.com's AJ Cassavell expects general manager A.J. Preller to explore a trade this offseason that would clear some of the outfield logjam.

Dealing Myers makes the most sense for the small-market Padres, but his contract -- Myers is owed $74 million from 2019-22, with most of that coming in the latter three years -- could be a deterrent. San Diego would also be selling low, as Myers played just 83 games this past season. Thus, Preller might have to trade Reyes or Renfroe instead to fix the situation.

"We'll get into the offseason and talk about what's the best configuration for our club," Preller said. "We have some depth at different positions that I'm sure will be discussed with other teams as well. ... [We'll] figure out what's the best mix." More >

Could Rockies look to trade Gray?
Oct. 19: The Rockies' rotation was surprisingly a strength of the team in 2018, with Kyle Freeland and German Marquez enjoying breakout seasons, but Opening Day starter Jon Gray was a disappointment.

Although he fanned 183 batters, Gray allowed more earned runs than anyone in the National League (98), posting a 5.12 ERA over 172 1/3 innings. His FIP was much lower at 4.08, mirroring a career trend (lifetime 3.68 FIP, 4.65 ERA).

The right-hander has shown flashes of ace potential in four big league campaigns, but he hasn't put it all together yet, and his future role is a major question mark for Colorado.

According to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post, the Rockies didn't act on the inquiries they received about Gray before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. But with Gray's tantalizing stuff and three remaining years of team control, the trade requests aren't likely to go away this offseason. And after Gray was left off the NLDS roster, Colorado might be more open to dealing him this time around.

Braves could be active on trade market, may take cautious approach to free agency
Oct. 19: While the Braves may have at least $60 million to address their multiple needs, which include a catcher, a corner outfielder, bullpen depth and a frontline starter, they may take a cautious approach to the free-agent market to avoid deals that hinder them down the road.

"We're not going to just walk in the store and buy because we have money in our pockets," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "If we don't find the right deal with something we like, there's still other opportunities to shop. There could be opportunities next season. If you start signing guys to big, long deals, if you feel good about the deal, you do it now. I wouldn't force a deal right now that would limit you in years from now."

Atlanta, though, could be active on the trade market, as the club has significant prospect depth from which to deal. Exploring a trade for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto could be a top priority.

Of course, that doesn't mean the Braves should be completely ruled out as potential suitors for some of the top free agents on the market. While they are unlikely to make offers to Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, they could target left-hander Patrick Corbin, or potentially seek a reunion with closer Craig Kimbrel. Both hurlers would fill needs for the club.

Atlanta also hasn't ruled out re-signing right fielder Nick Markakis or catcher Kurt Suzuki, though they would prefer to add a surefire starting catcher so Tyler Flowers can move to a backup role.

"I don't think with our club, with what we have, that the value is going to be there in the free-agent market," Anthopoulos said. "It doesn't mean it won't. We'll certainly explore it. But if I could sit here in the middle of October, I'd say it's more likely we go the trade route. It's not ideal to give up young assets, but it's also not ideal to do a deal you don't believe in -- that may look good for a year or two, and then in years three, four and five, it does not." More >

Cardinals eyeing left-handed relievers
Oct. 19: The bullpen was a weak spot for the Cardinals in 2018, even with the emergence of flamethrowing Jordan Hicks and a strong campaign from Bud Norris, who was signed to a Minor League contract before the season. The left side was particularly troublesome, and as a result, St. Louis is expected to make improving that area a priority this offseason.

The free-agent market will have several options who fit that bill, including Andrew Miller, Zach Britton, Tony Sipp and Justin Wilson.

In recent years, the Cardinals haven't done well when giving Major League deals to free-agent relievers. In fact, St. Louis committed a total of $68.25 million combined to Jonathan Broxton, Greg Holland, Luke Gregerson, Brett Cecil and Seunghwan Oh for a cumulative WAR of 0.3.

But president of baseball operations John Mozeliak indicated that the club's lack of past success in that area won't be a deterrent in the coming months.

"We did choose to [be aggressive in that market] a few years back, and it has not been a home run. We get it," Mozeliak said. "That's not going to create some paralysis for us now. We understand the volatility of it. And trying to get it right is what we're going to continue to do." More >

Kimbrel delivers first scoreless appearance of 2018 postseason in ALCS Game 5
Oct. 19: The Red Sox beat the Astros, 4-1, in ALCS Game 5 on Thursday to win the American League pennant and advance to the World Series, with closer Craig Kimbrel throwing a scoreless ninth inning to earn the save.

Video: ALCS Gm5: Red Sox win the American League pennant

It was Kimbrel's first scoreless appearance of the entire postseason. Although he is 5-for-5 in save chances, the right-hander has allowed five runs over 6 ⅓ innings while yielding six hits, six walks and two hit batsmen in this year's playoffs. With Kimbrel struggling on a big stage, it's fair to wonder how much he has hurt his stock with free agency upcoming after the season.

Kimbrel has long been one of the most dominant closers in baseball, and he had another strong campaign in the 2018 regular season. However, he also showed some signs of regression, posting a career-high 3.13 FIP with a 3.1 K/BB ratio (1.42 FIP, 9.0 K/BB ratio in '17).

Recent history may also give teams pause when it comes to the size of Kimbrel's next contract, as the lucrative deals given to big-name closers such as Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman, Wade Davis and Mark Melancon in the past few offseasons haven't gone as well as the signing clubs likely hoped they would.

Still, most teams will likely view Kimbrel as the best available option among the free agents with closing experience, and given the ever-growing importance of relievers in today's game, there shouldn't be a shortage of clubs interested in his services -- especially if he can rebound in the Fall Classic.

Will Realmuto be with Marlins in 2019?
Oct. 18: J.T. Realmuto's future with the Marlins has been a persistent storyline since the club began its rebuild by dealing Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon last offseason, and that's unlikely to change during the coming months.

Realmuto, who will be 28 years old on Opening Day in 2019, has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining, and as MLB.com's Joe Frisaro notes, the Marlins will likely need to present him with a path to contention within that timeframe to convince him to sign a long-term deal.

According to Frisaro, the Marlins will try to do that this winter but are also expected to explore trade scenarios for the backstop to keep their options open.

Realmuto made the All-Star team for the first time in 2018, hitting .277 with a personal-best 21 homers, 74 RBIs and .825 OPS. He also posted a 38 percent caught-stealing rate -- 10 percentage points above the MLB average -- and allowed just eight passed balls in 951 innings behind the plate.

The Nationals, Astros, Phillies, Red Sox, A's and Rockies are among the contenders that could be in the market for a catcher, though the Marlins' asking price will likely remain lofty. More >

Yankees expected to pursue Machado after Gregorius undergoes Tommy John surgery
Oct. 18: With Didi Gregorius recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the shortstop position is now an unexpected question mark for the Yankees. The speculation, of course, is that Gregorius' injury may only increase the Yankees' interest in impending free agent Manny Machado, who was already expected to be on the club's offseason radar as a potential option at third base.

And as MLB Network insider Jon Heyman notes in an article for Fancred Sports, there's good reason for that speculation. New York has tried to land Machado before, and Machado's interest in joining the Yankees was documented back in August, when Heyman reported that people close to the slugger were suggesting that the club was his first choice in free agency.

Machado, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner at the hot corner, struggled defensively at shortstop with the Orioles this season (-18 defensive runs saved), but he has been much improved since joining the Dodgers in a July trade (6 DRS).

And while Machado's lack of hustle has been a topic of conversation during the postseason, teams may be willing to overlook that problem given his immense talent.

Gregorius has been worth 8.7 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) over the past two seasons, per FanGraphs, so the Yankees aren't going to be in a hurry to move on from him. But the shortstop can become a free agent next offseason, and signing Machado would give the Yankees extra leverage in contract negotiations with Gregorius, as well as insurance in case his recovery from Tommy John surgery doesn't go smoothly.

The Yankees could also sign Machado and then work out an extension with Gregorius to secure the left side of their infield into the next decade, but they would need to trade or find a new position for third baseman Miguel Andujar.

Another possibility, if New York doesn't land Machado this winter, could be Giants second baseman Joe Panik, who is expected to be on the trade market, according to Heyman. Panik, who was an All-Star in 2015 and won a Gold Glove Award in '16, has been beset with injuries much of the last few seasons. But he turns 28 at the end of the month, and is under team control for another three years. The Yankees could have him at second with Gleyber Torres at shortstop. Panik would also provide a left-handed bat to replace the left-handed-hitting Gregorius in the Yankees lineup, which is heavily right-handed.

Granted, the rotation is arguably a greater area of need than the offense, with Luis Severino struggling in the second half and CC Sabathia, J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn hitting free agency. Adding a starter such as left-hander Patrick Corbin, who is expected to be one of the Yankees' free-agent targets, according to another report from Heyman, may be the club's top priority.

But as Heyman points out, the Yankees could be in position to sign multiple top free agents, considering they won't be subject to the luxury-tax repeat-offender penalty after staying under the threshold in 2018.

Phillies set to make run at Machado, Harper
Oct. 18: Will Manny Machado and Bryce Harper join forces in Philadelphia? According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an appearance on "The Rundown" on Thursday, the Phillies are prepared to pursue both players, and many expect them to come away with at least one.

"People around baseball are going to be surprised if [the Phillies] don't get at least one of these two players, and maybe both," Heyman said.

Heyman had a similar report back in September, writing for Fancred Sports that multiple rival executives believed that the Phillies could land both superstars.

However, as Heyman pointed out Thursday, it could ultimately be tough for any team to pull that off, as both players are looking to break the bank in free agency. Furthermore, any club looking to sign either player will have plenty of competition.

Video: Heyman on Mariners, Phillies free agent rumors

Nats planning to make strong effort to retain Harper
Oct. 18: As fan bases and front offices around the Majors dream of having Bryce Harper in the fold next season, the only team Harper has ever played for is holding out hope that the impending free agent will be back.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an article for Fancred Sports, the Nationals plan to make a strong effort to retain Harper this offseason, though they are also formulating an alternative plan in case he opts to sign elsewhere.

This comes after Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reported last week that the consensus within the Nats organization is that the club does not want to eclipse the competitive balance tax threshold after doing so in each of the past two seasons.

If Harper is signed for roughly $30 million annually, it could considerably hinder the Nationals' ability to address other needs on the roster. However, it doesn't sound like that will prevent Washington from making a major push to re-sign its homegrown star.

Janes also reports that if Harper signs, it could mean center fielder Adam Eaton goes on the trade block. Eaton has only played in 118 games during two seasons with Washington due to injury, hitting .300/.394/.422.

Here are the greatest LCS Game 6's of all time

MLB.com @_dadler and @DKramer_

Game 6 in a League Championship Series -- like the Dodgers and Brewers play Friday night in Milwaukee -- always means the stage is set for a thriller. One team being so close to a pennant and a trip to the World Series, the other battling to stave off elimination and force a winner-take-all Game 7, is a recipe for must-watch October baseball.

Even though the LCS has only been played in a best-of-seven format since 1985, there have been plenty of classics in Game 6. MLB.com ranks the top 10.

Game 6 in a League Championship Series -- like the Dodgers and Brewers play Friday night in Milwaukee -- always means the stage is set for a thriller. One team being so close to a pennant and a trip to the World Series, the other battling to stave off elimination and force a winner-take-all Game 7, is a recipe for must-watch October baseball.

Even though the LCS has only been played in a best-of-seven format since 1985, there have been plenty of classics in Game 6. MLB.com ranks the top 10.

10. 2016 NLCS: Cubs 5, Dodgers 0
Entering the 2016 postseason, not only had the Cubs not won a World Series in 108 years, they hadn't even been to the World Series in 71 years. To clinch their first National League pennant since 1945, they had to go through Clayton Kershaw. And they did in the series-clinching Game 6 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field. Kris Bryant opened the scoring with a single off Kershaw just two batters into the first, and Anthony Rizzo capped Chicago's five-run effort against the Dodgers' ace with a home run to right-center field in the fifth. All the while, Kyle Hendricks was masterful, pitching 7 1/3 brilliant innings of two-hit baseball before Aroldis Chapman closed out the series.

Video: Must C Clinch: Cubs celebrate National League crown

9. 2015 ALCS: Royals 4, Blue Jays 3
En route to their first World Series title since 1985, the Royals prevailed in a hard-fought ALCS Game 6 clincher to take the pennant against the Blue Jays. Jose Bautista's big game kept the Blue Jays in it -- he homered twice, including a game-tying shot in the eighth. But the Royals struck back in the bottom of the eighth, with Eric Hosmer lining the go-ahead single off Roberto Osuna. Wade Davis then escaped a major ninth-inning jam -- Toronto had the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on first with no outs -- getting back-to-back strikeouts of Dioner Navarro and Ben Revere and a series-ending groundout from American League MVP Award winner Josh Donaldson.

Video: Momentum shifts back and forth in 8th frame of Game 6

8. 1991 NLCS: Braves 1, Pirates 0
Steve Avery and Doug Drabek dueled in one of the best pitching matchups in postseason history on a crisp night in front of 54,508 at Three Rivers Stadium. Going punch for punch, the game remained scoreless until the ninth, when Greg Olson lined a two-out double to left that scored Ron Gant. It proved to be all Atlanta needed to force Game 7, which the Braves won as well to become the first team in NL history to go from last place one year to the World Series the next. Avery finished the night with eight strikeouts to cap a 16 1/3-inning scoreless series, for which he won the NLCS MVP Award.

Video: 91 NLCS Gm6: Olson hits go-ahead RBI double in ninth

7. 1985 NLCS: Cardinals 7, Dodgers 5
The first Game 6 in NLCS history -- this was the first year of the best-of-seven format -- was one of the best. The Cardinals held a 3-2 series lead over the Dodgers, but Los Angeles held a 5-4 lead in Game 6 with two outs in the ninth inning. With the Cardinals down to their last out and the Dodgers on the verge of forcing a winner-take-all Game 7, Jack Clark crushed a go-ahead three-run homer to deep left field off Tom Niedenfuer. The Cards advanced to the World Series.

Video: '85 NLCS, Gm 6: Clark puts Cards ahead in the ninth

6. 1999 NLCS: Braves 10, Mets 9 (11 innings)
The Mets needed a tiebreaking Game 163 just to get into the postseason, but they got their chance to supplant the NL East champion Braves in that year's NLCS. But things didn't start strong, as New York fell into a 3-0 hole before bouncing back to win Games 4 and 5. Game 6 was as back and forth as either club had seen all season. With a home crowd behind them, the Braves took a 5-0 lead in the first only to watch the Mets roar back and tie it, 7-7, in the seventh. The teams each added runs in the eighth and 10th innings before Andruw Jones drew a bases-loaded walk from Kenny Rogers in the 11th to secure the NL pennant for Atlanta.

Video: 1999 NLCS Gm6: Caray calls Braves advancing to WS

5. 1997 ALCS: Indians 1, Orioles 0 (11 innings)
The end result of a brilliant pitchers' duel at Camden Yards in Game 6 of the 1997 ALCS was the Indians clinching a World Series berth at the expense of the Orioles. Charles Nagy was spotless for the Tribe over 7 1/3 innings -- but Mike Mussina was even more masterful for the O's, allowing just one hit in eight shutout innings while striking out 10. But in the 11th inning of a scoreless game, Tony Fernandez finally came up with the big hit for the Indians -- a two-out homer to right field off Armando Benitez. Jose Mesa sealed the series in the bottom of the 11th by striking out Roberto Alomar with the tying run aboard.

Video: CLE@BAL: Indians clinch ALCS to advance to Series

4. 2004 ALCS: Red Sox 4, Yankees 2
The Bloody Sock Game. The image of the blood seeping through Curt Schilling's sock as he stood on the mound is one of the most memorable in MLB postseason history. With the Red Sox facing elimination -- and pitching through a bad ankle injury -- Schilling delivered one of the gutsiest performances in recent history. He threw seven dominant innings to beat the Yankees, allowing just one run. Boston forced a Game 7, where they completed their historic comeback after being down 3-0 to their rivals, then they swept the Cardinals in the World Series to shatter the Curse of the Bambino.

Video: 2004 ALCS Gm6: Schilling's epic performance

3. 2003 NLCS: Marlins 8, Cubs 3
Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS -- the Bartman game -- tormented Cubs fans until the team finally shattered its century-plus-long World Series championship drought in '16. Steve Bartman reaching out for Luis Castillo's eighth-inning foul ball down the left-field line at Wrigley Field and stopping Moises Alou from catching it is, of course, the most infamous moment from the game. But it only became so because of the incredible Marlins comeback that ensued. Mark Prior took a shutout into the eighth, putting the Cubs just six outs from the Fall Classic, but Florida erupted for eight runs in the inning -- all after the incident -- off Prior and the Cubs' bullpen. They won the series the next day and the World Series after that.

Video: 2003 NLCS Gm6: Marlins rally in eighth to take lead

2. 2004 NLCS: Cardinals 6, Astros 4 (12 innings)
The enduring image from this thriller: Jim Edmonds standing in the batter's box, triumphantly pumping both fists, after launching a walk-off home run to deep right-center field in the 12th inning at Busch Stadium to force a Game 7 against the Astros. Edmonds raised his arms in the air as he rounded the bases before leaping into the dogpile of his Cardinals teammates waiting for him at home plate. Edmonds' homer was the second straight walk-off in the series after Jeff Kent's three-run shot for the Astros won Game 5. The Cardinals would ride the momentum of Edmonds' blast and take the series in Game 7.

Video: NLCS Gm6: Edmonds wins it with a walk-off homer

1. 1986 NLCS: Mets 7, Astros 6 (16 innings)
The Mets' NLCS clincher at the Astrodome set the stage for one of the most memorable Fall Classics of all time against the Red Sox. But for a while, it looked like the Astros would force a Game 7. Houston carried a 3-0 lead into the ninth inning, but the Mets rallied to tie the score. The extra innings were thrilling. Wally Backman knocked a go-ahead single for the Mets in the top of the 14th, only for the Astros to tie the game in the bottom of the 14th on Billy Hatcher's homer off Jesse Orosco. The Mets scored three more times in the top of the 16th; the Astros rallied for two in the bottom of the 16th, and had the tying run in scoring position with two outs. But Orosco struck out Kevin Bass to end the game -- joyously launching his glove into the air in celebration. It was one of the many memorable moments from the '86 Mets' amazing postseason.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

Source: Girardi out of running for Reds' job

Former Yankees skipper withdraws name; Bell now favorite, according to report
MLB.com

Joe Girardi has withdrawn himself from consideration for the Reds' managerial job, a source has told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

Girardi, who previously managed the Marlins (2006) and Yankees (2008-17) still plans to manage again, per the source, but as of now, he expects to remain in his role with MLB Network next season, making a fit with any of MLB's managerial vacancies unlikely.

Joe Girardi has withdrawn himself from consideration for the Reds' managerial job, a source has told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

Girardi, who previously managed the Marlins (2006) and Yankees (2008-17) still plans to manage again, per the source, but as of now, he expects to remain in his role with MLB Network next season, making a fit with any of MLB's managerial vacancies unlikely.

Cincinnati hasn't commented on the news, which was first reported in The Athletic by MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal. 

With Girardi out of the running, David Bell figures to be the favorite for the role, per Rosenthal, but he's also drawing interest from other clubs. Bell, currently the Giants' vice president of player development and a former Minor League manager with the Reds, also interviewed with the Rangers and is reportedly in the mix for the Blue Jays' job.

Girardi, Bell and former Tigers skipper Brad Ausmus are the three candidates who reached the second round of interviews with the Reds. Ausmus is currently serving as a special assistant to the general manager with the Angels and has interviewed for their managerial vacancy.

The Reds have previously said they hope to hire a new manager by the end of October. The club dismissed Bryan Price on April 19, and bench coach Jim Riggleman replaced him in the interim.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

Cincinnati Reds

Braves unlikely to make bids for Machado, Harper

MLB.com

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

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

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

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

Braves unlikely to make bids for Machado, Harper
Oct. 19: While the Braves may have at least $60 million to address their multiple needs, which include a catcher, a corner outfielder, bullpen depth and a frontline starter, they may take a cautious approach to the free-agent market to avoid deals that hinder them down the road.

"We're not going to just walk in the store and buy because we have money in our pockets," Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "If we don't find the right deal with something we like, there's still other opportunities to shop. There could be opportunities next season. If you start signing guys to big, long deals, if you feel good about the deal, you do it now. I wouldn't force a deal right now that would limit you in years from now."

As a result, the Braves are unlikely to make competitive offers for Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. Rather, the club is more likely to be aggressive on the trade market as it looks to take another step forward after winning the National League East in 2018.

"I don't think with our club, with what we have, that the value is going to be there in the free-agent market," Anthopoulos said. "It doesn't mean it won't. We'll certainly explore it. But if I could sit here in the middle of October, I'd say it's more likely we go the trade route. It's not ideal to give up young assets, but it's also not ideal to do a deal you don't believe in -- that may look good for a year or two, and then in years three, four and five, it does not." More >

Yankees expected to pursue Machado after Gregorius undergoes Tommy John surgery
Oct. 18: With Didi Gregorius recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the shortstop position is now an unexpected question mark for the Yankees. The speculation, of course, is that Gregorius' injury may only increase the Yankees' interest in impending free agent Manny Machado, who was already expected to be on the club's offseason radar as a potential option at third base.

And as MLB Network insider Jon Heyman notes in an article for Fancred Sports, there's good reason for that speculation. New York has tried to land Machado before, and Machado's interest in joining the Yankees was documented back in August, when Heyman reported that people close to the slugger were suggesting that the club was his first choice in free agency.

Machado, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner at the hot corner, struggled defensively at shortstop with the Orioles this season (-18 defensive runs saved), but he has been much improved since joining the Dodgers in a July trade (6 DRS).

And while Machado's lack of hustle has been a topic of conversation during the postseason, teams may be willing to overlook that problem given his immense talent.

Gregorius has been worth 8.7 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) over the past two seasons, per FanGraphs, so the Yankees aren't going to be in a hurry to move on from him. But the shortstop can become a free agent next offseason, and signing Machado would give the Yankees extra leverage in contract negotiations with Gregorius, as well as insurance in case his recovery from Tommy John surgery doesn't go smoothly.

The Yankees could also sign Machado and then work out an extension with Gregorius to secure the left side of their infield into the next decade, but they would need to trade or find a new position for third baseman Miguel Andujar.

Another possibility, if New York doesn't land Machado this winter, could be Giants second baseman Joe Panik, who is expected to be on the trade market, according to Heyman. Panik, who was an All-Star in 2015 and won a Gold Glove Award in '16, has been beset with injuries much of the last few seasons. But he turns 28 at the end of the month, and is under team control for another three years. The Yankees could have him at second with Gleyber Torres at shortstop. Panik would also provide a left-handed bat to replace the left-handed-hitting Gregorius in the Yankees lineup, which is heavily right-handed.

Granted, the rotation is arguably a greater area of need than the offense, with Luis Severino struggling in the second half and CC Sabathia, J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn hitting free agency. Adding a starter such as left-hander Patrick Corbin, who is expected to be one of the Yankees' free-agent targets, according to another report from Heyman, may be the club's top priority.

But as Heyman points out, the Yankees could be in position to sign multiple top free agents, considering they won't be subject to the luxury-tax repeat-offender penalty after staying under the threshold in 2018.

Phillies set to make run at Machado, Harper
Oct. 18: Will Manny Machado and Bryce Harper join forces in Philadelphia? According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an appearance on "The Rundown" on Thursday, the Phillies are prepared to pursue both players, and many expect them to come away with at least one.

"People around baseball are going to be surprised if [the Phillies] don't get at least one of these two players, and maybe both," Heyman said.

Heyman had a similar report back in September, writing for Fancred Sports that multiple rival executives believed that the Phillies could land both superstars.

However, as Heyman pointed out Thursday, it could ultimately be tough for any team to pull that off, as both players are looking to break the bank in free agency. Furthermore, any club looking to sign either player will have plenty of competition.

Video: Heyman on Mariners, Phillies free agent rumors

Cashman has no comment on Machado's lack of hustle
Oct. 17: Since news broke that shortstop Didi Gregorius would need to undergo Tommy John surgery -- he had the procedure Wednesday -- speculation has increased about the Yankees' intention to pursue Manny Machado in free agency.

Meanwhile, Machado has drawn some negative attention for his lack of hustle in the NLCS vs. the Brewers. Although Machado's name wasn't specifically mentioned, Brian Cashman was asked about the situation when the Yankees general manager called into "The Michael Kay Show" on Wednesday.

"If somebody is an otherworldly talent that doesn't run hard to first base all the time, would that be somebody the Yankees would want to put in their clubhouse?" Kay asked.

Cashman, though, wouldn't take the bait.

"Boy, you're really good at what you do," Cashman said, good-naturedly. "You're trying to Jedi mind trick me into answering a question that would put me into the abyss at MLB."

Machado, Grandal on opposite tracks in postseason
Oct. 16: One run of postseason games might not outweigh the full body of work of the regular season, but it leaves an impression. And two of the Dodgers' key free-agents-to-be, Manny Machado and Yasmani Grandal, have been trending in opposite directions this October.

Machado, one of the two marquee names hitting the market this winter along with Bryce Harper, has been heating up. After a slow-ish start to the playoffs -- which still included the decisive two-run homer in the Dodgers' Game 2 NLDS win over the Braves -- the superstar shortstop has three multi-hit efforts and a pair of home runs in his last four games. In the NLCS, Machado is 5-for-11 with a homer and a double (although there have been questions about his hustle after he didn't run hard on a groundout in Game 2).

Grandal, on the other hand, has struggled offensively and behind the plate. He's hitting just .136 this postseason (3-for-22) with one homer. But Grandal's defense has been the most visible issue. He's had two nightmarish games in the NLCS, both of which have resulted in the Dodgers replacing him with Austin Barnes for the following game.

In Game 1, a one-run loss, Grandal has two errors and two passed balls -- becoming the first catcher in postseason history with multiple errors and multiple passed balls in the same game. Barnes then started Game 2. Grandal returned for Game 3, but had another tough night in another Dodgers loss. He couldn't block a wild pitch in the sixth inning, which brought home a run for the Brewers, and he had a passed ball in the eighth. After that, Barnes will start Tuesday's Game 4.

That's now two straight postseasons Grandal has lost playing time to Barnes. Last year, Barnes started 13 of the Dodgers' 15 playoff games at catcher, including all seven World Series games, compared to just two starts for Grandal.

Even after Grandal's impressive 2018 regular season -- he hit the second-most home runs among catchers (24) and the third-highest wRC+ (125, meaning he was 25 percent better than a league-average hitter) -- that's not what potential suitors want to see in October out of a free-agent target, especially one who could be an important signing at a critical position.

Manny Machado

Breakthrough Series squad continues to impress

MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

JUPITER, Fla. -- Major League Baseball's Breakthrough Series squad continues to show it not only belongs, but it can also enjoy success against some of the best competition at the prestigious Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association (WWBA) World Championship this week at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex.

Making its inaugural appearance in the 18U event, Breakthrough Series on Friday defeated the St. Louis Pirates/Elite Baseball Training squad, 5-3, in the team's second game in as many days. On Thursday, Breakthrough Series played to a 3-3 tie against the D-Bat Elite team, in a game halted due to a time limit.

JUPITER, Fla. -- Major League Baseball's Breakthrough Series squad continues to show it not only belongs, but it can also enjoy success against some of the best competition at the prestigious Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association (WWBA) World Championship this week at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex.

Making its inaugural appearance in the 18U event, Breakthrough Series on Friday defeated the St. Louis Pirates/Elite Baseball Training squad, 5-3, in the team's second game in as many days. On Thursday, Breakthrough Series played to a 3-3 tie against the D-Bat Elite team, in a game halted due to a time limit.

The mere fact the Breakthrough Series team is participating this weekend is a testament to the growth of the program, which launched in 2008 as a joint partnership between USA Baseball and Major League Baseball.

"This is the best amateur tournament of the year, here in the fall," MLB senior director of baseball development Del Matthews said. "All the best players, the best amateur players, know about this tournament. They want to play in this tournament and do well. We're excited that the MLB Breakthrough Series has a team here. Partnering with USA Baseball, giving a lot of these kids the opportunity to compete in this tournament that they otherwise wouldn't have. To be able to come down here and compete, and try to advance, it doesn't really get much better than that."

More than 80 teams from across the country have converged on Palm Beach County this week, with games being played on the backfields in Jupiter, and about 10 miles south in West Palm Beach.

For the Breakthrough Series team to be among the "who's who" of youth baseball is a sign of progress.

Video: Breakthrough Series WWBA Underclass Championship

"It started back in 2008 as just a showcase," Matthews said. "We've morphed it into more of a development, mini-camp, if you will. With that, we've been getting it around the country, getting more kids into the development camp, having them a couple of times a year, and now taking it to the next level, with actually competing in tournaments. Picking teams and then competing in tournaments. It's been an incremental process."

Hundreds of players are participating in the Wood Bat championship, and their every move is being noticed. Behind the fences of each field are dozens of scouts from all 30 MLB clubs, and many more from colleges, as well as player representatives.

This year has another special side note: It is the 20th anniversary of the event.

"Twenty years ago, we were just trying to do a tournament with some of the top travel teams in the country," said Jerry Ford, founder and president of Perfect Game. "We didn't really have any intentions to make it really much bigger than that."

It initially started in Fort Myers with roughly 32 teams, but due to rapid expansion, Perfect Game switched sites to Jupiter because it had more fields. The number of teams grew to 48 in year two, and to more than 80 today.

Adding the Breakthrough Series team, according to Ford, is another significant storyline.

"I love that whole program. I think what they're doing is amazing," Ford said. "I'll say it is one of my favorite teams to watch. In some cases, we don't know who all those players are, and in some cases we do. Many of their players are players that we've seen at our other events. What they're doing with those kids is simply amazing. You can actually see those kids getting better as they face more and better competition."

The Breakthrough Series squad features several of the top-ranked players at the weekend tournament -- highlighted by shortstop Nasim Nunez, a Clemson University commit and ranked No. 21 nationally by Perfect Game. Other notable players on the squad are shortstop Sanson Faltine III (No. 40), catcher Darius Perry (No. 45), outfielder Emanuel Dean (46), shortstop Glenallen Hill Jr. (76) and right-hander DJ Jefferson (86).

All six have early commitments to high-profile Division I schools: Faltine (University of Texas); Perry and Dean (UCLA); Hill (Arizona State); and Jefferson (USC).

"I think it's one of the best programs out there right now," Ford said. "Having them being able to attend events like this one, for some of these kids, this actually will be life changing. I don't know if they know it. I don't know how they appreciate it, but man, they should."

Ford also is impressed by the passion with which the Breakthrough Series team plays.

"They have a lot of fun," he said.

The players are enjoying every moment, and they have a message to those who say young people believe the sport is boring.

"I say, if you think baseball is boring, you're not watching the right parts," Nunez said. "There's certain parts in baseball you've got to look for to make it fun. Somebody with an arm at shortstop or center field. Somebody who can run. Somebody who can hit the ball hard. It's not like football, where there is action every time, there are certain things you've got to look for, you've got to know what you're talking about with baseball. People who tell me they think baseball is boring, I automatically know they don't know baseball. Baseball is not a boring sport."

Along with their baseball duties, the players also have an hour a night reserved for schoolwork, because they were excused a few days to attend the tournament.

"Off the field, they tell us to stay on top of our schoolwork," said Hill, the son of former big leaguer Glenallen Hill. "We actually have an hour study hall every day that we're here."

The players also are receiving top-notch coaching, from former big leaguers like Marquis Grissom and Tom "Flash" Gordon. Marquis Grissom Jr., a right-hander from Counterpane High School in Atlanta, is ranked 95th by Perfect Game.

"In our program, we're teaching character," said Gordon, the father of Dee Gordon (Mariners) and Nick Gordon (the Twins' No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline). "We're teaching accountability, and we're also hoping that their goals are set, just like ours were, to be Major Leaguers."

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

Key 2018-19 free agents for all 30 MLB teams

MLB.com

An impressive collection of talent will hit the open market when free agency gets underway this offseason, and players are eligible to sign with a new team five days after the conclusion of the World Series. Here is a division-by-division breakdown of the key free agents for all 30 Major League clubs.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

An impressive collection of talent will hit the open market when free agency gets underway this offseason, and players are eligible to sign with a new team five days after the conclusion of the World Series. Here is a division-by-division breakdown of the key free agents for all 30 Major League clubs.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Atlanta Braves
Key free agents: RHP Brad Brach, 1B Lucas Duda, 3B Ryan Flaherty, OF Nick Markakis, C Rene Rivera, RHP Anibal Sanchez, C Kurt Suzuki, LHP Jonny Venters

Markakis was a valuable member of a youthful Braves club in 2018, providing veteran leadership and making the All-Star team for the first time in his career. Atlanta has a stellar farm system that is loaded with pitching prospects, which is one of the reasons why Sanchez is unlikely to be back after his impressive rebound campaign. But without an obvious replacement for Markakis in right field, the door remains open for the soon-to-be 35-year-old to return. Suzuki has formed a productive catching tandem with Tyler Flowers over the past two seasons, but the 35-year-old may be too expensive to bring back for a part-time role.

Miami Marlins
Key free agents: None

The Marlins' roster is replete with players who are at the early stages of their big league careers, putting them years away from free agency. After trading multiple big-name players last offseason, Miami will likely now look to deal veterans Starlin Castro and Martin Prado, as they are owed nearly $27 million combined in 2019.

New York Mets
Key free agents: LHP Jerry Blevins, OF Austin Jackson, C Devin Mesoraco, RHP AJ Ramos, INF Jose Reyes

There's a chance the Mets won't bring back any of these players after they combined for -1.7 Wins Above Replacement in 2018, per FanGraphs. With Travis d'Arnaud, T.J. Rivera and Juan Lagares returning from injuries, the Mets have obvious replacements for Mesoraco, Reyes and Jackson next year. Blevins is more likely to be back than Ramos, whose recovery from right shoulder surgery is expected to extend into next June and possibly longer.

Philadelphia Phillies
Key free agents: 3B/OF Jose Bautista, INF Asdrubal Cabrera, LHP Aaron Loup, C Wilson Ramos

All four players on Philadelphia's list were acquired late in the 2018 campaign as the Phillies made a playoff push that ultimately fell short. Instead of bringing back Ramos, who is sure to fetch a sizable multi-year deal, the Phils may give 25-year-old Jorge Alfaro another chance to show he can handle starting duties behind the plate. Cabrera could be a fallback option if the Phillies are unable to land Manny Machado in free agency.

Washington Nationals
Key free agents: OF Bryce Harper, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, RHP Kelvin Herrera, RHP Greg Holland, 1B Mark Reynolds, C Matt Wieters

Harper will be one of the top free agents available this offseason, and the Nats will likely make a major push to keep him in Washington. The club might also be interested in bringing back Holland and Hellickson, but the two righties are sure to draw interest from other clubs after boosting their value with the Nats. Washington is expected to try to upgrade at the catcher spot, which could leave Wieters looking for a new home.

NL CENTRAL

Chicago Cubs
Key free agents: RHP Jesse Chavez, LHP Jorge De La Rosa, LHP Jaime Garcia (club option), LHP Cole Hamels (club option), OF Jason Heyward (can opt out of his contract), RHP Brandon Kintzler (club and player options), 2B Daniel Murphy, RHP Pedro Strop (club option), LHP Justin Wilson

The Cubs have many decisions to make this offseason, most notably regarding the $20 million club option for Hamels, who was acquired from the Rangers at the non-waiver Trade Deadline and recorded a terrific 2.36 ERA over 12 starts. They also have a bevy of bullpen arms that are set to depart or have club options. The Cubs could try to retain Chavez and Strop, and Murphy could also be back (particularly given Addison Russell's suspension), as president of baseball operations Theo Epstein spoke highly of the second baseman's contributions after his acquisition from the Nationals.

Cincinnati Reds
Key free agents: RHP Matt Harvey

Cincinnati elected to keep Harvey at the non-waiver Trade Deadline instead of flipping him to a contender, and now face a decision about the right-hander, given that he has expressed openness to returning and the Reds will be seeking starting pitching depth this offseason. Outside of Harvey, the Reds don't have any key departures or options to worry about this winter, though Scooter Gennett and Billy Hamilton are due for free agency following the 2019 season.

Milwaukee Brewers
Key free agents: LHP Gio Gonzalez, OF Curtis Granderson, RHP Jeremy Jeffress (club option), LHP Dan Jennings, C Erik Kratz, RHPJordan Lyles (club option), LHP Wade Miley, 3B Mike Moustakas (mutual option), IF Eric Sogard, RHP Joakim Soria (club option)

The Brewers have most of their pitching depth locked up beyond this season, with Gonzalez, an in-season acquisition, and Miley, who was initially signed to a Minor League contract before the season, the only two starters set for free agency this offseason. Soria, a key piece of the Brewers' bullpen in their playoff run, has a $10 million team option for 2019, while closing option Jeffress has a much cheaper $3.175 million team option. The 38-year-old Kratz and 37-year-old Granderson are also bound for free agency. Given their security all over the roster, the Brewers are set to contend again in 2019 even if they don't make a big offseason splash.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Key free agents: IF/OF Josh Harrison (club option), IF Jung Ho Kang (club option), SS Jordy Mercer

After making a splash by trading for Chris Archer in 2018, the Pirates appear to be mostly set with their pitching staff but will be looking for a bat in the offseason, likely at shortstop, especially if they don't end up bringing Kang back after his late-season cameo. Even if they don't make a Manny Machado-sized splash at shortstop, the market is deep this offseason, with Jose Iglesias, Freddy Galvis and Adeiny Hechavarria among the names that will be in play. It seems unlikely that the Pirates will pick up Harrison's $10.5 million option.

St. Louis Cardinals
Key free agents: 1B Matt Adams, RHP Bud Norris, C Francisco Pena, RHP Tyson Ross

Adam Wainwright already avoided free agency by agreeing to a one-year deal to return for his 15th season with the Cardinals. Improving the bullpen to build around Jordan Hicks will be a priority for the Cardinals, especially with the departure of Norris, who provided stability at closer for much of the season. Though Adams likely won't be on the Cardinals' radar again, St. Louis is thought to be looking for an impact left-handed hitter, with needs at outfield and third base.

NL WEST

Arizona Diamondbacks
Key free agents: RHP Clay Buchholz, LHP Patrick Corbin, RHP Randall Delgado, 2B Daniel Descalso, LHP Jake Diekman, 3B Eduardo Escobar, 1B Paul Goldschmidt (club option), OF Jon Jay, C Jeff Mathis, OF A.J. Pollock, C Chris Stewart, OF Yasmany Tomas (player option)

The D-backs could lose two key contributors this winter, with Corbin and Pollock likely to exceed Arizona's price range, but Buchholz, Descalso and Mathis are strong candidates to return. Neither Goldschmidt nor Tomas is expected to hit the open market. The D-backs are sure to pick up Goldschmidt's $14.5 million club option for 2019, and Tomas will undoubtedly exercise his player options for '19-20, valued at $15.5 million next year and $17 million in '20, after spending all of '18 in the Minors.

Colorado Rockies
Key free agents: C Drew Butera, OF Carlos Gonzalez, OF Matt Holliday, 2B DJ LeMahieu, RHP Seunghwan Oh (club option), RHP Adam Ottavino, OF Gerardo Parra

The Rockies will have to decide whether they want to compete for LeMahieu this winter or if they're ready to turn the reins at second base over to one of their middle-infield prospects, Garrett Hampson and Brendan Rodgers. They also face decisions in the outfield, where Gonzalez, Parra and Holliday are impending free agents, and in the bullpen with Ottavino and Oh, who has a $2.5 million option for 2019 with a $250,000 buyout.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Key free agents: RHP John Axford, 2B Brian Dozier, C Yasmani Grandal, RHP Daniel Hudson, LHP Clayton Kershaw (opt out), SS Manny Machado, RHP Ryan Madson, LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu

Machado is among the headliners in this year's star-studded free agent class, and longtime Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw could add his name to the mix if he opts out of his contract. The Dodgers will try to retain Machado, whom they acquired from the Orioles at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, but they'll have stiff competition as he's likely to cash in for a big payday. The oft-injured Ryu posted a 1.97 ERA through 15 regular season starts in 2018 and pitched well in the playoffs to improve his stock heading into free agency.

San Diego Padres
Key free agents: C A.J. Ellis, SS Freddy Galvis

The Padres' 2018 roster will remain mostly intact with only Galvis and Ellis entering free agency, and both are candidates to return. Ellis is less likely to be re-signed, however, with young catchers Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia in the mix. San Diego may also let Galvis walk if he wants a multi-year deal, with Fernando Tatis Jr. (San Diego's No. 1 prospect, per MLB Pipeline) nearing big league readiness and Luis Urias (San Diego's No. 4 prospect) likely to take over as the club's starting second baseman in 2019.

San Francisco Giants
Key free agents: OF Gregor Blanco, RHP Madison Bumgarner (club option), LHP Derek Holland, C Nick Hundley, RHP Mark Melancon (can opt out of his contract), OF Hunter Pence, 3B Pablo Sandoval

The Giants are expected to pick up Bumgarner's $12 million option, and Melancon is almost certainly staying put for the final two years of his four-year, $62 million deal, but the club will likely part ways with veterans Pence and Blanco. The Giants may try bring back Holland, who enjoyed a bounceback campaign and anchored an injury-riddled Giants rotation in 2018, and Hundley, who capably backed up Buster Posey.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Baltimore Orioles
Key free agents: OF Adam Jones

The O's list has just one man on it, as they traded nearly every player on an expiring contract, including Manny Machado, Zach Britton and Brad Brach, during their 2018 roster purge. Baltimore would have dealt Jones as well, but he was unwilling to waive his 10-and-5 rights. Jones may be interested in returning, but he would likely need to accept a significantly reduced role as the Orioles look to the future.

Boston Red Sox
Key free agents: RHP Nathan Eovaldi, RHP Joe Kelly, RHP Craig Kimbrel, 2B Ian Kinsler, IF Eduardo Nunez (player option), 1B/OF Steve Pearce, 2B Brandon Phillips, LHP Drew Pomeranz, LHP David Price (can opt out of his contract), LHP Chris Sale (club option)

Even if the Red Sox pick up Chris Sale's $15 million club option for 2019, which they likely will, and David Price doesn't opt out of the four years and $127 million remaining on his contract, they still have a number of important players hitting free agency. Kimbrel is the biggest name among them, though it's unclear if Boston will be willing to hand out a big contract for a player who regressed some from '17 to '18 and was shaky in the playoffs. The Red Sox will probably look to re-sign Eovaldi, who excelled after joining the club in a July trade (3.33 ERA, 2.88 FIP).

New York Yankees
Key free agents: LHP Zach Britton, OF Brett Gardner (club option), LHP J.A. Happ, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, RHP Lance Lynn, OF Andrew McCutchen, RHP David Robertson, LHP CC Sabathia, 2B/OF Neil Walker

The Yankees have a busy offseason ahead of them, especially on the pitching side of the ledger. Even if prospect Justus Sheffield is ready to claim a rotation spot behind Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka, that still leaves two open starting jobs. Meanwhile, the Yankees' vaunted bullpen could lose two key pieces in Robertson and Britton. Gardner was New York's longest-tenured player in 2018, but the club may pass on his $12.5 million club option ($2 million buyout) after the veteran outfielder posted a .690 OPS this past season.

Tampa Bay Rays
Key free agents: OF Carlos Gomez, RHP Sergio Romo

Romo was an integral member of the Rays' pitching staff for much of the 2018 season, racking up 25 saves and making five appearances as an "opener." However, he recorded a 10.00 ERA in September and will be 36 years old on Opening Day in '19. The cost-conscious Rays may opt to move on and give an opportunity to a younger alternative. As for Gomez, the veteran outfielder is unlikely to be back after posting a .634 OPS over 118 games in 2018.

Toronto Blue Jays
Key free agents: RHP Tyler Clippard, RHP Marco Estrada, 1B Justin Smoak (club option), INF Yangervis Solarte (club option)

Much like Baltimore, Toronto dealt many impending free agents during the 2018 season, including Josh Donaldson, J.A. Happ, Steve Pearce, Curtis Granderson and John Axford. With Rowdy Tellez looking ready for an expanded role at first base, the Jays could pick up Smoak's reasonable $8 million club option and then trade the veteran this offseason. Estrada is likely gone after recording a 5.27 ERA with a 4.97 FIP in 61 starts over the past two years, as the Blue Jays can likely get similar production from a younger and cheaper pitcher.

AL CENTRAL

Chicago White Sox
Key free agents: RHP Jeanmar Gomez, RHP Miguel Gonzalez, RHP Nate Jones (club option), LHP Hector Santiago, RHP James Shields (club option)

The White Sox are close to emerging from their rebuild, and the club could look for more pitching help this offseason, since Michael Kopech is now sidelined for 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. They have a $4.65 million option for Jones that they could exercise, but it seems unlikely that they'd exercise Shields' $16 million club option.

Cleveland Indians
Key free agents: RHP Cody Allen, OF Michael Brantley, OF Melky Cabrera, RHP Carlos Carrasco (club option), OF Lonnie Chisenhall, OF Rajai Davis, 3B Josh Donaldson, OF Brandon Guyer (club option), LHP Andrew Miller, LHP Oliver Perez, IF Adam Rosales, RHP Josh Tomlin

Miller headlines a productive crop of prospective free agents departing Cleveland this season, with outfield and the bullpen being the two areas that stand to be hit hardest by the departures. Allen, Brantley and Miller are eligible for the $17.9 million qualifying offer. The Indians do have some security in the bullpen with midseason acquisitions Brad Hand and Adam Cimber both controllable for several more seasons, but bolstering the relief corps will be an offseason priority for the Tribe, who got subpar seasons from both Allen and Miller in 2018. Outfield is also an area of need, especially if Brantley departs, with no clear-cut starter at any of the three spots entering the offseason.

Detroit Tigers
Key free agents: SS Jose Iglesias, LHP Francisco Liriano, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Iglesias, Liriano and the retiring Victor Martinez are the key departures for the rebuilding Tigers, who also dealt impending free agent Mike Fiers to the A's in August. The Tigers will likely be in the market for a shortstop, as they don't have an immediate heir lined up in the event of Iglesias' departure, and will likely look to add to the rotation.

Kansas City Royals
Key free agents: SS Alcides Escobar, RHP Jason Hammel (mutual option), RHP Wily Peralta (club option)

After trading Jon Jay, Lucas Duda, Kelvin Herrera and Mike Moustakas this season, the Royals figure to let Escobar walk, as Adalberto Mondesi is now their starting shortstop. The Royals will almost certainly pay a $2 million buyout to get Hammel off the books instead of exercising his $12 million mutual option for 2019, but they could bring back Peralta, their closer, on a cheaper $3 million team option, especially since they'll likely be looking for bullpen help this offseason.

Minnesota Twins
Key free agents: RHP Matt Belisle, 2B Logan Forsythe, C Chris Gimenez, 1B/DH Joe Mauer, 1B/DH Logan Morrison (club option), RHP Ervin Santana (club option)

The most pressing offseason question for the Twins will be at first base with the possible departure of Mauer to either free agency or retirement and Morrison's disappointing performance in 2018, after which the Twins are not expected to pick up his $8 million option for 2019. The departures of Forsythe, Brian Dozier (traded to Dodgers) and Eduardo Escobar (traded to D-backs) also leave openings in the middle infield for the Twins. The Twins need lots of help in the bullpen and could always use more starting depth, with Santana's option unlikely to be picked up.

AL WEST
Los Angeles Angels
Key free agents: RHP Jim Johnson, RHP Garrett Richards, RHP Junichi Tazawa, OF Chris Young, OF Eric Young Jr., RHP Blake Wood

The Angels will retain much of their core. Johnson will likely draw interest on the open market for clubs in need of dependable bullpen arms. Richards pitched well in 16 starts this season, but will be out of action until 2020 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Young also suffered a season-ending injury (labral tears in both hips) but is expected to be ready for Spring Training.

Houston Astros
Key free agents: DH Evan Gattis, UTIL Marwin Gonzalez, LHP Dallas Keuchel, C Martin Maldonado, RHP Charlie Morton, LHP Tony Sipp

Keuchel figures to be one of the most sought-after starting pitchers on the market this winter. The 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner has spent his entire career with the Astros, but could anchor another team's staff in 2019. Morton also figures to draw considerable interest coming off his first All-Star season at age 34. Maldonado will be part of a deep class of veteran backstops.

Oakland A's
Key free agents: LHP Brett Anderson, RHP Trevor Cahill, RHP Jeurys Familia, RHP Edwin Jackson, OF Matt Joyce, 2B Jed Lowrie, C Jonathan Lucroy

The A's looming free agents are headlined by a pair of veterans in Lucroy and Lowrie. Lucroy is more likely to return with Franklin Barreto ready to take over as Oakland's everyday second baseman. Joyce is likely the odd man out in a crowded A's outfield. It's unclear if the A's will try to retain any of their veteran starting pitchers.

Seattle Mariners
Key free agents: 2B Gordon Beckham, DH Nelson Cruz, LHP Zach Duke, RHP Hisashi Iwakuma, OF Cameron Maybin, RHP David Phelps, UTIL Andrew Romine, OF Denard Span (mutual option), RHP Adam Warren

Cruz represents the biggest free agent choice for the Mariners this winter. Both sides have expressed interest in a reunion, but Seattle must decide whether it wants to commit to a multi-year deal with the 38-year-old slugger or utilize that money elsewhere, with needs on the pitching staff and in center field. Span has a $12 million mutual option with a $4 million buyout. Iwakuma left the Mariners in September to pursue pitching opportunities in Japan.

Texas Rangers
Key free agents: SS Elvis Andrus (can opt out of his contract), 3B Adrian Beltre, C Robinson Chirinos (club option), RHP Bartolo Colon, RHP Doug Fister (club option), RHP Yovani Gallardo, LHP Matt Moore (club option), LHP Martin Perez (club option)

The Rangers are awaiting Beltre's decision on his baseball future, and if the third baseman opts to continue playing, they could re-sign him. Andrus could opt out of his contract, leaving four years and $58 million on the table, but is more likely to stay put. The Rangers will likely pick up Chirinos' option, and decline their options on Moore and Fister. Perez's option is for $7.5 million and it remains to be seen what Texas will do with the left-hander coming off a down year. Colon and Gallardo aren't expected to return.

Thomas Harrigan is an editor for MLB.com.

Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.