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
Would Phillies splurge on Kimbrel?
Dec. 14: The Phillies have money to spend. We know this. Heck, their owner himself even said they might be a little "stupid" about it. That has led to most people in and around the baseball world expecting said money to go toward a pursuit of Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado. But could those funds make the Phillies a match for someone else instead?
Like, say, Craig Kimbrel?
In an all-encompassing look at where the market stands after the Winter Meetings, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand lists the Phillies as his "potential fit" for Kimbrel.
"The star closer is reportedly seeking a six-year deal worth more than $100 million, which would blow away the previous record of five years and $86 million signed by Aroldis Chapman two years ago," Feinsand writes. "Several executives cast doubt that Kimbrel will be able to score that type of contract, though he could get five years and upwards of $75 million. The Red Sox have been viewed as having moved on from their closer, but they remain a potential landing spot along with the Braves, Phillies and Cardinals."
Given Kimbrel's unprecendented asking price and the Phillies' financial resources -- not to mention, their need for a proven veteran presence to solidify the back end of a promising but very young bullpen -- maybe the two sides make sense as a match. Plus, with all the money the Phillies could spend this winter, it's not as if approaching nine figures for one of the sport's best closers would preclude them from still signing Harper or Machado.
Nats 'leery' of signing Keuchel long term
Dec. 14: After shelling out $140 million and committing six years to Patrick Corbin, the Nationals have some apprehension about dishing out another long-term deal in the starting pitching market -- specifically for Dallas Keuchel, according to Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports.
Keuchel is believed to be seeking a deal in the four- to six-year range, and many analysts predict he will get it. The Nats likely won't be willing to commit that length to the left-hander, per Zuckerman.
Washington was one of just two clubs last year (with the Red Sox) to exceed the Competitive Balance Tax. Should it again exceed that mark, set for $206 million in 2019, the penalty will rise to the maximum of 50 percent. The club already has committed $525 million to its top three starters -- Corbin, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg -- over separate deals.
Though they could feature arguably the best 1-2-3 punch in the Majors, the Nats' fourth and fifth starter spots are uncertain, particularly after they traded Tanner Roark to the Reds on Wednesday. The Nats have been linked to Keuchel this offseason, more so before they signed Corbin, but there might be more affordable avenues for them to continue to upgrade the back end of their rotation.
Is there a new team in the mix for Realmuto?
Dec. 14: What, you thought just because the Winter Meetings were over the J.T. Realmuto rumors would stop?
The latest indicates the Brewers could be "a legit player" for the Marlins' All-Star backstop, according to longtime writer Jerry Crasnick, who cites a baseball source saying, "I know they've inquired ... I think they'll quietly creep into this." One thing to consider here: Would the Marlins be hesitant to deal with the Brewers again after acquiring a package of prospects from them last year for Christian Yelich, who went on to win National League MVP?
That could mean there's a new team in the mix for Realmuto after reports Thursday suggested the market was down to these six clubs: the Mets, Reds, Braves, Rays, Dodgers and Padres. From that list, Crasnick's baseball executive source also brought up the latter two, pointing out that they could be fits in particular "because they both have catching prospects to send to Miami: Keibert Ruiz in LA, and Francisco Mejia in SD."
In fact, Mejia and Ruiz are two of the very best catching prospects in baseball. Mejia -- who the Padres acquired from the Indians at the Trade Deadline for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber -- is ranked No. 2 at the position by MLB Pipeline, while Ruiz checks in at No. 3.
This also raises the question of whether the Marlins would prefer to acquire a backstop as part of a return in a potential Realmuto trade, a topic MLB.com's Joe Frisaro explores. Given the club's lack of a capable starter behind Realmuto, the Marlins could struggle to fill the spot otherwise.
Why Brantley to Braves still makes a lot of sense
Dec. 14: The Braves made the first big free-agent splash of the offseason by signing Josh Donaldson to a one-year, $23 million contract last month, but they've been pretty quiet since then. Will that change?
MLB.com's Richard Justice lists Atlanta as one of his seven teams most likely to make the next big move. In a lot of divisions in baseball, landing Donaldson and catcher Brian McCann in short order, as the Braves did, would be enough for a reigning division champ. But as Justice writes: "In the National League East arms race, it's not enough. So GM Alex Anthopoulos is still thinking big in his pursuit of a corner outfielder, a top-of-the-rotation starter and possibly a reliever."
It's possible the Braves could make a play for Dallas Keuchel to fit near the top of their rotation or sign Zach Britton to fortify the back of their bullpen. But Justice also mentions Michael Brantley, who has been linked aplenty to Atlanta this offseason, as a name for them to consider for corner outfield -- and out of those three players, he might provide the best bang for the buck.
As the top name left on the open market among starters, it's expected Keuchel will score a four- or five-year deal worth upward of $15 million to $20 million per season, which likely would be out of the Braves' price range. Britton will come cheaper than that, but perhaps Atlanta would prefer to spend a similar amount on an everyday outfielder, especially after the division-rival Phillies just added one of their own in Andrew McCutchen.
After all, someone has to replace free agent Nick Markakis' offense and veteran presence. Brantley -- with his elite contact ability and penchant for compiling good at-bats -- could prove valuable for Atlanta, which boasted a potent, yet often impatient, young lineup in 2018.
2B market is starting to move
Dec. 14: Second base is one of the more well-stocked positions in free agency this offseason, but it seems to be starting to roll at long last.
Ian Kinsler and the Padres agreed to a two-year, $8 million deal (with a team option for 2021) on Friday afternoon, sources told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi. He's expected to provide some stability and depth in the infield, while San Diego allows youngsters Fernando Tatis and Jr. Luis Urias -- MLB Pipeline's Nos. 2 and 27 overall prospects, respectively -- to break into the bigs at a comfortable pace.
Meanwhile, the Cubs and Cardinals are pursuing another veteran in Daniel Descalso -- a versatile infielder who saw most of his action at the keystone with the D-backs the past two years and is coming off a career campaign in 2018 -- according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal and USA Today's Bob Nightengale.
This comes on the heels of the Twins recently landing Jonathan Schoop as a bounceback candidate to handle second base in Minnesota.
A number of quality starting players at the position remain on the open market, including Jed Lowrie, DJ LeMahieu, Daniel Murphy, Brian Dozier and Asdrubal Cabrera. With action starting to happen here, it's possible some of the bigger names soon will look to lock in their own deals to avoid falling behind in a plentiful market where the supply appears to outweigh the demand.
Justice: Astros should target Cruz
Dec. 14: The prevailing thought with regard to Nelson Cruz is that his market is limited by two very key factors. One, he's pretty much a full-time designated hitter at this stage of his career, so it's almost a certainty that only American League teams would be in play. And two, he's 38, so it's more likely that contending clubs would be interested, since he could fit their window to win now.
The first reason above is why just about every Cruz-related rumor so far has linked him to teams like the Rangers, White Sox, Twins, Rays and Astros. The second reason above is why the Rays and Astros -- two teams certainly ready to contend right away in 2019 -- might make the most sense of all.
In his post-Winter Meetings rundown of seven clubs most likely to make the next big move, MLB.com's Richard Justice picks the Astros as perhaps the best fit for Cruz, citing their need for a designated hitter (in addition to rotation help).
As it stands now, Houston would enter next year with Tyler White as arguably its leading internal candidate to DH. While he had an impressive late-2018 showing (.879 OPS across August and September), Cruz's power -- he has averaged over 40 homers with a 145 OPS+ the past five seasons -- would provide an upgrade to a lineup that was still good last year but took a step back after a historic '17.
Would Machado return to 3B if price is right?
Dec. 13: Manny Machado spent the past year making it abundantly clear that he prefers playing shortstop. It's why he moved last offseason from third base, where he played the vast majority of the first six seasons in the Major Leagues, to short -- his natural position, the one at which he was drafted back in 2010.
But now that he's a free agent and various teams courting him have different needs on the left side of their infields, would Machado consider moving back to the hot corner? Is it a matter of finding the right fit? The right team? The most amount of money?
"Manny's mindset is to be a shortstop," Machado's longtime coach and baseball mentor Bobby Dickerson told Scott Lauber of Philly.com. "He really wants to play short. But I do think for the correct team in the correct situation and the right contract, all those things, he'd be willing to play third. I don't know this, but I believe it."
After emerging as one of the elite defensive third basemen in the sport early in his career, Machado's performance at short came into question at times in 2018, particularly before he was traded to the Dodgers from the Orioles.
That could mean certain suitors might be wary of how he'd handle the position going forward, especially as the 26-year-old heads toward his late 20s and into his 30s. Given their current rosters, it's possible the Phillies, Yankees and White Sox -- the three known clubs with which Machado is expected to meet, among other mystery teams -- would prefer to deploy him at third.
Asked specifically about whether he thinks Machado would play third base for the Phillies in the wake of their recent acquisition of shortstop Jean Segura, Dickerson offered: "I think if the contract is right, he would. It may have to go an extra five million, or more, or whatever to get him out of [shortstop]. But if the contract is right, I think he would go to third."
The 'Updated Harper Destination Power Rankings'
Dec. 13: If you were hoping there'd be some resolution to the Bryce Harper sweepstakes by the end of the Winter Meetings -- you know, since they were held in his hometown of Las Vegas this year -- well, sorry to disappoint.
While the superstar outfielder isn't going to be signing before all the managers and front-office executives depart, that doesn't mean no headway was made on the Harper front. Plus, the baseball world still will be plenty focused on Harper -- as well as his chief competitor for a record-setting contract, Manny Machado -- as we hurtle toward the holiday season.
That in mind, here are the latest "Harper Destination Power Rankings," courtesy of MLB.com's Will Leitch.
The Phillies remain atop the list because they "seem absolutely committed to get one of the two superstars on the market," Leitch writes.
The next two teams? That would be the Dodgers and Yankees, neither of whom has much space in their loaded outfields -- at least, not at the moment. But given the resources, spending power and World-Series-title-or-bust goal, both franchises simply cannot be ruled out.
If there's one dark horse in the chase for Harper, it's the White Sox, who Leitch ranks fourth, stating they "might be the most perfect fit in all of baseball for Harper. Their cascades of young talent will be reaching the Majors in the next few years, right as Harper is in his prime. He'll be surrounded by hyper-talented, cost-controlled stars for the next five or six years, in a division that the White Sox could rule well into the next decade."
So ... what's it gonna be, Bryce?
These six teams are in on Realmuto
Dec. 13: The Winter Meetings have wrapped up, and J.T. Realmuto is still a Marlins player. The club, however, appears to have made a lot of headway in terms of fully fleshing out the trade market for its All-Star catcher.
The field is "essentially down to six teams," according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald: the Reds, Rays, Braves, Dodgers, Padres and Mets, the latter of which have been most aggressive in their pursuit of Realmuto under new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.
Earlier in the week, Realmuto became the hottest topic in Las Vegas as reports surfaced that the Marlins, Mets and Yankees were discussing a three-team blockbuster that would send Realmuto to Queens and Noah Syndergaard to the Bronx. While that appears to have fizzled, the Mets are continuing to be creative and approach the Marlins by trying to work in a third club to make progress toward a deal.
One such scenario involves the Padres, as MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported.
That's similar to what Andy Martino of SNY has been hearing -- a swap in which the Mets get Realmuto, the Padres land Syndergaard and the Marlins pick up prospects to help their rebuilding process.
It's important to note that while these Mets-Marlins-Padres talks are active and ongoing, nothing is especially close, according to both Rosenthal and Martino.
In the meantime, other teams certainly will be looking to wedge their way into the picture for Realmuto, who may be baseball's best all-around backstop. While the Marlins have been patient and don't need to trade the 27-year-old, who is under club control for two more years, at this point it would be surprising if Realmuto is not moved some time soon.
Video: Michael Hill on Winter Meetings, market for Realmuto
Relief market starting to move without Kimbrel
Dec. 13: It took until the wee hours of the final night of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, but it looks like the market for relief pitchers has started to move -- finally.
Jeurys Familia has agreed to a three-year deal to return to the Mets, who traded him to the A's last July, and fellow righty Joe Kelly has departed Boston for his own three-year pact with the Dodgers.
Plenty of big-name, late-inning options remain on the open market, including Andrew Miller, Zach Britton, Adam Ottavino, David Robertson, Cody Allen and Joakim Soria, each of whom has generated some buzz for being linked to a number of teams. The biggest name of them all, however, is Craig Kimbrel, who so far has made news not so much for being connected to clubs but primarily for an exorbitant asking price.
The 30-year-old closer reportedly is seeking not only a six-year deal but also one worth nine figures -- both of which would be unprecedented for a relief pitcher.
There had been some speculation that Kimbrel could hold up other relievers on the open market while he waits to land the highest offer, but with the Mets and Dodgers jumping out from the pack to scoop up Familia and Kelly, respectively, on three-year contracts, it might only be a matter of time before other teams -- and other relievers -- start using those deals as a baseline for finding matches. If that happens, the demand for back-of-the-bullpen help could dry up, leaving Kimbrel facing a tricky market.
Angels' focus behind the plate is on Ramos
Dec. 13: ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports that the Angels, who are looking to add a catcher to team with Jose Briceno and Kevan Smith, have identified Wilson Ramos as their "primary target." Ramos, 31, had strong seasons at the plate in 2016 and '18, being named an All-Star in each campaign. He struggled in an injury-shortened '17 season, in which he was limited to 64 games. Last season, he hit .306/.358/.487 with 15 home runs in 111 games split between the Rays and Phillies.
Nationals prefer Gonzalez over Harrison at second base
Dec. 13: The Nationals have a void to fill at second base for the 2019 season, and according to the Washington Post, they prefer Marwin Gonzalez over Josh Harrison. Gonzalez, 29, is viewed as the most versatile defensive player on the market, as he's played at every position except pitcher and catcher over a seven-year MLB career. Though he had a mediocre season at the plate for the Astros in '18, he's just a season removed from hitting .303/.377/.530 with 23 homers in 134 games for Houston.
Harrison, who has similar positional versatility, had a breakout season in '14, when he posted a 133 OPS+ for the Pirates. But since then, he's hit .274/.319/.396 (92 OPS+).
Are Rays out on Cruz?
Dec. 13: The Rays have been mentioned repeatedly in recent days as one of the teams after free-agent slugger Nelson Cruz for his right-handed power bat. Is that still the case?
Tampa Bay acquired Yandy Diaz from the Indians as part of a three-team deal also involving the Mariners that was completed Thursday afternoon and sent first baseman Carlos Santana to Cleveland and Edwin Encarnacion to Seattle. That could impact the Rays' pursuit of Cruz.
Despite underwhelming slugging numbers in his brief MLB career, Diaz -- unlike Jake Bauers, who the Rays also traded to the Indians in the deal -- is a righty hitter and offers defensive versatility at both corner infield positions.
"The key to this for us is how we feel about Yandy Diaz," Rays senior VP of baseball operations Chaim Bloom said. "He's a guy we've been on for a while. We really like his bat. He hasn't gotten an opportunity to show it regularly at the Major League level, just being blocked by some of the players the Indians have had. But we think there's a lot of upside there. He hits the ball to all fields, hits the ball really, really hard and has the chance to drive the ball more as he continues to mature as a hitter. ... And the fact that he's a right-handed hitter is a really good fit for our roster."
Indeed, the 27-year-old also has shown a knack for making hard contact in his young big league career, suggesting perhaps that he could be a late-blooming power hitter once given regular playing time, which escaped him in Cleveland. To wit, Diaz's average exit velocity of 92.1 mph last season was the 25th highest of all players with at least 50 batted balls in 2018.
If this trade does, in fact, take the Rays out of the running for Cruz, the veteran slugger's most likely destinations would appear to be the Twins, White Sox and possibly the Astros.
Does Machado have a preferred landing spot?
Dec. 13: 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."
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, Cashman has said he's discussed Machado with agent Dan Lozano and 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.
Machado just might be envisioning himself in pinstripes? But do the Yankees see that, as well?
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?"
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.
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.
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.
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 before joining San Diego, and Profar was originally signed by Padres general manager A.J. Preller, who previously worked in the Rangers' front office, in 2009.
Ramos meets with at least three teams
Dec. 12: Free-agent catcher Wilson Ramos is in Las Vegas for the Winter Meetings and has met with the Mets, A's and Brewers, with more meetings possibly to come, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.
The Mets have been aggressively engaged in trade discussions with the Marlins for J.T. Realmuto, but Heyman reports that the club is losing confidence that a deal will get done. As a result, New York seems to be exploring alternatives, including Ramos, Martin Maldonado and Yasmani Grandal.
With Jonathan Lucroy hitting the open market, Oakland is in need of a starting catcher. The A's signed Chris Herrmann on Tuesday, but the 31-year-old has never held a full-time job.
Ramos' camp is said to have sensed "serious interest" from the Brewers, reports MLB.com's Adam McCalvy, though the club is working with some payroll restraints. Ramos would be an upgrade over Milwaukee's catching trio of Manny Pina, Erik Kratz and Jacob Nottingham.
Realmuto's trade market is impacting Grandal
Dec. 12: In case you haven't been paying attention, J.T. Realmuto arguably has been the most headline-making name at the Winter Meetings this week. (If you want the latest on the Marlins' catcher, who could be traded any day now, you can find it here.) Just as important, though, is the impact all of the Realmuto rumors are having on the rest of the backstop market, especially for free agents like Yasmani Grandal, who is at or near the top of those available.
While everyone waits to see what will happen with Realmuto, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo speculates that once that long-awaited saga is decided, the big free agent catchers -- including Grandal and Wilson Ramos, among others -- could start falling into place.
For instance: It's been widely reported the Mets are after Realmuto and may, in fact, be the front-runners to make a swap for him. But if that doesn't happen, they could pivot quickly and target Grandal. "We know how much [Mets GM] Brodie [Van Wagenen] likes Realmuto, but we're starting to hear that he likes Grandal quite a bit as well," as SNY's Andy Martino said.
Stay tuned here, because once we get some resolution with Realmuto, the backstop dominoes could start to fall -- fast.
Will Giants trade Bumgarner now ... or later?
Dec. 12: It's hard to imagine longtime Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner in another uniform, isn't it? And yet, the biggest topic of conversation surrounding the club this offseason is whether -- maybe even when -- San Francisco should look to trade its ace. After all, the Giants are unlikely to contend in 2019, and the 29-year-old lefty's contract runs out after next season.
As to the question of when the Giants might be ready to move Bumgarner, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reports that it's looking "less and less likely" the club pulls the trigger this winter. While that possibility can't be ruled out, as Feinsand notes, a midseason move might make more sense.
Perhaps one reason for this approach is that the club has a new director of baseball operations in Farhan Zaidi. In addition to being busy plotting a course for the future of the franchise at the moment, Zaidi might not want to have his first major transaction involve shipping off a franchise face and three-time World Series champion, as MLB Network insider Joel Sherman wrote in a story for the New York Post.
That said, there is some risk in waiting until June or July to make Bumgarner available; he could see a further decline in his performance or suffer an injury that saps his value on the trade market. Not to mention, if Bumgarner is traded midseason, he would be ineligible for the qualifying offer and the corresponding Draft-pick compensation, which also must be factored into his value. At the same time, his historic postseason performances also would be mighty appealing to contending clubs as they gear up for October.
Among the teams that have been mentioned as interested in and/or possible fits for Bumgarner are the Braves, Phillies, Yankees, Astros and Brewers.
Nats already eyeing replacement for Roark?
Dec. 12: The Nationals traded away right-hander Tanner Roark to the Reds on Wednesday evening, and a possible replacement emerged not long after.
The club has discussed signing free-agent lefty Wade Miley, MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported.
Miley, 32, spent last season with the Brewers, going 5-2 with 2.57 ERA in 16 starts. He missed time with groin and oblique injuries.
The Nationals already have made a big splash in their rotation by signing Patrick Corbin, widely considered the top starter on the market this offseason, to a six-year deal last week, but their starting pitching depth remains thin, especially now without Roark.
Boras not ruling out Yankees, Nats as suitors for Harper
Dec. 12: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman all but ruled out the club as a suitor for free agent Bryce Harper earlier this week, saying that there's "no spot" for the 26-year-old in New York's crowded outfield and that using him at first base "isn't an option," according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. And yet, Harper's agent, Scott Boras, isn't ready to say the club is out of the running. He's not counting out the Nats, either. Read the latest Harper rumors here.
Yankees meet with Ottavino's rep
Dec. 12: With Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and Chad Green in the fold, the Yankees should have a solid bullpen in 2019, even if free agents David Robertson and Zach Britton sign elsewhere.
But the club is still engaging with some of the top relief arms on the market, including New York native Adam Ottavino. According to MLB Network insider Joel Sherman, Yanks general manager Brian Cashman met with Ottavino's representative Tuesday. While no firm offers were exchanged, Sherman considers the 33-year-old to be high on the Yankees' wish list.
Ottavino is also a reported target of the rival Red Sox, as is Robertson, whom the Yankees haven't ruled out bringing back.
Britton, though, is considered unlikely to return, as he is believed to be looking for closing opportunities. Per MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the Phillies and Cardinals are among several teams pursuing the left-hander.
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.
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."
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