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Phillies' 'dream' outfield: Harper, Trout, Cutch

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After a seven-season tenure with the Nationals that included a National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, an NL MVP Award in 2015 and six All-Star nods, Bryce Harper is now a free agent for the first time.

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

After a seven-season tenure with the Nationals that included a National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, an NL MVP Award in 2015 and six All-Star nods, Bryce Harper is now a free agent for the first time.

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

Phillies' 'dream' outfield: Harper, Trout, Cutch
Jan. 17: The Phillies are thinking big. "Harper and Mike Trout in the same outfield" big.

According to a report from Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci -- citing a source with knowledge of Philadelphia's offseason plans -- while the Phillies have enough money to sign both Harper and Manny Machado, they'd actually like to sign just one. Why? So they can make a run at Trout, too, if he hits free agency after the 2020 season.

"In one dream scenario," Verducci writes, "the Phillies would field an all-MVP outfield in 2021: Trout, Harper and Andrew McCutchen."

Trout and Harper might be the two most talented players of their generation, and the "Trout vs. Harper?" question was one of the biggest debates in the baseball world as the two ascended to superstardom. Putting them together on one roster really would be a dream for any team.

Assessing which 'mystery teams' may actually be in on Harper and/or Machado
Jan. 17: As the offseason drags on and Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remain unsigned, the door will stay open for more teams to jump into the race, especially if there's a sense that the price to sign them may not be as high as many initially expected.

In an article for ESPN+ (subscription required) on Thursday, Buster Olney listed some of the so-called "mystery teams" that are drawing speculation from industry insiders and broke down each club's chances of signing one of this offseason's superstar free agents.

Olney is hearing the Astros, Giants and Braves being mentioned as potential suitors for Harper; the Yankees and Padres as possible contenders for Machado; and the Rangers, Twins and Cubs as three teams that could sign either player.

Olney thinks most of these clubs will continue to sit out of the proceedings, but he could see Houston entering the mix for Harper if the slugger is willing to accept a shorter-term deal with opt-outs. The Astros nearly acquired Harper before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline this past season, but the Nationals backed out. As Olney points out, the team is in win-now mode, especially with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole set to enter free agency next offseason.

"They've got the money, for sure," said one rival official.

The Astros seemingly have their starting outfield set after signing Michael Brantley, but Harper would represent a massive upgrade in right field over Josh Reddick, who recorded a .718 OPS in 2018.

Olney concedes that it might seem odd to have the Yankees as a potential mystery team for Machado, as they were one of three clubs -- along with the Phillies and White Sox -- to meet with him in December. But with Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu in the fold, New York is not aggressively pursuing Machado at this time. That could change, though, if Machado's asking price falls into a range that the Yankees are more comfortable with.

Three teams reportedly are in on Harper -- but several more could swoop in
Jan. 16: There have been plenty of rumors and all kinds of buzz surrounding free-agent superstar Bryce Harper since the start of the offseason more than two-and-a-half months ago. The latest news is especially interesting because it appears to narrow down the field of interested teams to three primary suitors -- at least, for now.

The Phillies, Nationals and White Sox, all of whom have been connected to Harper in numerous reports, are "the only three teams known to be in" on the slugging outfielder, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: phillies, nats and chisox are the only 3 teams known to be in on bryce harper. but fwiw, word is, several teams are said to be waiting in the wings. the word "waiting" suggests this may yet take awhile.

Several teams, however, "are said to be waiting in the wings," Heyman continues, meaning that a) more clubs likely are (or could be) in the mix at various levels of interest and engagement, and b) the Harper sweepstakes may not be nearing a conclusion any time soon.

With pitchers and catchers due to report in less than a month, is it possible negotiations for Harper could push close to -- or even into -- the start of Spring Training?

Phillies choosing between Harper and Machado; do they have a preference?
Jan. 16: One of the popular theories earlier this offseason was that the Phillies had so much money available that not only were they seen as the prohibitive favorite to sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but they actually could consider paying up for both free-agent superstars.

That pie-in-the-sky scenario for Phillies fans isn't happening, according to Matt Gelb of The Athletic (subscription required). But that doesn't mean Philly won't wind up with one of the premier young talents in the sport. On the contrary, it's looking like the club is seen as a favorite -- it's just a matter of which one they choose to sign.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman notes that while Machado seemed to be the Phillies' top choice at one point, the club may now be leaning toward Harper, to whom the club is expected to make an offer soon, if it hasn't already.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Philly is in excellent position to sign one or the other of the free agent mega stars ��� Harper or Machado. Signing both though is said to remain pretty unlikely. But after they secure 1, Phils may take a closer look at other top free agents (ie Keuchel, Kimbrel, Pollock)

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Felt like Machado was Phils��� top choice at one time. Now it seems like it���s even or maybe a lean toward Harper. That 4/5 hour, 2 video meeting in Las Vegas sounds like it went great for Harper and the Phillies, who are expected to make offer to him soon, if they haven���t by now.

The Phillies sent a group of their decision-makers -- including managing partner John Middleton, president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak and manager Gabe Kapler -- to meet with Harper in his hometown of Las Vegas over the weekend. The visit went rather well, as MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes.

Heyman points to the Phillies' previous acquisition of shortstop Jean Segura, Harper's star power and the desire to one-up the rival Nationals -- who are believed to be in on the outfielder, but not Machado -- as reasons why the club could prefer Harper over Machado. Heyman also hears that Harper and Kapler "really hit it off," as both have similarly intense personalities.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Phillies could still go either way on the 2 FA mega stars. But here���s why they may be leaning Harper now: 1) acquisition of ss Segura 2) Harper cachet, success at philly 3) great meeting w/Harper 4) competition for Harper comes from nl east rival nats, who beat phils for Corbin

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Word is, Harper and Kapler really hit it off during the Las Vegas meeting, which could be another factor in Phillies��� thinking. Easy to see that: both quite intense

Back in late December, the Phillies hosted Machado at Citizens Bank Park, too, making them one of two teams -- the White Sox are the other -- known to have had face-to-face sit-downs with both stars this offseason. That could give them an advantage over some of the other suitors who have been linked to one player or the other, a list that potentially includes the Nationals, the Yankees and the Dodgers.

And yet, the waiting game continues for the Phillies, who don't seem to mind seeing how this plays out, because of the fact that either Harper or Machado could be a great fit for them -- and their financial fortitude to perhaps present the largest offers to either player.

"There is risk in dragging out this dance," Gelb writes, "but multiple league sources indicated the Phillies' risk of losing out on both stars is mitigated by the apparent lack of interested teams throughout Major League Baseball and the club's financial wherewithal."

Can Nationals afford Harper and Rendon?
Jan. 16: As the baseball world speculates where free agent Bryce Harper will land, the Phillies and the Nationals are seemingly leading the race -- and might be the only two teams in the running -- at this point.

One major advantage the Phils have is that they can likely outbid the Nats for Harper. Washington exceeded the luxury-tax threshold in each of the past two seasons and is going to be up against it again in 2019. The penalties get steeper when teams exceed the threshold in consecutive seasons, and there is also a surtax for exceeding it by $20 to $40 million. Signing Harper would likely put the Nats more than $20 million over the threshold in 2019.

The team also needs to worry about Anthony Rendon's impending free agency next offseason. According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required), Rendon and agent Scott Boras, who also represents Harper, are seeking a deal similar to Jose Altuve's.

The Astros gave Altuve a five-year, $151 million extension before the 2018 season, covering 2020-24. At the time, Altuve was already under contract for $12.5 million over 2018-19, bringing his total deal to seven years and $163.5 million.

As Rosenthal points out, signing Harper and extending Rendon would likely give the Nats a combined luxury-tax number exceeding $130 million for just five players (Harper, Rendon, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin) over the next three seasons, assuming Strasburg doesn't opt out after 2019 or 2020.

However, MLB.com's Jamal Collier gets the sense that the Nationals are proceeding as if they can afford both players.

"As recently as the Winter Meetings, [general manager Mike Rizzo] said he felt like there was room for both," Collier said Tuesday on MLB Network. "And I think that when he looks at the number that Rendon just signed for in arbitration -- $18.8 million -- that's about what the Nationals think for an extension, he'll be making over that time. And the fact that they're still in on Harper while negotiating with Rendon makes me think that they think they can sign both.

"It's going to be a matter of what exact number is Harper coming back for. If that number is closer to $400 million, there's probably not room for more. … If that number is closer to 10 years, $300 million, then there's probably a scenario where the Nats can fit both of these guys in. ... But I would certainly say, the way they're operating, the way they're going about their business, they haven't ruled it out, so right now I won't rule it out either."

Are the Phillies now leading the race to sign Harper?
Jan. 14: Following a five-hour meeting with Bryce Harper in his hometown of Las Vegas on Saturday, are the Phillies now the favorites to sign the market's most coveted free agent? Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported as much on Sunday, citing three anonymous sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations. 

Nightengale adds that the Nationals, who were considered the favorites to sign Harper after a lengthy meeting over the holidays, now believe they are a "long shot." 

The Phillies are also among a handful of favorites to sign Manny Machado -- and those odds could have increased, given that the Yankees' dialogue with the coveted shortstop have become "either dormant or completely dead," according to a report on Sunday from ESPN's Buster Olney. Nightengale's report added that the Yanks have "no intention of offering [Machado] a megacontract."

Philly is expected to make a formal offer within the week, per the report. MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reported on Sunday that the club may be shifting its sights on Harper instead of Machado, to whom the club has issued a formal offer, per Zolecki.

For their meeting with Harper, the Phillies sent managing partner John Middleton, president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak, manager Gabe Kapler and assistant general manager Ned Rice to meet with Harper and his agent Scott Boras, and the club's front-office officials left the meeting feeling "optimistic" to land either Harper or Machado.

"It was really impressive to spend some time with him, get to know him better, answer his questions, and we got to ask some questions, learn about him, and I think that's a really important step in any negotiation is kind of understanding what the other party is looking for. And now we'll see where it takes us," Klentak told 6ABC in Philadelphia late Saturday night.

Until they make their offer to Harper, however, MLB.com's Jim Duquette doesn't think the Phils can be deemed the front runner.

"At least make an offer," Duquette said on MLB Network Radio. "It looks so absurd that you're actually going to try to declare that and you haven't put an offer on paper. … So until that actually happens, there's no Philly front runner for Harper.

"Just because you were the last team to meet with him does not make you the front runner," Duquette added.

Tweet from @MLBNetworkRadio: .@Jim_Duquette: The #Phillies are not the front runner on Bryce Harper until they "Show Him The Money!"#Nationals pic.twitter.com/lMUsXgBNL9

At this point, the only team that is believed to have offered Harper a contract is the Nationals, whose latest offer was reportedly north of $300 million. As a result, Duquette thinks they are still the leading contender to sign the slugger.

In either case, MLB.com's Jamal Collier writes that Washington shouldn't be counted out.

"Harper's relationship with the organization, as well as [general manager and president of baseball operations Mike] Rizzo and the Lerner family, is strong," writes Collier. "A few front office members have wondered if eventually ownership will find a way to make it work to keep Harper in D.C. long term, even if doing so would almost certainly put the Nats over the luxury tax threshold again."

Video: MLB Tonight on Phillies, Harper meeting in Las Vegas

What potential mystery teams could be in on Harper and/or Machado?
Jan. 14: At this point, it seems clear which teams are the frontrunners for Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, but is it possible there are some unknown clubs in the race, waiting to pounce? The door is certainly open for that outcome, as neither player has found a deal to his liking with the current contenders. In fact, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported last week that Machado's camp was telling some people that there is indeed an unknown team involved, though Heyman couldn't confirm the validity of that rumor.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Machado camp is telling some folks there���s a mystery team in addition to Chisox, Phils. Validity is unknown.

So which clubs might be lurking as potential "mystery teams?" After extensive research into the market, MLB.com's Richard Justice named five in a column that was published Monday, putting the Giants at the top of his list.

"Since [president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi] has not traded away Madison Bumgarner, his most valuable asset, that could be a tipoff that the Giants aren't diving into any kind of rebuild," Justice writes. "What they need more than anything is an impact offensive player or two, preferably an outfielder. Signing Harper would insert the Giants back into the postseason conversation and also give the franchise a foundational piece to build on for the next decade or so."

Find out here what other teams could stun the baseball world by swooping in to sign Harper or Machado.

After meeting with Harper, Phillies optimistic
Jan. 12: Phillies executives traveled to Las Vegas to meet with superstar free agent Bryce Harper on Saturday, and according to Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer, they emerged from the meeting "optimistic" about their chances to land either Harper or fellow 26-year-old free agent Manny Machado this offseason.

In addition to the Phillies, the other clubs seen as frontrunners to land Harper on what may be an unprecedented deal are the Nationals and White Sox. Philadelphia and Chicago are also seen as the frontrunners in the chase for Machado. As Breen notes, one area in which the Phillies may be able to stand out is the sheer amount of money they can offer either superstar. Phillies owner John Middleton said earlier this offseason that the club might be "a little stupid" in how it spends its money.

So should money be the ultimate deciding factor, the Phillies may be the favorite. Philadelphia recently hired a mentor of Machado's, former Orioles third-base coach Bobby Dickerson, as infield coach. And that came after the White Sox traded for Machado's brother-in-law Yonder Alonso and signed close friend Jon Jay. 

Both Harper and Machado are reportedly looking to exceed the record contract Giancarlo Stanton received from the Marlins in 2014, which was for 13 years and $325 million. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported that the amounts on the table in Machado's case are closer to $200 million than they are to $300 million.

Meanwhile, MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM analyst and former MLB general manager Jim Bowden reported Washington made an offer well north of $300 million to Harper, after it initially offered 10 years and $300 million toward the end of the regular season. MLB.com's Mark Feinsand wrote earlier in the week that momentum appeared to be building for a Harper-Nationals reunion.

Do Phillies have another reason to meet with Harper?
Jan. 11: The Phillies are set to send a sizable contingent of their decision-makers to visit with Bryce Harper in his hometown of Las Vegas on Saturday, according to multiple reports. On the surface, the club is doing so because of legitimate interest in the free-agent superstar. There's no denying that the team and the player are a great match, as MLB.com's Richard Justice wrote Thursday.

But is there perhaps another reason -- an ulterior motive, if you will -- for this cross-country trek?

MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal presents just such a possibility in a column for The Athletic (subscription required) in which he examines how bringing back Harper -- who is seeking a deal north of Giancarlo Stanton's record $325 million contract -- would impact the Nationals' already lofty payroll.

"If the Phillies' preference is [Manny] Machado, as some in the industry believe, then the meeting from their perspective might simply be a ploy to drive up the price for the Nationals, a division rival," Rosenthal speculates. "Harper and [his agent Scott] Boras, in fact, might be proceeding with the same motivation."

Oh, wouldn't that be something? Sure, the most likely scenario is that the Phillies are meeting with Harper because they want him -- and are willing to spend some of their "stupid" money on a 26-year-old lefty slugger who would fit their lineup and rebuilt roster exceptionally well over the next decade.

But it's at least fun to consider that the Phillies could be making a show of heading to Vegas -- a city known for big, over-the-top displays -- as a way to push the rival Nats, who many now view as the favorite for Harper, to (ahem) raise the stakes on their reported 10-year, $300 million-plus offer.

Just a little showdown between a pair of clubs that expect to go head to head to win a super-competitive NL East division? Hmmm.

Ottavino to Yanks on 3-year deal, sources say

MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- Adam Ottavino recently boasted that given the opportunity, he "would strike out Babe Ruth every time." That dream showdown will not take place, but the Bambino's former team is betting on plenty of silence from the rest of the American League's bats.

The Yankees added another major piece to what promises to be a devastating bullpen on Thursday, agreeing to a three-year, $27 million contract with the 33-year-old Ottavino, sources confirmed to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi and Mark Feinsand. The club has not confirmed the deal.

NEW YORK -- Adam Ottavino recently boasted that given the opportunity, he "would strike out Babe Ruth every time." That dream showdown will not take place, but the Bambino's former team is betting on plenty of silence from the rest of the American League's bats.

The Yankees added another major piece to what promises to be a devastating bullpen on Thursday, agreeing to a three-year, $27 million contract with the 33-year-old Ottavino, sources confirmed to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi and Mark Feinsand. The club has not confirmed the deal.

Ottavino, who grew up in Brooklyn and restored his stock by working out in a vacant Harlem strip mall, projects to join Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Chad Green, Jonathan Holder and fellow free-agent signee Zach Britton in what could be the Majors' most intimidating relief crew.

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Sensing that his career had reached a crossroads after pitching to a 5.06 ERA in 2017, Ottavino refined his mechanics by utilizing high-tech equipment in what had previously been a shoe store. His father-in-law, a real-estate developer, loaned him the space in exchange for a Nolan Arenado-signed bat.

Thanks in large part to the gear, Ottavino enjoyed a breakout season in 2018 for the Rockies, slicing his ERA in half to 2.43 while trimming his walk and home run rates. Ottavino posted a 0.99 WHIP, six saves and 112 strikeouts, second only to the Brewers' Josh Hader (143) among National League relievers.

Ottavino's high-velocity heat and videogame slider have given hitters fits, and while speaking on MLB.com's Statcast™ podcast in December, he opined that the greatest slugger of the 20th century would struggle against today's pitching.

Video: Ottavino confident he could strike out Ruth

"I had an argument with a coach in Triple-A about Babe Ruth's effectiveness in today's game," Ottavino said. "I said, 'Babe Ruth, with that swing, swinging that bat, I got him hitting .140 with eight homers.' He was like, 'Are you nuts? Babe Ruth would hit .370 with 60 homers,' and I'm like, 'I would strike Babe Ruth out every time.'

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"I'm not trying to disrespect him, you know, rest in peace, shout out to Babe Ruth. But it was a different game. I mean, the guy ate hot dogs and drank beer and did whatever he did. It was just a different game."

Video: Ottavino brings thoughts of '98 to Yankees bullpen

The right-hander projects to fill the bullpen spot vacated by the departure of David Robertson, who signed a two-year deal with the Phillies earlier this month.

Ottavino's arrival marks the latest event in a busy offseason that has seen the Yankees re-sign Britton, CC Sabathia and J.A. Happ while adding James Paxton, Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu, who also played for Colorado in 2018.

More movement appears to be on the horizon. While the link between the club and superstar infielder Manny Machado appears to have cooled, general manager Brian Cashman remains intent upon trading right-hander Sonny Gray prior to the Feb. 13 report date for pitchers and catchers.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Adam Ottavino

Tebow to join Mets Spring Training as NRI

Top prospects Gimenez, Alonso will also attend big league camp
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- For the second straight spring, Tim Tebow will be in big league camp.

Tebow, who might have cracked the Majors last season had a right hand injury not required surgery in July, will again be a regular in the Major League clubhouse after batting .056 with 11 strikeouts in 19 plate appearances this past spring. He attributed those struggles partially to a sprained left ankle that affected him throughout Grapefruit League play, but that healed well enough for him to bat .273 with six home runs at Double-A Binghamton before breaking a bone in his right hand in July. 

NEW YORK -- For the second straight spring, Tim Tebow will be in big league camp.

Tebow, who might have cracked the Majors last season had a right hand injury not required surgery in July, will again be a regular in the Major League clubhouse after batting .056 with 11 strikeouts in 19 plate appearances this past spring. He attributed those struggles partially to a sprained left ankle that affected him throughout Grapefruit League play, but that healed well enough for him to bat .273 with six home runs at Double-A Binghamton before breaking a bone in his right hand in July. 

Now fully recovered from that injury, Tebow is not a realistic threat to crack the Mets' Opening Day roster. Still, he is a real possibility to make the team later in the summer if he continues his success -- particularly if New York falls out of contention. The former NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner has improved his performance every season since signing a Minor League contract with the Mets in 2016.

One of Tebow's most vocal backers, former Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, is gone from the organization. But Alderson's replacement, Brodie Van Wagenen, was Tebow's agent from 2016-18. Van Wagenen has already said Tebow is likely to begin this season at Triple-A Syracuse, just one step from the Majors.

Other non-roster invitations of note went to 20-year-old top prospect Andres Gimenez, second-ranked prospect Peter Alonso, and fourth- and fifth-ranked prospects David Peterson and Anthony Kay. In addition, veterans Rajai Davis, Gregor Blanco, Luis Avilan and Hector Santiago will be in camp on Minor League deals.

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

New York Mets

Ricketts backs Cubs' roster, offseason approach

In radio interview, club chairman also explains Convention decision
MLB.com @MLBastian

CHICAGO -- Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts made the media rounds on Thursday morning, discussing the team's quiet winter and plenty of other topics in interviews across the Chicago radio waves. This came after word spread that the Ricketts family would not have a panel at the annual Cubs Convention this weekend.

In an interview with 670 The Score, Ricketts chuckled when asked about the team canceling ownership's usual question-and-answer session with Cubs fans at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. He insisted that there were no ulterior motives to the decision to sit out of the convention spotlight.

CHICAGO -- Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts made the media rounds on Thursday morning, discussing the team's quiet winter and plenty of other topics in interviews across the Chicago radio waves. This came after word spread that the Ricketts family would not have a panel at the annual Cubs Convention this weekend.

In an interview with 670 The Score, Ricketts chuckled when asked about the team canceling ownership's usual question-and-answer session with Cubs fans at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. He insisted that there were no ulterior motives to the decision to sit out of the convention spotlight.

"We had the lowest-rated panel last year, so the guys cut us. It's true," Ricketts said with a laugh. "I think people would rather watch the mascot play bingo than listen to the owners speak. The fact is that we had a low-rated panel. It got kind of dull over the years, because a lot of the questions were the same. It's funny to me. I saw a headline, somebody wrote like, 'Ricketts family cancels popular panel at Cubs Convention.' And the fact is we were the lowest-rated panel.

"If people want us to come back next year throughout the forums, we'd be happy to do it again. But, we just were boring people, honestly. We're happy to do it again. I like talking to people. I think I'm the most accessible owner in sports."

Here are the highlights of Ricketts' discussion on 670 The Score:

On the Cubs' offseason thus far
"First of all, we have spent this offseason. Obviously, we signed Cole Hamels and we picked up [Daniel] Descalso and I'm sure Theo [Epstein] has a few moves left in him. But, frankly, we have one of the largest budgets in all of baseball. We've put that to work. We definitely signed a lot of players over the years. We have a team that we like. We have a team that we think is going to go a long way. We have a team that won 95 games last year without a lot of help from some of the guys we picked up last offseason, and just all the different things we fought through last year -- the injuries and everyone having kind of down years and some of the off-field distractions. We like our club. We're among the very top spenders."

On a perceived lack of urgency after last season's abrupt ending
"I think what people don't see is the players and Theo and [manager Joe Maddon] have all worked throughout the offseason to talk amongst themselves -- more so than in past years -- to really focus on being prepared and coming in strong in Spring Training and getting the season off to a good start. The fact is, we look at our lineup and we say, if you look around the horn, who would you switch out? We've got a pretty good team. I think we've won, what, 97 games on average the last four years. We're still that team if we stay healthy, and we get Yu [Darvish] back, who's feeling pretty good right now. And obviously with Hamels for the whole season. We're going to be great. I think people should just judge us by what happens during the season -- not what happens during December."

On retaining Addison Russell, who will be out until May 3 while serving a suspension for violating MLB's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy
"There's no simple answer to that question. The fact is, the fact that we have decided -- after talking to a lot of experts, after talking to Addison multiple times, talking to the league -- that we'd rather support him through the process than just cut him and let him go, that doesn't mean it's in conflict with support for victims of domestic violence. The fact is that you have a decision to make as a club: What do you think is going to be best for the player and his family? In our case, after talking to, like I said, many experts, after talking to Addison many times, we thought the better thing for the players, for the player's family, was to see if we could help him get through this.

"I think that it's not an easy decision and not a decision that anyone takes lightly. It's something that every team has to decide for themselves, but I do give a lot of credit to Major League Baseball for having good protocols and policies on this. There was a process for him. He's already begun doing some of the things that the league requests and he's doing things beyond what the league requests. So, we'll see where it goes. I think he knows the gravity of the situation. I think he knows what he has to do. Let's just hope that he follows through on the promises he made to himself and the promises he made to the team."

On the Cubs' exploring their own regional TV network
"We're definitely looking at being able to talk about that more sometime in the future, but it'll be a while yet before we know exactly what we can have and can't have. I think it's already out there that we're looking to go our own direction on this, which is the right thing for the team and for the fans."

On striving for postseason sustainability
"You just have to get to the playoffs as often as possible, because once that happens, you have as good a chance as anyone. Once you get to that first Wild Card Game -- which, of course, we did last year -- you have as good a chance as anyone of still going. It comes down to who's hot, who's healthy, who gets the clutch hit. So, we have to be consistent. And I think one of the mistakes that might've been made in previous ownership is this theory that you load up and go for it one year. That doesn't work. That's fool's gold. That's a bad strategy. We take it from a different approach."

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Chicago Cubs

Rumors: Gray, Kimbrel, Trout, Harper, 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

Yankees working hard to move Sonny Gray
Jan. 17: When the offseason began, it sounded like a foregone conclusion that the Yankees were going to trade Sonny Gray. It's taken some time, but this looks to be general manager Brian Cashman's focus at the moment, especially now that New York's bullpen reconstruction is in shape with Adam Ottavino coming aboard, according to multiple reports.

The Yankees are "working hard now on a trade" for Gray, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, who says that the Reds, Giants, Brewers, A's, Padres, Braves and Mariners all are among the teams that could be involved in discussions.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Yankees are working hard now on a trade for Sonny Gray. Appears to be getting more serious. Teams involved have included: reds, giants, brewers, a���s, padres, braves, mariners.

Heyman follows up to report that the Yanks "are indeed close" to swapping the starting pitcher, and some clubs also are inquiring about relievers Tommy Kahnle and Jonathan Holder.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Yankees are indeed close to trading Sonny Gray. Teams are also asking about Tommy Kahnle and Jonathan Holder.

The Giants, in particular, are a new name in the mix for Gray, according to Heyman, who cites new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi's familiarity with the right-hander from their time together with the A's several years ago as a potential factor.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: #SFGiants interesting new entrant in Sonny sweepstakes. It does make sense; Giants prez Farhan Zaidi, who knows Sonny from A���s days, is said to be fan. It appears some other linked teams ��� A���s, Brewers, Braves, M���s, Pads, Reds ��� don���t appear to be at forefront of talks at moment

Part of the reason the Yankees had been hesitant to go all-in on moving Gray over the past month or so is because CC Sabathia -- who they re-signed for one year -- underwent an angioplasty in December. The veteran lefty, however, has been cleared to begin workouts and resume baseball activities.

With that no longer a concern and the bullpen fully stocked, Cashman clearly is turning his attention back toward trading Gray. And it sounds like something could happen sooner than later.

Ottavino's impact on Yankees' bullpen, Kimbrel's market
Jan. 17: Adam Ottavino appears to have a found a new home -- in his native state -- and the Yankees' bullpen has added yet another elite arm. The Yankees are closing in on Ottavino, according to Robert Murray and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

Tweet from @ByRobertMurray: #Yankees closing on free-agent reliever Adam Ottavino, sources tell me and @Ken_Rosenthal. Agreement, if completed, expected to be in the three-year, $25 million range.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reports that the two sides have a deal in place for three years and $27 million, according to sources.

Tweet from @JeffPassan: Adam Ottavino's deal with the New York Yankees is for three years and $27 million, league sources tell ESPN.

The 33-year-old Ottavino was born in New York and is coming off a career campaign in which he struck out a whopping 112 batters over 77 2/3 innings with a 2.43 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. He joins a Yankees bullpen that features the following hard-throwing, strikeout-heavy relievers: Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Chad Green and lefty Zach Britton, who recently re-signed with New York after being acquired last year at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

One of the two high-end relievers left on the market, along with Craig Kimbrel, Ottavino reportedly also was being pursued by the Rangers and could have been a fit with the Braves, Cubs and Red Sox.

With Ottavino now off the board, Kimbrel has no clear competition as the biggest name among late-inning arms in free agency. A return to the Red Sox has been rumored, given that he served as their closer the past three seasons. Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, however, has made it known that he doesn't expect to spend big on someone to handle the ninth inning, spurring speculation that Kimbrel may have to settle for a smaller deal than he has been seeking.

But will the Red Sox's plans change now that Ottavino no longer is an option?

Video: Ottavino reportedly signs with the Yankees

Trout and Harper? Trout and Machado? Phils are thinking big
Jan. 17: Would you rather have Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, or Trout and Manny Machado? The Phillies see the potential to create a once-in-a-lifetime pairing, and that might be shaping their plans this offseason.

A source with knowledge of those plans has told Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci that while the Phillies could afford both Harper and Machado, they'd actually like to sign just one. Why? So they can still make a run at Trout if he hits free agency after the 2020 season.

Either Harper or Machado, Verducci writes, "would invigorate what for years has been a sleeping giant among Major League franchises." And just imagine if that player were paired with Trout.

But with one eye on Trout and the future, who will Philadelphia focus on out of the two current superstar free agents? That could go either way.

"In one dream scenario," Verducci writes, "the Phillies would field an all-MVP outfield in 2021: Trout, Harper and Andrew McCutchen."

But he also suggests that they might actually slightly prefer Machado -- "if only because club officials met much earlier with Machado than they did with Harper."

Harper and Trout might make a dream outfield, but Trout in the outfield and Machado in the infield would be a dream duo, too.

Assessing which 'mystery teams' may actually be in on Harper and/or Machado
Jan. 17: As the offseason drags on and Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remain unsigned, the door will stay open for more teams to jump into the race, especially if there's a sense that the price to sign them may not be as high as many initially expected.

In an article for ESPN+ (subscription required) on Thursday, Buster Olney listed some of the so-called "mystery teams" that are drawing speculation from industry insiders and broke down each club's chances of signing one of this offseason's superstar free agents.

Olney is hearing the Astros, Giants and Braves being mentioned as potential suitors for Harper; the Yankees and Padres as possible contenders for Machado; and the Rangers, Twins and Cubs as three teams that could sign either player.

Olney thinks most of these clubs will continue to sit out of the proceedings, but he could see Houston entering the mix for Harper if the slugger is willing to accept a shorter-term deal with opt-outs. The Astros nearly acquired Harper before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline this past season, but the Nationals backed out. As Olney points out, the team is in win-now mode, especially with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole set to enter free agency next offseason.

"They've got the money, for sure," said one rival official.

The Astros seemingly have their starting outfield set after signing Michael Brantley, but Harper would represent a massive upgrade in right field over Josh Reddick, who recorded a .718 OPS in 2018.

Olney concedes that it might seem odd to have the Yankees as a potential mystery team for Machado, as they were one of three clubs -- along with the Phillies and White Sox -- to meet with him in December. But with Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu in the fold, New York is not aggressively pursuing Machado at this time. That could change, though, if Machado's asking price falls into a range that the Yankees are more comfortable with.

Which teams might be in on Moustakas?
Jan. 16: In his second straight offseason as a free agent, Mike Moustakas' market has been held up to some degree by the fact that Manny Machado -- the top available shortstop/third baseman -- has yet to choose a team. But that doesn't mean we can't peek at possibilities for Moustakas in the meantime.

One such option is a return to the Brewers, as MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal writes in a story for The Athletic (subscription required). Milwaukee still needs an infielder after being linked to -- but missing out on -- second basemen Brian Dozier (Nationals), Jed Lowrie (Mets) and DJ LeMahieu (Yankees). The Crew acquired Moustakas at the Trade Deadline last season, playing him at the hot corner and shifting regular third baseman Travis Shaw to second. That plan could make sense again in 2019.

The Phillies also appear to be a fit for Moustakas, but only if they miss out on Machado to solidify the left side of their infield. And the Padres have been in the market for an upgrade at third base as well, making them a candidate for Moustakas -- or perhaps for the Phillies' Maikel Franco, who likely would become trade bait if Philadelphia lands either Machado or Moustakas, as Rosenthal suggests.

In ranking the seven best remaining free agents -- other than Machado and Bryce Harper -- MLB.com's Richard Justice puts Moustakas No. 7 and agrees that the Brewers and Padres look like potential landing spots.

What would it take for Angels to keep Trout long term?
Jan. 16: Teams might be coveting Trout already -- but the Angels would prefer that he never get to free agency in 2020. 

Trout's the best player in baseball, and he's smack in the middle of his prime at age 27. He's also due to hit the open market when his current six-year, $144.5 million contract runs out. That puts the Angels at something of a crossroad over the next 18 to 24 months.

Will the Halos be able to afford extending Trout a second time, with what almost certainly would have to be a massive, record-breaking deal? Or will they ever actually consider trading their franchise face? Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic considers this in a deep dive into where things stand between the Angels and Trout (subscription required).

For an extension, the expectation would be that Trout could command more than Giancarlo Stanton's $325 million contract -- the largest in history to date. And obviously, whatever happens with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado -- the two top names on the open market this offseason -- is going to impact the cost of signing Trout beyond 2020, too.

A long-term pact takes two to tango, so to speak. "I think it just gets to having overlap," said Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, who previously served as general manager of the Rays when he signed Evan Longoria to a six-year, $100 million extension in 2012. "It's the player really wanting it, the team really wanting it. Usually, when that's the case, you can find an overlap. There are just different points in time where that may not line up perfectly and then it's obviously harder."

And if there isn't overlap, maybe because Trout would prefer to test free agency two years from now rather than re-upping before then? "The Angels have said emphatically they will not trade Trout," Ardaya writes. "But what if they don't feel they can keep him?"

It's not as if the front office hasn't tried hard to build a winning team around Trout. Big money has been spent on Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, C.J. Wilson, Justin Upton and others over the years -- and yet the Halos have made the postseason just once with Trout: a three-game sweep at the hands of the Royals in the 2014 ALDS.

"I could argue that the Angels have tried," said former Marlins president David Samson, who played a big role in Stanton's contract and now is an analyst for CBS Sports. "But Trout cannot guarantee the Angels a ring. He is the face of that franchise, and it is a brutal thing to think about, but if you're not going to win, then paying him that amount of money may not be the best thing for your team's chances to win. But it hurts like hell to lose a player like that."

Red Sox still waiting on Kimbrel?
Jan. 16: Spring Training gets underway in less than a month, and the World Series champion Red Sox still don't have a definite closer. Meanwhile, Craig Kimbrel -- who has held that role with Boston the past three seasons -- also remains available in free agency. Is this lining up to be a reunion after all? More >

D-backs add Flores, likely closing door on Pollock reunion
Jan. 16: When the D-backs traded Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals in early December, many assumed the club was starting a full rebuild, but that hasn't happened. Trade talk surrounding players such as Robbie Ray, Zack Greinke, David Peralta and Nick Ahmed has quieted, and the team is hoping to contend for a postseason berth with its current core, according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com.

With that in mind, could the club look to re-sign A.J. Pollock if he is willing to accept a shorter-term deal? It's possible, but not likely, especially after Arizona reportedly agreed to a one-year contract with Wilmer Flores on Wednesday.

Video: Gilbert on D-backs reportedly signing Flores

Gilbert wrote last week that he thought the D-backs would either sign a center fielder or add a second baseman, allowing Ketel Marte to move to center. The Flores signing seemingly makes it possible for the Marte position switch to happen, leaving Arizona without a spot for Pollock.

Tweet from @SteveGilbertMLB: The #Dbacks would use Flores at second which would allow them to move Ketel Marte to center. https://t.co/jFKUgJbnrb

Can Nationals afford Harper and Rendon?
Jan. 16: As the baseball world speculates where free agent Bryce Harper  will land, the Phillies and the Nationals are seemingly leading the race -- and might be the only two teams in the running -- at this point.

One major advantage the Phils have is that they can likely outbid the Nats for Harper. Washington exceeded the luxury-tax threshold in each of the past two seasons and is going to be up against it again in 2019. The penalties get steeper when teams exceed the threshold in consecutive seasons, and there is also a surtax for exceeding it by $20 to $40 million. Signing Harper would likely put the Nats more than $20 million over the threshold in 2019.

The team also needs to worry about Anthony Rendon 's impending free agency next offseason. According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required), Rendon and agent Scott Boras, who also represents Harper, are seeking a deal similar to Jose Altuve's.

The Astros gave Altuve a five-year, $151 million extension before the 2018 season, covering 2020-24. At the time, Altuve was already under contract for $12.5 million over 2018-19, bringing his total deal to seven years and $163.5 million.

As Rosenthal points out, signing Harper and extending Rendon would likely give the Nats a combined luxury-tax number exceeding $130 million for just five players (Harper, Rendon, Max Scherzer Stephen Strasburg Patrick Corbin ) over the next three seasons, assuming Strasburg doesn't opt out after 2019 or 2020.

However, MLB.com's Jamal Collier gets the sense that the Nationals are proceeding as if they can afford both players.

"As recently as the Winter Meetings, [general manager Mike Rizzo] said he felt like there was room for both," Collier said Tuesday on MLB Network. "And I think that when he looks at the number that Rendon just signed for in arbitration -- $18.8 million -- that's about what the Nationals think for an extension, he'll be making over that time. And the fact that they're still in on Harper while negotiating with Rendon makes me think that they think they can sign both.

"It's going to be a matter of what exact number is Harper coming back for. If that number is closer to $400 million, there's probably not room for more. … If that number is closer to 10 years, $300 million, then there's probably a scenario where the Nats can fit both of these guys in. ... But I would certainly say, the way they're operating, the way they're going about their business, they haven't ruled it out, so right now I won't rule it out either."

Video: Can Nationals sign Harper and also extend Rendon?

Four possible fits for Keuchel
Jan. 16: Dallas Keuchel  entered the offseason as one of the most accomplished starting pitchers on the free-agent market. With other big names like Patrick Corbin  (Nationals), Nathan Eovaldi  (Red Sox) and Yusei Kikuchi  (Mariners) having signed, Keuchel is unquestionably the top starter left -- and has been for some time.

Although there hasn't been a shortage of rumors surrounding the 31-year-old, it's possible his decision is being held up to some extent by seeing what happens with Bryce Harper  and Manny Machado . Their decisions could impact which clubs make a push for Keuchel -- and have the money left for a long-term contract.

Like these four. More >

Ottavino is in good position amid active relief market
Jan. 16: No position has seen more action on the open market this offseason than relievers. Among the many elite late-inning arms to find deals: Andrew Miller  (Cardinals), Zach Britton  (Yankees), David Robertson  (Phillies), Jeurys Familia  (Mets) and Joakim Soria  (A's).

A number of good relief pitchers remain available, but two stand out above the rest at this point -- Craig Kimbrel  and Adam Ottavino .

In a ranking of seven of the top remaining free agents besides Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, MLB.com's Richard Justice ranks Ottavino No. 6 and writes: "Ottavino and Kimbrel are the last of the elite relievers on the market. At 33, he may not get a deal longer than two years, but after a season that included 75 appearances and a 0.991 WHIP for the Rockies, he's going to be a major catch for some team."

Which teams might be in play for Gonzalez?
Jan. 16: Marwin Gonzalez  has made a career of flying somewhat under the radar despite being a valuable player who can cut it at just about any position on the diamond. As a free agent, his market has been much the same -- quiet -- but that doesn't mean he's not highly sought-after for what he brings.

Gonzalez's versatility allows him to fit on just about any roster, and while he's one of the better free agents still available, the 29-year-old isn't likely to require a contract that would price him out of most teams' budgets, either. So which club could Gonzalez wind up with? More >

Could a three-team blockbuster involving Kluber work?
Jan. 15: MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi recently reported that the Padres have remained in contact with the Indians about ace right-hander Corey Kluber. But would the Padres insert Kluber into the rotation or try to trade him away to fill another need? And if it's the latter, could a three-team blockbuster actually work?

Dennis Lin of The Athletic reports that San Diego's interest in Kluber is primarily to flip him, because he "does not fit the Padres age-wise." Lin adds that no deal is close, and the Padres are "struggling to line up with trade partners."

Tweet from @dennistlin: In their search for a third baseman, the Padres have explored three-team trade possibilities, including one that would send Corey Kluber to Cincinnati, sources tell @Ken_Rosenthal and me. No is deal close.

Tweet from @dennistlin: San Diego���s interest in Kluber is primarily to flip him, sources say; he does not fit the Padres age-wise. Pads struggling to line up with trade partners. If they could get Kluber, they likely would want top Reds prospect Nick Senzel, whom Cincinnati does not want to move.

The Indians reportedly have made Kluber available on the trade market, but only for a very high price. San Diego has one of the very best farm systems in baseball, and certainly could make a legitimate offer for the two-time AL Cy Young Award winner.

Flipping Kluber to the Reds would send the 32-year-old (33 in April) to a club that has made it clear that upgrading the starting rotation is among its highest priorities. Cincinnati already has acquired right-hander Tanner Roark and left-hander Alex Wood in separate trades.

If infielder Nick Senzel is who the Padres would be looking for to take over at third base, the 23-year-old would appear to fit well in San Diego's rebuild, providing the organization with the No. 6 prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline.

The question, then, becomes: What do the Indians -- the team theoretically unloading Kluber -- get out of this scenario? Cleveland has a major need in the outfield and both the Padres and Reds have some depth at that position, including Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Matt Kemp and Jesse Winker, among others. But it's likely the Tribe would need more pieces -- especially young, cost-controlled players -- to part with arguably its top arm.

Tweet from @MLBNetwork: The Padres are reportedly interested in acquiring and flipping Corey Kluber for a third baseman according to @Ken_Rosenthal. #MLBNHotStove pic.twitter.com/W3OpvJWkv1

Another question is: Could another team or teams be good matches in a Kluber deal? MLB Network analysts Bill Ripken and Ron Darling discussed the notion of the Yankees getting involved, perhaps sending third baseman Miguel Andujar to the Padres to acquire Kluber should San Diego swing a trade with Cleveland. Andujar impressed at the plate in his rookie season, slashing .297/.328/.527 with 27 homers, finishing second in American League Rookie of the Year voting behind the Angels' Shohei Ohtani.

But defense was an issue at the hot corner for Andujar, and with the Yankees recently signing DJ LeMahieu, there's an abundance of infielders in the Bronx. Not only that, there's another potentially big free-agent market following next season, especially if superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado is testing the open market.

"Do they look at DJ LeMahieu on a two-year deal and say, 'OK, why don't you go over there and play third base?,'" asked Ripken. " ... I don't know if he's expendable or not, but DJ LeMahieu, I'm interested in seeing how the Yankees use him."

"I think with the glut of infielders that the Yankees have, this is a real opportunity for them to put a -- would I say No. 2, No. 1-A, No. 1 over Severino?" said Darling. "Whatever it is, you'd have two really good people at the top of that rotation." 

Tweet from @MLBNetwork: Would you move Miguel And��jar to get Corey Kluber? #MLBTonight pic.twitter.com/meilWC3k6p

Phillies' big plans involve Harper/Machado, other top FAs -- and Trout?!
Jan. 15: One of the popular theories earlier this offseason was that the Phillies had so much money available that not only were they seen as the prohibitive favorite to sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but they actually could consider paying up for both free-agent superstars.

That pie-in-the-sky scenario for Phillies fans isn't happening, according to Matt Gelb of The Athletic (subscription required). But that doesn't mean Philly won't wind up with one of the premier young talents in the sport. On the contrary, it's looking like the club is seen as a favorite -- it's just a matter of which one.

Oh, and the Phillies aren't expected to stop there. That plan to be "a little bit stupid" about how they spend their money, as managing partner John Middleton said earlier in the offseason, very well might be in play.

Phillies team executives "have visions of signing Harper, [lefty starter Dallas] Keuchel and [closer Craig] Kimbrel," according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

Tweet from @BNightengale: The #Phillies, according to team executives, have visions of signing Harper,Keuchel and Kimbrel.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman is hearing something similar, acknowledging that the Phils are in "excellent position" to sign one of Harper or Machado and still take a look at "other top free agents" like Keuchel, Kimbrel and/or outfielder A.J. Pollock.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Philly is in excellent position to sign one or the other of the free agent mega stars ��� Harper or Machado. Signing both though is said to remain pretty unlikely. But after they secure 1, Phils may take a closer look at other top free agents (ie Keuchel, Kimbrel, Pollock)

And if that's not enough, Heyman also adds that the Phillies "will make a big play" for Mike Trout in two years, when the superstar Angels center fielder is due to hit the open market.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Regardless who they sign this winter, phillies will make a big play for mike trout in 2 years ��� provided he hasn���t signed an extension, of course. #LAAngels will try to extend Trout this winter, but while he likes it there, the whispers are that an extension now is unlikely.

It's one thing to spout all these names and another thing entirely for the Phillies to sign them. But at least, one club looks ready to make some big, bold moves in what has been slow offseason so far.

For the latest Harper rumors, go here. For more on Machado, head here. And this will keep you up to date on Keuchel.

Tweet from @MLBNetwork: Harper, Keuchel AND Kimbrel?!?! #MLBTonight pic.twitter.com/Pc2GLerVtl

Why Braves may be hesitant to gamble on Pollock, but Mets may not
Jan. 15: Center fielder A.J. Pollock 's market has been limited due to his lengthy injury history: Since 2016, he's only played in 237 games. Last season, he got off to a torrid start, slashing .293/.349/.620 with 11 home runs and nine steals through May 14. But that's when he fractured his thumb on a diving play, causing him to miss nearly two months. From the time he returned on July 2 through the end of the season, he hit just .236/.297/.407 with 10 homers in 73 games.

The former Gold Glove Award winner's skill set and potential are appealing, but the injury concerns surely are giving teams pause when considering him in free agency. Still, if he was amenable to a one-year deal, might the Braves fill their outfield need by signing Pollock?

The franchise still is dealing with the fallout from being hit hard for infractions on the international market and in the MLB Draft in late 2017, and Pollock is tied to Draft-pick compensation for declining the one-year qualifiying offer from the D-backs.

"The [Braves] likely would jump on [Pollock] at a dollar figure it deemed acceptable," MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal writes in a story for The Athletic (subscription required). "But the pick -- which for the Braves would be their second overall choice, likely in the mid-60s -- would be part of the acquisition cost. And the Braves, because of all the young players the penalties cost them and all those they will lose in the future, value the selection more than most clubs."

The Mets, meanwhile, might be amenable to a one-year "pillow" contract with Pollock should he accept one, reports SNY's Andy Martino. Though he's reportedly looking for a deal in the five-year, $80 million range, a one-year deal would give Pollock a chance to show his value over a full season if he can stay healthy, bolstering his free agency going into the '20 season. Another option that may be attractive to the Mets, notes Martino, is a one-year deal with an opt-out for '20. More >

Tweet from @martinonyc: Reading between lines of what I���ve heard about mets and A.J. pollock, I could see them playing for him again at this point if he wants a pillow contract or an opt out after the first year.

What kind of contract is Gonzalez seeking?
Jan. 15: Because of his recent offensive production in 2017-18 and status as a supremely versatile defender, a number of teams are interested in and good fits for Marwin Gonzalez. One thing that hasn't been made clear to this point in the offseason, however, is what type of deal the veteran free agent may be trying to land.

Part of the reason for that is Gonzalez is not among the very top tier of players available on the open market, so there's been less speculation surrounding him. Another reason is there are fewer past free agents to compare him to because of what he brings to the table on defense.

There is one similar name that could provide a glimpse at what Gonzalez is seeking, though. More >

These prospects could be MLB's Top 5 in 2021

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

As everyone is likely aware by now, MLB Pipeline has officially begun rankings season. There are three lists up, with the remaining Top 10 position lists coming soon:

Top 10 right-handed pitchers
Top 10 left-handed pitchers
Top 10 catchers

As everyone is likely aware by now, MLB Pipeline has officially begun rankings season. There are three lists up, with the remaining Top 10 position lists coming soon:

Top 10 right-handed pitchers
Top 10 left-handed pitchers
Top 10 catchers

While we've been putting out all of these lists, we've also been doing some historical research. Since 2011, which position do you think has compiled the highest combined Wins Above Replacement among top 10 preseason prospects? If you guessed shortstop (569.5), you'd be right. Outfielders came in second at 496.7, while right-handed pitching stands third, with 338.2 WAR.

All of these lists obviously elicit a ton of debate, which is a big reason why we enjoy doing the rankings. And that leads to good questions from all of you. So let's get to them, shall we?

Tweet from @puk32ellers: I know this is an incredibly difficult projection to make, but who do you think will be the top 5 prospects 2 years from now? Taking into consideration who will graduate and who will be regarded higher or lower than they are now.

We typically do a story of who will top the Top 100 a year from now right after a new list comes out, but this stretches it a bit further. The best part is that both @puk32ellers and then @Morris_8334 gave their projections. Both put Wander Franco of the Rays at the top, the only similarity. Nos. 2-5 for @puk32ellers were MacKenzie Gore (San Diego), Jarred Kelenic (Seattle), Matt Manning (Detroit) and Hunter Greene (Cincinnati). Meanwhile, @Morris_8334 rounded out his list with Alex Kirilloff (Minnesota), Royce Lewis (Minnesota), Nolan Gorman (St. Louis) and Matthew Liberatore (Tampa Bay).

Both solid lists, though I could see both Kirilloff and Lewis having graduated by 2021. I'm going to go ahead and agree with putting Franco in the No. 1 spot. And I think Gore is probably right there with him, so I'll place him at No. 2. After that, I'll be different: No. 3, Patino of the Padres; No. 4, Drew Waters of the Braves; and No. 5, Adley Rutschman, who is about to start his junior year at Oregon State and could be the No. 1 pick in the 2019 Draft.

Tweet from @josh_dop: How is Cease not the number one pitcher on the list he won minor league pitcher of the year?

I wanted to answer this one because this is a common misconception. Yes, Dylan Cease was our Pipeline Pitcher of the Year in 2018, and for good reason after a dominant season during which he reached Double-A for the first time. We're obviously very high on him, given that we have him at No. 5 on our Top 10 RHP list.

Our lists on Prospect Watch are not about current performance, however. Yes, production does become important at a certain point, and seeing Cease do well as he progressed to Double-A is a reason why he's as high as he is. But the Pitcher of the Year Award is only about performance for that year, not what he may, or may not, become in the future. That second point is exactly what the rankings are about -- what we project, based on countless conversations with the scouting industry, the players will become. With an overall 60 grade, Cease is still projected to be a frontline starter. It's just that Forrest Whitley, Casey Mize, Michael Kopech and Mitch Keller are projected to be ever so slightly better than Cease. At least for now.

Video: Top Prospects: Dylan Cease, RHP, White Sox

Tweet from @padres_faithful: How close were Luis Pati��o and Chris Paddack to being in the top 10?

I chose this one because it was a more polite version than several other tweets that had variations of "No Chris Paddack?" Braves fans, don't worry, I won't forget you. We got plenty of the "Where's Touki Toussaint/Ian Anderson?" questions as well.

Suffice it to say the right-handed pitchers list is the deepest one we have. I don't want to give anything away in terms of where these guys land on the new Top 100 (coming on Jan. 26), but you can get the idea by looking at our 2018 list. All 10 hurlers on that list were in the top 29 overall. So just because your favorite pitching prospect isn't on the list doesn't mean he isn't highly regarded.

Video: Allen, Paddack, Quantrill among key Padres prospects

Padres fans, relax. Not only are Paddack and Luis Patino not far from this top 10, but Patino was the "Keep An Eye On" subject in the RHP breakdown story and San Diego has four lefties in the top 10. How many starting-pitching prospects do you need, anyway?

As for Braves fans, it's not a prospect-ranking season without hearing full-throated complaints. We get accusations of anti-Braves bias for snubs, even though there were 10 Braves in the Top 100 at the end of 2018. Mike Soroka and Kyle Wright gives them two Top 10 RHP, and I assure you Anderson and Toussaint aren't far behind.

Tweet from @SigmrewFreudman: So our Dodgers lefties can hit LHP with the exception of Toles & Joc. Looking at the Padres farm of LHP studs coming up perhaps a reason to look deeper into acquiring Machado?

I had to include this question just because of the thoroughness of it. I also love how he's asking about going after Manny Machado to combat the Padres LHP pitching prospects on the way up, but his profile picture is of a very much left-handed-hitting Bryce Harper (.796 career OPS vs. LHP) in a Dodgers uniform. But I digress.

I can't imagine any team, even one within the same division, going after a high-priced free agent because of Minor League pitching depth. But it is important to point out that the Padres also have some quality right-handers coming soon as well. The aforementioned Paddack and Patino didn't miss our Top 10 by much, and who knows what righties like Cal Quantrill, Anderson Espinoza and even Jacob Nix can become. Maybe you should be looking for switch-hitters in Los Angeles?

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

No-doubt Hall of Famers you'll see play this season

MLB.com @mike_petriello

We have an extremely hot take to offer: One day, Mike Trout is going to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

In his seven full seasons, he's finished either first or second in the Most Valuable Player Award voting six times, with 2017's fourth place somehow representing a "down year." While he hasn't quite reached the 10-season minimum for eligibility yet, at 27 years old he's accomplished enough that if he were to enter Cooperstown today, he'd already have outproduced many other Hall of Famers. He's that good. You're watching a legend in the prime of his career.

We have an extremely hot take to offer: One day, Mike Trout is going to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

In his seven full seasons, he's finished either first or second in the Most Valuable Player Award voting six times, with 2017's fourth place somehow representing a "down year." While he hasn't quite reached the 10-season minimum for eligibility yet, at 27 years old he's accomplished enough that if he were to enter Cooperstown today, he'd already have outproduced many other Hall of Famers. He's that good. You're watching a legend in the prime of his career.

That much shouldn't be controversial. But who else? How many other all-time greats will you be seeing on the field in 2019? It's a complicated question. As it it weren't hard enough to try to forecast whether today's current stars will get there, you never know which cup of coffee from an unheralded prospect turns out to be the beginning of something great. (For example: 2018 inductee Jim Thome was a 13th-round pick who received 104 generally unimpressive plate appearances in 1991. At the time, who thought they were seeing a future legend? Maybe that's, let's say, Cristian Pache this year.) 

When we've done this in recent years (2018, 2017, 2016), we've identified that an average season has approximately 31 Hall of Famers playing in it, so that's the number we'll try to hit here. We'll break it into tiers, and we'll show FanGraphs' Wins Above Replacement, just to give some rough context to a player's career. (The average Hall of Famer has put up between 50 WAR to 70 WAR, and legends like Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds topped 160 WAR.) We'll also use the "JAWS" system to compare players to other Hall of Famers.

We're bidding farewell to one no-doubt Hall of Famer in Adrian Beltre, who retired in November after 21 seasons and should gain easy entrance to Cooperstown. It's not quite so clear if Joe Mauer and Chase Utley will make it, but they'll have cases to make now that they're officially retired, as will David Wright, who probably falls short due to the injuries that sidelined his career.

Here's the potential greats that you'll want to keep an eye out for in 2019.

The no-doubt slam dunks

Video: DET@PIT: Miggy has a four-hit game in Pittsburgh

1. Albert Pujols (88 WAR)
2. Miguel Cabrera (71 WAR)
3. Mike Trout (65 WAR)
4. Justin Verlander (64 WAR)
5. Clayton Kershaw (62 WAR)
6. Ichiro Suzuki (58 WAR)*
7. Max Scherzer (52 WAR) 

Last year, Pujols was on this list showing 89 WAR, which tells you a little about how the back end of his career in Anaheim is going, but it doesn't matter. There's nothing he can do to change his status as an inner-circle all-time great. The same goes for Cabrera, despite his injury-plagued 2018, and it says a lot about how wonderful Kershaw has been that we're talking about his decline after a year in which he had a 2.73 ERA. We know Trout doesn't have 10 years yet. It doesn't matter.

We're elevating Scherzer here because he's got three Cy Young Awards (and three other top-five finishes). Nine other pitchers have won three Cy Youngs; seven are in Cooperstown, one will clearly be there when he's eligible (Kershaw), and one has well-known reasons for lagging in the ballot (Roger Clemens). At 34, Scherzer is still at the top of his game, and he'll get there, easily. Verlander's outstanding Houston rebound strongly enhances his case after what appeared to be the beginning of the end late in his Detroit tenure, and he's also won a rare pitching Most Valuable Player Award.

*Wait, Ichiro? Didn't he retire after playing in only 15 games in 2018? He sure did. But when the Mariners and A's open the 2019 season with two games in Tokyo on March 20 and 21, he's reportedly going to be a part of the active roster. It might just be a pinch-hitting appearance or two; he might not play any games in North America. But technically, he'll be an active player in the 2019 Major League season. He counts.

The 30-and-over players with strong cases

Video: Verlander takes second place for AL Cy Young Award

8. CC Sabathia (68 WAR)
9. Zack Greinke (57 WAR)
10. Robinson Cano (57 WAR)
11. Joey Votto (56 WAR)
12. Andrew McCutchen (49 WAR)
13. Buster Posey (39 WAR)
14. Yadier Molina (38 WAR)
15. Paul Goldschmidt (37 WAR)
16. Craig Kimbrel (19 WAR)
17. Aroldis Chapman (18 WAR)
18. Kenley Jansen (17 WAR)

Not all of these guys get in, but several will, especially as voters of the future are more likely to appreciate the skills of someone like Votto than those in years gone by. Molina's case is probably not fully represented using WAR; while he's not the slam dunk first-ballot guy Cardinals fans would have you believe, it's more likely than not he gains enshrinement.

It's very possible that Cano torpedoed his candidacy with his 80-game suspension in 2018, but given how Bonds and Clemens have increased their share of the ballot in recent years, we can't say for certain what things will look like in 10 years or so when he's eligible. Voters change, and so do opinions. 

We've dropped some players who previously appeared on this list, because they've stalled out or been injured as they've aged, like Felix Hernandez, Evan Longoria, Dustin Pedroia, and Troy Tulowitzki. Pedroia (and Ian Kinsler), for example, ranks below the average Hall of Fame second baseman, and his best days seem behind him.

Chapman, Kimbrel and Jansen are interesting cases. Relievers rarely pile up high WAR totals, but they've each been part of the holy trinity of star closers for more than a half-decade now. As the game embraces bullpens more and more, and closers like Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith get inducted, it seems more and more likely these three will get in.

We didn't include current stars like Jacob deGrom, Corey Kluber, J.D. Martinez, Justin Turner and Josh Donaldson, because they reached elite levels relatively late in their 20s and may not have enough time to compile the counting stats. Don't lose sight of them entirely, however.

Under-30 players on the right path

Video: Betts reacts to winning American League MVP Award

19. Chris Sale (42 WAR)
20. Giancarlo Stanton (39 WAR)
21. Jose Altuve (32 WAR)
22. Mookie Betts (31 WAR)
23. Bryce Harper (31 WAR)
24. Freddie Freeman (31 WAR)
25. Manny Machado (30 WAR)
26. Nolan Arenado (26 WAR)
27. Anthony Rizzo (26 WAR)
28. Anthony Rendon (26 WAR)
29. Francisco Lindor (23 WAR)
30. Kris Bryant (23 WAR) 
31. Jose Ramirez (21 WAR)

So here's the problem we're running into here, which maybe you've already noticed. This is a group of incredibly talented young players, including five MVP winners (Harper 2015, Bryant 2016, Stanton 2017, Altuve 2017, Betts 2018) and two players in Machado and Harper who are on a path that's more "historic" than merely "impressive."

They won't all get there, of course. Maybe Rendon remains perpetually underrated into retirement, or someone gets hurt or flames out at age 30. We've seen all that before -- just look at Wright, Hernandez, etc. 

No, the problem is that we just hit 31 names. We haven't included current stars like Aaron Judge, Christian Yelich, Madison Bumgarner, Andrelton Simmons, Alex Bregman, Luis Severino, Cody Bellinger, Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, Corey Seager, etc., or last season's breakouts like Ronald Acuna Jr., Shohei Ohtani, Walker Buehler or Juan Soto. We haven't had a chance to note the future stars we expect to see debut in 2019 like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Eloy Jimenez or Forrest Whitley.

We didn't get to consider injury-shortened debuts from high-level talents like Michael Kopech or Victor Robles, or wonder if Max Muncy's magical breakout was the start of something historic. We haven't talked about the disappointing debut or out-of-nowhere guy you didn't notice in 2018, like hey, what if Scott Kingery really is great? What if Lewis Brinson figures out how to make contact?

There's just too many incredible talents in the game right now to list them all, which is what makes this entire exercise difficult. It's what makes it fun too, we suppose. It's so hard to predict the future. You'll never be able to know for sure which players on the field are future legends. 

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

Red Sox stay confident after Yankees' moves

With core intact, Dombrowski, Cora not worried about signing proven closer
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Another potential Red Sox closing target was taken off the free-agent market on Thursday when Adam Ottavino signed with the rival Yankees, sources confirmed to MLB.com.

With less than a month before Spring Training, this leaves the defending World Series champions with a loaded roster that lacks one thing: a proven closer.

BOSTON -- Another potential Red Sox closing target was taken off the free-agent market on Thursday when Adam Ottavino signed with the rival Yankees, sources confirmed to MLB.com.

With less than a month before Spring Training, this leaves the defending World Series champions with a loaded roster that lacks one thing: a proven closer.

While the uncertainty in the ninth inning is unsettling to fans, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and manager Alex Cora both expressed confidence that the team will be fine regardless of whether it acquires another reliever before the season starts.

Latest Hot Stove rumors

It seems obvious that payroll concerns have prevented the Red Sox from being aggressive, while the likes of Andrew Miller, David Robertson, Zach Britton, Kelvin Herrera and Ottavino have found new homes is payroll.

"Sometimes you have to evaluate where you're going to spend your dollars," Dombrowski said prior to Thursday night's Boston Baseball Writers Dinner. "We decided to keep back the rest of the core of the club. We like our team a great deal, and we think some of the guys internally can do the job. Can we get better? Perhaps. We'll see what takes place in that regard."

The Red Sox already have a projected payroll of close to $240 million and would like to avoid going over the luxury-tax penalty for the second straight year. That threshold this year is $246 million.

"Well, I'd love to [avoid the penalty]," Dombrowski said. "I mean, we don't have any mandate to do that, but again, it really hasn't changed. There is a reason why they call it a penalty, and the higher you go, the penalty is quite significant. Ideally we'd like to stay there, but that was really our goal last year before the season started, and we did end up going over."

There are four scenarios left for Dombrowski. One would be to find a bargain from what is left on the free-agent market, with former Indians closer Cody Allen being perhaps the most intriguing of the affordable options.

The second would be to promote someone internally. Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier are the top options.

Inbox: Should Red Sox improve behind the dish?

There's always the possibility of a trade, which is how the Sox got Craig Kimbrel three years ago.

And the least likely scenario would be to bring back Kimbrel, who remains on the market and is going to come at a substantial cost.

Video: ALCS Gm2: Barnes gets Sox out of jam, earns win

"Again, there's a lot of players that are out there at this point. It could [come from within]," Dombrowski said. "But that's also one decision that we don't have to really make that decision until March 28, which is our first game."

When asked directly about Kimbrel, Dombrowski maintained the stance he has taken since the Winter Meetings.

"I wouldn't really comment on individual situations other than to say I still don't expect us to have a high expenditure in our closer situation," said Dombrowski.

If you go by the numbers from 2018, Barnes (96 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings) at least has the potential to be a strong option in the ninth inning.

Video: BOS@NYY Gm4: Brasier completes a 1-2-3 7th inning

Brasier came out of nowhere last year, but he is heavily in the team's plans this season to the point that he could compete to be the closer.

And don't forget about Tyler Thornburg. Though his first two seasons in Boston have been almost a complete loss due to injuries or recovering from them, the righty could at last be healthy enough to resume being the major weapon he was for Milwaukee in 2016. Dare to dream?

Knuckleballer Steven Wright can also be an important factor in the late innings, though it would be unorthodox but not unheard of for him to close.

"I mean, we've got some capable guys," said Cora. "We can maximize the guys that we have."

If the bullpen doesn't stack up on paper with the Yankees -- and right now it clearly doesn't -- Cora thinks the Red Sox can accentuate their other strengths.

"People get caught up obviously in what New York is doing. We knew that they were going to make moves," Cora said. "They have a great bullpen, obviously. But we have a great rotation. It balances out. Our strength is the rotation. If that's the only question mark we have, so be it."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier

Who's the No. 1 overall catching prospect?

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

MLB Pipeline will unveil its 2019 Top 100 Prospects list with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

There's a good amount of turnover on this year's Top 10 Catching Prospects list compared to the 2018 version. That starts at the top, with a member of the 2018 Draft Class, Joey Bart, leading the way.

MLB Pipeline will unveil its 2019 Top 100 Prospects list with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

There's a good amount of turnover on this year's Top 10 Catching Prospects list compared to the 2018 version. That starts at the top, with a member of the 2018 Draft Class, Joey Bart, leading the way.

Video: Top Prospects: Joey Bart, C, Giants

Francisco Mejia, now with the Padres, continues to be a mainstay, sitting in the top two for the third straight season. Keibert Ruiz of the Dodgers, the A's Sean Murphy and Danny Jansen from the Blue Jays are the other holdovers from last year's Top 10. Graduation caused some serious turnover, with Carson Kelly, now with the D-backs, Jorge Alfaro (Phillies), Chance Sisco (Orioles) and Victor Caratini (Cubs) all moving on to larger big league contributions.

Top 10 Prospects by Position

The Top 10 (ETA)
1. Joey Bart, Giants (2021)
2. Francisco Mejia, Padres (2019)
3. Keibert Ruiz, Dodgers (2020)
4. Sean Murphy, A's (2019)
5. Danny Jansen, Blue Jays (2019)
6. Ronaldo Hernandez, Rays (2021)
7. Miguel Amaya, Cubs (2021)
8. Daulton Varsho, D-backs (2020)
9. MJ Melendez, Royals (2021)
10. Andrew Knizner, Cardinals (2019)
Complete list »

Top tools

Hit: Mejia (60)
Mejia has hit at pretty much every stop in the Minors, starting with his 50-game hitting streak and .342 average in 2016. Following his trade to the Padres last year in the Brad Hand deal, he showed what the fuss was about by hitting .328 with Triple-A El Paso en route to making his San Diego debut. His ability to swing the bat from both sides of the plate is well ahead of his defense behind it.

Video: Top Prospects: Francisco Mejia, C, Padres

Power: Bart (60)
The No. 2 overall pick in last June's Draft, Bart not only has a strong college power resume, with double-digit home runs as a sophomore and a junior, but he showed that it would translate immediately in the pro game when he hit 13 home runs in just 45 Northwest League games during his pro debut. He has the potential to hit at least 25 homers annually.

Run: Varsho (55)
There are some who feel Varsho is athletic enough to play second base if catching doesn't work out, and he certainly did nothing to dampen that evaluation during his first full year. Varsho stole 19 bases in 22 tries in just 80 California League games. He then went on to swipe eight more during his Arizona Fall League stint.

Video: Top Prospects: Daulton Varsho, C, D-backs

Arm: Mejia, Murphy (70)
Mejia has thrown out 33 percent of potential basestealers in his Minor League career. Last year, that was down to 28.9 percent, though he also spent less time behind the plate compared to other seasons. Murphy threw out 34.3 percent in 2018, which actually brought his career percentage down to 35.5 percent.

Video: Top Prospects: Sean Murphy, C, Athletics

Field: Murphy (65)
Murphy would be the runner-up on the All-Defense Prospect Team thanks to his all-around work behind the plate. In addition to his arm detailed above, he's agile with excellent blocking, receiving and game-calling skills. He gets very high marks for his ability to work with a pitching staff.

Superlatives

Ceiling: Melendez
The 2017 second-round pick showed off all of his skills during his first full season. He finished fifth in the South Atlantic League in home runs and slugging percentage, and he should tap into his raw power even more as he refines his approach. Behind the plate, Melendez used his plus arm to throw out nearly 42 percent of those trying to steal last season.

Video: Top Prospects: M.J. Melendez, C, Royals

Floor: Ruiz
Murphy could be a candidate if you wanted to focus solely on defense -- his glove will make him a big leaguer. But Ruiz's bat, with the ability to hit for average and power, provides a little more certainty that he'll be a big league regular at the position.

Video: Top Prospects: Keibert Ruiz, C, Dodgers

Rookie of the Year candidate: Jansen
There are several on this list ready to contribute in 2019, but Jansen appears to be the only one heading into the season as the No. 1 backstop on the depth chart. He had a solid big league debut in August and September last year to build a foundation for his first full year in the big leagues.

Video: Top Prospects: Danny Jansen, C, Blue Jays

Highest riser: Hernandez
Hernandez began 2018 as the Rays' No. 20 prospect, but was up to No. 7 by the end of the season. Now he's jumping onto this Top 10 list for the first time after a year that saw him hit 21 home runs in his full-season debut while throwing out 36 percent of runners trying to steal.

Video: Top Prospects: Ronaldo Hernandez, C, Rays

Humblest beginnings: Knizner
The Cardinals have a knack for finding late-round talent and it looks like they've done it again with Knizner, a seventh-round pick in 2016. The North Carolina State product was a third baseman until he began his catching career as a sophomore and now he's ready to be a big leaguer, thanks to a .310/.373/.460 line and a 36.2 percent caught stealing rate.

Video: Top Prospects: Andrew Knizner, C, Cardinals

Most to prove: Mejia
Yes, Mejia has hit pretty much everywhere he's been in the Minors, but he has a .583 OPS in 76 big league plate appearances, a small sample size for sure. That, combined with questions about his ability to catch full-time and showing he was worth trading for, makes the spotlight a little brighter on him in 2019.

Keep an eye on: William Contreras, Braves
The younger brother of Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, William had a very strong first taste of full-season ball, earning a promotion to the Class A Advanced Florida State League at age 20. He has a solid approach at the plate with some pop (11 homers in 2018) in addition to a strong arm and solid receiving skills behind it.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.