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Yanks GM: 'We're a fully operational Death Star'

MLB.com @BryanHoch

LAS VEGAS -- Well, they are the "Evil Empire," after all.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman delivered one of the more memorable quips of this Winter Meetings late on Wednesday at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, addressing the team's interest -- or lack thereof -- in free-agent slugger Bryce Harper.

LAS VEGAS -- Well, they are the "Evil Empire," after all.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman delivered one of the more memorable quips of this Winter Meetings late on Wednesday at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, addressing the team's interest -- or lack thereof -- in free-agent slugger Bryce Harper.

"If something doesn't make sense today, it doesn't mean it won't make sense tomorrow," Cashman said. "All I can keep telling you is, you know where my current focuses are, but at the same time we're a fully operational Death Star." 

As he pursues starting pitching, bullpen help and middle infielders, Cashman said earlier this week that he was surprised by repeated inquiries concerning Harper, remarking that at no point this winter had he stated interest in acquiring another outfielder.

After rattling off the names of six outfielders on the current roster -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Clint Frazier, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton -- Cashman added that he did not see Harper as a realistic fit for first base, where the Yankees have Luke Voit and Greg Bird in line.

If the Yankees are to land a big-ticket superstar from this offseason's free-agent class, infielder Manny Machado seems to be a better fit, given their needs. Yet if the Yanks are truly out of the sweepstakes for the 26-year-old Harper, agent Scott Boras said that he had not received any message of the sort.

Video: Brian Cashman on the intricacies of pursuing Machado

"I've never heard the Yankees say that," Boras said. "It might be that they say things to you [reporters]. I don't know. I wasn't there."

Boras added that the Yankees once appeared on the sidelines with another of his clients, first baseman Mark Teixeira, who many believed to be heading toward the Red Sox a decade ago. As a courtesy, Cashman agreed to dine with Boras and Teixeira, but Cashman expected the switch-hitter to land elsewhere.

Video: Scott Boras not ruling out Harper to the Yankees

Though the Yankees advertised Nick Swisher as their likely Opening Day first baseman, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner authorized Cashman to swoop in when Teixeira's negotiations with Boston snagged, offering an eight-year, $180 million pact that Teixeira accepted.

"The Yankees are very adept; they're smart," Boras said. "I think they can earnestly tell you that right now they're not doing it, and have every intention of doing something else when it's best for them to do it.

"When the nurse walks into the room with the thermometer, the issue is not what the thermometer says that day; the issue is, what's the health of the patient when they're ready to leave the hospital? They're not ready to leave the hospital yet."

Informed of Boras' comments -- and tortured medical analogy -- Cashman chuckled.

"I don't have any reaction other than to say that we try to promote we are a progressive, open-minded operation, that every day is different and that we are prepared to pivot and react at any moment," Cashman said.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007.

New York Yankees

For starters, these 4 could upgrade any rotation

MLB.com @feinsand

LAS VEGAS -- Three more starting pitchers came off the board Wednesday, as sources said Lance Lynn has agreed to a deal with the Rangers, J.A. Happ is returning to the Yankees and Charlie Morton is heading to the Rays.

With Patrick Corbin already gone to the Nationals and Nathan Eovaldi returning to the Red Sox, the starting-pitching market is surprisingly thin already -- and the Winter Meetings aren't even over.

LAS VEGAS -- Three more starting pitchers came off the board Wednesday, as sources said Lance Lynn has agreed to a deal with the Rangers, J.A. Happ is returning to the Yankees and Charlie Morton is heading to the Rays.

With Patrick Corbin already gone to the Nationals and Nathan Eovaldi returning to the Red Sox, the starting-pitching market is surprisingly thin already -- and the Winter Meetings aren't even over.

Latest Hot Stove rumors

With those five arms off the market, teams looking for rotation help have limited free-agent options. Dallas Keuchel is the top starter available, followed by Japanese star Yusei Kikuchi, while the road to the trade market still goes through Cleveland, where Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer remain up for grabs.

So where will these pitchers wind up? Here's a look at the latest on their respective markets:

Video: Dallas Keuchel enters free agency

Keuchel
Entering the offseason, Keuchel was considered by most to be the second-best starter on the free-agent market, behind Corbin. The Nationals gave Corbin a whopping $140 million over six years, but it appears Keuchel won't land anything in that neighborhood.

For starters, the list of teams now in the market for a top-flight starter has been sizably reduced now that the Yankees, Red Sox and Nationals are out of the mix. The Phillies and Reds would be appear to be the two front-runners for Keuchel, though a source said Philadelphia remains focused on their pursuit of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper and aren't overly enthusiastic about throwing serious money and years at Keuchel, who turns 31 on New Year's Day.

Cincinnati is a more intriguing situation for the left-hander, though after trading for Tanner Roark on Wednesday and talking with the Dodgers about a potential trade for lefty Alex Wood, it remains to be seen how serious the Reds are about paying a high-end free agent. Free-agent righty Matt Harvey also remains on the Reds' radar.

Keuchel could become the latest Scott Boras client to find himself waiting until January or February to land a new contract.

Video: Possible landing spots for Yusei Kikuchi

Kikuchi
Kikuchi, who is also represented by Boras, is in an entirely different situation. Due to the posting system rules for Japanese players, the 27-year-old left-hander must agree to a deal with a big league team by January 2 if he wants to make the jump to the Majors.

Boras said Wednesday that the market for Kikuchi is "vast," with rebuilding clubs and playoff contenders alike expressing interest. Scouts view Kikuchi as a No 3 starter, so he won't command the kind of money Masahiro Tanaka got from the Yankees four years ago.

Teams are expected to meet with Kikuchi and Boras later this month in Los Angeles, when his market should begin to sort itself out.

Video: Bell on Indians possibly moving Kluber or Bauer

Kluber/Bauer
The two Indians pitchers are clearly the best available arms, but it will take more than a big check to add either to a rotation. MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported that the Reds remains engaged with the Indians about both pitchers, though Cincinnati has also been in touch with the Yankees about Sonny Gray and the Blue Jays about Marcus Stroman. The Dodgers also remain in the running for one of the Indians pitchers.

An interesting team to watch in the Kluber/Bauer situation: the Rays.

Tampa Bay made a big move Wednesday with its two-year, $30 million signing of Morton, and it remains in the mix for free-agent slugger Nelson Cruz, as well. If the Rays were to deal for Bauer -- in exchange for a player like outfielder Tommy Pham perhaps -- and then sign an outfielder such as Michael Brantley, it would mean a vast improvement for a team that won 90 games last season as the Rays try to compete with the Red Sox and Yankees in the American League East.

Best of the rest
The rest of the free-agent market is littered with serviceable arms such as Wade Miley, Gio Gonzalez, Anibal Sanchez, Harvey and Mike Fiers, though teams aren't looking at them as top-of-the-rotation starters.

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.

Trevor Bauer, Dallas Keuchel, Corey Kluber

Does Machado have a preferred landing spot?

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.

Does Machado have a preferred landing spot?
Dec. 12: There's been no shortage of speculation about which teams are in on free-agent star Manny Machado. It's been reported he's due to meet with the Phillies, the White Sox and the Yankees. Oh, and at least three mystery clubs, too.

While teams continue to woo Machado, perhaps it's worth considering this process from his point of view, too. Does Machado have a preference for where he winds up?

"Manny Machado's first choice is the New York Yankees," CBS Sports Network analyst and former big league general manager Jim Bowden said Wednesday evening. "So if the Yankees come to the table ... and are willing to compete financially for his services, they will be the team that gets Manny Machado."

Tweet from @CBSSportsNet: ���Manny Machado���s first choice is the New York Yankees.���If the Yankees are willing to meet Machado���s price tag, @JimBowdenGM tells @AdamSchein he will be wearing pinstripes. #T2S pic.twitter.com/rLwUfByWj5

The Yankees certainly have the resources to go after Machado, who is expected to score a contract that could rival that of Bryce Harper's this offseason (read: north of $300 million over 10 years). The question, then, might be how badly general manager Brian Cashman and the rest of the club's front office and ownership want Machado.

While owner Hal Steinbrenner said last month he took issue with Machado's lack of hustle in the postseason, multiple reports have indicated Cashman indeed is interested in finding a way to make this fit. There are ways to make that happen, between the immediate need for a shortstop with Didi Gregorius due to miss a chunk of 2019 after Tommy John surgery and the possibility the Yankees could dangle young third baseman Miguel Andujar.

Tweet from @JackCurryYES: Cashman said Yankees haven���t met w/ Machado or any free agents yet. But if they advance to having serious discussions w/ Machado, Cashman noted how Hal Steinbrenner has already said he���d want to have a sit down w/ the player and discuss what was said in October.

Machado just might be envisioning himself in pinstripes? But do the Yankees see that, as well?

Do Phillies prefer Harper or Machado?
Dec. 12: Bryce Harper or Manny Machado? Manny Machado or Bryce Harper? The Phillies, with all the money they have to spend this offseason, are in on one or the other -- maybe even both. But if forced to choose between the two superstars of this free-agent market, does the club have a preference? MLB Network insider Joel Sherman gets the sense that it's Machado, adding that Philadelphia could look to sign the 26-year-old infielder and Michael Brantley.

Tweet from @Joelsherman1: #Phillies chose McCutchen over Brantley but if Philly signs Machado over Harper (which appears preference), it���s posssible double back to Brantley for needed LH bat. But Brantley has alternatives could move on b4 that.

MLB.com's Todd Zolecki also hears Machado is first on the team's wish list

"There are indications Philadelphia prefers [Machado] over Harper," Zolecki writes. "Now, Machado is not an iconic player like Harper. He is not as accomplished a hitter as Harper. But he is one of the game's greatest talents and he also plays a premium position."

That said, with new acquisiton Jean Segura locked in at shortstop, the Phillies will need to convince Machado to move back to third base. Philadelphia may also need to outbid the Yankees by a notable margin, as New York is believed to be Machado's preference.

 Machado to meet with Yanks, Phils, White Sox and mystery teams
Dec. 11: The biggest transaction on the second day of the Winter Meetings -- at least as of late afternoon -- was the Phillies' deal to sign Andrew McCutchen to a reported three-year, $50 million pact. How does that impact Manny Machado, specifically?

It doesn't really change much, frankly, as McCutchen is expected to handle one of the corner outfield spots in Philly, and the amount of money -- while not insignificant -- shouldn't preclude the Phillies from making any substantial offer to Machado. In short: There's still a fit on the left side of the Phillies' infield, as MLB Network insider Jon Heyman pointed out. 

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Brantley is out as a Phillies option since McCutchen deal, but door is still open for Harper (and of course Machado

So what's next for the superstar 26-year-old? Machado is slated to meet with teams most interested in him soon, and Heyman reports that three of them are the Yankees, White Sox and -- yep -- the Phillies, as well as three "mystery teams."

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Yanks, White Sox and Phillies are 3 teams that will meet with Manny Machado. The 3 alleged mystery teams remain so.

The takeaways from that? One, those three clubs are in big markets and have money to spend. Two, it's likely that nothing will happen any time soon (think: during the Winter Meetings) on the Machado front, given that he's planning to visit with a number of franchises. 

Video: After Cutch, Phils could still target Harper, Machado

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With Tim Anderson at shortstop, Machado would fit better at third base for the White Sox. But if the 26-year-old insists on playing short, it's unlikely the club will let Anderson's presence get in the way. The 25-year-old Anderson is a potentially dynamic player -- he produced 20 homers with 26 steals in 2018 -- but he has major strides to make in the plate-discipline department. Anderson has recorded 428 strikeouts with just 56 walks in 1,643 career plate appearances, contributing to a .286 on-base percentage. 

Superstar or bust for Phillies?
Dec. 5: The Phillies could have used left-hander Patrick Corbin just as much as the Nationals, but now that he's reportedly agreed to a contract with Washington, Philly.com's Scott Lauber writes that Philadelphia needs to make signing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado its main priority. While Phillies owner John Middleton has said that his club could be "a little stupid" in how it spends its considerable financial resources this offseason, Lauber argues that giving Corbin the sixth year he desired on his contract would have been ill-advised if it hurt the Phillies' chances for Harper or Machado. Philadelphia's starting rotation, led by Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta while also featuring improving youngsters including Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez, was one of the club's stronger areas in 2018, but its offense finished with the fewest hits in the Major Leagues. Philly's lineup is desperate for an impact bat, argues Lauber, meaning the club "can't afford to miss out" on at least one of the big two superstars atop the free-agent board.

The Nationals can't completely be ruled out of the Harper sweepstakes, and the Dodgers have sent some Harper-related signals this week, too. And the Yankees are looming, of course, with perhaps the Cubs lurking as well. It's up to the Phillies to convince either Harper or Machado to come to the City of Brotherly Love, and Lauber argues that Middleton's money is their best argument.

Rival exec on Yanks and Machado: 'Cash is on him, believe me'
Dec. 3: Regardless of ownership's apprehensions of Machado's work ethic and perceived character concerns, all signs have pointed to the Yankees at least exploring the possibility of adding the star shortstop this offseason. They were reportedly interested in him last winter, tried to acquire him ahead of the Trade Deadline in July and now have at least have an immediate positional need with Didi Gregorius slated to miss a chunk of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery. 

General manager Brian Cashman has played his free-agent strategy close to the vest, but at least one rival executive suggested recently that the club will certainly pursue Machado. 

"Cash is on him, believe me," the executive told Andy Martino of SNY.tv in New York. 

Video: Cashman discusses how to evaluate free agent Machado

Last month, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner called Machado's now-infamous "Johnny Hustle" comments "troubling" and said he was hoping to conduct a sit-down meeting with Machado to glean clarification to Machado's remarks. Martino reported after the postseason that the club was "lukewarm" on Machado given his postseason antics, though that approach appears to have altered. 

Video: Feinsand on Machado clarifying 'Johnny Hustle' remark

The Machado market, like most this offseason, has been slow to develop, and it could remain stalled for the Yankees in the immediate given that they have gained serious momentum in their pursuit of Patrick Corbin. Martino writes that the Yanks "are more squarely focused on pitching" this week, even after acquiring Mariners No. 1 starter James Paxton two weeks ago. 

Machado has been rumored to be in the market for one of the richest contracts in baseball history, potentially in the neighborhood of $300 million, and the Yankees are among only a small handful of clubs with the financial bandwidth to offer such a deal. Gregorius will be back at some time in 2019, but he will become a free agent at season's end, which could create a long-term spot for Machado. 

With the Winter Meetings beginning on Sunday in Las Vegas, the market could accelerate across the board -- for everyone, including Machado. 

Manny Machado

30 updates from Winter Meetings -- 1 for each team

MLB.com @AndrewSimonMLB

Here's a roundup of the biggest news out of Day 3 of the Winter Meetings for all 30 MLB clubs:

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Here's a roundup of the biggest news out of Day 3 of the Winter Meetings for all 30 MLB clubs:

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays
General manager Ross Atkins is considering both free agency and trades as routes to acquire a starting pitcher. While Toronto is not a realistic landing spot for Dallas Keuchel, the club still has several other options it could target. More >

Orioles
The club and agent Scott Boras have met to discuss how slugger Chris Davis -- who has four years remaining on his contract -- can bounce back from a rough 2018 season that featured a .539 OPS. More >

Rays
Tampa Bay may have a veteran right-hander to slot into its rotation behind reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell. The Rays agreed to a deal with Charlie Morton, who posted a 3.36 ERA and struck out 10.4 batters per nine innings over the past two seasons with Houston. More >

Red Sox
With plenty of free agents still available, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is in no rush to add to a bullpen that is likely to lose Craig Kimbrel. Joe Kelly is a better bet to return to Boston, but that's just one of many names the club could consider while keeping an eye on its payroll. More >

Yankees
It's not done yet, but the Yankees are closing in on a multi-year deal to bring back J.A. Happ. That would check one of their biggest boxes remaining -- another starting pitcher to solidify their rotation -- and the veteran left-hander has already shown the Yanks what he can do in the Bronx. More > 

Video: Happ reportedly rejoining Yankees on two-year deal

AL CENTRAL

Indians
Manager Terry Francona has faith in Cleveland's in-house options, such as outfielder Tyler Naquin and reliever Jon Edwards, to fill bigger roles in 2019, and he played down rumors suggesting his club might trade Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. More >

Video: Francona talks trade rumors surrounding Kluber

Royals
Now that Billy Hamilton is officially in the fold, manager Ned Yost discussed his potential lineup construction and expressed excitement about how much speed K.C. has. More >

Tigers
One of the Tigers' main needs entering the Winter Meetings was a veteran shortstop to solidify their infield. They weren't in a rush to find one, but they got one anyway on Day 3 -- Jordy Mercer. More >

Twins
One way the club can improve next year is to get more out of potential stars, such as Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, who struggled in 2018. To that end, new manager Rocco Baldelli has plans to spend time and connect with both this offseason. More >

White Sox
Citing "very bright days ahead" for the franchise, general manager Rick Hahn said he isn't surprised the Sox have drawn interest from several free agents. Could one of them be Bryce Harper? More >

AL WEST

Angels
The team added a left-handed slugger as insurance at first base and DH, agreeing to a one-year deal with Justin Bour, as Shohei Ohtani recovers from Tommy John surgery and Albert Pujols enters his age-39 season. More >

Astros
While Charlie Morton is leaving the Astros for the Rays, the career renaissance he enjoyed in Houston speaks to the organization's ability to get the most out of players. That could be a selling point as the Astros pursue another free-agent starter. More >

Athletics
Agent Scott Boras softened his tone a bit regarding first-round pick Kyler Murray's potential future in the NFL, but also said the two-sport talent "has every intention to be in Spring Training" with Oakland in 2019. More >

Video: Beane hopes A's are able to re-sign Jed Lowrie

Mariners
The post-Edwin Diaz era has arrived, and Seattle isn't rushing into deciding who will replace him at closer, whether that's someone already on the roster (such as Anthony Swarzak) or a current free agent. More >

Rangers
Texas is adding a veteran right-hander to its rotation mix after agreeing to a three-year deal with Lance Lynn, who shook off a rough April last year, pitching well for the Yankees down the stretch following a trade from Minnesota. More >

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves
As Atlanta looks to fill its needs for a front-line starting pitcher, an outfielder and bullpen depth, it is attempting to strike a balance between defending its division title in 2019 and ensuring the long-term viability of its rebuilding plan. More >

Marlins
Discussions around J.T. Realmuto were heating up Wednesday with new teams entering the mix, increasingly the likelihood the Marlins will deal their All-Star catcher. More >

Mets
The Mets remain in on the Marlins' J.T. Realmuto, and in the meantime, they're looking to add to their outfield with A.J. Pollock and Adam Jones among the free-agent options. More >

Video: Van Wagenen discusses the Mets' catcher search

Nationals
Tanner Roark's time in Washington is over. But the door remains open for Bryce Harper's return, and general manager Mike Rizzo also struck an optimistic tone about the possibility of a contract extension for Anthony Rendon heading into the third baseman's final season of club control. More >

Phillies
They officially added Andrew McCutchen on Wednesday but continue to look for pitching help. With top free-agent starters coming off the board, what rotation options remain? More >

NL CENTRAL

Brewers
Avoiding an arbitration hearing, Milwaukee agreed on a 2019 contract with right-hander Jimmy Nelson, who missed this past season while recovering from right shoulder surgery. The $3.7 million deal includes an incentive the Brewers surely would be thrilled for Nelson to collect. More >

Cardinals
St. Louis is fielding offers for first baseman/right fielder Jose Martinez and is prepared to deal him this offseason, perhaps to an AL club that could take advantage of his bat in a DH role. More >

Cubs
Chicago's Kris Bryant is "progressing without limitations" from last season's shoulder injury, but the Cubs aren't expected to pursue his close friend, free-agent Bryce Harper, due to current payroll constraints. More >

Pirates
For the first time since 2013, Jordy Mercer won't be the Pirates' shortstop on Opening Day, after agreeing to a deal with the Tigers. His replacement isn't set in stone, but the Bucs are intrigued by Erik Gonzalez, acquired from Cleveland earlier this offseason. More >

Reds
In search of stability for a rotation that struggled again in 2018, Cincinnati pulled off a trade for Washington right-hander Tanner Roark, a workhorse who is due to reach free agency after next season. More >

Video: Tanner Roark discusses being traded to the Reds

NL WEST

D-backs
The recent trade of star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt might have signaled the D-backs are embarking on a full rebuild, but general manager Mike Hazen doesn't intend to take that path, thanks to a roster that still features plenty of talent. More >

Dodgers
Miami catcher J.T. Realmuto remains among the Dodgers' primary targets this winter. Sources told MLB.com that additional teams could be involved in a potential expanded deal. More >

Video: Could Dodgers trade Puig, Kemp and sign Harper?

Giants
All was quiet on the Giants' front Wednesday, but president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said conversations at the Winter Meetings could lead to "some moves next week before the holidays." 

Padres
"I don't think anything's off the table for us," manager Andy Green said of how his club will structure its starting rotation. While San Diego remains in the market to add a starter, it is considering many options for 2019, including using openers. More >

Rockies
Seattle's Carlos Santana and Cleveland's Edwin Encarnacion have become primary targets as Colorado looks for an offensive upgrade at first base. Acquiring either would have ripple effects for Ian Desmond and Charlie Blackmon. More >

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.

Reds acquire right-hander Roark from Nats

MLB.com @m_sheldon

LAS VEGAS -- With the promise of more to come, the Reds made their first significant offseason deal Wednesday when they acquired starting pitcher Tanner Roark in a trade from the Nationals in exchange for reliever Tanner Rainey.

Roark, 32, was 9-15 with a 4.34 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 31 games (30 starts) across 180 1/3 innings for Washington last season and worth 3.0 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference.

LAS VEGAS -- With the promise of more to come, the Reds made their first significant offseason deal Wednesday when they acquired starting pitcher Tanner Roark in a trade from the Nationals in exchange for reliever Tanner Rainey.

Roark, 32, was 9-15 with a 4.34 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 31 games (30 starts) across 180 1/3 innings for Washington last season and worth 3.0 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference.

"We feel like this is exactly what we were looking for in that first deal, get a guy that has a track record of innings, starts, solid performance, veteran, familiar with our league," Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams said. "He checks a lot of our boxes. Good makeup. I think he'll slide right into the rotation and have a good effect on the rest of the guys."

Over 182 games (141 starts) during his big league career, Roark is 64-54 with a 3.59 ERA. He's a pitcher known for keeping the ball on the ground, which would be especially useful at Great American Ball Park. He was tied for fifth in the National League last season by inducing 18 grounded-into-double plays.

Video: WSH@PHI: Roark coaxes double play from Santana in 4th

"He's a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter that just can come in and anchor our staff," Reds general manager Nick Krall said. "It's a good first step to improving our starting staff. And with what he brings to the table, it's the overall package of him being that middle rotation guy."

The Reds have only one season of club control over Roark, who is arbitration-eligible and projected to earn $9.8 million, according to MLBTradeRumors.com

But the financial commitment to Roark isn't that significant, and coupled with a commitment to raise payroll from the $101 million it was in 2018, there is more money that can be spent.

"We still have some room to operate and get players that we want to acquire and make our roster better," Krall said.

Cincinnati would still like to add a top-of-the-rotation starter and a center fielder.

"We will be making more moves, we fully anticipate," Williams said. "We've been pretty clear about adding multiple starters. We didn't commit that we would have to get two depending on how we mixed and matched. Having one done, it gives us flexibility. We're going to be very active in the starter market still."

Although Rainey was ranked as Cincinnati's No. 23 prospect by MLB Pipeline, the organization did not have to give up much to fill a need. The 25-year-old right-hander debuted in the big leagues last season and had a 24.43 ERA in eight appearances over four callups, allowing 19 earned runs over seven innings (15 of which came in three games). He can touch 100 mph, but has command issues and hasn't developed his secondary pitches. He spent the majority of the season with Triple-A Louisville as a reliever, posting a 2.65 in 44 games.

Once the Nationals signed top free-agent pitcher Patrick Corbin this week, the Reds inquired about Roark.

"It came together real quick here," Williams said.

Roark was surprised that he was traded, but ready to go to a new club.

Video: Tanner Roark discusses being traded to the Reds

"I know they can hit the ball. They have a tough lineup. I know that for sure," Roark said. "And also, I'm excited to go in there and do my thing and just attack, attack, attack.

"No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 [starter], it doesn't matter. After everybody has pitched the first five games, there is no more No. 1, you just keep going. So, I don't care about being the oldest guy, oldest pitcher or starter or whatnot there. ... I'm going to spread my knowledge and learn from these guys and get to know these guys. And I'm excited to get to know them."

Williams and Krall remain involved in talks with other clubs and agents. On Tuesday, it was learned that they spoke to the Braves about center fielder Ender Inciarte and reports had Cincinnati in talks with the Dodgers to acquire right fielder Yasiel Puig and lefty starter Alex Wood.

On Wednesday, reports had the Reds in talks with the Marlins to possibly acquire All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, possibly for catcher Tucker Barnhart and Cincinnati's No. 2 prospect, outfielder Taylor Trammell.

Williams did not disclose the subjects of any trade talks.

"I would say continual progress, continual discussions, continual back and forth. We're still very actively engaged on a number of fronts," Williams said. "We're not on the one-yard line of anything."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Tanner Roark

La Russa doesn't hold back in HOF debate

The weekend election of White Sox legend Harold Baines to the Hall of Fame has sparked plenty of discussion about whether his 22-year career stacks up to the other Cooperstown greats. One of the main topics of these debates has been that he was chosen via a smaller Eras Committee rather than the typical BBWAA ballot. Baines' best showing among the writers was a tiny 6.1% in 2011, but 12 out of the 16 members of the Today's Game Era Committee voted for Baines on Sunday, clinching his spot.

Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa was one of the 12 committee members who voted for Baines, and to defend his vote on Wednesday, he appeared on Chris Russo's "High Heat" program.

Kimbrel reportedly seeking record 9-figure deal

MLB.com

Craig Kimbrel has compiled an impressive resume during his nine seasons in the big leagues, recording a microscopic 1.91 ERA with a 0.92 WHIP, 333 saves and a 14.7 K/9 rate, and he should be a coveted asset on the free-agent market this offseason.

Below you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the right-hander.

Craig Kimbrel has compiled an impressive resume during his nine seasons in the big leagues, recording a microscopic 1.91 ERA with a 0.92 WHIP, 333 saves and a 14.7 K/9 rate, and he should be a coveted asset on the free-agent market this offseason.

Below you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the right-hander.

Kimbrel reportedly seeking record 9-figure deal
Dec. 12: Craig Kimbrel's agent, David Meter, has touted his client's resume as being comparable to those of the all-time great closers, and the right-hander could be seeking a record-breaking deal for a relief pitcher.

Jayson Stark of The Athletic reported Wednesday night that he's heard from executives from two clubs that Kimbrel is shooting for a contract valued at more than $100 million for six years. That would exceed the five-year, $86 million contract Aroldis Chapman signed with the Yankees after the 2016 -- the record for a reliever. The Rockies' Wade Davis owns the record for average annual value at $17.3 million, but over three years.

Tweet from @jaysonst: I've heard execs from 2 teams say this week that Craig Kimbrel is looking for a deal north of $100 million for 6 years. He's one of the greatest closers of all time. But is there a record deal out there for him? Hard to say in a bullpen market that has barely moved.

It's unclear if any club would be willing to approach a nine-figurer number, and Stark points out the relief market is difficult to evaluate with minimal activity at the position to date. 

MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi suggested Tuesday a more plausible result is Kimbrel inking a four-year deal exceeding Davis' annual value. Also factoring into Kimbrel's value? He will cost the team that signs him a Draft pick after he declined the Red Sox's qualifying offer.

Kimbrel signing with Phils would align with club's offseason agenda
Dec. 11: The Phillies continued what many anticipate will remain an active offseason on Tuesday by signing veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen to three-year, $50 million deal, MLB.com has learned. Could Kimbrel be the club's next prized acquisition? MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi speculated so as one of five major moves that could come before the Winter Meetings conclude this week in Las Vegas.

Morosi writes that the "McCutchen contract is only the start of the Phillies' offseason spending." The club has long been linked to both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, but one of their most prominent needs is for a high-leverage reliever. Phillies relievers last year were worth 4.1 WAR, per FanGraphs, and posted a 4.19 ERA, which ranked 11th and 18th, respectively.

Morosi argues that Kimbrel has the best adjusted ERA of any pitcher in baseball over the last decade among those who've compiled at least 400 innings.

"Perhaps that is the rationale for Kimbrel's reported request of a six-year deal. A more plausible outcome is a four-year contract that surpasses Wade Davis' $17.3 million average annual value, a record among closers," Morosi writes.

The Phils also remain "very aggressive" on All-Star reliever Zach Britton, per MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.

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.

Video: Dombrowski on possibility of re-signing Kimbrel

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.

What to expect of Kimbrel's future
Dec. 7: Kimbrel is said to be seeking a long-term deal for as many as six years this offseason, but at age 30 and coming off a postseason in which he struggled, teams may be reluctant to commit that many years to the veteran closer.

MLB.com's Andrew Simon looked to the past performance of similar players to try to predict what the next six years may look like for Kimbrel, whose 333 career saves rank first all-time for a pitcher through his age-30 season.

The piece narrowed the comparison down to a dozen pitchers who had at least 150 saves and a 130 ERA+ through age 30. Attrition began for most of the pitchers at age 32, where the average ERA jumped from 2.40 to 3.13 for the group, and by age 35, several of the pitchers were out of baseball or barely pitching.

Despite that, Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera and Billy Wagner provide an excellent blueprint as each remained a top closer through age 36, and at least half the group contributed four or more strong seasons.

"Kimbrel has been better at his job through age 30 than anyone, but that doesn't make him immune from the ever-present threat of injuries that could knock him out of action and erode the quality of his stuff," Simon writes. "Still, history suggests that the club that signs him this winter would have reason to hope for a solid return on investment, if health allows." More >

Are Red Sox out on Kimbrel?
Dec. 6: News that Boston is bringing back right-hander Nathan Eovaldi impacts the market for Craig Kimbrel, because the Red Sox also had been lined up for a possible reunion with the All-Star closer. That may no longer be the case.

MLB.com's Ian Browne explores whether the Red Sox faced an either-or scenario with Kimbrel and Eovaldi this offseason.

"Of course, the Red Sox would love to have Kimbrel back, but it sounds like the cost could be prohibitive," Browne writes. "I just don't think the Red Sox have the budget for both Eovaldi and Kimbrel. They are likely going to have to pick one or the other. Don't forget that there are some star players on the team who are going to need to be paid within the next year or two if Boston wants to keep them, including Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts and possibly J.D. Martinez. By signing both Kimbrel and Eovaldi, you wouldn't be leaving yourself much financial flexibility going forward."

Kimbrel's free agency already has become a fascinating case, as many believe he is holding up the reliever market as MassLive.com's Chris Cotillo notes -- by being the top available late-inning arm and by reportedly floating an asking price of a six-year deal. "Kimbrel is unquestionably the top reliever this winter and will land the largest contract," Cotillo writes. "Even if he doesn't land the six-year deal he reportedly desires, he's drawing strong interest, with teams like the Phillies, Braves and Cardinals."

Bowden: Red Sox should re-sign Kimbrel
Dec. 5: The Red Sox were rumored to be closing in on bringing back one member of their pitching staff Wednesday with talks reportedly progressing with free agent Nathan Eovaldi. Another elite arm from their 2018 staff is still available in Craig Kimbrel, whom former Reds and Nationals general manager Jim Bownden lists among the transactions he'd like to see come to fruition before Winter Meetings end next week in a column for The Athletic (subscription required).

Bowden says if the Red Sox can sign Kimbrel to a reasonable deal "somewhere between what the Rockies paid Wade Davis and the Dodgers paid Kenley Jansen, they should get the deal done."

Closers of Kimbrel's talent and resume aren't readily available via free agency and trades, especially now that Edwin Diaz was dealt to the Mets, and Bowden says the defending champions won't be the same team without an "impact closer" in 2019.

Kimbrel, 30, has spent the past three years in Boston after the Red Sox acquired him in an offseason trade prior to the 2016 season. The seven-time All-Star posted a 2.74 ERA with 42 saves in the regular season, but stumbled in the playoffs. He allowed seven earned runs in 10 2/3 innings (5.91 ERA) despite converting all seven of his save opportunities during Boston's title run. 

Why Kimbrel's market may take time to develop
Dec. 4: There are three key factors at play when it comes to Craig Kimbrel's free agency. One: He's the most accomplished and established reliever on the open market. Two: Despite being tied to Draft-pick compensation after declining the Red Sox's qualifying offer, he's reportedly seeking a whopping six-year contract. And three: There are a number of other late-inning arms for teams seeking bullpen help to consider.

Add it all up, and how does that affect Kimbrel? ESPN's Buster Olney looks at how the relief market could play out (subscription required): "The sheer volume of options could work against Kimbrel, so it may take some time for his situation to play out -- and the other prime relievers might have to wait for Kimbrel to set the top of the market," Olney writes. "It's possible that some clubs will work to move on and land the best of those relievers not named Kimbrel."

Among the other top names are Andrew Miller, Zach Britton, David Robertson, Adam Ottavino, Jeurys Familia, Joakim Soria and Cody Allen. To name just a handful or so.

Given those options, the question with Kimbrel becomes whether he will sign earlier than most relievers to help set the top end of the market ... or have to wait for a number of the aforementioned arms to get their deals first in order to see the supply dip and the demand spike. Considering Kimbrel's lofty asking price, the latter would seem more likely.

Despite acquisitions of Nicasio and Pazos, Phils could still pursue Kimbrel
Dec. 3: The Phillies' offseason could be just beginning with Monday's trade with the Mariners that was headlined by the acquisition of infielder Jean Segura but also relievers Juan Nicasio and James Pazos. That doesn't mean the club won't continue to be aggressive in bolstering its bullpen with a top-end free-agent reliever -- such as Kimbrel -- according to The Athletic's Jayson Stark. MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported last month that the Phils were interested in the seven-time All-Star. 

Tweet from @jaysonst: Even though the #Phillies added 2 relievers today (Nicasio, Pazos), there's no indication it would stop them from pursuing a 9th-inning bullpen option a la Kimbrel/Miller/Britton/possibly David Robertson.What's more likely is, it frees them to include Hunter or Neshek in a deal

Stark lists Kimbrel, Andrew Miller, Zach Britton and David Robertson as potential Phillies targets -- all of whom have been linked to the club this offseason. Monday's acquisitions could also position the Phils to trade relievers Pat Neshek and/or Tommy Hunter to help acquire pieces they need elsewhere, which would only become more apparent should they sign a top reliever.

With owner John Middleton saying the club is prepared to spend aggressively and with general manager Matt Klentak loosely suggesting interest in Manny Machado, Bryce Harper and Patrick Corbin publicly, the team's needs in the bullpen haven't been as prominently illuminated. Phillies relievers last year were worth 4.1 WAR, per FanGraphs, and posted a 4.19 ERA, which ranked 11th and 18th, respectively. Fortifying their backend could be just as pivotal for the Phils as making the offensive upgrades they aspire to. 

A left-handed target would appear to be more logical, given the club is carrying a freight of righties currently, and Kimbrel, who is reportedly seeking a six-year deal, figures to be the most expensive free-agent reliever. Depending on how they allocate their free-agent budget elsewhere, Kimbrel's price range could be steep. 

Will Kimbrel's desire for six-year deal hinder his market?
Dec. 2: Based on the contracts teams have given elite closers over the past few years, Craig Kimbrel is poised to cash in this offseason. But the deal he's reportedly seeking would put him in unprecedented territory. According to ESPN's Buster Olney, Kimbrel's initial ask is for a six-year contract.

Tweet from @Buster_ESPN: Teams being told that in initial ask, All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel is looking for a six-year deal.

Even if he has to take a lower average annual value in exchange for a longer contract, a six-year pact still likely would make him the highest paid reliever in MLB history. Aroldis Chapman holds that distinction, having signed a five-year, $86 million contract with the Yankees after the 2016 season. Kenley Jansen isn't far behind, as he landed a five-year, $80 million deal from the Dodgers during the same offseason. Wade Davis holds the reliever record for average annual value at $17.3 million, though his deal with the Rockies is for only three years.

Jeff Joyce of MLB Network Radio doesn't think any team will be willing to meet Kimbrel's demands, or even come close.

"I don't even think he's gonna get a five-year deal like Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman got a couple of years ago," Joyce said. "Maybe a four-year deal. … I personally am not giving him a four-year deal for $60 [million] or $70 million, and I don't know who out there would, when you look at it, and especially when you've got guys like [Adam] Ottavino and [Zach] Britton and [Andrew] Miller and [Jeurys] Familia and [David] Robertson.

"I get it that Britton and Miller might not be what they were a couple of years ago, but I think teams would probably take chances on guys before giving [Kimbrel] this huge contract."

Tweet from @MLBNetworkRadio: Reports are that Craig Kimbrel wants a six-year deal. Jeff Joyce says no way he gets that many years. pic.twitter.com/iIsVFSvrby

In any case, Kimbrel's initial demands might make it unlikely he'll reunite with the Red Sox or the Braves. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports for Fancred Sports that, "The Red Sox want Kimbrel back but suggest they won't go five years for a reliever" -- let alone six. And while many consider Atlanta to be the favorite to sign Kimbrel, general mananger Alex Anthopoulos has made it clear the club may not have the financial resources to do so.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Alex Anthopoulos spoke of how Craig Kimbrel (a free agent) is rightly beloved in Atlanta, but he also cautioned that the #Braves may not have the budget to invest in a high-end closer. @MLBNetwork @MLB

Craig Kimbrel

Sources: Familia agrees to return to Mets

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

LAS VEGAS -- Raised from his teenage years in the Mets organization, Jeurys Familia has long professed his love for the city and the team. He now has plenty of time to grow reacquainted. To fortify their bullpen, the Mets reacquired one of their own late Wednesday night, signing Familia to a three-year contract worth $30 million, according to multiple sources.

The Mets have not confirmed the agreement.

LAS VEGAS -- Raised from his teenage years in the Mets organization, Jeurys Familia has long professed his love for the city and the team. He now has plenty of time to grow reacquainted. To fortify their bullpen, the Mets reacquired one of their own late Wednesday night, signing Familia to a three-year contract worth $30 million, according to multiple sources.

The Mets have not confirmed the agreement.

In Familia, the Mets have a potentially dynamic setup man to pair with Edwin Diaz, their newly acquired closer. The Mets' primary ninth-inning option from 2015-18, Familia set the Mets' single-season saves record with 51 in 2016, also earning a trip to the All-Star Game. But Familia's time in New York was not without its warts; he blew three saves in four World Series appearances in 2015, and he was suspended 15 games for violating Major League Baseball's joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy in 2017.

Video: Familia agrees to 3-year deal to return to Mets

Familia also missed much of the 2017 season after undergoing surgery to repair an arterial clot in his right shoulder, but he returned to post a 2.88 ERA in 40 appearances for them last year. With the Mets out of contention in July, the team shipped Familia to Oakland for a pair of prospects, third baseman Will Toffey and reliever Bobby Wahl, plus $1 million in international bonus pool money.

Overall, Familia owns a 2.73 ERA in seven seasons. His 123 saves with the Mets rank third in franchise history, trailing John Franco (276) and Armando Benitez (160).

Now 29 years old, Familia is primed become a cog of the Mets' bullpen once more. He, Diaz, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman are locks for the 2019 bullpen, and the Mets are still searching for a left-handed option to complement them. They have shown interest in free agent Andrew Miller, whom manager Mickey Callaway coached in Cleveland, though plenty of cheaper options also exist on the market. Earlier this month, the Mets received Diaz and Robinson Cano in a seven-player deal with the Mariners.

No matter whom else they acquire, the Mets will flesh out their bullpen with some combination of youngsters, including Tyler Bashlor, Eric Hanhold, Tim Peterson, Paul Sewald, Drew Smith, Bobby Wahl and Daniel Zamora. Their hope is to transform a bullpen that ranked 28th in MLB last season with a 4.96 ERA.

Video: Familia reportedly returns to the Mets on 3-year deal

For Familia, the deal is also a homecoming. Signing with the Mets as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, Familia rapidly developed into one of the organization's best starting-pitching prospects alongside Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. Shortly after the Mets converted him to relief in 2012, Familia broke into the Majors, becoming their closer two years later. He made his home in New Jersey and has spoken warmly of his love for New York, where he became one of baseball's best relievers.

Since 2015, Familia ranks sixth in MLB with 118 saves, though Callaway left little doubt this week as to his intentions for the ninth inning.

"Diaz is going to be our closer, for several reasons," Callaway said. "He had great success in that role last year. I would hate to take him out of that role."

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

New York Mets, Jeurys Familia

Source: Dodgers to add reliever Kelly

MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers bolstered their bullpen late Wednesday night by reaching an agreement with free-agent right-handed reliever Joe Kelly on a three-year, $25 million deal, pending a physical exam, a source confirmed to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

The club did not confirm the report.

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers bolstered their bullpen late Wednesday night by reaching an agreement with free-agent right-handed reliever Joe Kelly on a three-year, $25 million deal, pending a physical exam, a source confirmed to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

The club did not confirm the report.

Kelly, 30, is a Southern California native who helped the Red Sox beat the Dodgers in the World Series in October. In the regular season, he was 4-2 with a 4.39 ERA and 1.355 WHIP. He appeared in 73 games, fourth in the American League. Boston acquired him from the Cardinals in a midseason trade in 2014.

Against the Dodgers in the World Series, Kelly appeared in all five games, pitching six scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts. Kelly allowed one run in 11 1/3 postseason innings. He relies on a fastball that averaged 98.1 mph last season.

The Dodgers see Kelly as the latest candidate to help fill the traditional setup role for closer Kenley Jansen. He will be the first outside free-agent reliever the Dodgers have signed to a three-year contract.

Kelly has only two Major League saves, but he provides an additional bullpen arm to start the season with Jansen coming off a second heart procedure last month. Jansen, who is expected to be healthy for the start of Spring Training, has an opt-out from his contract after the 2019 season.

A year ago, the Dodgers signed another converted starting pitcher, Tom Koehler, to help be a bullpen bridge to Jansen, but he blew out his shoulder in Spring Training and never pitched for the Dodgers. The setup role fell to a committee that included Pedro Baez, Scott Alexander, Dylan Floro, Ryan Madson, JT Chargois and Josh Fields.

Dodgers fans might remember Kelly as a St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher whose 2013 pitch broke the ribs of Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez and changed the trajectory of the 2013 National League Championship Series. He has been primarily a reliever since returning from a right shoulder impingement in 2016.

Kelly is among the first few relievers to sign out of a slow-moving bullpen market. A number of teams were rumored to be interested in him, including the Red Sox, especially now that it appears they won't be bringing back closer Craig Kimbrel.

In 2018, Kelly was suspended for six games for hitting Yankees Tyler Austin with an apparently retaliatory pitch and triggering a bench-clearing brawl. During the suspension he watched one game from the bleachers at Fenway Park.

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

Los Angeles Dodgers, Joe Kelly

Rumors: Keuchel, Harper, Puig, Machado

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

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

Free agents, by position
Free agents, by team 

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

Free agents, by position
Free agents, by team 

After active day, the top name among free-agent starting pitchers is ...
Dec. 12: The market for starting pitchers took off on Day 3 of the Winter Meetings.

First came reports that lefty J.A. Happ was close to a three-year deal to return to the Yankees. Then there was news of Charlie Morton agreeing to a two-year pact with the Rays. Next? Fellow righty Lance Lynn landed a reported three-year contract from the Rangers. And soon thereafter, the Reds acquired right-hander Tanner Roark in a trade with the Nationals. Got all that?

That's a lot of action -- and a lot of pretty big starting pitcher names more or less off the board -- in a very short amount of time. On the heels of Patrick Corbin signing for $140 million with the Nationals and Nathan Eovaldi getting $68 million to stay with the Red Sox, it's time to recalibrate and reevaluate what's left.

Feinsand: For starters, these 4 could upgrade any rotation

For starters, one name now sticks out as the top pitcher available in free agency: Dallas Keuchel.

Gio Gonzalez, Matt Harvey, Anibal Sanchez, Trevor Cahill and Wade Miley now represent some of the better options among starters in free agency. Japanese lefty Yusei Kikuchi -- who has until Jan. 2 to sign a deal with a Major League team after being posted by the Seibu Lions earlier this month -- is the other intriguing option in play, as the 27-year-old might possess the most upside (and also the most uncertainty) of the bunch.

While all of the above can be capable rotation options, none has the same combination of age, durability and proven performance that the soon-to-be 31-year-old Keuchel offers. That should be a very good thing for the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner, who owns a 3.28 ERA while pitching 950 1/3 innings over his past five seasons.

Put simply: While there's no shortage of trade candidates, including Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Madison Bumgarner and others, if a team wants to land a free-agent starter who can pitch at or near the top of a rotation, that list pretty much boils down to Keuchel.

"Now, I think you get into some of the guys like Keuchel, like Kikuchi -- they're the guys who we're going to see [get] longer-term [deals]," MLB Network analyst Jim Duquette said Wednesday evening at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. "Talking to Scott Boras, who represents both of them, he seemed to indicate there were several teams willing to give them four or five years."

The Phillies, Braves, Brewers, Reds and Angels are among the teams that have been linked to and/or could be fits for the left-hander, who appears to be in a strong position to command a big-money, multi-year deal from clubs that have missed out on other starters on the open market so far.

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

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

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

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

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

Video: Scott Boras discusses the market for Bryce Harper

Feinsand: Dodgers 'actively trying' to trade Puig and/or Kemp, among others
Dec. 12: 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.

Los Angeles is prepared to move starters Rich Hill and Alex Wood as well as two outfielders, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.

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 for Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, specifically, the Dodgers are "actively trying" to move one or both of them, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

Tweet from @Feinsand: According to a source, the Dodgers are actively trying to trade Yasiel Puig and/or Matt Kemp.

That echoes what MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal is hearing, particularly the part about Puig being discussed, and in this case with the Reds. While Rosenthal doesn't mention a possible target in the Dodgers' talks with Cincy, second baseman Scooter Gennett could be in play because of L.A.'s need at that spot.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: #Dodgers, #Reds have talked multiple times, sources tell The Athletic. Different packages being discussed; Puig in play as well as other LAD outfielders, pitchers. Dodgers want to clear money for other pursuits. Puig projected $11.3M in arb, per @mlbtraderumors, Alex Wood $9M.

The Dodgers have also had discussions with the Cardinals about Jose Martinez, per Rosenthal, with a creative plan to potentially move Martinez to first base and have Max Muncy play second and Bellinger play center field. 

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: This one is a surprise. #Dodgers talking to #STLCards about Jose Martinez, sources tell The Athletic. LAD could play the defensively challenged Martinez at first base, with Muncy at second and Bellinger in center.

As far as other 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.

Cody Bellinger was among the outfielders Olney mentioned as being available for trade, but a source from a rival team got the sense that the Dodgers aren't open to that idea, per MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Impression from a rival about the Dodgers: ���Any of their guys are in play except Buehler and Bellinger.��� (My add: we���ll assume Kershaw, Turner, Seager and Jansen probably aren���t going anywhere either).

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?"

Does Machado have a preferred landing spot?
Dec. 12: There's been no shortage of speculation about which teams are in on free-agent star Manny Machado. It's been reported he's due to meet with the Phillies, the White Sox and the Yankees. Oh, and at least three mystery clubs, too.

While teams continue to woo Machado, perhaps it's worth considering this process from his point of view, too. Does Machado have a preference for where he winds up?

"Manny Machado's first choice is the New York Yankees," CBS Sports Network analyst and former big league general manager Jim Bowden said Wednesday evening. "So if the Yankees come to the table ... and are willing to compete financially for his services, they will be the team that gets Manny Machado."

Tweet from @CBSSportsNet: ���Manny Machado���s first choice is the New York Yankees.���If the Yankees are willing to meet Machado���s price tag, @JimBowdenGM tells @AdamSchein he will be wearing pinstripes. #T2S pic.twitter.com/rLwUfByWj5

The Yankees certainly have the resources to go after Machado, who is expected to score a contract that could rival that of Bryce Harper's this offseason (read: north of $300 million over 10 years). The question, then, might be how badly general manager Brian Cashman and the rest of the club's front office and ownership want Machado.

While owner Hal Steinbrenner said last month he took issue with Machado's lack of hustle in the postseason, multiple reports have indicated Cashman indeed is interested in finding a way to make this fit. There are ways to make that happen, between the immediate need for a shortstop with Didi Gregorius due to miss a chunk of 2019 after Tommy John surgery and the possibility the Yankees could dangle young third baseman Miguel Andujar.

Tweet from @JackCurryYES: Cashman said Yankees haven���t met w/ Machado or any free agents yet. But if they advance to having serious discussions w/ Machado, Cashman noted how Hal Steinbrenner has already said he���d want to have a sit down w/ the player and discuss what was said in October.

Machado just might be envisioning himself in pinstripes? But do the Yankees see that, as well?

Kimbrel reportedly seeking record 9-figure deal
Dec. 12: Craig Kimbrel's agent, David Meter, has touted his client's resume as being comparable to those of the all-time great closers, and the right-hander could be seeking a record-breaking deal for a relief pitcher.

Jayson Stark of The Athletic reported Wednesday night that he's heard from executives from two clubs that Kimbrel is shooting for a contract valued at more than $100 million for six years. That would exceed the five-year, $86 million contract Aroldis Chapman signed with the Yankees after the 2016 -- the record for a reliever. The Rockies' Wade Davis owns the record for average annual value at $17.3 million, but over three years.

Tweet from @jaysonst: I've heard execs from 2 teams say this week that Craig Kimbrel is looking for a deal north of $100 million for 6 years. He's one of the greatest closers of all time. But is there a record deal out there for him? Hard to say in a bullpen market that has barely moved.

It's unclear if any club would be willing to approach a nine-figurer number, and Stark points out the relief market is difficult to evaluate with minimal activity at the position to date. 

MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi suggested Tuesday a more plausible result is Kimbrel inking a four-year deal exceeding Davis' annual value. Also factoring into Kimbrel's value? He will cost the team that signs him a Draft pick after he declined the Red Sox's qualifying offer.

Kikuchi unlikely to sign until late December
Dec. 12: Those hoping for a resolution to Yusei Kikuchi's free agency will have to wait. The Japanese left-hander won't be signing anywhere soon, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman.

Kikuchi will meet with the many interested teams in Los Angeles later this month, per Schulman. Kikuchi has until Jan. 2 to sign with a Major League team after he was posted by the Seibu Lions earlier this month.

Tweet from @hankschulman: Yusei Kikuchi is not going to sign soon. Scott Boras said the Japanese left-hander will meet with interested teams ��� and there are lots ��� to make their pitches in LA later this month. #sfgiants expected there.

The club that signs him must pay a release fee to the Lions based on the guaranteed value of his MLB contract, beginning with 20 percent of the first $25 million and continuing with 17.5 percent of the next $25 million and 15 percent of any amount beyond $50 million. Additionally, the Lions could also receive a 15 percent supplemental fee for bonuses, salary escalators or options.

Gonzalez among candidates for Padres infield
Dec. 12: The Padres are in need of a short-term solution at shortstop to bridge the gap to top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., preferably a utility man who can contribute across the infield after Tatis debuts.

MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal named a list of candidates Wednesday: free-agent Daniel Descalso, the D-backs' Nick Ahmed and the Rangers' Jurickson Profar. The Athletic's Dennis Lin added free-agent Marwin Gonzalez to the mix. 

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: Per @dennistlin, #Padres also have interest in free agent Marwin Gonzalez, who would be the best - and most expensive - of this group. https://t.co/KRhSQZxOQv

Gonzalez would be the most costly option, but is perhaps the best player of that group. Rosenthal points out Ahmed has ties to Padres manager Andy Green, who was the third-base coach in Arizona b