The Hot Stove is open for business. As the top free agents begin to ink new deals and clubs begin to make the moves they think will vault them into contention or put them over the top, MLB.com will have you covered with all the latest buzz right here.
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Cubs, Yankees check in on Duffy
If the Royals are indeed intent on initiating a rebuild in 2018, it could be more than free agents Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas switching uniforms. MLB Network insider Joel Sherman reports that many clubs, most notably the Cubs and Yankees, have asked Kansas City about left-handed starter Danny Duffy, though a deal did not seem imminent.
Duffy, 28, broke out with a 12-3 record, 3.51 ERA and 188 strikeouts over 179 2/3 innings for the Royals while moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation in 2016. Last year was rockier for the southpaw, as he managed to toss just 146 1/3 innings while dealing with injury. Duffy, who underwent surgery in October to remove a loose body from his left elbow, is under team control until 2022 and is slated to earn $14 million next season.
Duffy presents an interesting match for the Cubs, who may let Jake Arrieta walk in free agency and have already added Tyler Chatwood to their rotation this offseason. The Yankees, meanwhile, cleared financial space by trading Chase Headley to the Padres on Tuesday morning and now have roughly $30 million to spend before reaching the luxury tax threshold, per MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal. Bolstering the starting rotation is seen as the Yankees' next priority after the Bronx Bombers finalized their trade for Giancarlo Stanton on Monday.
Yankees eyeing Fulmer?
The Yankees are clearly not content with simply acquiring home run champ Giancarlo Stanton, as New York traded third baseman Chase Headley and reliever Bryan Mitchell to the Padres on Tuesday for outfielder Jabari Blash. The Yankees' next need would figure to be filling out their starting rotation, and a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand that Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer is a potential trade target for New York.
Fulmer won't come cheap. The 2016 American League Rookie of the Year is under team control for five more years and is seen is one of the brightest young starters in the game. As the Tigers embark on their rebuild in full, they certainly appear to be in the market for talented position-player prospects. Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier seems like the natural headliner for a Yankees-Tigers deal involving Fulmer, but Detroit would be expected to garner a big prospect haul beyond Frazier, too.
Fulmer represents a big piece of Detroit's future, but the Tigers could potentially turn one talented prospect into three or four from the Yankees' revered farm system. Fulmer just turned 23, and he is coming off a season in which he went 10-12 with a 3.83 ERA for a team that lost 98 games. In a record-setting year for home runs across the Majors, Fulmer's rate of 0.711 homers allowed per nine innings was the best in the AL.
Reds' outfielders generating interest
Billy Hamilton ranks among the Majors' fastest baserunners and best defensive center fielders, and he's drawing interest on the Hot Stove.
MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reports that Hamilton and other Reds outfielders are floating around Winter Meetings discussions, with the Giants reportedly being the team most interested in Hamilton. Those other outfielders could include Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler.
Hamilton, 27, recorded the second-fastest average sprint speed among MLB players last year at 30.1 feet per second, ranking just behind Twins center fielder Byron Buxton. Hamilton was also a top-10 outfielder in terms of the Statcast™ Outs Above Average (OAA) metric. That makes Hamilton a potential fit for San Francisco, who missed out on both Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton and featured the Majors' second-worst outfield by OAA in 2017.
Hamilton is the only player in this decade to record at least four seasons with 50 or more stolen bases, doing so consecutively from 2014 through last year. Getting on base to affect opposing pitchers and defenses has been a bigger challenge, as Hamilton hit only .247 in 2017 and owns a career .298 on-base percentage. He won''t fix the power issues for the Giants' offense, who finished last in the Majors in home runs and OPS a year ago. But he would figure to be a defensive upgrade in center over Denard Span, who could be moved to left to platoon with Hunter Pence in 2018. Hamilton is still under team control for two more years before he becomes a free agent in the fall of 2020.
Orioles shopping Machado, who seeks return to SS
The Orioles are shopping star third baseman Manny Machado as he enters his final season before free agency, per MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.
While the Orioles are seeking two young, controllable starting pitchers according to Rosenthal, Machado is also seeking something himself: a return to shortstop.
Machado came up through the Orioles' system as a top shortstop prospect, but the presence of veteran J.J. Hardy caused the team to move Machado to third when he reached the Majors, a position in which he as flourished as one of the best in baseball.
Soon entering free agency at age 26, Machado could make himself even more valuable if he shows he still has what it takes at shortstop. Machado's .840 OPS the past three seasons would rank third among shortstops during that span.
Hosmer to Padres is "very real" possibility
The Padres have already added a friendly face in their trade for Chase Headley and now they might be opening the checkbook for a big boost to their lineup. The possibility of free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer signing with the Padres is "very real," a source told MLB.com's AJ Cassavell.
The Padres already have a franchise player at first base in Wil Myers, but it has been reported in the past that Myers is open to a move back to the outfield, where he played coming up through the Minors and then in Tampa Bay. After two seasons as the Rays' full-time right fielder, Myers has played just nine games in right through three seasons with San Diego.
Phillies, Nationals considering Arrieta
The Phillies might still be a year away from contending, but they're considering what would be a big splash with free-agent starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. The Nationals, meanwhile already figure to have a playoff-worthy rotation in 2018, but they've also expressed interest in adding Arrieta, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.
As Heyman pointed out, many Phillies executives know Arrieta well from their shared time in the Orioles organization, including president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and general manager Matt Klentak.
Arrieta represents one of the biggest draws in free agency this offseason. Signing him would be both a big risk for a Phillies team that went 66-96 last season, but also a message that they think contention is just around the corner.
As far as the Nats go, it's worth noting that the club has a good relationship with Scott Boras, who is the agent Arrieta -- as well as Washington's 1-2 punch of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
Arrieta's contract year didn't go exactly as planned last season, as he struggled with the long ball and right hamstring issues on the way to a 3.53 ERA in 2017, but his track record with the Cubs is stellar. He ranks fifth in the Majors in ERA over the past four seasons with a 2.67 mark.
Interest high for Ozuna, Yelich
The Marlins have cleared two massive chunks of salary in Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton in their quest to get their payroll under $90 million, but could All-Star outfielder Marcell Ozuna be next?
MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported Monday night that the Marlins are pushing Ozuna over fellow outfielder Christian Yelich, telling teams that Ozuna will cost less in a trade. Ozuna is under team control for two more years and due to become a free agent in 2020, while the 26-year-old Yelich will be under control for five more years -- his contract runs through 2021 with a club option for '22.
The Marlins have remained reluctant to trade Yelich, but at least 10 teams are expressing interest in the 26-year-old left fielder. The D-backs, Cardinals and Braves are among the inquiring clubs, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
Yelich, who turned 26 on Dec. 5, is making $7 million in 2018, and he is signed for $43.25 million through 2021, with a $15 million club option in 2022.
The market for Ozuna has eight-to-10 teams interested -- the Nationals, Cardinals and Giants. According to the Miami Herald, the Rockies, Rangers and Blue Jays also are in the mix.
Frisaro reported Monday that the market for Ozuna is starting to build now that Stanton has been dealt to the Yankees. As many as six to eight teams have expressed some level of interest to the Marlins concerning Ozuna, per Frisaro, who states the Cardinals, Giants and Nationals are among the interested parties.
St. Louis and San Francisco seem like natural fits for Ozuna, as each expressed a willingness to take on salary in the Stanton sweepstakes and are both looking for impact bats in the outfield. Ozuna is coming into his prime years at age 27, having posted a .312/.376/.548 slash line with 37 home runs and 124 RBIs last season. The left fielder is eligible for arbitration this winter after playing on a one-year, $3.5 million deal in 2017.
Phillies not done fortifying bullpen
One day after they brought Pat Neshek back into the fold with a reported two-year deal worth at least $16 million, the Phillies appear to be taking another step to shore up their bullpen. MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported Tuesday that Philadelphia was holding ongoing discussions with Addison Reed, one of this winter's most coveted free-agent relievers.
Philadelphia is a team on the rise, but is regarded by many as still being a year away from truly contending. The Phillies will have money to spend in next winter's free-agent bonanza, headlined potentially by Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, but in the meantime it looks as though fortifying the bullpen is the team's top priority this winter. The 4.18 ERA recorded by Philadelphia relievers ranked squarely in the middle of the 30 MLB clubs last year. Philly's bullpen unit struggled to begin 2017 but showed encouraging signs down the stretch with a 2.64 ERA that ranked third-best in the Majors.
Reed, 28, was acquired by the Red Sox from the Mets at last July's Trade Deadline in exchange for pitcher Jamie Callahan and Minor Leaguers Gerson Bautista and Stephen Nogosek. The right-hander finished 2017 with a 2.84 ERA, 3.67 FIP and 1.053 WHIP over 76 innings while also recording 19 saves. Reed has shown flexibility as either a capable setup man or closer. The Cardinals have also shown overt interest in Reed, and a possible reunion with the Mets -- who themselves are in the market for an eighth-inning setup man -- is not out of the question.
Mets appear to be shopping Harvey
Mets starter Matt Harvey was one of the game's brightest young pitchers just two years ago, but his precipitous fall has come to the point where the Mets appear to be shopping the right-hander at this year's Winter Meetings.
The New York Daily News reported Sunday that the Mets were interacting with at least two teams about a trade involving Harvey, and it was rumored early Monday afternoon that one of those teams could be the Rangers. Texas' top priority has been clear since the moment the season ended: Acquire a starting pitcher to slot in behind Cole Hamels. After signing Mike Minor to begin that process, Texas appears to be in discussions with the Mets regarding a potential trade that could involve pitcher Harvey in exchange for infielder Jurickson Profar. New York is in the market for a second baseman, making Profar an intriguing piece in a potential deal between the Mets and Rangers.
Profar's stock, like Harvey's, has fallen in recent years, as the former No. 1 prospect in all of baseball lost out on playing time last year to Delino DeShields and Ryan Rua in left field. Profar has also been blocked out of the second base and shortstop positions by the Rangers' double-play combo of Rougned Odor and Elvis Andrus.
Meanwhile, MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported that the Orioles were discussing a trade with the Mets that could involve a reliever in exchange for Harvey. Relievers Brad Brach and Darren O'Day figure to be top candidates, considering their arbitration projections are similar to Harvey's. Baltimore's rotation is likely its top priority to improve this offseason, while the Mets' top targets include a set-up man at the back end.
Harvey, 28, struggled in 2017 after returning from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, going 5-7 with a 6.70 ERA and showing diminished velocity on his fastball. He could be a player who benefits from a change in scenery, but it would be noteworthy to see the Mets unload one of their prized marquee pitchers -- a group seen by many as be the club's biggest strength in recent years.
Multiple clubs pursuing Bruce
Jay Bruce is drawing attention from several teams on the free-agent market. According to a report from Heyman on Monday night, the Mets, Rockies, Blue Jays and Mariners are among those interested in the power-hitting right fielder.
Bruce slugged a career-high 36 home runs in 2017, as well as a pair of big homers for the Indians in the American League Division Series against the Yankees. The 30-year-old hit .254/.324/.508 and also drove in 101 runs.
The Mets would be looking for a reunion with Bruce, who spent parts of the past two seasons in New York. The Mets traded for Bruce at the 2016 Trade Deadline before sending him to the Indians this past August. In 153 total games for the Mets, Bruce hit 37 home runs and tallied 94 RBIs. The team is faced with uncertainty in the outfield with Michael Conforto recovering from left shoulder surgery and unlikely to be ready for Opening Day, and Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares both missing significant time due to injury in 2017.
The Rockies and Blue Jays both have vacancies in right field due to longtime franchise cornerstones becoming free agents this offseason -- Carlos Gonzalez for Colorado and Jose Bautista for Toronto.
The Mariners may be a less likely destination for Bruce. After trading for the Marlins' Dee Gordon, whom they plan to convert to a center fielder, Seattle is set up with Ben Gamel, Gordon and Mitch Haniger across the outfield. General manager Jerry Dipoto has said that the team is focused strictly on adding starting pitching with Gordon now on the roster.
A's may shop Lowrie
The A's began the offseason by exercising Jed Lowrie's $6 million club option for 2018, but there's a possibility he won't play in Oakland next season.
With second basemen in high demand this winter, the A's could shop Lowrie on the trade market, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The report names the Mets, Brewers and Angels as teams looking to upgrade at that position.
If the A's did move Lowrie, they'd likely be seeking corner outfielders or left-handed relievers, both areas of need. In the event of a Lowrie trade, A's top prospect Franklin Barreto could replace him at second base.
Lowrie enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 2017, leading the A's with a .277 batting average and hitting a franchise record 49 doubles. He also posted career-high marks for walks (73) and runs (86).
Sabean says Cain, Moustakas might be long shot for Giants
At first glance, it would appear free agents Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas would be ideal fits for a Giants club that sorely needs to upgrade its outfield defense and its run production from third base. But the qualifying offers the Royals extended to both players makes the Giants unlikely suitors, according to the team's executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean.
"If you're asking me personally, my vote would be a no," Sabean told NBC Sports Bay Area, "being that we wouldn't want to get involved with somebody like that."
Sabean was referring to what the Giants would have to give up if they signed either Cain or Moustakas this winter. Per the new CBA, San Francisco would give up its No. 2 pick in the second round of next June's amateur Draft, as well as $1 million in international bonus pool money, should it sign a player who rejected his original team's qualifying offer.
"That would be a huge hit in a year [we have] the second pick in every round," Sabean said. "We really have a chance to make hay in this Draft, and we expect to do so, so that would be a stretch."
While the Giants are obviously looking to improve on their 64-98 record in 2017, they're also hoping to restock a relatively shallow farm system and become bigger players in the international market. San Francisco's title window, already plentiful with three World Series championships in five years from 2010-14, may be coming to a conclusion, and it would appear prudent for the club to keep some resources for a potential rebuild.
Astros showing interest in Darvish, Arrieta
The World Series-champion Astros are "considering the addition of another marquee starting pitcher," according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.
Sources tell Rosenthal that Houston is particularly interested in free-agent right-handers Yu Darvish and Arrieta. Rosenthal also reports the club could feel out the trade market for starting pitchers, especially if someone such as the Rays' Chris Archer becomes available.
The Astros went out and got Justin Verlander on Aug. 31 in a trade that paid huge dividends en route to their title run, and it appears the team is looking to build even further on the phenomenal rotation it already has.
Rosenthal notes that Verlander's contract ends after the 2019 season and the reported hiring of Scott Boras by left-hander Dallas Keuchel (a hint that he will test the free-agent waters when his contract is up at the end of 2018). Both factors figure to play prominent roles in how the Astros approach the market this offseason.
Darvish, 31, was acquired by the Dodgers a month before Verlander was dealt to Houston and pitched well for Los Angeles during the regular season. The Japanese hurler went 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA in nine starts for the Dodgers before having an up-and-down postseason. He struggled particularly versus the Astros, who got to him for nine runs (eight earned) in 3 1/3 innings during the World Series.
The Astros don't appear to be scared off by those struggles, however, and Darvish has had an excellent career to date. The four-time All-Star finished second in the American League Cy Young Award voting in 2013 with Texas and is 56-42 with a 3.42 ERA in 131 career starts.
Arrieta has been sensational since being traded from the Orioles to the Cubs in 2013. The 31-year-old went 68-31 with a 2.73 ERA in 128 starts over five seasons with Chicago. He was the National League Cy Young Award winner in 2015.
The Rays are reportedly generating trade interest from a number of clubs regarding Archer, among some of their other stars, but it's unclear whether they would indeed part with their star right-hander. Archer, 29, is 51-63 with a 3.63 ERA in six season with Tampa Bay.
Yankees pursuing Pirates' Cole
The Yankees, after acquiring reigning National League Most Valuable Player Giancarlo Stanton, are not done wheeling and dealing.
According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the Yankees are looking to acquire Pirates' right-hander Gerrit Cole. However, Heyman notes the "initial impression" is that Pittsburgh is not trading him.
The Yankees have long been linked to Cole, who they drafted in the first round back in 2008. They were unable to sign him out of Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, Calif.
New York refrained from giving up any of its top prospects to obtain Stanton from Miami and remains loaded with top-end young talent. Perhaps general manager Brian Cashman could be willing to part with a top prospect to open the Pirates' ears.
Cole, 27, is coming off a down year in 2017, going 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA in 33 starts. He is 59-42 with a 3.50 ERA in 127 starts over his five-year career with the Pirates.
With Neshek gone, Rockies eying other 'pen options
The Rockies entered the offseason looking to strengthen the part of their club that enjoyed the biggest improvement in 2017 -- the bullpen. That goal has not changed as the Winter Meetings revved up Monday.
MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reports the Rockies were one of the clubs interested in re-signing reliever Pat Neshek, for one. The side-arming Neshek, whom Colorado acquired from Philadelphia last July, reportedly agreed to a two-year deal Monday that will send him back to Philadelphia.
With Neshek off the board, Colorado is still exploring "numerous options" to boost the bullpen, including closer Wade Davis, according to Rosenthal. The club has also made it clear it is interested in a possible return with Greg Holland, who set a franchise record with 41 saves in 2017. Colorado improved its bullpen ERA by nearly a full run from 2016 to 2017, when it earned its first postseason berth in eight years.
Nationals keeping tabs on Kintzler, Rondon
The Nationals, who shored up their bullpen prior to the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline in acquiring Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson from the A's and Brandon Kintzler from the Twins, are continuing to try and bolster their late-inning staff.
Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports the club has "expressed interest in bringing back" Kintzler and Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports the team has "checked in" on former Cubs reliever Hector Rondon.
Kintzler recorded a 3.46 ERA in 27 appearances following the move to Washington, and while general manager Mike Rizzo would like to retain him, his market is heating up as the Winter Meetings progress. The 33-year-old is reportedly drawing interest from "many other teams," per Janes, and it's possible he could sign elsewhere for more than what the Nationals are willing to give considering he would be the third option behind Madson and Doolittle.
Kintzler, who went 4-3 with a 3.03 ERA in 72 appearances in 2017 split between the Twins and Nationals, was selected to the American League All-Star team.
Rondon, 29, worked with new Nationals manager Dave Martinez while pitching for the Cubs, so there is an obvious link between the two sides. Rondon went 4-1 with a 4.24 ERA in 61 appearances last season, but has a 3.22 career ERA over five Major League seasons, all with the Cubs.
Chicago non-tendered Rondon earlier this month, in turn granting him free agency. Castillo notes he is a "name to keep in mind" for the Nationals this offseason.
Angels reach out to Moustakas
With Shohei Ohtani in tow, the Angels are moving on to their other primary needs this offseason. That includes third base, and Los Angeles has reached out to free agent Mike Moustakas, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.
Moustakas, 29, broke out for 38 home runs in 2017 to set a Royals single-season record. Though he missed much of 2016 with a right knee injury, he was one of the catalysts of Kansas City's 2015 World Series champions and could bring leadership to an Angels club looking to join the postseason fray. Angels third basemen, which included Yunel Escobar and Luis Valbuena, posted a collective .713 OPS in 2017, which ranked as the second-worst of any AL club. Fletcher also reports that free agent Logan Morrison could be in play for the Angels, though Los Angeles already has a potential logjam with Ohtani needing the DH role, thereby moving Albert Pujols to a more active role at first base.
Rodney meeting with teams at Winter Meetings
Fernando Rodney is attending the Winter Meetings and plans to meet with "executives from multiple teams," a source told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez.
Rodney, who turns 41 years old in March, racked up 39 saves while recording a 4.23 ERA and 65 strikeouts over 55 1/3 innings for the D-backs in 2017. Rodney started off the season slow, but he pitched to a 2.38 ERA in 50 appearances from May through the end of the season.
Rodney is 44-63 with a 3.73 ERA over the course of his 15-year career and has accumulated exactly 300 saves.
Among the teams known to be searching for relief help are the Cardinals, Rockies and Mets, but it is unclear if these teams are those scheduled to meet with Rodney's representatives.
Rockies reunion with Reynolds?
The Rockies are interested in bringing back Mark Reynolds as a free agent once again, according to a report from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman on Monday night.
The veteran first baseman has already twice rewarded Colorado for inking him on the open market. The Rockies initially signed Reynolds prior to the 2016 season, and after he put together a solid first year in Colorado, they re-signed him last winter. Reynolds then hit 30 home runs and had 97 RBIs in 2017 as the Rockies made the National League Wild Card Game.
Reynolds' free-agent status leaves Colorado with a need for a run-producing corner bat. Bringing back the 34-year-old would of course be the direct way to address that. The Rockies have also been linked to free-agent first basemen Carlos Santana and Logan Morrison this offseason, both of whom could provide power from the position, as well as corner outfielder Jay Bruce.
The Rockies' interest in Santana is believed to be stronger than their interest in Morrison and Bruce. Reynolds, though, would come at a significantly lower price tag than the switch-hitting 31-year-old, who has been a key bat in the Indians' lineup since his first full season in 2011.
As of now, the Rockies' chief first-base option is Ian Desmond, but they might want to play him in the outfield with Carlos Gonzalez now a free agent. Bringing back Reynolds would give the team much more flexibility as to where to play Desmond.
Tribe makes offer to Santana
In a deep free-agent market for first basemen/designated hitters, Carlos Santana has received a contract offer from the Indians, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He has reportedly not accepted the offer, but informed the Indians they will have a chance to make a counteroffer should he receive a proposal from another team that is to his liking.
Santana, 31, has spent his entire career to this point with Cleveland. Last season, he slashed .259/.363/.455 with 23 homers in 154 games. He also won the first defensive award of his career, being named the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year at first base. In eight seasons with the Tribe, Santana has posted an .810 OPS with 174 home runs.
There are several other teams also interested in Santana, including the Red Sox, Phillies, Rangers, Mariners and Padres.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.