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Source: Cutch, Phillies agree to 3-year deal

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

LAS VEGAS -- The Phillies are on the verge of adding a former National League MVP Award winner to their outfield, but his name is not Bryce Harper.

A source told MLB.com on Tuesday that the Phillies and Andrew McCutchen have reached an agreement on a three-year contract, pending a physical. The Athletic reports the deal is worth $50 million and includes a club option. McCutchen, 32, hit a combined .255 with 20 home runs, 65 RBIs and a .792 OPS last season with the Giants and Yankees. Following a late-season trade to New York, McCutchen posted an .892 OPS in 114 plate appearances.

LAS VEGAS -- The Phillies are on the verge of adding a former National League MVP Award winner to their outfield, but his name is not Bryce Harper.

A source told MLB.com on Tuesday that the Phillies and Andrew McCutchen have reached an agreement on a three-year contract, pending a physical. The Athletic reports the deal is worth $50 million and includes a club option. McCutchen, 32, hit a combined .255 with 20 home runs, 65 RBIs and a .792 OPS last season with the Giants and Yankees. Following a late-season trade to New York, McCutchen posted an .892 OPS in 114 plate appearances.

Video: McCutchen brings veteran presence to Phillies

A source said McCutchen's arrival does not preclude the Phillies from signing Harper or Manny Machado. The Phillies would like to sign one of them, although Machado remains their preference.

But McCutchen's presence in the Phillies' lineup -- the organization believes he will hit well in Citizens Bank Park -- also means Philadelphia might not feel as pressured to sign one of them.

The McCutchen deal means outfielders Odubel Herrera and Nick Williams could be traded in the coming weeks to fill other needs. It is worth noting that the Phillies have been linked as a top suitor for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. The Marlins want an established young player as part of any Realmuto trade.

Herrera or Williams seem to fit that bill, although it is unclear if the Marlins like either player.

The Phillies continue to pursue left-hander J.A. Happ, who would provide balance to the rotation. They would like to add more bullpen help, too.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Philadelphia Phillies, Andrew McCutchen

Blue Jays cut ties with 5-time All-Star Tulowitzki

Shortstop, who missed 2018 due to injuries, faced uphill climb to crack infield
MLB.com @gregorMLB

LAS VEGAS -- Troy Tulowitzki's time with the Blue Jays has officially come to an end, as the five-time All-Star was released Tuesday morning with two years remaining on his contract.

The move came one day after general manager Ross Atkins met with Tulowitzki's representatives on Day 1 of the Winter Meetings. The 34-year-old shortstop is owed $34 million over the next two years of his deal, plus an additional $4 million buyout for 2021. Toronto remains on the hook for that full amount.

LAS VEGAS -- Troy Tulowitzki's time with the Blue Jays has officially come to an end, as the five-time All-Star was released Tuesday morning with two years remaining on his contract.

The move came one day after general manager Ross Atkins met with Tulowitzki's representatives on Day 1 of the Winter Meetings. The 34-year-old shortstop is owed $34 million over the next two years of his deal, plus an additional $4 million buyout for 2021. Toronto remains on the hook for that full amount.

Video: MLB Now talks Blue Jays releasing Tulo, his future

The sudden release was somewhat surprising, but it was not entirely out of the blue because it came less than a week after Atkins made some very candid comments about the veteran infielder. Atkins said Tulowitzki would have to "overachieve" to regularly play shortstop at an "above-average level."

During that same media availability, Atkins also stated that Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was the club's starting shortstop and Richard Urena was a candidate to make the team as utility infielder. That left no role whatsoever for Tulowitzki, who hasn't played since July 28, 2017, because of ankle and foot injuries.

Tweet from @MStrooo6: 2Lo is my dawg man. Super sad to see my brother go. He���s a winner. Unreal clubhouse presence. Always willing to help and mold young players. One of the best baseball minds I���ve ever been around. His career is far from over. See you soon my bro!

Tulowitzki, who has been working out in California this offseason, was acquired from the Rockies by former Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulous alongside veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins prior to the 2015 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Toronto sent Jose Reyes, prospects Miguel Castro, Jesus Tinoco and Jeff Hoffman to Colorado in a deal that led to mixed results for both sides.

When Tulowitzki arrived in Toronto, he had two Silver Sluggers, had been named to five All-Star teams, won two Gold Glove Awards and was generally considered one of the top shortstops in the game. His numbers with the Blue Jays never lived up to the previous pedigree, as he finished with a .250/.313./.414 slash line with Toronto and appeared in just 238 games for the ballclub over almost three and a half seasons.

Video: Must C Crushed: Tulo powers Toronto in must-win game

The one contribution fans and critics should not overlook, despite all of the injuries and struggles, was Tulowitzki's impact on a pair of teams that went the postseason. Tulowitzki hit a crucial home run in Game 3 of the 2015 American League Division Series vs. Texas, and he drove in seven runs during the ensuing AL Championship Series vs. Kansas City.

The Blue Jays are expected to open the season with Brandon Drury at third, Gurriel at short, Devon Travis at second and Justin Smoak at first. Urena is the early favorite to become the utility infielder, while top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. should be ready to take over third by the end of April.

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

Troy Tulowitzki

White Sox-Pirates trade: Nova headed to Chicago

MLB.com @scottmerkin

LAS VEGAS -- The White Sox added a needed innings-eater to their starting rotation with the acquisition of right-handed pitcher Ivan Nova from the Pirates.

Nova, who turns 32 in January, will be pitching in the third season of a three-year, $26 million deal. He is owed just short of $9.2 million in 2018, per Spotrac, and he will help fill out a rotation that already includes Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito. In return, the Bucs received right-hander Yordi Rosario and $500,000 in international bonus pool money.

LAS VEGAS -- The White Sox added a needed innings-eater to their starting rotation with the acquisition of right-handed pitcher Ivan Nova from the Pirates.

Nova, who turns 32 in January, will be pitching in the third season of a three-year, $26 million deal. He is owed just short of $9.2 million in 2018, per Spotrac, and he will help fill out a rotation that already includes Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito. In return, the Bucs received right-hander Yordi Rosario and $500,000 in international bonus pool money.

Adding a starter has been important for the White Sox as right-hander Michael Kopech, the team's No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament. The White Sox also needed another consistent veteran to replace free agent James Shields in the rotation.

Although Nova has never thrown 190 innings in a season, he has totals of 162, 187 and a 161 thrown over the past three seasons to go with 26, 31 and 29 starts, respectively. The right-hander has a 3-1 career record with a 4.61 ERA over five starts at Guaranteed Rate Field, allowing three home runs in 27 1/3 innings.

Nova posted a 9-9 record with a 4.19 ERA for Pittsburgh in 2018. He fanned 114, walked 35 and yielded 26 home runs over 161 frames. He had a home ERA of 2.99 over 14 starts against a 5.42 road ERA over 15 starts.

Dylan Cease, the 2018 Minor League Pitcher of the Year per MLB Pipeline, figures to join the White Sox at some point during the 2019 campaign. But Cease's impending arrival and the addition of Nova doesn't figure to take Chicago out of the starting-pitcher market completely. The club is also looking for bullpen and catching help while continuing its pursuit of premier free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

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, Ivan Nova

Thor to Yanks in 3-team megadeal for Realmuto?

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

LAS VEGAS -- For teams seeking catching help, there is J.T. Realmuto and there is everybody else.

On the first day of the Winter Meetings, Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen remained engaged with the Marlins on Realmuto, a source confirmed, discussing scenarios as unorthodox as a three-way deal that would send Noah Syndergaard to the Yankees.

LAS VEGAS -- For teams seeking catching help, there is J.T. Realmuto and there is everybody else.

On the first day of the Winter Meetings, Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen remained engaged with the Marlins on Realmuto, a source confirmed, discussing scenarios as unorthodox as a three-way deal that would send Noah Syndergaard to the Yankees.

While the Mets will remain a possible landing spot for Realmuto until the day the Marlins trade him elsewhere, Van Wagenen acknowledged Monday at the outset of the Winter Meetings that it would be difficult to jettison big league talent to acquire the All-Star catcher. Asked specifically about dealing starting shortstop Amed Rosario, Van Wagenen replied: "The way I look at any trade is that we want the trade to make us better. … We're not going to create a hole by filling another."

If that same logic can be applied to Syndergaard (or to Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto, the Marlins' two other reported targets in a Realmuto deal), then the Mets aren't likely to make Realmuto their next catcher.

"I think a lot of teams are talking to the Marlins," Van Wagenen said. "I would anticipate his market picking up while we're down here. Whether he gets traded, if the Marlins find the right package of players that they're looking for -- it's hard for me to assess what their asking price will ultimately be, but we'll continue to have discussions with all of the available catchers."

That last bit is key. If the Mets don't land Realmuto, they could sign one of the top free-agent backstops: Yasmani Grandal, Wilson Ramos or Martin Maldonado. More than anything, the Mets are seeking a defensive upgrade; the first two catchers on that list don't qualify. Maldonado does, but he is reportedly looking for an everyday gig and the Mets, with both Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki in-house, won't be eager to offer that.

That leaves the rest of the trade market, which Van Wagenen acknowledged as an area that intrigues him. Perhaps there's a match to be had with the Red Sox, whose GM, Dave Dombrowski, said Monday that he is looking to trade one of Christian Vazquez, Sandy Leon or Blake Swihart. As of late Monday, a source said, the Mets had not contacted the Red Sox about their catchers.

Vazquez and Leon in particular are strong defenders who would complement the Mets' dynamic starting pitchers and help them combat the running game.

"But we're also not going to give them away to give them away," Dombrowski said.

Other trade options include Pittsburgh's Francisco Cervelli, whose defense has slipped in his early 30s, and Toronto's Russell Martin, whose offense took a tumble in his age-35 season.

"A number of teams are at least exploring their catchers," Van Wagenen said. "You've seen some catchers already having been traded so far, and I think there are some others that are at least available for discussion. So we'll take a look at those. We've had a lot of discussions with teams, and we definitely have had a lot of discussions with agents, as well."

Since the start of the offseason, Van Wagenen has said he would be content to go into next season with d'Arnaud and Plawecki as his catching tandem, and he remained consistent to that end by tendering d'Arnaud a contract last month. On Monday, Van Wagenen received a medical report offering confidence that d'Arnaud, who missed almost all of last season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, will be ready to contribute on Opening Day.

But that doesn't mean the Mets will shy away from upgrading, if opportunity allows.

"We're going to keep the gas pedal down, and hope that we can accomplish our goals," Van Wagenen said. "Whether that's today, tomorrow or a month from now, we're not going to stop until we feel like we've accomplished what we wanted to."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets

Brewers could eye upgrade with catcher Ramos

Milwaukee had 'very good' meeting with free-agent backstop
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

LAS VEGAS -- Brewers officials had what a baseball source characterized as a "very good" meeting on Monday with free-agent catcher Wilson Ramos, who is on hand with his representatives at the Winter Meetings to meet with teams.

Ramos, 31, an All-Star last season during a year split between the Rays and Phillies, carries injury risk but would represent an upgrade over Milwaukee's in-house trio of Manny Pina, Erik Kratz and 23-year-old prospect Jacob Nottingham.

LAS VEGAS -- Brewers officials had what a baseball source characterized as a "very good" meeting on Monday with free-agent catcher Wilson Ramos, who is on hand with his representatives at the Winter Meetings to meet with teams.

Ramos, 31, an All-Star last season during a year split between the Rays and Phillies, carries injury risk but would represent an upgrade over Milwaukee's in-house trio of Manny Pina, Erik Kratz and 23-year-old prospect Jacob Nottingham.

Ramos slashed .306/.358/.487 with 15 home runs in 382 at-bats in 2018, while Brewers catchers combined to slash .237/.294/.363 for a .657 OPS that tied for 11th of 15 National League teams.

The Mets also reportedly met Monday with Ramos, whose other suitors include the A's and Twins. But Ramos' camp is said to have sensed "serious interest" from the Brewers, in spite of Milwaukee's current payroll constraints.

Video: Stearns explains Brewers' Winter Meetings strategy

Brewers general manager David Stearns has acknowledged that the budget, by virtue of significant salaries due to Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich next season and rising salaries for a large group of arbitration players led by first-time eligible Travis Shaw, is tighter than in his first three offseasons. But he emphasized Monday while meeting with reporters that owner Mark Attanasio has always been open to stretching the budget when the baseball operations team believes in an opportunity, and Attanasio continues to encourage spending "when we see value."

The Brewers' current catching corps is already under control for 2019. Kratz signed for $1.2 million to avoid arbitration, and the Brewers tendered Pina a contract to take him into arbitration as a first-time eligible.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Erik Kratz, Wilson Ramos

This team meeting with agents for Bryce and Manny

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

LAS VEGAS -- Bryce Harper lives in Las Vegas, which is convenient, considering the Winter Meetings are here this week.

If the Phillies want to meet Harper, they can expense a car service.

LAS VEGAS -- Bryce Harper lives in Las Vegas, which is convenient, considering the Winter Meetings are here this week.

If the Phillies want to meet Harper, they can expense a car service.

But the Phillies will meet this week anyway with Scott Boras, who is Harper's agent, and Dan Lozano, who is Manny Machado's agent. The Phillies remain interested in both superstar players, and have had ongoing discussions with both agents throughout the offseason. Sources have said the Phillies prefer Machado, envisioning him at third base and Jean Segura at shortstop.

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But circumstances can change. If the Yankees sign Machado, for example, one can bet that the Phillies will give their undivided attention to Harper, who hopes to sign a record-breaking contract that would exceed $325 million and an average annual value of $34.4 million.

The Phillies will sign only one of them, if they sign one at all.

Video: Kapler on Phillies' pursuit of Machado

"I'm not going to telegraph our intentions here," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Monday afternoon. "We are trying to get better and we're trying to move the needle wherever we can. At the same time, we're not going to sit around and be held hostage by one or two players. If there are moves to make in the short term that make sense for us, we're going to do that. If it works out that there are players that fit for us down the road and it makes sense, then great. But we're not going to sit around and wait."

Is some of that public posturing to let Boras and Lozano know that the Phillies want to move sooner than later? Sure. Teams, like agents, try to influence negotiations in various ways.

But there is truth there, too. The Phillies remain in pursuit of free-agent left-hander J.A. Happ, who would help the rotation. They would love to add a left-handed reliever like Zach Britton or Andrew Miller. The Phillies need another outfielder with Rhys Hoskins returning to first base. They could turn to free-agent outfielders like Michael Brantley or A.J. Pollock.

Video: Zolecki breaks down Phillies' interest in J.A. Happ

The Phillies could go big and send the Marlins a package of prospects for catcher J.T. Realmuto, too.

It would be foolish for the Phillies to pass up those opportunities because they want to wait on Machado or Harper. Besides, internally the Phillies believe any money saved this offseason will allow them to pursue Nolan Arenado or Anthony Rendon next offseason, or Mike Trout or Mookie Betts two offseasons from now.

• Phillies ready to make noise at Winter Meetings

Of course, there is risk there, too. Machado at third base or Harper in right field in 2019 is worth more than the possibility of Arenado or Rendon in 2020 or Trout or Betts in 2021.

But to sign Machado or Harper could mean at least a 10-year commitment. Would the Phillies go that long?

"Ten years is sort of an arbitrary number, but I don't like to ever rule us out of anything," Klentak said. "All of you have heard me talk about my distaste for signing starting pitchers to long-term contracts, and yet a week ago we were bidding pretty aggressively on a long-term starting pitcher [Patrick Corbin]. That's just a way to illustrate [that] you don't ever rule anything out, because sometimes there will be opportunities you want to pursue.

"I think in the history of the game, the mega contracts don't tend to end very well, and that's not a secret. We can go back and look at all these. If you feel like you're getting enough of a boost to your club in the early years of that deal, it may be something you consider."

Phillies managing partner John Middleton is not in town this week, which is noteworthy because when teams pursue superstars like Harper and Machado, the man controlling the purse strings often likes to meet the person.

Wouldn't you?

"There have been a lot of people that have volunteered to help us in our recruiting efforts this year, and some of whom we've taken them up on it so far," Klentak said. "We had what turned out to be a pretty public courting of Corbin a couple weeks back. We're not going to telegraph what we're going to do. We're not going to broadcast who we're involving in the process. I think these things naturally have a way of becoming public. Sometimes, it's because we're a little careless with what we put up on the scoreboard, and sometimes it gets out for other reasons. I'm not opposed to those types of things becoming public, but it's not really my style to publicly declare what we're doing."

Other teams have been more vocal. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Monday that they have not closed the door on Harper, just days after Nationals owner Mark Lerner said they do not expect Harper to return. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman dismissed a question Monday afternoon about his team's interest in Harper, rattling off the names of the Yankees' outfielders and reiterating that he does not see Harper playing first base for them.

Posturing? Perhaps.

For what it is worth, Klentak thinks there is a chance the Phillies acquire somebody this week. It probably will not be Machado or Harper. But it could be Happ. It could be a relief pitcher.

"Sometimes, the conversations that you have here may not lead to something here but will lead to something shortly thereafter," Klentak said.

The Phillies continue to engage Harper and Machado, and as long as they are talking to them, they will remain the favorites to sign one.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Philadelphia Phillies, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado

Rumors: Kluber, Bauer, Realmuto, Bellinger, Happ

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

What's the latest on Realmuto?
Dec. 11: While the buzz surrounding a potential three-team blockbuster featuring the Marlins and both New York teams has quieted, the Mets remain "very aggressive" in their pursuit of Miami catcher J.T. Realmuto, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

Per Heyman, the Mets are debating if it makes more sense to give up shortstop Amed Rosario or right-hander Noah Syndergaard in their quest to land Realmuto. The Marlins covet Rosario, as well as outfielders Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto, but the Mets have been hesitant to give up their young shortstop and are unlikely to deal both Nimmo and Conforto.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Mets said ���very aggressive��� on Realmuto. Debate in room now about whether to give up coveted SS Rosario in package or top SP Syndergaard. Mets didn���t want to open SS hole but that hasn���t been ruled out. Plus, while NYY thing is less a hurdle now, 3 way deals are still complicated

News broke from multiple sources Monday night that the Yanks, Mets and Marlins were discussing a deal that would send Realmuto to Queens and Syndergaard to the Bronx, with prospects presumably going to Miami, but MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported Tuesday that talks between the three teams are not progressing.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Sources: #Yankees, #Mets, #Marlins 3-team deal is *not* progressing. However, the #Mets continue to show interest in acquiring J.T. Realmuto directly. @MLBNetwork @MLB

Another possibility that was mentioned by MLB Network insider Joel Sherman on Tuesday is a trade that would bring Realmuto to the Yankees. In this scenario, New York would keep catcher Gary Sanchez, but use him more as the designated hitter, pushing Giancarlo Stanton to the outfield on a regular basis.

Tweet from @Joelsherman1: Have heard multiple times now this scenario laid out: #Yankees try to get Realmuto, keep Sanchez as catcher/DH, move Stanton to OF more regularly. #Marlins

The Mets and Yanks were listed among the seven teams Heyman listed as having the best chance to land Realmuto, along with the Dodgers, Padres, Astros, Phillies and Braves. 

Tweet from @JonHeyman: As of this moment the teams with the best chance to land Realmuto are these 7 ��� dodgers, mets, padres, astros, phillies, yankees and braves. A couple notably deny being too involved but they are all apparently involved enough to be in the top 7.

While the aforementioned three-team blockbuster is considered a long shot, a Realmuto trade in general seems more likely now than at any point since Miami began its rebuild. It might not take quite as much to land him as previously expected, according to Sherman, who reports outside executives have a sense the Marlins will move Realmuto but don't want to pull the trigger too quickly.

Tweet from @Joelsherman1: Hear #Marlins have slightly lowered return request on Realmuto since end of the season. Outside execs say they perceive Mia knows have to deal him but after getting not enough last year, esp for Yelich, gunshy to go quickly and undersell.

A lower price isn't the same as a low price, though. Teams that are in on Realmuto still see the Marlins' asking price as high, according to Andy Martino of SNY, with the 27-year-old only under team control for the next two seasons. But Martino thinks the Marlins may end up with no choice but to move Realmuto, while they can still maximize the value they get back for him.

Tweet from @martinonyc: Teams in on Realmuto see very high price with 2 years of control but note how little relative trade value Goldschmidt had with one year of control. Marlins would seem to have to blink. Can't hold onto him and blow chance to get something

Reds among teams talking to Indians about Kluber, Bauer
Dec. 11: The Reds' desire to upgrade their rotation is no secret, and the Indians are expected to trade one of their aces this offseason. Could the intrastate rivals team up for a deal? Nothing is imminent, but Cincinnati is having "ongoing discussions" with Cleveland about Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Source: #Reds continue to pursue rotation options via trade, including ongoing discussions with #Indians about Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. @MLB @MLBNetwork

Morosi reported Monday, the first full day of the Winter Meetings, that trade talks regarding Kluber had "intensified," with the Dodgers among the teams involved.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Sources: Corey Kluber trade talks have intensified. #Dodgers are among the teams involved. @MLBNetwork @MLB

Cleveland is reportedly hoping to trim payroll while still remaining competitive in an underwhelming American League Central, and Los Angeles could be a perfect trade partner given the club's outfield depth. With Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall departing via free agency, the outfield is a major question mark for the Indians at this point.

Morosi reports that the Dodgers' top prospect, outfielder Alex Verdugo (No. 32 overall, per MLB Pipeline), is part of the discussions between Cleveland and Los Angeles.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Source: #Indians interested in #Dodgers OF Alex Verdugo as part of Corey Kluber trade talks. Cleveland is looking for outfield bats, and Verdugo is the Dodgers' top prospect, according to @MLBPipeline. @MLB @MLBNetwork

Morosi names the Yankees and Brewers as potential landing spots for Kluber as well, as both teams have highly ranked outfielders in their farm systems. The Reds do, too, with No. 2 prospect Taylor Trammell (No. 17 overall).

Tweet from @jonmorosi: If #Indians trade Corey Kluber, they would like to receive a young outfielder in the deal. So it is not a surprise that the #Dodgers (Alex Verdugo), #Yankees (Estevan Florial) and #Brewers (Corey Ray) all are potential landing spots for Kluber. @MLB @MLBNetwork

Kluber and Bauer are arguably more attractive than any of the remaining starters on the free-agent market. Kluber is signed for $17 million in 2019 with club options for 2020 ($17.5 million, $1 million buyout) and 2021 ($18 million, $1 million buyout). To put the value of Kluber's deal in perspective, the Red Sox just signed Nathan Eovaldi for roughly $17 million per year over four years. Meanwhile, Bauer is two years away from free agency.

Per MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal's article for The Athletic (subscription required) on Monday, a rival executive who has been in contact with the Indians said Cleveland is open to trades in which it would attach Kluber or Bauer to a highly paid player such as Jason Kipnis or Edwin Encarnacion as a way to shed another inflated contract.

Dodgers open to trading Bellinger, Hill, Wood, among others
Dec. 11: As the Dodgers explore a number of avenues to improve their roster, they are unsurprisingly looking to trade from the two areas where they have great depth: the rotation and the outfield.

According to ESPN's Buster Olney, Los Angeles is prepared to move starters Rich Hill and Alex Wood as well as two outfielders. What is surprising, though, is that Cody Bellinger is one of the players the Dodgers are open to dealing. Per Olney, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson are also available.

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.

As far as trade targets go, the Dodgers have been connected most prominently to the Indians' Corey Kluber and the Marlins' J.T. Realmuto this offseason. MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported Monday that trade talks for Kluber had "intensified," and that Cleveland is interested in the Dodgers' top prospect, outfielder Alex Verdugo.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman noted in his "Inside Baseball" column for Fancred Sports on Thursday that multiple teams have asked about Bellinger, but rivals say the Dodgers are "hesitant" to include him in any trade. The Indians and Marlins are likely two of those teams.

The 23-year-old Bellinger took a step backward in 2018, but he is just one season removed from slashing .267/.352/.581 with 39 homers in 132 games as a rookie. While the slugger has primarily played first base during his time in the Majors, he has shown the ability to capably handle center field as well, which is a major plus for a Dodgers club that seems to value versatility as much as any team in baseball.

Los Angeles has also been linked to Bryce Harper, but it's unclear if the club plans to make an aggressive play for the superstar 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?"

Reds have discussed Inciarte trade
Dec. 11: The Reds cut ties with one premier defensive center fielder this offseason. Maybe they can add a new one.

Cincinnati has talked to the Braves about a trade for Ender Inciarte, a source told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon on Tuesday.

Tweet from @m_sheldon: Source -- #reds have talked to the Braves about CF Ender Inciarte. Nothing is imminent, however. Club is talking to a lot of teams/agents here .

Even if no deal is imminent, the possibility is intriguing. The Reds have an opening in the outfield after non-tendering Billy Hamilton -- and Inciarte is just as elite defensively. Plus, Inciarte's a significantly better hitter than Hamilton.

Inciarte finished with a +21 Outs Above Average rating in 2018 -- that's Statcast™'s range-based metric for outfield defense -- tied for the best of any MLB outfielder. Hamilton ranked fifth with a +16 OAA mark.

The 28-year-old Inciarte is signed to a five-year, $30.53 million contract that runs through 2021, with a $9 million club option for 2022. If the Braves traded Inciarte, they could hand over the reins in center field to NL Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr.

Report: Happ will sign with first team that offers him three years
Dec. 11: J.A. Happ has a number of two-year offers in hand, but he is reportedly seeking three years, and no team has been willing to go there yet. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the left-hander has indicated he'll sign with the first club that does.

Tweet from @JeffPassan: Sources: Where J.A. Happ winds up could come down to the team that guarantees him a third year. Right now, none has, and he has indicated he���ll sign with the first one that does. If none steps up, he���s got a number of two-year offers to consider, most from contending teams.

The Yankees are among the teams that have been consistently connected to Happ, but George A. King III of the New York Post reported Monday that New York doesn't want to go to three years for the 36-year-old.

Meanwhile, the Phillies have had "ongoing dialogue" with Happ in recent days, according to Jayson Stark of The Athletic.

Tweet from @jaysonst: The #Phillies have had ongoing dialogue with LHP J.A. Happ over the last several days, according to sources. The Phillies have a long shopping list. But Happ appears to be their best fit, as a LH with experience in Philadelphia who won't require a long deal. Still seeking 3 years

The Phillies have a long shopping list, as Stark notes, but a left-handed starter is believed to be high on that list. Philadelphia's rotation skews right-handed, and only two southpaws -- Adam Morgan and Ranger Suarez -- have started a game for the club since Cole Hamels was traded to the Rangers in 2015.

Philadelphia is also in on Dallas Keuchel and Zach Britton, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Tweet from @BNightengale: The #Phillies in on Dallas Keuchel and Zach Britton while also hoping to lure a certain mega free agent

Per MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi, the Astros are another team that has remained in contact with Happ's representatives in recent days. With Keuchel and Charlie Morton hitting the open market and Lance McCullers Jr. undergoing Tommy John surgery, Houston's rotation is in flux, at least after Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. The Astros can fill the back of their starting staff with a combination of Collin McHugh, Brad Peacock, Josh James and No. 2 prospect Forrest Whitley, but they could use a reliable No. 3 starter, and Happ fits that bill.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Source: #Astros have remained in contact with J.A. Happ���s camp in recent days. @MLBNetwork @MLB

Red Sox listening on Bogaerts, Porcello, JBJ?
Dec. 11: The Red Sox just inked Nathan Eovaldi to a four-year, $68 million deal to retain the righty and shore up their rotation. Did that decision push the club into a position where it needs to consider moving current big league pieces -- and their corresponding salaries -- to get something else done?

Boston may be trying to cut payroll as a way to simultaneously address its need in the bullpen and stay under the highest tier of the luxury-tax threshold, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, citing a rival exec.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: *Highest tier of luxury-tax threshold��� https://t.co/kmXZ5iekRZ

That matches up with what USA Today's Bob Nightengale is hearing, too - that the Red Sox are "openly listening" too offers on righty Rick Porcello and potentially could discuss shortstop Xander Bogaerts and center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.

Tweet from @BNightengale: The Boston #Redsox, trying to clear salary space for bullpen help, are openly listening to offers on Rick Porcello, and rivals insist also are willing to talk about Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.

Given that both closer Craig Kimbrel and setup reliever Joe Kelly are free agents, the Red Sox have been in the market for bullpen help. General manager Dave Dombrowski suggested Monday, however, that the club is unlikely to make a big expenditure to improve the relief corps, meaning it's unlikely Kimbrel will return. Some names that have been linked to Boston include Zach Britton, Andrew Miller and David Robertson, all of whom have late-inning experience and should be more affordable than Kimbrel, who has floated an initial asking price of six years.

The big question here, then, is how much the defending champs feel the need to unload a key player like Bogaerts, Porcello or Bradley in order to gain some financial relief toward enhancing the bullpen.

Both Porcello, whose 2019 salary is $21 million, and Bogaerts, who is projected to earn almost $12 million in arbitration per MLB Trade Rumors, are due to become free agents after next season. Bradley, whose projected arbitration figure is just shy of $8 million for '19, is under control through '20.

The luxury-tax threshold -- officially known as the Competitive Balance Tax -- is set to be $206 million for next season and Boston's projected payroll calls for north of $230 million. The Red Sox surpassed the $197 million threshold this past season on their way to winning the World Series.

White Sox considering Grandal
Dec. 11: While the race for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto has taken center stage at the Winter Meetings, the market for Yasmani Grandal has yet to develop. Some teams, such as the Mets, are seemingly viewing Grandal as more of a fallback option rather than a top target.

However, ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the White Sox, who aren't believed to be in the running for Realmuto, are considering Grandal.

Tweet from @Buster_ESPN: The White Sox pushing to take a step forward in 2019. Nova improves the rotation, and they're looking at Yasmani Grandal as a possible catching upgrade.

The White Sox traded Omar Narvaez to the Mariners earlier this offseason for reliever Alex Colome, leaving Welington Castillo and Seby Zavala as the only catchers on the 40-man roster. Castillo has his share of value, but his lifetime .708 OPS vs. righties (.846 OPS vs. LHP) suggests he's better suited for a part-time role. The 30-year-old Grandal is a switch-hitter who does his best work against righties, so the two could fit well together.

Chicago is reportedly looking to expedite its rebuilding process with a big-name free agent or two and could be in on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in addition to Grandal.

Yankees open to trading Andujar
Dec. 11: Miguel Andujar was one of the Yankees' most consistent hitters during a year in which he finished second to the Angels' Shohei Ohtani in American League Rookie of the Year voting, but he may not be a long-term fixture with the club.

According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, rival executives say that the Yanks are open to moving the 23-year-old.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: Name to watch with #Yankees: Miguel And��jar. Rival execs tell me and @ByRobertMurray NYY open to moving him. Would make sense as #Marlins��� ask for Realmuto; MIA wants established young MLB player as headliner. Also would line up with NYY pursuit of Machado. Torres could play SS.

That's not entirely surprising, as the Yankees are reportedly discussing a three-team blockbuster with the Mets and Marlins that would see Noah Syndergaard join the Yankees and J.T. Realmuto land with the Mets, as well as another trade that would bring Realmuto to the Yanks. It would make sense if Andujar was one of the young pieces being offered to Miami.

The Yankees are also considering signing Manny Machado, who would presumably become the club's starting third baseman once Didi Gregorius is ready to return from Tommy John surgery, leaving Andujar without a place to play. Even if New York doesn't sign Machado, Andujar's defensive struggles give him a questionable future at the hot corner.

Yanks GM: There's 'no spot' for Harper in New York's outfield
Dec. 11: 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.���

Nationals discussing Roark trade
Dec. 11: After signing Patrick Corbin to a six-year, $140 million contract, the Nationals have tons of money tied up in their "Big Three" of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Corbin, which may explain why the club is reportedly making Tanner Roark available.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Washington has engaged in multiple discussions regarding a Roark trade, though Passan also notes that the Nats are still looking at free agents to supplement their rotation.

Tweet from @JeffPassan: Sources: The Washington Nationals have engaged in multiple discussions to trade starter Tanner Roark, who is a year out from free agency and could make upward of $10M in arbitration. The Nationals continue to look at free agent pitchers to supplement their rotation.

The 32-year-old Roark is one year away from free agency and should see a generous raise from his 2018 salary of $6.475 million in his final season of arbitration eligibility. While it would hardly be an untenable salary for a pitcher who has made 30-plus starts in three straight seasons and owns a career 3.59 ERA, the Nats may be looking to save some money at the back end of their rotation while also attempting to get something in return for Roark before he hits the open market next offseason.

The fact that Roark has been a slightly below average starter over the past two seasons (97 ERA+) is likely another reason why the Nats are considering a trade, as Washington might be able to bring in a lower-cost free agent to do a similar job.

Which teams might be in on Keuchel?
Dec. 10: The market for free agent Dallas Keuchel is still a bit hazy as the Winter Meetings get underway in Las Vegas.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported Monday that the Braves, Phillies and Reds are the top three teams in on the left-hander, but MLB.com's Mark Bowman has heard something different. Per Bowman, the Braves have not had discussions regarding Keuchel. And MLB.com's Mark Sheldon previously reported that the Reds' interest in Keuchel was being overblown.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Braves, Reds and the Phillies are three prime teams on Keuchel. But what if Yankees lose out on Happ. Might they pounce?

Tweet from @mlbbowman: Nothing has changed with the Braves regarding Dallas Keuchel. They have not had any discussions regarding Keuchel.

It's possible the connection between Keuchel and the Braves was floated by Keuchel's representatives to get the Phillies to up their offer. Philadelphia is reportedly in on the 30-year-old after missing out on Patrick Corbin, who signed with the Nationals.

Meanwhile, the Yankees are focusing their attention on J.A. Happ rather than Keuchel, but Heyman speculates that the club could jump in on Keuchel if they miss out on Happ.

According to George A. King III of the New York Post, there is "industry buzz" that the Yanks would like to sign Happ to no more than two years, while the left-hander is believed to be looking for three.

New York was also unwilling match the lengthy contracts given to Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi, causing those pitchers to sign elsewhere. It's possible the same could happen with Happ.

Video: Braves remain heavily interested in Keuchel

Are Yankees in on Machado, out on Harper?
Dec. 10: With a need at shortstop and a crowded outfield, the Yankees may be in the mix for Manny Machado but not so much for Bryce Harper. If it's a choice between Machado and Harper, it appears New York would lean toward the former -- and might, in fact, be out on the latter, as MLB.com's Bryan Hoch noted after GM Brian Cashman said Harper isn't a fit in their loaded outfield or at first base.

Tweet from @BryanHoch: What we learned from Day 1 of the #Yankees #WinterMeetings: they are in on Manny Machado (and others), and out on Bryce Harper.

The question, then, becomes whether the typically deep-pocketed Yankees are serious enough about Machado to meet what is expected to be an asking price in the range of $300 million. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees plan to meet with Machado but won't necessarily pony up to that extent. 

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Yankees like Manny Machado and will meet with Machado but source says they will not pay $300M for Machado. Phillies, Chisox and mystery teams(?) seen as main competitors.

New York is among the few teams with the financial means to sign Machado to a long-term deal, and it has an immediate need at shortstop, where Didi Gregorius will miss a chunk of next season recovering from Tommy John surgery. To that end, it's not a surprise that Cashman said he has spoken with Machado's agent, Dan Lozano, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

Tweet from @Feinsand: Cashman said he has spoken with Dan Lozano, the agent for Manny Machado, multiple times. They have not spoken in Vegas. ���I���m not going to deny we���ve had a conversation or two.���

Heyman also reported that although New York is "pursuing" Machado, the club is considering other candidates to address its need in the infield, including Reds trade chip Scooter Gennett and versatile veteran free agents Marwin Gonzalez and Josh Harrison.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Yankees are pursuing Machado but they have other infield options ��� Marwin Gonzalez, Josh Harrison and possibly even Scooter Gennett to name 3

Heyman listed the Phillies, White Sox and potential mystery clubs as the Yankees' primary competitors for Machado. And even after trading for James Paxton, the Yankees are still looking to add to their rotation, which has been said to be their priority over pursuing Harper or Machado.

Red Sox GM doesn't anticipate 'big expenditure' at closer
Dec. 10: The Red Sox would like to have free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel back, but given the right-hander's contract demands -- he's reportedly seeking a six-year deal -- the club is exploring other options.

GM Dave Dombrowski said he doesn't anticipate a "big expenditure" for the closer's role, according to MLB.com's Ian Browne, who took that further by saying it "would be a miracle" if Kimbrel came back.

Tweet from @IanMBrowne: Dave Dombrowski doesn't anticipate the @RedSox making a big expenditure for the closer's role next year. Cites payroll already being high. Reading between the lines, it would be a miracle for Craig Kimbrel to return to Boston.

Part of that is because Boston has to worry about next offseason when Chris Sale, Rick Porcello and Xander Bogaerts can become free agents, and 2020, when Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. are set to hit the open market. Bringing back Kimbrel could make it tough to re-sign some of those other players.

So who could the Red Sox target for the back of their bullpen? David Robertson and Adam Ottavino are believed to be high on Boston's wish list, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Robertson and Ottavino are believed high on Red Sox list of back-end relief targets. Of course they���d like to have Kimbrel and Kelly back but they are free agents too. Deep pen market also includes Britton, Miller, Familia, more.

Joe Kelly is also a free agent, which could leave the Red Sox's relief corps without two key contributors from the club's championship run. Much like Nathan Eovaldi, Kelly bolstered his free-agent stock with a strong postseason, recording a 0.79 ERA with 13 strikeouts and only one walk over 11 1/3 innings. Kimbrel had his share of struggles during the playoffs, but he's been one of the top closers in the game for eight years and is poised to cash in this offseason, even if he doesn't get six years.

Robertson and Ottavino, on the other hand, will cost less than Kimbrel, and Boston could comfortably insert either one into the closer's role in 2019. That said, the Red Sox will have fierce competition for both pitchers, with MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reporting that at least a half-dozen teams are showing interest in Robertson, including the rival Yankees -- with whom Robertson has spent the majority of his career. Per Feinsand, the Yanks are also believed to be interested in Ottavino, a New York native.

Boston is also competing with multiple teams for Kelly's services, including the Dodgers, Mets and White Sox, as Rob Bradford of weei.com reported Monday.

Yankees have scouted Kikuchi 'extensively'
Dec. 10: The Yankees continue to focus on addressing their rotation, perhaps even more so after missing out on Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi last week. But with those two big names off the board, is there a new pitcher the club is turning its attention toward?

One candidate could be Yusei Kikuchi, the recently posted left-hander who has been one of the best arms in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball the past several seasons. In fact, GM Brian Cashman said the Yankees have scouted Kikuchi "extensively" and even talked to agent Scott Boras about him, according to MLB Network insider Joel Sherman.

Tweet from @Joelsherman1: Cashman said #Yankees have scouted Kikuchi ���extensively��� and he has talked to Scott Boras about the LHP.

New York already has re-signed CC Sabathia and traded for fellow lefty James Paxton from the Mariners, so Kikuchi would be the third southpaw to join the club's rotation just this offseason. While Kikuchi has been linked to a number of National League teams, including the Giants, Padres and Dodgers, the Yankees could be an appealing landing spot for him because of the success Masahiro Tanaka -- another longtime NPB star -- has had in the Bronx.

The 27-year-old Kikuchi has a fastball that sits in the 92-94 mph range and can touch 96, and he also features a sharp slider that gets swings and misses. In eight years pitching in NPB, Kikuchi has gone 73-46 with a 2.77 ERA in 158 games (153 starts), totaling 903 strikeouts in 1,010 2/3 innings. He's been especially impressive over the last three seasons, going 42-17 with a 2.51 ERA in 71 starts, including 497 strikeouts in 494 1/3 innings. Kikuchi did, however, spend time on the disabled list with left shoulder stiffness in 2018 and has dealt with shoulder issues over his career.

Brewers interested in Murphy, re-signing Moustakas
Dec. 10: The Brewers' search for a second baseman could lead them to free-agent Daniel Murphy, whom the club is reportedly interested in, a source told The Athletic's Robert Murray [subscription required]. The club is also interested in retaining third baseman Mike Moustakas, per Murray. 

Last month, the Brewers non-tendered second baseman Jonathan Schoop, whom they acquired at last year's Trade Deadline, after he underperformed in his half-season with the club. His departure left a hole at second base, but it's a deep position in free agency with DJ LeMahieu, Josh Harrison, Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera, Ian Kinsler among the options. The current in-house options are Hernan Perez and Tyler Saladino. 

If they signed Murphy, it'd likely be on a short-term deal with top prospect Keston Hiura climbing the Minor League ranks. Although there are concerns about his defense, Murphy hit .299/.336/.454 in 91 games with the Nationals and Cubs last season.

As for the interest in bringing back Moustakas, who joined Milwaukee last year via trade, Murray said talks are on-going and that the Brewers will face competition from the National League Central-rival Cardinals.

"It's possible," a source told Murray about re-signing Moustakas. "But far from done."

Do rival execs think Syndergaard can be had?
Dec. 10: Last week, at the press conference welcoming Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano to Flushing, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said it would take a "very special circumstance" to even think about trading Noah Syndergaard.

As the Winter Meetings begin Monday in Las Vegas, it seems that other teams think the same.

The New York Post's Joel Sherman writes that executives from potential suitors who have spoken to the Mets about Syndergaard believe it would take an "extraordinary" return to land him. According to Sherman, the current sense is that the Mets are highly unlikely to part with Thor.

Teams that have inquired about Syndergaard include the Padres, Rockies, Brewers, Dodgers and Astros, according to Sherman. The 26-year-old would be a fit for nearly any team thanks to his elite talent and years of control -- Syndergaard won't be a free agent until 2022.

But the Mets want to contend now, and having Syndergaard in their rotation in 2019 is probably the best avenue toward that goal. Sherman points out that if New York ends up being out of contention come July, they could always put him on the market before the Trade Deadline. Thanks to Syndergaard's three years of control, he could still impact several playoff races, and Sherman thinks his value might even be higher in July if he pitches well during the first half of 2019 and there aren't a lot of other top-end starting pitching options available.

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.

Video: High Heat: Nats not closing door on Harper reunion

Which contenders might pursue Greinke?
Dec. 10: The D-backs have already traded Paul Goldschmidt. Will Zack Greinke be next?

The veteran right-hander's 15-team no-trade list might make it difficult for Arizona to find a trade partner. But there are also some notable teams who have shown interest in Greinke before, and aren't on the list.

Two of those teams: the Astros and Nationals, per a report from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman on Monday. On the other hand, teams like the Phillies, Cardinals and Dodgers are on Greinke's no-trade list -- with the list seen as a "major impediment" to a deal.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Greinke���s 15-team no-trade list is seen as major impediment to deal. Greinke smartly included Phils, cards, dodgers - almost any big-market team. 2 teams that have shown interest in past not on are HOU and WASH, tho nats already got Corbin. Hou talked ZG last year. @ZHBuchanan

The Astros could be a good fit for Greinke, if the interest is still there. That's both from a need standpoint, as Houston could lose both Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton in free agency, and from a philosophy standpoint -- the studious Greinke and the data-driven Astros seem like they'd mesh. The Nationals wouldn't be as clear a match, since they've already signed the top free-agent starter on the market (and Greinke's former teammate), Patrick Corbin.

Meanwhile, MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reports that the D-backs are drawing trade interest in virtually all of their players after dealing Goldschmidt, but the club is telling other teams that it isn't interested in a teardown.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: In wake of Goldschmidt deal, #DBacks drawing trade interest in virtually all their players, but telling clubs they are not interested in a teardown, sources tell The Athletic. AZ open-minded, but will be selective in how it proceeds. Not entering rebuilding mode.

Per a tweet from USA Today's Bob Nightengale, several teams who checked in on Robbie Ray were told the left-hander isn't available.

Tweet from @BNightengale: Several teams who checked in with the #Dbacks say that Robbie Ray is not available

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.

Castellanos drawing interest from Braves, Dodgers, others
Dec. 10: Don't want to break the bank on Bryce Harper or go after A.J. Pollock? Nicholas Castellanos could be the answer. The Tigers outfielder is drawing interest on the trade market, according to a report from MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi on Monday. The Braves and Dodgers are among the teams to have checked in.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Sources: #Tigers OF Nick Castellanos is drawing trade interest. #Braves are among the teams that have checked in. Castellanos, 26, is coming off a career offensive year and is an alternative to Brantley and Pollock via free agency. @MLBNetwork @MLB

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Source: #Dodgers interested in #Tigers OF Nick Castellanos via trade, but there���s no present momentum toward a deal. Dodgers active on numerous fronts and Castellanos is not their highest priority. @MLBNetwork @MLB

Castellanos hit .298/.354/.500 with 23 home runs and 89 RBIs in 2018. His .854 OPS was the highest of his six Major League seasons. Castellanos is in his final year of arbitration eligibility, and is set to become a free agent after the 2019 season, which could lead the Tigers to move him.

Castellanos can also play third base if needed -- he spent the majority of his time at the hot corner from 2014-17 before moving to right field full-time in 2018.

Multiple clubs interested in Belt
Dec. 10: The Giants started their offseason with a big move last month when they brought in Farhan Zaidi to be their president of baseball operations. Since then, however, the club has been relatively quiet on the rumor front, likely because Zaidi and Co. are in the process of charting a course for 2019 and beyond.

One big topic related to the Giants is whether they will deal longtime ace Madison Bumgarner. It appears a new trade chip also may be surfacing in Brandon Belt. A number of teams have touched base with San Francisco about the 30-year-old first baseman, who is available, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

Tweet from @BNightengale: Several teams have expressed interest in 1B Brandon Belt, who���s available, in talks with the #SFGiants

With a .266/.356/.455 career line and 124 OPS+, Belt has been productive when healthy over his eight years in the Majors, but he's battled various injuries and has played only 216 games the past two seasons. That, along with Belt's contract -- he's signed for $16 million per year through 2021 and has a 10-team limited no-trade clause -- suggests the Giants may be looking to save some salary by moving on from him.

Nats on the hunt at the keystone
Dec. 10: The Nationals need a second baseman, and they're casting a wide net across the free-agent market.

Among the names on their list: DJ LeMahieu, Marwin Gonzalez and Josh Harrison, according to a report from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman on Monday.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Nats are looking closely at 2B. LeMahieu, Marwin, Harrison all in play.

That's interesting, because it means the Nats could either go after a prototypical second baseman like LeMahieu, or more of a versatile, super-utility type to fill the position like Gonzalez or Harrison.

The Washington Post's Chelsea Janes notes that Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has said the team has made contact with LeMahieu's agent. She adds that Washington also loves Gonzalez, who became a key cog for the Astros playoff teams of the last two seasons, and has likely also contacted his agent, Scott Boras.

Tweet from @chelsea_janes: On potential moves this week: Rizzo has said Nats made contact with DJ LeMahieu���s agent. They also love Marwin Gonzalez, a Boras client. So would assume they���ve ���made contact��� with his rep, too.

Is Gennett available in a trade?
Dec. 10: While sources told MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal that the Reds are looking to trade second baseman Scooter Gennett, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon has heard differently. Per Sheldon, Cincinnati is not actively shopping the 28-year-old.

Tweet from @m_sheldon: Source: #reds not actively looking to trade Scooter Gennett. Refutes an early report today from the Winter Meetings

 After being claimed off waivers by the Reds in March 2017, Gennett has become an All-Star in Cincinnati, slashing .303/.351/.508 with 50 homers over the past two seasons. But Gennett projects to earn a sizable raise in arbitration this year and can become a free agent next offseason, making a trade conceivable.

As Rosenthal notes in his latest story for The Athletic (subscription required), moving Gennett would open up a spot for top prospect Nick Senzel (No. 6 overall, per MLB Pipeline) to play and allow the club to pursue other possibilities, including signing utility man and Cincinnati native Josh Harrison. It would also free up more money for the team to spend on the rotation, its primary area of need.

However, the return for Gennett could be limited at a time when veteran second basemen such as Jed Lowrie, DJ LeMahieu, Daniel Murphy, Brian Dozier and Ian Kinsler are all available.

Angels more active than anticipated on free-agent market
Dec. 10: The Angels are seeking rotation upgrades and have been more engaged than anticipated on the top free agents, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required).

Major League sources told Rosenthal that the club made "quiet runs" at Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi before they signed with the Nationals and Red Sox, respectively.

The Angels could now turn their attention to Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, J.A. Happ and Yusei Kikuchi, among others, according to Rosenthal.

Keuchel's reliability could be especially enticing for the team, given the injury histories of its current rotation options, which include Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs, Nick Tropeano and JC Ramirez, but not Shohei Ohtani, who won't pitch in 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October.

Miller drawing 'legitimate interest' from at least nine teams
Dec. 10: The relief market could pick up steam during the Winter Meetings, as MLB.com's Mark Feinsand wrote Monday, and Andrew Miller is one of the bullpen arms whose market appears to be robust.

According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required), at least nine teams are showing "legitimate interest" in Miller, seemingly indicating that clubs aren't holding the left-hander's injury-plagued and underwhelming 2018 season against him.

Miller made three trips to the disabled list with three different injuries (left hamstring strain, right knee inflammation, left shoulder impingement) in 2018 and finished with a 4.24 ERA, a 1.38 WHIP and a 29.2 percent strikeout rate. But teams are evidently putting more stock in his performance from 2012-17, a span in which he recorded a 2.01 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP and a 39.6 percent strikeout rate while filling a variety of relief roles.

According to Feinsand, the Yankees and Red Sox could target Miller, and SNY's Andy Martino reports that the Mets, Phillies and Cardinals have shown interest as well. Mets manager Mickey Callaway was previously Miller's pitching coach in Cleveland, which may give them an edge.

Yankees discussing Gray trade with Padres, Reds
Dec. 10: With the Winter Meetings kicking off in Las Vegas, the Yankees and Padres reportedly remain engaged in discussions about New York right-hander Sonny Gray, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi.

Gray would fit the Padres' need to fill out their rotation, which doesn't have any spots guaranteed for next season. San Diego has also been linked to Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard and were reportedly in on Nathan Eovaldi before he re-signed with the Red Sox.

The Reds, another rebuilding team that is known to be looking for veterans to upgrade its rotation, have also discussed Gray with the Yankees. However, MLB Network insider Joel Sherman reports that Cincinnati balked at New York's request for outfielder Taylor Trammell, who is the club's No. 2 prospect (No. 17 overall), per MLB Pipeline.

Tweet from @Joelsherman1: #Yankees shooting high with Sonny Gray, asked #Reds about 1 of top prospects, OF Taylor Trammell, which was a no go. Sign NYY can get something good for Gray or that they simply or asking high before settling low, Could also always partner with a prospect to get more.

The Yankees acquired Gray from Oakland prior to the 2017 non-waiver Trade Deadline with hopes of him solidifying their starting rotation. But now they're looking to deal the 29-year-old after he struggled in 2018 with a 5.56 ERA through 21 starts before he was pulled from the rotation and left off the Yankees' postseason rosters.

Gray is up for arbitration this offseason and is scheduled to hit free agency in 2020. A change of scenery could benefit the righty, who only three years ago turned in a stellar All-Star campaign. In 2015, he won 14 games, posted a 2.73 ERA and hurled three complete games (two shutouts) in 31 starts with the A's, finishing third in American League Cy Young Award voting.

These are the four primary suitors for Cruz
Dec. 10: Although Nelson Cruz became a free agent more than a month ago, his market doesn't seem to have changed all that much. According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the Rays, Astros and Twins are in on the slugger, and the White Sox possibly could be as well.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: #MNTwins are a new team in the mix for Nelson Cruz. The Goldy trade may have helped clarify things. Astros, Rays also in. White Sox possibly.

All along, those clubs have been viewed as four of the likelier suitors for the slugger, whose role as a full-time designated hitter limits the number of teams that could realistically sign him. The list became even smaller when his former team, the Mariners, opted to rebuild.

Of those suitors, the Rays have been linked to Cruz more than any other team, as the club has an opening at DH after waiving C.J. Cron (who was claimed by the Twins), seeks a right-handed slugger and can fit Cruz into its modest budget. The club has maintained a "running dialogue" with Cruz, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Tweet from @TBTimes_Rays: #Rays have maintained "running dialogue" and discussed some parameters with free-agent DH Nelson Cruz. Agent Bryce Dixon says Cruz very much interested, calls it "a perfect fit.'' BUT ... Cruz has 3-4 other teams interested, #Rays looking at other options besides a DH-only bat.

It's uncertain how aggressive Minnesota will be when it comes to Cruz, as La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reportedthat the club prefers to rotate multiple players at the DH spot in 2019. Neal noted that the Twins could still pull off a surprise by signing the 38-year-old, but only if the price is right. To that end, MLB.com's Do-Hyoung Park reports there is "mutual interest" between the Twins and Cruz, who could provide a different look for an offense that hit 166 home runs (fourth fewest in the AL) in 2018.

Tweet from @dohyoungpark: According to source, there is indeed ���mutual interest��� between #MNTwins and Cruz, with DHs seeing MN as an attractive destination. Thad Levine said yesterday that Twins are comfortable with in-house options but see DH as possible way to improve/diversify lineup. https://t.co/I58mjb7myO

The Astros and the White Sox, meanwhile, also have an opening at DH, but the latter may view Cruz only as a fallback option if it can't land a bigger-name free agent.

How a Kluber trade could stir up Hot Stove

Deal involving Indians ace would have far-reaching impact
MLB.com @jonmorosi

LAS VEGAS -- When a perennial Cy Young Award candidate is available on the trade market, he becomes a hub of activity in the baseball industry.

Right now, that describes Indians ace Corey Kluber.

LAS VEGAS -- When a perennial Cy Young Award candidate is available on the trade market, he becomes a hub of activity in the baseball industry.

Right now, that describes Indians ace Corey Kluber.

Hot Stove news, rumors

Although Kluber isn't close to being dealt -- as one source said Monday evening -- a trade involving him is viewed as realistic by executives and agents in attendance at this week's Winter Meetings. The impact of that is far-reaching.

Consider the related storylines:

Harper's fit with the Dodgers
The Dodgers are among the most serious suitors for Kluber and may have the best opportunity to acquire him. And if they do, the Dodgers could become even more inclined to make a push to sign Bryce Harper.

Here's why: If the Dodgers acquire Kluber, there's a good chance they will surrender center-field prospect Alex Verdugo in the process. Verdugo's departure would remove a left-handed-hitting outfielder from the Dodgers' long-term depth chart. Harper could fill that void.

Video: Morosi, MLB Now talk Dodgers' interest in Kluber

Bumgarner's future
Think of this as an offseason riff on the usual Dodgers-Giants rivalry.

We can safely assume the Giants -- under former Dodgers executive Farhan Zaidi -- won't trade a franchise icon to their arch-rivals to the south. In that way, the list of teams pursuing Madison Bumgarner via trade -- the Phillies, Brewers, Braves and Yankees -- is similar (but not identical) to the array of clubs talking with the Indians about Kluber.

Thus, if the Giants truly are ready to embrace a rebuild, they'd benefit from the Dodgers acquiring Kluber, because that move wouldn't eliminate a viable contender from the Bumgarner marketplace.

Video: MLB Now on what the Giants should do this offseason

Keuchel's leverage
The Braves are open to addressing their rotation need via trade (Bumgarner or Kluber) or free agency. Dallas Keuchel is among the strongest possibilities in the latter category, and his camp would rather not lose Atlanta as a potential suitor through the Braves' potential acquisition of Kluber.

The Reds loom as a fallback option for Keuchel, but he likely would prefer to sign with an immediate contender (such as the Braves) if the contract offers are similar.

Video: Braves remain heavily interested in Keuchel

The White Sox aggressiveness
If the Indians trade Kluber for a prospect who's unlikely to open 2019 in the Majors -- such as Corey Ray of the Brewers or Estevan Florial of the Yankees -- the diminishment in talent could further embolden the division-rival White Sox.

The White Sox willingness to spend isn't linked directly to whether or not Kluber pitches for the Indians in 2019, but White Sox general manager Rick Hahn could adjust his course if he perceives an increased opportunity to win the American League Central next year.

If the Indians lose Kluber while the White Sox sign Manny Machado, the division's balance of power -- likely a gradual process over the next several years -- could shift sooner than expected.

Video: Hahn on using young core to attract free agents

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

Corey Kluber

Yanks end Harper bid, continue Machado talks

New York also continues contact with Happ, interested in discussing Kikuchi