Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

See who's new on the 2019 Hall of Fame ballot

MLB.com @mattkellyMLB

Is the Hall of Fame ballot "logjam" almost at an end?

With the Baseball Writers' Association of America electing a record 16 candidates over the past five years, including at least two per year, Cooperstown has been plenty busy in recent summers. While plenty of holdovers remain on the ballot, the clock continues to tick on their candidacies, and this year's voting figures to say a lot about their ultimate chances of being elected.

Is the Hall of Fame ballot "logjam" almost at an end?

With the Baseball Writers' Association of America electing a record 16 candidates over the past five years, including at least two per year, Cooperstown has been plenty busy in recent summers. While plenty of holdovers remain on the ballot, the clock continues to tick on their candidacies, and this year's voting figures to say a lot about their ultimate chances of being elected.

In the meantime, a host of name-brand stars have entered the fray, headlined by one legend who figures to get Yankees fans flocking upstate in July. Below is a look at the players on the 2019 BBWAA ballot, announced Monday by the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with an early guess on their Cooperstown fates. The election results will be announced on Jan. 22, live on MLB Network.

FIRST-BALLOT LOCK

Mariano Rivera
Closers typically face a divisive electorate when it comes to the Hall, but with a record 652 saves and an incredible 0.70 postseason ERA, Rivera is really in a class of his own. Rivera's induction could challenge the record crowd of 82,000 that saw Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. receive their plaques in 2007, with Derek Jeter's certain election in 2020 figuring to do the same.

Video: Yankees Retired Number: No. 42, Mariano Rivera

FIRST-BALLOT INTRIGUE

Roy Halladay
A pair of Cy Youngs and a pair of no-hitters (including one in the postseason) would figure to get the late Halladay over the hump. But his 203 wins may seem paltry to more traditional voters, and we just saw another ace from Halladay's era, Johan Santana, go one-and-done with just 2.4 percent of the vote. The guess here is that Halladay gets in, however, and perhaps even squeaks through on his first ballot.

Video: MLB remembers the greatness of Roy Halladay

Todd Helton
Only 19 players since 1900 have accrued 5,000 plate appearances and put up a .300/.400/.500 slash line, and Helton is one of them. But so is Helton's former teammate Larry Walker, who's entering his ninth year on the ballot as a longshot. Voters are still wrapping their heads around the Coors Field factor, so Helton's candidacy could be debated for a while.

Video: Rockies retired number: No. 17, Todd Helton

Andy Pettitte
Postseason moments are strong boosters for election, and no pitcher has more wins in October than Pettitte. But the lefty's 3.85 career ERA and his admission to using human growth hormone might ultimately leave him just shy of the Plaque Gallery.

Video: Yankees retired number: No. 46, Andy Pettitte

LAST CHANCE

Edgar Martinez
Martinez's candidacy has a full head of steam, jumping from 58.6 percent to 70.4 percent last year. Will 2019 finally be Edgar's time? Last year, the Tacoma News Tribune pointed out that each of the past 10 players who received between 70-74 percent of the BBWAA vote gained election the very next year, and every candidate who's crossed the 70-percent threshold has eventually gotten into Cooperstown via either the BBWAA or a Veterans Committee.

With Rivera being the only first-ballot lock, the guess here is that a little more room on the ballot, coupled with the urgency of Martinez's final-year push, convinces a final few voters to check off the Seattle slugger's name.

Video: Martinez looking ahead to 2019 Hall of Fame vote

Fred McGriff
McGriff's Cooperstown case, which includes a 134 adjusted OPS+ and 493 home runs, might be better than you think. But the Crime Dog would need a miraculous jump after his name appeared on only 23.2 percent of ballots last year.

Video: A look at McGriff's first and last MLB home runs

NOTABLE RETURNEES

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens
More voters are beginning to look past performance-enhancing drug allegations and choosing to view Bonds and Clemens as indispensable legends of the game. But there's still a large block of voters that will never vote for this pair, and they still have about 20 percent more ground to make up in next four years.

Video: Bonds Moments

Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling
Their career lines are similar, but Mussina has jumped ahead, arguably due to Schilling's off-field transgressions. After languishing below 25 percent as recently as 2015, Mussina's 63.5-percent total last year has him on the doorstep with five years to go.

Video: Mussina's case for Cooperstown

Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa
Ramirez's multiple suspensions for PEDs has left him with a long uphill climb to election. Sosa debuted alongside Bonds on the ballot with 609 home runs, but his relatively low average and on-base percentage -- plus PED suspicions -- have kept him from getting sufficient support.

Video: A look at Sosa's first and last MLB home runs

Larry Walker
As mentioned, the Coors factor has held back Walker -- though he was a better road hitter than you might remember. He'll likely run out of time on the BBWAA ballot, but could be viewed more favorably by a Veterans Committee down the road.

Video: Walker reflects on his career and his HOF chances

Omar Vizquel
Vizquel made a solid start at 37 percent in his ballot debut last winter. He compares well to defense-first Hall of Fame shortstops Luis Aparicio and Ozzie Smith, but his career 82 OPS+ will keep many voters away.

Video: MLB Network debates if Vizquel will make Hall of Fame

Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen
These two defined their positions defensively and brought plenty of power in their primes. Their candidacies stayed alive in Year 1, but each player needs momentum in the voting.

Video: Kenny sheds some Cooperstown Justice for Andruw Jones

Jeff Kent, Gary Sheffield and Billy Wagner
All three of these players have their mainstay voters, but have had trouble building momentum. Their best-case scenarios are to get somewhere within 20 percent before their 10th year on the ballot and hope for a massive final-year push.

Video: Gary Sheffield's HOF candidacy up for debate

COULD GET A SECOND CHANCE

Lance Berkman
Berkman's career line has some gaudy numbers, including a 144 OPS+ that ranks among the top 30 in history. But longevity will be an issue -- Berkman logged only eight seasons in which he played in at least 140 games.

Video: Richard Justice looks back at Lance Berkman's career

Roy Oswalt
The former Astros ace posted two 20-win seasons and placed within the top five in Cy Young Award voting five times. But Oswalt's 163 wins and 2,245 1/3 innings will have trouble convincing even new-school voters to write down his name.

Video: Duquette looks back at Oswalt's 13-year career

LIKELY ONE AND DONE (less than 5 percent of vote)

Rick Ankiel (13 wins and 51 appearances as a pitcher, 462 hits as an outfielder)
Jason Bay (2004 NL Rookie of the Year, 121 OPS+)
Freddy Garcia (156 wins, 2001 AL ERA title)
Jon Garland (136 wins, 2005 World Series champion)
Travis Hafner (213 HR, tied MLB record with six grand slams in 2006)
Ted Lilly (130 wins, 1,681 SO)
Derek Lowe (176 wins and 86 saves)
Darren Oliver (766 appearances)
Juan Pierre (2,217 hits, 614 SB)
Placido Polanco (.297 BA, 2006 ALCS MVP)
Miguel Tejada (816 XBH, 2002 AL MVP)
Vernon Wells (270 HR, 2003 AL hit crown)
Kevin Youkilis (.382 OBP, 123 OPS+)
Michael Young (.300 BA, 2,375 hits)

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Suzuki headed to Nationals on 2-year deal

MLB.com @_dadler

The Nationals have agreed to a two-year deal with free-agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, sources told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand on Monday.

The move, which has not yet been announced, addresses Washington's immediate need at the position. With Matt Wieters hitting free agency this offseason, the Nationals had been left with only Spencer Kieboom and Pedro Severino as catching options.

The Nationals have agreed to a two-year deal with free-agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, sources told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand on Monday.

The move, which has not yet been announced, addresses Washington's immediate need at the position. With Matt Wieters hitting free agency this offseason, the Nationals had been left with only Spencer Kieboom and Pedro Severino as catching options.

Suzuki hit .271/.332/.444 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs in 105 games for the Braves last season, splitting time with Tyler Flowers for the National League East champions.

The 35-year-old veteran should give the Nationals some much-needed offensive production from the catcher spot, which was an ongoing issue for Washington in 2018. The Nationals were one of the worst-hitting teams in the Majors at the catching position -- their catchers posted a combined OPS of just .611, fifth-lowest of any team, and Washington's 12 home runs by catchers were tied for the fourth-fewest of any team. Wieters missed significant time due to injury, and wasn't very productive when he was on the field.

Suzuki has been an above-average hitter in each of the past two seasons. He had an OPS+ of 108 in 2018 -- meaning he was eight-percent better than a league-average hitter -- and had a 128 OPS+ in 2017, when he hit .283/.351/.536 with 19 homers in 81 games.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Washington Nationals, Kurt Suzuki

Next year's top free agents -- 1 for each team

Sale, Arenado among marquee players who could hit the market
MLB.com @williamfleitch

Free-agent season is just getting started, and one of the challenges of assessing free agents sometimes can be separating what they did in the last year of their most recent contract and what they can expect to do in the future. There's not a ton of evidence that players are healthier or better in their contract year than they are the rest of their career, but teams can't help but bid sometimes on what they saw most recently.

So, today, we look at the most prominent pending free agent for next year, the guys who will be playing for their next contract in 2019. These are the names we'll be talking about a year from now come Hot Stove time … though the sort of offers they'll get will depend on what happens next season.

Free-agent season is just getting started, and one of the challenges of assessing free agents sometimes can be separating what they did in the last year of their most recent contract and what they can expect to do in the future. There's not a ton of evidence that players are healthier or better in their contract year than they are the rest of their career, but teams can't help but bid sometimes on what they saw most recently.

So, today, we look at the most prominent pending free agent for next year, the guys who will be playing for their next contract in 2019. These are the names we'll be talking about a year from now come Hot Stove time … though the sort of offers they'll get will depend on what happens next season.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Justin Smoak
The Blue Jays actually have several big free agents coming up -- Russell Martin, Kendrys Morales, Yangervis Solarte -- but Smoak is coming off the best season of any of them.

Orioles: Mark Trumbo
That hefty contract he signed before the 2017 hasn't paid off well for the Orioles, and the market has definitely contracted for players like Trumbo since.

Rays: None
Think the Rays are meticulous planners? They have no impending free agents on their team at all. Even Tommy Pham, who is 30 and playing on a minimum contract, has three years of team control.

Red Sox: Chris Sale
The final year of that team-friendly deal he signed in 2013 is finally upon us, and he could be the most coveted a free agent a year from now. Xander Bogaerts is also poised to hit the market, and J.D. Martinez has an opt-out in his deal, so the Red Sox could look a lot different in 2020.

Video: WS2018 Gm5: Sale strikes out the side to clinch WS

Yankees: Didi Gregorius
This is a player who could make himself a lot of money with a terrific 2019, but he just underwent Tommy John surgery and could miss a decent chunk of the year.

AL CENTRAL

Indians: Jason Kipnis
The Indians have three "expensive" players with club options -- Kipnis, Edwin Encarnacion and Corey Kluber -- and Kipnis seems like the one they're least likely to pick up.

Royals: Alex Gordon
It is extremely unlikely that the club will pick up his $23 million mutual option.

Tigers: Nicholas Castellanos
He could be a sleeper option for someone next offseason … and an obvious Trade Deadline candidate.

Twins: Kyle Gibson
He was sneakily the Twins' best pitcher this year. If he can do that again, he could be another Kyle Lohse.

White Sox: Jose Abreu
Both Abreu and Avisail Garcia seem like obvious Trade Deadline candidates this year. It's a little surprising neither has been traded already.

Video: Abreu expresses emotions after Silver Slugger win

AL WEST

Angels: None
Here's another team with no pending free agents. Unfortunately for the Angels, it's for very different reasons than the Rays. Mike Trout has just two years left, friends.

Astros: Gerrit Cole
Here's another pitcher who has made himself quite a bit more money in the last calendar year.

Video: ALCS Gm 2: Cole escapes a bases-loaded jam

Athletics: Khris Davis
Davis will be one of the most fascinating free-agent cases next season. If the A's are excellent again, that'll help.

Mariners: Felix Hernandez
There might be no pitcher in baseball whom the sport will be cheering for to have a great final (?) season in Seattle.

Rangers: Drew Smyly
He'll be on his way out the door before most Rangers fans had a chance to even say hello.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: Arodys Vizcaino
He might quietly be the best closer on the market next season.

Marlins: Martin Prado
That extension he signed after the 2016 season feels like it happened in a different lifetime.

Mets: Todd Frazier
Whatever you think of the Mets, they don't have many long-term contracts laying around the roster anymore.

Nationals: Anthony Rendon
It's possible the biggest contract next season might end up going to Rendon.

Video: WSH@COL: Rendon drives an RBI triple to center field

Phillies: Tommy Hunter
The Phillies are clearly ready to spend this offseason, and they should be.

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: Jhoulys Chacin
He ended up being their best pitcher last season. Do that again, and he might be one of the top starters on the market.

Cardinals: Marcell Ozuna
If he has the year in 2019 that the Cardinals had wanted him to have in 2018 he might end up the big-ticket item next winter.

Cubs: Cole Hamels
The arbitration hearings are starting to pile up for all those young Cubs stars.

Video: Cubs pick up Hamels' option, deal Smyly to Texas

Pirates: Francisco Cervelli
One of the most underrated catchers in the game. Corey Dickerson's deal will be up too.

Reds: Scooter Gennett
Has any player raised his profile more in the last two seasons than Gennett?

NL WEST

D-backs: Paul Goldschmidt
There are some trade rumors swirling around Goldschmidt, so it's possible he isn't with Arizona next winter when he hits the market.

Dodgers: Yasiel Puig
In case you were wondering whether next year's Hot Stove will lack for hot takes … it will not.

Giants: Pablo Sandoval
That deal he signed with the Red Sox finally expires next year, presuming the Giants don't pick up the club option.

Padres: Craig Stammen
Stammen is destined to be the reliever your team signs whom you're not excited about but is the only reliever you trust in September.

Rockies: Nolan Arenado
Surely they're going to get an extension done at some point … right? Otherwise he's all we'll be talking about next winter.

Video: Nolan Arenado honored to be MVP finalist

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Jose Abreu, Nolan Arenado, Nicholas Castellanos, Francisco Cervelli, Jhoulys Chacin, Gerrit Cole, Khris Davis, Todd Frazier, Scooter Gennett, Kyle Gibson, Paul Goldschmidt, Alex Gordon, Didi Gregorius, Cole Hamels, Felix Hernandez, Tommy Hunter, Jason Kipnis, Marcell Ozuna, Martin Prado, Yasiel Puig, Anthony Rendon, Chris Sale, Pablo Sandoval, Justin Smoak, Drew Smyly, Craig Stammen, Mark Trumbo, Arodys Vizcaino

All 30 teams could use this free agent

MLB.com @RichardJustice

Marwin Gonzalez appears to be a hot commodity in this free-agent market, and the people who have watched him play or called him a teammate these last seven seasons with the Astros couldn't be happier about that. They're not happy that he may have played his last game for Houston, but they're thrilled for Gonzalez, who has made himself a terrific player with hard work and smarts and a relentless will to succeed.

In Houston, Gonzalez is about as beloved as almost any player during a four-year run that has produced three postseason appearances and a World Series trophy in 2017. He's that player you tell your kid he or she ought to emulate -- the one who puts the team first, the consummate pro, the good teammate.

Marwin Gonzalez appears to be a hot commodity in this free-agent market, and the people who have watched him play or called him a teammate these last seven seasons with the Astros couldn't be happier about that. They're not happy that he may have played his last game for Houston, but they're thrilled for Gonzalez, who has made himself a terrific player with hard work and smarts and a relentless will to succeed.

In Houston, Gonzalez is about as beloved as almost any player during a four-year run that has produced three postseason appearances and a World Series trophy in 2017. He's that player you tell your kid he or she ought to emulate -- the one who puts the team first, the consummate pro, the good teammate.

Latest Hot Stove buzz

Gonzalez's enduring Astros legacy will be that he hit the most important home run in the 57 seasons the franchise has been in business. That was on Oct. 25, 2017, in the top of the ninth inning of Game 2 of the World Series.

With the Astros a strike away from going down, 0-2, in the Fall Classic, Gonzalez hit a Kenley Jansen fastball over the center-field wall to tie a game his team would win in 11 innings. Without it, there's probably no World Series parade in Houston a few days later.

Video: Must C Clutch: Gonzalez's homer ties game in 9th

In this free-agent market, some fans will wonder where Gonzalez fits with their favorite team. Sure, they like the guy and appreciate how important he has been to the Astros. They just see their own lineup as set enough that there may not be enough playing time for Gonzalez.

And that's the thing about Gonzalez. At this time of the year, we try to figure out where the best free agents might fit, from Manny Machado playing shortstop for the Phillies to Bryce Harper in left for the Cardinals.

That's impossible to do with Gonzalez. He fits everywhere. He makes every team better.

Need an outfielder? Gonzalez can cover you there. Second base? Shortstop? First? He can check those boxes, too. As his best friend, Jose Altuve, told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart last week, "You have a problem, you call Marwin."

Or as Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr., said last summer, "You can make the case he's one of the best players in the league."

Or as his manager the last four seasons, AJ Hinch, said, "That's so valuable to have a guy who can play anywhere."

And Gonzalez is willing to do that. And he understands that part of his value is his versatility and his ability to produce regardless of where he's playing. Last season, he started 65 games in left field, 29 at shortstop, 21 at first base, 19 at second and two at third.

Historical context: Gonzalez is the first player in Major League history to have four seasons with at least 10 games at four positions; left, short, first and second.

Offensively, Gonzalez is one of the best. In 2017, he was sixth in the American League in OPS (.907) and wOBA (.382) and 18th in wRC+ (144).

Gonzalez had a tough first half in 2018. But in the second half, he bounced back and was 14th in the AL in wRC+ (134), 17th in wOBA (.362) and 19th in OPS (.844). He then hit .333 with two doubles, two home runs and nine RBIs in eight postseason games.

Video: MLB Tonight talks Marwin's impact on the Astros

Gonzalez has a voracious appetite to get better, picking the brains of a string of teammates, from Carlos Beltran in 2017 to Altuve and others in '18.

Another part of Gonzalez's legacy is that the best stretch of baseball the Astros have had began with the purchase of the team by Houston businessman Jim Crane in 2011 and Crane's hiring of Jeff Luhnow to run baseball operations.

Luhnow had been on the job only a couple of days when he made his first transaction: acquiring Gonzalez, a Rule 5 Draft choice, from the Red Sox for pitcher Marco Duarte.

Gonzalez was 22 at the time, and he would be with the Astros for every step of their rebuild, from back-to-back 100-loss seasons in 2011-12 to 100-win seasons in 2017-18.

Now, both sides seem prepared to move on. The Astros acquired infielder Aledmys Diaz from the Blue Jays on Saturday to be their super utility player as Luhnow attempts the balancing act of keeping his team competitive while maintaining payroll flexibility.

We all become accustomed to seeing players change teams. For plenty of Astros fans, the first time they see Gonzalez wearing a different uniform is going to be a jolt to the system. They view him as one of their own. And isn't that the greatest compliment a player can receive?

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Houston Astros, Marwin Gonzalez

Rumors: Realmuto, Grandal, Yanks, Morton

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

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

Free agents, by position
Free agents, by team

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

Free agents, by position
Free agents, by team

What does the Suzuki signing mean for the catcher market?
Nov. 19: The Nationals have been consistently mentioned as a potential suitor for the top catchers on the free-agent and trade markets, but they may be out of the running for Yasmani Grandal, Wilson Ramos and J.T. Realmuto after agreeing to a two-year contract with Kurt Suzuki on Monday. MLB.com's Mark Feinsand first reported the agreement, and sources told MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal that the contract will pay Suzuki $10 million -- $4 million for 2019 and $6 million for 2020.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: Kurt Suzuki deal with #Nationals is two years, $10M, sources say - $4M in 2019, $6M in 2020. Agreement first reported by @Feinsand.

Suzuki formed a productive catching tandem with Tyler Flowers for the Braves over the past two seasons, with both players splitting playing time fairly evenly. In that span, Suzuki recorded a 118 OPS+, putting him one point behind Realmuto, Buster Posey and Willson Contreras for the MLB lead among catchers (min. 500 plate appearances).

Suzuki played 122 games with the Nationals over 2012-13, and MLB Network insider Jon Heyman notes that they loved the veteran's makeup and receiving ability the first time they had him.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Nats loved Suzuki for makeup, receiving ability the 1st time they had him @Feinsand 1st with agreement

Washington has other needs to address and is unlikely to invest more of its resources in the catching position after inking Suzuki. That removes one potential competitor for Grandal, Ramos and Realmuto. There are still plenty of clubs in need of a catcher, but few contenders are expected to make improving at the position as much of a priority as the Nats did, which could cool the catcher market some.

While the Astros are known to be seeking a catcher, the club doesn't have to rush to sign or trade for one, with so many options still available.

Flowers remains with Atlanta, but the club is believed to be looking for someone to start regularly so it can push the 32-year-old to a more conventional backup role.

While the Marlins reportedly prefer not to deal Realmuto to another National League East team, the Braves may be able to offer Miami the best prospect package.

Should Yankees go all-in on this year's free-agent class?
Nov. 19: By their lofty "World Series or bust" standards, the Yankees haven't had much success recently. New York hasn't hoisted the Commissioner's Trophy since 2009, and even the Orioles have won the American League East more recently than the Yanks.

ESPN's David Schoenfield thinks Yankees owners Hal and Hank Steinbrenner need to "summon the spirit of their father and go big, ignore the luxury tax, do whatever it takes," and that means going all-in on this year's free-agent class.

Schoenfield outlines a five-move plan for the Yankees to become the best team in baseball, starting with signing infielder Manny Machado and left-hander Patrick Corbin.

Schoenfield thinks the Yanks should trade for Mariners southpaw James Paxton to join Corbin in their revamped rotation, noting that Paxton is projected to earn roughly the same amount as Sonny Gray in arbitration. New York can trade Gray and add Paxton without impacting the payroll.

Move No. 4 in Schoenfield's plan is to sign Daniel Murphy to start at first base and fill in at second, replacing the Greg Bird/Neil Walker combination. The Yankees gave more than 700 combined plate appearances to Bird and Walker in 2018, and both posted sub-.675 OPS marks. Schoenfield argues the lefty-swinging Murphy would be a great fit at Yankee Stadium, and points out that the veteran's contact-heavy approach would help to balance New York's strikeout-prone lineup some.

To cap it all off, Schoenfield has signing Bryce Harper as Move No. 5 for New York. In this scenario, Brett Gardner would become the fourth outfielder, with Giancarlo Stanton remaining the club's primary designated hitter.

For the Yankees to pull this off, the Steinbrenners would need to be willing to exceed the $206 million luxury-tax threshold by a significant margin, which isn't out of the question. Before staying under the threshold in 2018, New York paid the tax in every year from 2003, when the system was put in place, to 2017.

Astros reportedly make offer to Morton
Nov. 19: With Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton becoming free agents and Lance McCullers Jr. undergoing Tommy John surgery, the Astros have three rotation spots to fill for 2019. One of them could be taken by a familiar face, with USA Today's Bob Nightengale reporting that Houston has made an offer to Morton. Per Nightengale, the offer is a one-year deal with an option for 2020.

Tweet from @BNightengale: The Houston #Astos, who would love to keep Charlie Morton, have made initial offer of one year and an option for him to stay.

Morton had two strong seasons with the Astros, going 29-10 with a 3.36 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP and a 10.4 K/9 rate after signing a two-year, $14 million contract in November 2016.

The right-hander reportedly pondered retirement during the 2018 season, but he indicated after the Astros' ALCS loss to the Red Sox that he was interested in returning to Houston.

The Astros extended a one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer to Keuchel but not Morton this offseason. Keuchel rejected the offer, and many expect him to sign elsewhere.

Reggie Jackson weighs in on Machado-Yankees
Nov. 18: Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said earlier in the week that free agent superstar Manny Machado's comments during the postseason regarding his lack of hustle were "troubling."

Hall of Fame slugger Reggie Jackson, whom the Yankees signed as a free agent back in 1976, spoke to Wallace Matthews of the New York Daily News, saying that Machado's lack of hustle "ain't gonna play here [in New York]."

"I was a pretty good player and I ran hard every single at-bat," Jackson continued. "It takes talent to run fast, but it doesn't take talent to run hard. Effort is the least we can ask of ourselves."

Jackson did take some flak from manager Billy Martin for not running hard after a ball hit by the Red Sox's Jim Rice in a 1977 game, turning a single into a double. An incensed Martin pulled Jackson from the game, leading to a heated argument between the two in the dugout, during which they almost came to blows.

"I only ask one thing of my players," Martin said afterward. "Hustle. If said they hustle for me, they can play for me. I told them in Spring Training. I had a meeting. I told them you play only one way, to win. You play hard and give your 100 percent best. If you don't hustle, I don't accept it. If a player shows up the club, I show up the player."

Video: Cashman discusses how to evaluate free agent Machado

Machado is expected to command a contract somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 years and $300 million or more. The Yankees will open the 2019 season with their starting shortstop, Didi Gregorius, out of action as he recovers from offseason Tommy John surgery. That puts Machado in play for the vacancy, especially considering New York won 100 games in '18 but still finished eight games behind the eventual World Series champion Red Sox, who also defeated the Yanks in the American League Division Series.

Mike Trout to ... the Braves?
Nov. 18: The Angels have only reached the postseason once during the Mike Trout era, back in 2014 when they were swept in the American League Division Series by the Royals. As arguably the game's greatest player gets closer to free agency -- he'll be a free agent following the 2020 season -- the franchise must decide whether to stand pat entering '19, sign him to an extension, or trade him. 

The thought of trading Trout may be unthinkable to some, but MLB Network analyst Ron Darling was asked what Los Angeles should do, and responded with an eyebrow-raising proposal.

"I would say stand pat if they start strong, just because of the [Shohei] Ohtani factor, but if they get off to a slow start, I think you've gotta knock on the Braves' door," Darling said. "Give them a call and say, 'Empty out your farm system, and we'll give you Mike Trout.'"

The Braves have one of the best farm systems in baseball, and are already stocked with young talent at the big league level to complement All-Star Freddie Freeman as Atlanta enters the '19 season as the defending National League East champion. Adding Trout to the mix, given the Braves' trajectory, could vault them into World Series contention.

Tweet from @MLBNetwork: Trade him, extend him, or stand pat?What should the #Angels do with Mike Trout? #MLBTonight pic.twitter.com/KWCzzwjats

Harper in Houston, and for less than $300 million?
Nov. 18: Several Sports Illustrated writers made their predictions for where Bryce Harper would sign this offseason, and for how much. One of the out-of-the-box guesses came from Connor Grossman, who went with the Astros for $280 million over eight years, with an opt-out after 2020.

"I don't think Harper and Scott Boras are going to find a deal that meets their liking in both length and dollars," writes Grossman. "[Yankees general manager] Brian Cashman won't be swooping in with a 10-year, $400 million miracle. So they'll have to 'settle,' which in this case means breaking the average annual value record, joining an uber-talented team and leaving open the possibility of hitting free agency again at 28."

As for the Astros not being widely considered among the favorites to land Harper (like the Phillies and Yankees), Grossman cites the Angels' surprise signing of Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $254 million deal in 2011, as well as the Mariners inking Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million contract in '13, as examples of what can happen when you least expect it. A lineup featuring George Springer, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Harper would be all the more formidable for a club a year removed from winning the World Series.

MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported earlier this month that Houston had a deal in place to acquire Harper at last season's non-waiver Trade Deadline, but it was nixed by Nationals ownership.

Mets not looking to rebuild; deGrom unlikely to be traded anytime soon
Nov. 18: The Mets are unlikely to consider trading Noah Syndergaard or any of their other starting pitchers unless it is part of a plan to improve the 2019 Major League roster, reports MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required). Sources tell Rosenthal that the Mets are receiving significant interest in their starters, but the club is not looking to rebuild.

Rosenthal reported Friday that the Padres remain interested in Syndergaard after pursuing a deal for the righty before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline this past season, but San Diego's best assets lie in its stellar farm system. It's unclear if that hurts the Padres' chances of acquiring Syndergaard, given the Mets' desire to contend in 2019. If it did trade one of its starters for high-end prospects, New York would likely look to flip some of them for another asset that can help the 2019 team.

Meanwhile, Rosenthal is told that a trade of National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom is not happening anytime soon, as the Mets will first try to work out an extension with the right-hander, who is under control for two more seasons. Mets COO Jeff Wilpon indicated Friday that discussions with deGrom's new agent could begin next month. New York could look to move deGrom if contract talks are unproductive, but Rosenthal notes the extension process could take months to resolve.

The Mets could also be active on the free-agent market, as new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen promised when he first took the job. Per Rosenthal, a representative for a free-agent starter described the Mets as "very engaged in the marketplace," though another warned not to put too much stock in early free-agent rumblings.

According to SNY's Matthew Cerrone, one underrated free agent that may fit very well into the Mets' plans is second baseman DJ LeMahieu. Van Wagenen has stated his desire to upgrade the middle infield, and LeMahieu has won Gold Glove Awards each of the last two seasons. He's also a very good contact hitter and likes to go to the opposite field, which Cerrone notes would be a good quality at Citi Field.

Are the D-backs making the right move by exploring markets for Greinke and Goldy?
Nov. 18: The D-backs are reportedly shopping Zack Greinke, and possibly first baseman Paul Goldschmidt as well. If that pair is available, it injects a former Cy Young Award winner and a perennial MVP candidate into the trade market. But given where Arizona is, is it wise to begin a rebuild? The Arizona Republic's Kent Somers thinks so.

 "The 2019 team might not be any better even if Goldschmidt and Greinke return," Somers writes. "Pitcher Patrick Corbin and outfielder A.J. Pollock are likely to leave via free agency, and the team still needs another power hitter to pair with Goldschmidt and David Peralta. ... If the Diamondbacks are as serious about building a winner as they say, this is the time to make difficult decisions, such as parting with Goldschmidt, one of the most productive and popular players in team history. ... As distasteful as trading him might be, it's the only realistic way for a team with the Diamondbacks' budget to contend."

Greinke is 35 and has more than $100 million remaining on his contract, which could complicate efforts to trade him. Trading Goldschmidt, however, could bring in quite the haul in terms of prospects for Arizona. The 31-year-old first baseman is a six-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove Award winner, and has a team-friendly contract that expires after the 2019 season.

Which teams could give Indians most appropriate return in starter trade?
Nov. 18: Cleveland is reportedly open to dealing one of its top starting pitchers for salary relief, but given that the Indians remain in position to be a top American League contender, they'll need to find a team that can give them at least some impact help to the Major League roster, with outfield being Cleveland's most pressing need.

With that in mind, Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com examined the teams that might give the Indians the most fitting return for Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco or Trevor Bauer. He named the Yankees, Astros, Brewers, Padres and A's as possible trade partners.

The Yankees are still looking to add starting pitching, and have a Major League-ready arm in No. 1 prospect Justus Sheffield, who was in Cleveland's system before he was sent to New York in the Andrew Miller trade. Outfielder Clint Frazier was also a part of that trade and could move back to the Indians. In a deal with Houston, pitchers Josh James and Forrest Whitley would make sense for Cleveland, as would outfielders Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez -- each of the Astros' top four prospects is at or nearing the Major Leagues.

The Brewers have a clear need in the rotation, and Hoynes suggests 2017 breakout outfielder Domingo Santana or No. 2 prospect Corey Ray as possible return for the Indians. Or perhaps the Indians might make another blockbuster deal with the Padres and set their sights on 26-year-old outfielder Hunter Renfroe, who has hit 26 homers in consecutive seasons. The low-payroll A's would likely be a long shot, but with salary relief, they might be enticed to listen to offers involving Jesus Luzardo, their top prospect, who pitched his way up to Triple-A in 2018.

Will Cubs join the fray for Harper?
Nov. 18: Although The Athletic reported earlier in November that the Cubs have "financial concerns that may limit their ability and motivation to make a huge splash this winter," the club may nonetheless be involved in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes.

Dan Bernstein of 670 The Score reported Friday that the Cubs are among the teams that are "in" on Harper with negotiations starting to pick up steam.

Tweet from @Bernstein_McK: .@dan_bernstein reporting that the Bryce Harper negotiations are picking up steam and that the Cubs are among the teams "in" on the free agent right fielder. https://t.co/tJn6KQF40G pic.twitter.com/8UfoUewbBg

Of course, the report should be taken with a grain of salt, as Matt Snyder of CBS Sports noted Saturday. The Cubs may simply be floating this as a misdirection to make other teams think they are involved in the Harper bidding, and to avoid backlash from the fan base. Furthermore, Bernstein isn't a known news-breaker, and his report hasn't been confirmed by any local or national reporters of note.

Baseball-reference estimates the Cubs will have a $208.6 million payroll in 2019, putting them over the Competitive Balance Tax threshold of $206 million and subjecting them to a 20 percent tax on all overages. Teams that exceed the threshold by $20 million to $40 million are also required to pay a 12 percent surtax. The Cubs will likely fall into that range if they sign Harper for north of $30 million.

Still, a major free-agent move wouldn't be out of character for the Theo Epstein-led front office, which has signed Jon Lester, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, Yu Darvish and Brandon Morrow to expensive contracts over the past four offseasons.

Eovaldi receiving plenty of interest
Nov. 18: Nathan Eovaldi hasn't often performed like an elite starter during his career, but his dominant postseason has teams lining up to sign him. According to a report from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, as many as nine teams could be in on the free-agent righty.

Cafardo names the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, Angels, White Sox, Blue Jays, Giants, Padres and Red Sox as clubs that are interested in Eovaldi, and notes that more could join in on the bidding.

While teams don't hand out big-money contracts based solely on one strong postseason, it was how Eovaldi achieved his stellar results -- regularly flashing 100 mph heat, mixing his pitches and locating like he rarely has in the past -- that likely made so many clubs take notice.

The 28-year-old also turned in a solid regular season, recording a 3.81 ERA with personal bests K/9 rate (8.2) and BB/9 rate (1.6) over 111 innings.

And while Eovaldi's health history -- he's undergone two Tommy John surgeries -- could give some teams pause, his right arm was given a clean bill of health after a routine checkup this past week.

Add it all up and Eovaldi seems poised to cash in, with MLB Trade Rumors projecting he'll receive $60 million over four years.

Is the trade market the way to go for teams seeking starting pitching?
Nov. 18: On MLB Network Radio's "The Front Office" on Sunday, former MLB general managers Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden discussed the availability of starting pitchers this offseason. Specifically, they discussed the trade market, and whether it's the better way to go for teams looking for starters.

"I think the best starting pitchers right now are on the trade market," Bowden said. "Noah Syndergaard is available, the Mets are listening on him. They want Major League-ready guys. There's Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco of Cleveland, James Paxton of Seattle. I think you have to follow up with [Giants president of baseball operations] Farhan Zaidi about [Madison] Bumgarner, which makes five. Zack Greinke could be available in Arizona, so that makes six. ... It's nothing against Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel, good pitchers. But as far as top-of-the-rotation guys, I don't view any of [the starters on the free agent market] as top -- they're maybe No. 2 or No. 3 guys. These other guys are No. 1 guys."

Duquette also mentioned some teams that might have a good shot to land some of the premier starters on the trade market, primarily because their farm systems are among the best in baseball. They include the Braves, Yankees, Padres and White Sox. He also said that he felt Syndergaard and Paxton will "likely be moved."

Tweet from @MLBNetworkRadio: Looking for starting pitching this winter? @JimBowdenGM and @Jim_Duquette agree the best options available may not be free agents. pic.twitter.com/C2rcGDirPe

If Kimbrel is too expensive, could Miller be a closing alternative for Boston?
Nov. 18: The Red Sox agreed to a one-year deal with World Series MVP Steve Pearce on Friday, and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has stated his desire to keep the club intact as much as possible for 2019. Does that mean Boston will re-sign free agent closer Craig Kimbrel?

It's not likely, according to MLB.com's Ian Browne, who notes that with players like American League MVP Mookie Betts and AL Championship Series MVP Jackie Bradley Jr. in line for raises via arbitration, there just may not be room to pay Kimbrel what he is expected to command on the open market. Boston must also reserve some money to re-sign Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts and possibly Rick Porcello when the three become free agents next year.

In terms of average annual value (AAV), Kimbrel is projected to land a deal similar to those signed by Aroldis Chapman (five years, $86 million), Mark Melancon (four years, $62 million), Kenley Jansen (five years, $80 million) and Wade Davis (three years, $52 million) in recent offseasons.

Anthony Castrovince suggests left-hander Andrew Miller as a potential replacement for Kimbrel. Miller, who pitched for the Red Sox from 2011-14, struggled with injuries last season and did not perform at his typically strong level, but he owns a 2.21 ERA with a 0.94 WHIP and a 13.9 K/9 rate since the start of '12. Kimbrel, meanwhile, has recorded a 1.94 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP and a 14.5 K/9 rate in that same span.

MLB Trade Rumors predicts Miller will sign for $27 million over three years, so he could fit Boston's budget better than Kimbrel.

How will Lowrie need to perform to be 'worth' his next contract?
Nov. 18: Will Jed Lowrie, set to turn 35 years old, suffer a regression at the plate next season? The peripherals of the switch-hitting second baseman suggest that his production could be sustainable in future years, but Devan Fink argues in an analysis piece for Beyond the Box Score that Lowrie will be well worth the cost, even if he does take a step back as a hitter.

Fink cites some trends in Lowrie's hitting that others have also pointed out recently, including Lowrie's aversion to hitting ground balls and increasing trend in his hard-hit rate, to suggest that even if he does regress as a hitter, it shouldn't be significant. He also points to Lowrie's recent performance -- the second baseman's 8.5 WAR (per FanGraphs) over the last two seasons is second-most among available free agents, behind only Manny Machado (8.8) and ahead of Bryce Harper (8.3).

But the crux of Fink's argument lies in Lowrie's superior defense, which sets a relatively high floor for his value as compared to other free-agent second basemen. Lowrie was worth 7.1 runs above replacement as a defender last season, giving him nearly a WAR's worth of defensive value. Based on MLB Trade Rumors' projection of a three-year, $30 million deal for Lowrie and the estimated $8 million per WAR that FanGraphs uses for free agents, Fink writes that Lowrie's defense alone goes a long way in making him "worth" his contract, even if he regresses as a hitter to near league average.

Despite need for pitching, Rangers could shop Minor
Nov. 18: Although the Rangers are in desperate need of starting pitching, they could consider trading the only hurler who is a lock for the 2019 rotation, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required).

Per Rosenthal, Texas may field offers for Mike Minor, who could be an attractive trade target for clubs that don't want to spend top dollar for a free-agent starter or deal a package of prospects for an ace such as the Indians' Corey Kluber. Minor, who will turn 31 in December, is under contract for $19 million over the next two years.

After missing all of 2015 and '16 due to shoulder problems and pitching exclusively as a reliever in '17, Minor made a return to starting last year. The left-hander recorded a 116 ERA+ with a 1.12 WHIP, though he also yielded the third-most barrels (49) in the Majors, per Statcast™, and allowed 25 homers in 157 innings. There's a chance his trade value won't get any better than it is right now.

As Rosenthal notes, the Rangers are seemingly headed for 90-plus losses with or without Minor, and at his age, the southpaw isn't a foundation piece for the rebuilding club.

Could Brantley's contact rate land him back with Brewers?
Nov. 18: Last offseason, the Brewers reunited with Lorenzo Cain in free agency years after drafting and then trading him. Could they follow the same path this year with Michael Brantley?

MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince suggests Milwaukee as a suitor for Brantley, despite the club's surplus of outfielders. As Castrovince notes, the threat of positional excess didn't stop the Brewers from acquiring Mike Moustakas and Jonathan Schoop before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline in 2018.

It's not like the Brewers have an offensive juggernaut. Milwaukee ranked 12th in the Majors in runs scored this past season and tied for 20th in contact rate. Brantley, meanwhile, finished first among all qualified hitters in contact rate, so his skill set fits well in the club's lineup.

MLB.com's Daniel Kramer further explored Brantley's extreme contact tendencies, noting that Brantley has made contact on 91.2 percent of his swings in his career, the seventh-highest mark among qualified hitters in that span. Moreover, Brantley's 4.8 percent whiff rate in 2018 on pitches in the zone was also, by far, the lowest among qualified hitters. That's led to his 9.5 percent strikeout rate in 2018 being MLB's second-lowest.

With that in mind, Kramer also suggests the Braves, Rockies, Cubs, Phillies and White Sox as destinations. Atlanta could hit Brantley leadoff to serve as an upgrade to Nick Markakis and set the table for Ronald Acuna Jr. Colorado has outfield holes, and Brantley's contact ability could play well at spacious Coors Field. The Cubs could gain a true leadoff hitter, while the White Sox could gain a veteran upgrade to their weak outfield bats. Philadelphia has reportedly already made Brantley a contract offer.

What are the pros and cons of the Yankees signing Keuchel?
Nov. 18: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has made it known he's looking to add two more starting pitchers this offseason, and free agent Dallas Keuchel is among the many potential fits. In an article for sny.tv Saturday, Chris Carelli broke down the pros and cons of New York signing the left-hander.

Carelli touts Keuchel's reliability in the regular season and success in the postseason, and he points out that the southpaw's high ground-ball rate (lifetime 58.8 percent) makes him a good match for homer-happy Yankee Stadium.

But Carelli also notes that the Yankees need a top-of-the-rotation starter, and Keuchel may not be a "slam-dunk option for the anticipated cost," which could potentially be as much as $100 million.

There's also a chance Keuchel has already peaked, as he'll turn 31 in January. The lefty showed some signs of regression in 2018, recording a 6.7 K/9 rate (8.0 from 2015-17) with his lowest ground-ball rate (53.7 percent) since 2012.

Carelli believes the Yankees should view Keuchel only as a fallback option if they can't sign Patrick Corbin or trade for James Paxton.

Will a potential TV deal be a factor in whether the Yankees sign Harper?
Nov. 17: Tyler Kepner of the New York Times notes that the Yankees are in negotiations to buy back the YES Network, and that such an acquisition by the franchise may influence whether Bryce Harper ends up in pinstripes next season.

Kepner includes a quote from Harper's agent, Scott Boras, who said, "It's a market within a market that no one's ever talked about." Harper is one of the most exciting players in the game, and his style of play and star power could improve already strong ratings for the YES Network.

Harper has said he wears the No. 34 because the two digits add up to 7, which was the number of his idol, Mickey Mantle. The short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium is certainly an inviting sight for the left-handed slugger, but the Yankees do have a crowded outfield already, and general manager Brian Cashman has said the club's No. 1 priority is starting pitching this offseason.

For the Phillies, is it a choice of Harper and/or Machado ... or Trout?
Nov. 17: The Phillies are viewed as the odds-on favorite to sign at least one (and possibly both) of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. They have the funds. They have the need. They make a lot of sense. But is there a downside to splurging on these free-agent superstars now?

Undoubtedly, Harper and/or Machado would make the Phillies better. But in a story for the New York Post, MLB Network insider Joel Sherman wonders if Philadelphia really is ready for the next step toward contention -- not to mention, the hype and expectations -- that comes with inking such a star.

It's a fair question, mainly because the club's 2018 performance was such a roller coaster. Through early August, the Phillies led the National League East and looked like definite postseason contenders, only to falter to an NL-worst 16-33 record after Aug. 7. Outside of NL Cy Young Award finalist Aaron Nola and maybe young slugger Rhys Hoskins, the players who were supposed to make up the core of the franchise's next contender have struggled to develop at the Major League level.

"Wouldn't the Phillies be better off spending $300 million-ish on Patrick Corbin, Craig Kimbrel, Michael Brantley and Josh Donaldson -- or multiple players of that ilk -- to address a roster in need of upgrading in many spots?" Sherman argues. "That at least keeps them out of the ultra-long-term, big-buck risk that would come with Harper or Machado. And the Phillies have to think a little about future financial flexibility for many reasons, none bigger than that Mike Trout -- who grew up a Phillies fan -- is a free agent in two years."

It's an intriguing approach, especially if Phillies brass doesn't think the club is one star player away right now and would prefer to address multiple areas of the roster while simultaneously taking more time to evaluate players like Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco, Scott Kingery, J.P. Crawford, Nick Pivetta, Nick Williams and Zach Eflin.

In theory, then, a few of those would take steps in the right direction in 2019 alongside the multiple free-agent reinforcements, setting up the franchise for a run at none other than Trout -- at a time when both he and the Phillies could be in their primes together.

Girardi weighs in on Machado and the Yankees
Nov. 17: Former Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he's "not sure from a financial standpoint where Manny [Machado] is going to be and how it fits within [the Yankees'] plans," according to NJ Advanced Media's Brendan Kuty. "There's no doubt that Manny's a great player, but there's a lot of great players that are out there. This is a pretty strong free agent class."

Girardi, who managed the Yankees for a decade from 2008-17, sounded as though he didn't feel New York necessarily needed to add the superstar infielder, though there is a vacancy at shortstop to open the season as Didi Gregorius recovers from Tommy John surgery. Machado is expected to command more than $300 million on this offseason's free-agent market. Girardi went on to say there are a lot of other good options to augment the Yankees' roster after a 100-win season in 2018.

"There are some pretty good bullpen arms that have experience. There are some pretty good outfielders, good infielders," Girardi said. "That's something that they have to decide."

Finding a match for Keuchel
Nov. 17: Where might former AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel land this offseason? MLB.com's Matt Kelly takes a look at five potential teams that could sign him, and how he'd fit with each. 

The Nationals are a potential fit, Kelly writes, as Washington is coming off a disappointing 80-82 season and has payroll flexibility, particularly if Bryce Harper doesn't return. Adding Keuchel to a rotation headed by Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg would make for what would perhaps be the best trio of starters in the NL.

Kelly also lists the Astros, as Houston could re-sign Keuchel. The left-hander has spent all seven seasons of his career so far with the Astros, so there is the familiarity component. And given Lance McCullers Jr. needing Tommy John surgery and Charlie Morton potentially leaving via free agency, Houston's rotation could certainly use Keuchel back.

Cincinnati is another potential landing spot, as the Reds have indicated they're going to be aggressive this offseason in pursuing starting pitching, potentially trying to sign two established starters. Kelly rounds out the list with the Angels, who will be missing Shohei Ohtani and Garrett Richards in 2019 due to Tommy John surgery, and the Yankees, who have made starting pitching their No. 1 priority this offseason.

Video: Will Yankees pursue pitcher Dallas Keuchel?

Keuchel's high ground-ball rate, coupled with his penchant for inducing soft contact, make him a potentially great fit for the Yankees, particularly at the homer-friendly Yankee Stadium. But New York won't be in any rush to ink the former AL Cy Young Award winner to a deal, according to Mike Rosenstein of NJ Advanced Media.

Rosenstein cites former MLB general manager Jim Duquette's piece for MLB.com on players whose free agencies may linger. Specifically with Keuchel, the left-hander's ground-ball rate, while high, dropped from 61.7 percent in '15, to 53.7 percent last season. In addition, his strikeout rate is down, from 23.7 percent to 17.5 percent over that span. There are also many left-handers on this offseason's starting pitcher market, including Patrick Corbin, J.A. Happ, Gio Gonzalez and Wade Miley, not to mention potential trade candidates James Paxton and Madison Bumgarner.

Blue Jays deal Diaz. Could Stroman be next?
Nov. 17: With news that the Blue Jays have traded infielder Aledmys Diaz to the Astros for Minor League righty Trent Thornton, what could be next for Toronto?

Thornton, 25, has yet to make his big league debut, but he spent all of 2018 at Triple-A, throwing 124 1/3 innings and posting a 4.42 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP and 122 strikeouts. The fifth-round pick from the 2015 Draft then pitched well in the Arizona Fall League (20 Ks in 15 1/3 IP), so he is more or less Major League-ready.

That could make the Blue Jays more apt to deal from their starting pitching, namely two right-handers whose names have been floated as trade chips: Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. It appears, though, that the club isn't planning anything any time soon, at least not when it comes to Stroman, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Sources: #BlueJays not engaged in serious trade discussions involving Marcus Stroman with any club, although #Reds are among the teams with some level of interest in him. @MLBNetwork @MLB

While the Reds have shown interest, per Morosi, and we know Cincinnati is in the market for arms, it's possible the Blue Jays would prefer not to move Stroman -- who is under club control through 2020 -- when his value is at its lowest. A right shoulder injury hampered Stroman throughout 2018, leading to the worst performance (5.54 ERA, 1.48 WHIP in 102 1/3 IP) of his five-year career.

Are the Astros preparing to lose Gonzalez?
Nov. 17: Can we read anything into Houston's acquisition of Aledmys Diaz? While it's not a major trade, it does have implications, and it might suggest the Astros are looking to cover themselves in the event that longtime Astros utility player Marwin Gonzalez heads elsewhere via free agency.

The 29-year-old Gonzalez has been a very valuable and extremely versatile player in his seven years with Houston, and the club retains hope of bringing him back, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: For #Astros, acquisition of Diaz is protection in event they lose free agent Marwin Gonzalez. Team still wants to keep Gonzalez. https://t.co/PkSF7J7ynV

The Astros, however, chose not to present Gonzalez -- whose 2018 was solid (.733 OPS) but a step back from his breakout 2017 (.907 OPS) -- with the one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer earlier this offseason. That only helps his free-agent case by not saddling him with Draft-pick compensation, making him more enticing to teams seeking a play-anywhere-on-the-diamond option.

Diaz now is in position to fill that role for the Astros after he bounced back from a poor 2017 to hit .263/.303/.453 with 18 homers while playing all over the infield in his lone year in Toronto.

Video: Justice breaks down Blue Jays sending Diaz to Astros

How likely is it Machado stays at SS when he signs?
Nov. 17: Among the many big questions surrounding Manny Machado's free agency -- where will he sign? how much money will he get? -- is whether or not the the former third baseman will remain at shortstop after switching to that position in 2018.

MLB.com's Andrew Simon examines Machado's defensive performance as a shortstop in 2018. In a nutshell? 

"Not satisfied with being a two-time Gold Glove Award winner at third base, where he was widely recognized as one of the game's best defenders, Machado took a chance moving back to his natural position in 2018," Simon writes. "He had started just 49 games there since his big league debut in 2012, and the transition did not go smoothly. Advanced metrics weren't kind to Machado's performance at short, although his numbers improved considerably after his mid-July trade to the Dodgers."

The likely outcome to all of this, then, may be determined by the biggest question about Machado: Where will he sign? If he were to go to, say, the Yankees, there's a chance he would handle shortstop while Didi Gregorius is sidelined in the wake of Tommy John surgery and then shift to third base upon Gregorius' return. If Machado were to head to, say, the Phillies, maybe he stays at shortstop ahead of youngsters Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford.

In other words, while Machado clearly is superior at the hot corner, he should be capable of playing either position on the left side of the infield, at least while he's still in his prime years. But if his new team has a bigger need at one spot over the other, expect him to fill that.

Why McCutchen and Pollock are the best fits for Cleveland
Nov. 17: The Indians have made some headlines already for the news that they're at least listening to offers on their elite starting pitchers, like Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer. In addition to rearranging financial obligations allocated to various aspects of the roster, part of the logic for such a move is that the team is in need of an upgrade in one area in particular.

MLB.com's Mike Petriello breaks down Cleveland's lacking outfield, especially now that Michael Brantley is on the open market, and comes up with a number of possible solutions to help improve the position. The best fits? Free agents Andrew McCutchen and A.J. Pollock.

"It's true that McCutchen turned 32 last month, and that he's not the same MVP-caliber player he once was with Pittsburgh," Petriello writes. "But as we investigated recently with Statcast™ data, there's not any tangible evidence of a speed-related decline yet, and McCutchen has remained durable, taking 640 plate appearances each full year of his career. If you liked Brantley's .364/.468 OBP/SLG, well, McCutchen is projected for .363/.461 -- and he's a righty hitter."

As for Pollock? "Cleveland should sign Pollock, who hit an above-average .257/.316/.484 with 21 homers and good defense," Petriello argues. "It should sign Pollock and McCutchen, really, and let Leonys Martin, [newly acquired] Jordan Luplow and the rest fight it out in left field. Pollock is the only true center fielder on the market, and he's right-handed to boot."

In the end, signing both almost certainly won't happen -- not when the Indians are considering dealing pitchers to alleviate some payroll pressure. And Pollock seems less likely, as he's expected to land a larger contract and is tied to Draft-pick compensation after declining the qualifying offer, to boot.

But McCutchen? His durability and on-base skill set could make for a reasonably priced option for a team that needs to worry about both improving its outfield and minding its bottom line. But there are a host of other trade and free-agent ideas, courtesy of Petriello. More >

Familia could be an overlooked free-agent option
Nov. 17: As clubs looking for relief help this offseason survey a market that includes established hurlers like Craig Kimbrel, Andrew Miller, Adam Ottavino, Zach Britton, David Robertson and Joe Kelly, one strong option that may be overlooked is Jeurys Familia. According to MLB.com's Matt Kelly, there are several factors that make the right-hander an attractive option.

"He pitched much more like his former self in a half-season with the Mets (2.88 ERA, 3.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio) before helping to fortify Oakland's outstanding bullpen down the stretch [in 2018]," Kelly writes. "And now, as Familia enters free agency for the first time, he could end up netting a larger contract than people might expect."

Video: Jeurys Familia enters free agency before 2019

Kelly notes that while there were question marks surrounding Familia as he began the '17 season on the suspension list after violating MLB's personal conduct policy, and then missed most of the summer with an arterial clot in his pitching shoulder, he had a very strong '18 campaign. Familia remains relatively young (29 years old), has no Draft pick compensation attached to his free agency, showed his durability again last season, and keeps the ball in the ballpark.

As for some potential suitors for the right-hander, Kelly suggests the Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Braves and Phillies could benefit from signing Familia.

Astros join the race for Realmuto
Nov. 17: The Astros need a catcher after letting Brian McCann and Martin Maldonado hit free agency. The initial expectation, it seemed, was that the 2017 World Series champions would look to bring in a backstop like Yasmani Grandal or Wilson Ramos via the open market. But Houston also could consider the trade route -- meaning arguably the best catcher in baseball.

In fact, the Astros have engaged the Marlins in trade talks for J.T. Realmuto and "remain a viable destination" for him, MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reports.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: #Astros remain a viable destination for Realmuto despite the high price tag, in part because #Marlins prefer not to trade him within the division to the #Braves, who are actively looking for a catcher. @MLB @MLBNetwork

Morosi points out that the Marlins continue to insist on either outfielder Kyle Tucker or right-hander Forrest Whitley -- Houston's top two prospects and Nos. 5 and 8 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list -- as part of any offer. That's a steep price, but Realmuto is coming off his best year yet (21 HR, .825 OPS), is in his prime at age 27 and under club control through the 2020 season.

The Astros also are seeking a starting pitcher to help fill the voids left by free agents Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton, as well as Lance McCullers Jr., who will miss all of 2019 after Tommy John surgery. The club is eyeing the trade market to that end, too, according to Morosi. Put simply, the Astros might be very active and rather creative this winter.

Video: Marlins could use J.T. Realmuto as a trade piece

Harrison: "My agent has gotten quite a few calls."
Nov. 17: Josh Harrison joined the free-agent ranks earlier this offseason when the Pirates chose to pay $1 million to buy out his contract rather than pick up his $10.5 million option for 2019. That decision wasn't altogether surprising after the 31-year-old hit .250/.293/.363 while being limited to 97 games in 2018 due to a fractured bone in his left hand from being hit by a pitch in mid-April.

Coming off a disappointing campaign often makes for a tough go on the open market. Harrison, though, expects to have some opportunities this winter. "I would say that my agent has gotten quite a few calls," Harrison said in an interview with MLB.com, "and he's been letting me know people are interested."

At this stage of his career, the veteran's versatility is his biggest selling point. Having played primarily second base the past three seasons, Harrison does have extensive experience at the hot corner and also has seen time in the corner outfield positions, too. "I'm game for anything," Harrison said. "If a team wants me to [play one position], I'm game. If a team wants me to bounce around ... that's how I got my first shot [in the Major Leagues]."

That mindset should help Harrison find a home somewhere in 2019, as clubs are placing an increased emphasis on versatility and roster flexibility.

Video: Harrison discusses offseason, his versatility

Reggie on Manny: No hustle won't play in NY

MLB.com

Manny Machado has been one of the game's best players since debuting in 2012, and he is set to cash in as a first-time free agent this offseason.

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

Manny Machado has been one of the game's best players since debuting in 2012, and he is set to cash in as a first-time free agent this offseason.

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

Reggie Jackson weighs in on Machado-Yankees
Nov. 18: Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said earlier in the week that free agent superstar Manny Machado's comments during the postseason regarding his lack of hustle were "troubling."

Hall of Fame slugger Reggie Jackson, whom the Yankees signed as a free agent back in 1976, spoke to Wallace Matthews of the New York Daily News, saying that Machado's lack of hustle "ain't gonna play here [in New York]."

"I was a pretty good player and I ran hard every single at-bat," Jackson continued. "It takes talent to run fast, but it doesn't take talent to run hard. Effort is the least we can ask of ourselves."

Jackson did take some flak from manager Billy Martin for not running hard after a ball hit by the Red Sox's Jim Rice in a 1977 game, turning a single into a double. An incensed Martin pulled Jackson from the game, leading to a heated argument between the two in the dugout, during which they almost came to blows.

"I only ask one thing of my players," Martin said afterward. "Hustle. If said they hustle for me, they can play for me. I told them in Spring Training. I had a meeting. I told them you play only one way, to win. You play hard and give your 100 percent best. If you don't hustle, I don't accept it. If a player shows up the club, I show up the player."

Video: Cashman discusses how to evaluate free agent Machado

Machado is expected to command a contract somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 years and $300 million or more. The Yankees will open the 2019 season without their starting shortstop, Didi Gregorius, out of action as he recovers from offseason Tommy John surgery. That puts Machado in play for the vacancy, especially considering New York won 100 games in '18 but still lost to the eventual World Series champion Red Sox in the American League Division Series.

Will offseason end with neither Harper nor Machado in Philadelphia?
Nov. 18: The Phillies have long been connected to free-agent superstars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, with many expecting the club to land at least one of them. But what are the chances that Philadelphia comes away with neither player?

That was the most-selected option in a recent MLB Trade Rumors poll, with nearly a third of people (as of Sunday night) voting -- and perhaps hoping, if they are fans of other teams -- that Philadelphia won't sign either Harper or Machado.

Of course, if that scenario happens, it might be because the Phillies decide to take a different route. MLB Network insider Joel Sherman argued Saturday in an article for the New York Post that Philadelphia would be better off signing three or four big-name free agents instead of pouring all of its resources into Harper or Machado.

Are the Phillies facing a choice between Machado now and Trout later?
Nov. 17: The Phillies are considered the favorite to sign at least one of Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. They have the funds. They have the need. They make a lot of sense. But is there a reason to avoid splurging on a free-agent superstar now?

Machado immediately would make the Phillies better. But in a story for the New York Post, MLB Network insider Joel Sherman wonders if Philadelphia really is ready for the next step toward contention -- not to mention, the hype and expectations -- that comes with inking such a star.

It's a fair question after an up-and-down 2018 campaign in Philly. Through early August, the Phillies led the National League East and looked like certain postseason contenders, only to post an NL-worst 16-33 record after Aug. 7. The youngsters who were expected to make up the core of the franchise's next contender have struggled to develop at the Major League level, aside from NL Cy Young Award finalist Aaron Nola and slugger Rhys Hoskins.

"Wouldn't the Phillies be better off spending $300 million-ish on Patrick CorbinCraig KimbrelMichael Brantley and Josh Donaldson -- or multiple players of that ilk -- to address a roster in need of upgrading in many spots?" Sherman argues. "That at least keeps them out of the ultra-long-term, big-buck risk that would come with Harper or Machado. And the Phillies have to think a little about future financial flexibility for many reasons, none bigger than that Mike Trout -- who grew up a Phillies fan -- is a free agent in two years."

It's an interesting idea, particularly if Phillies execs don't think the club is one star player away right now and would prefer to enhance multiple areas while also taking more time to evaluate players like Odubel HerreraMaikel FrancoScott KingeryJ.P. CrawfordNick PivettaNick Williams and Zach Eflin.

In theory, then, a few of those would improve in 2019 alongside the multiple free-agent reinforcements, and the franchise would be in perfect position for a run at Trout -- at a time when both he and the Phillies could be in their primes together.

Girardi weighs in on Machado and the Yankees
Nov. 17: Former Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he's "not sure from a financial standpoint where Manny [Machado] is going to be and how it fits within [the Yankees'] plans," according to NJ Advanced Media's Brendan Kuty. "There's no doubt that Manny's a great player, but there's a lot of great players that are out there. This is a pretty strong free agent class."

Girardi, who managed the Yankees for a decade from 2008-17, sounded as though he didn't feel New York necessarily needed to add the superstar infielder, though there is a vacancy at shortstop to open the season as Didi Gregorius recovers from Tommy John surgery. Machado is expected to command more than $300 million on this offseason's free-agent market. Girardi went on to say there are a lot of other good options to augment the Yankees' roster after a 100-win season in 2018.

"There are some pretty good bullpen arms that have experience. There are some pretty good outfielders, good infielders," Girardi said. "That's something that they have to decide."

How likely is it Machado stays at SS when he signs?
Nov. 17: Among the many big questions surrounding Manny Machado's free agency -- where will he sign? how much money will he get? -- is whether or not the the former third baseman will remain at shortstop after switching to that position in 2018.

MLB.com's Andrew Simon examines Machado's defensive performance as a shortstop in 2018. In a nutshell? 

"Not satisfied with being a two-time Gold Glove Award winner at third base, where he was widely recognized as one of the game's best defenders, Machado took a chance moving back to his natural position in 2018," Simon writes. "He had started just 49 games there since his big league debut in 2012, and the transition did not go smoothly. Advanced metrics weren't kind to Machado's performance at short, although his numbers improved considerably after his mid-July trade to the Dodgers."

The likely outcome to all of this, then, may be determined by the biggest question about Machado: Where will he sign? If he were to go to, say, the Yankees, there's a chance he would handle shortstop while Didi Gregorius is sidelined in the wake of Tommy John surgery and then shift to third base upon Gregorius' return. If Machado were to head to, say, the Phillies, maybe he stays at shortstop ahead of youngsters Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford.

In other words, while Machado clearly is superior at the hot corner, he should be capable of playing either position on the left side of the infield, at least while he's still in his prime years. But if his new team has a bigger need at one spot over the other, expect him to fill that.

Phils are ready to spend for Machado, other big free agents
Nov. 16: If the Phillies are going to seriously pursue Machado, Bryce Harper and other top free agents, they'll have to be willing to seriously open their wallets. And they're prepared to do just that.

"We're going into this expecting to spend money. And maybe even be a little bit stupid about it," owner John Middleton told USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale at the MLB Owners Meetings.

"It's exciting to contemplate what we may be able to do this offseason. We know the free-agent class this year is really, really good."

Both Machado and Harper could command contracts in the 10-plus year and $300-plus million range. But the Phillies currently have less than $70 million on their payroll for 2019, and only about $50 million committed for 2020 and $15 million for 2021.

They can afford to make a major play in the free-agent market, and it looks like they plan to do it, as they look to make the leap to a playoff contender after fading down the stretch in 2018. In addition to being linked to Machado and Harper, Philadelphia could make a play for a top starter like Patrick Corbin or a reliever like Craig Kimbrel.

Middleton wouldn't refer to Machado or Harper by name, "But," he told Nightengale, "we will be spending."

Playing the blind resume game with Machado and Brantley
Nov. 16: Manny Machado and Michael Brantley are both free agents this offseason. The latter is going to get a fraction of the contract that the former does, for a number of reasons related to age, durability, potential, position value, etc. That is understandable.

What might be surprising, however, is just how close these two have been from a statistical standpoint in recent years. In fact, there's a legitimate argument that Brantley has been (gasp!) a better offensive player than Machado, at least by certain metrics. Hmmm.

MLB Network's Hot Stove Live show made this comparison across the past five seasons in a game of blind resumes:

Machado: .283 AVG, .343 OBP, .502 SLG, 127 OPS+

Brantley: .311 AVG, .371 OBP, .475 SLG, 127 OPS+

Again, none of this is to say that Machado isn't the better free-agent option this winter -- he's five years younger than Brantley, has proved to be more durable and plays a much more valuable defensive position -- but it does go to show how underappreciated Brantley has been.

Video: Blind resumes of MLB's high-profile free agents

Belle weighs in on Harper and Machado
Nov. 15: The White Sox signed Albert Belle to what was, at the time, the largest contract in baseball history, at five years and $55 million in 1996. Belle joined NBC Sports Chicago's White Sox Talk podcast on Thursday to talk about the club, and one of the topics of discussion was whether Chicago would try to sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, given they are expected to land contracts in the range of $300 million-$400 million.

"I guess [fans] should be skeptical until it actually happens," said the five-time All-Star. "If they're willing to spend the big money on Harper or Machado ... that means they're willing to go for it again, and win a pennant. ... If I were an owner, I wouldn't give anyone more than a five-year deal. I'm just trying to figure out all the guys who signed big deals that are hurt now. Look at Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols ... Robinson Cano isn't gonna pan out on his [deal]."

Are Yankees gearing up for serious pursuit of Machado? Will A-Rod play a part?
Nov. 15: Count MLB Network insider Jon Heyman among those who expect the Yankees to make a serious run at free-agent infielder Manny Machado, despite team owner Hal Steinbrenner saying that he found Machado's comments on his lack of hustle "troubling."

"I think [ownership loves] the guys that want to play for the Yankees," Heyman said Thursday on WFAN. "And Machado, they know that he wants to be a Yankee, or have heard that."

Heyman pointed to Alex Rodriguez's relationship with Machado as a potential factor that could sway the Yankees toward the 26-year-old. Rodriguez, who maintains an advisor role in the organization, has known Machado since the latter was a teenager, with both players having a connection through the Miami baseball scene.

Steinbrenner expressed some reservations about Machado on Wednesday, stemming from the shortstop's controversial interview with Ken Rosenthal during the postseason about not being a "Johnny Hustle" type of player.

"If it's a $300 million guy or a $10 million guy, clearly those comments are troubling," Steinbrenner said. "That's really [general manager Brian Cashman's] job, if we're interested in any player, to sit down with them face-to-face and ask them, 'Where did this come from? What was the context around the entire interview? Was there a point? How do you justify it?'

"Because that ain't going to sell where we play baseball."

But Heyman thinks Steinbrenner's comments were merely a case of the owner "saying the right thing."

"If you say that you don't mind that he didn't hustle, then you're not really doing the right thing," Heyman said. "Publicly, you've gotta take a big stand on pro hustling, it's not a difficult concept. So I think [Steinbrenner] just said the right thing."

Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay shared similar thoughts on his radio show Wednesday about the club's interest in Machado.

"The feeling I get, is that the Yankees are in, in a serious way, on Manny Machado," Kay said. "Now, Brian Cashman has said ... 'he's on the radar.' I think he's more than on the radar."

Tweet from @YESNetwork: .@RealMichaelKay: "The Yankees are IN, in a serious way, on Manny Machado." pic.twitter.com/yn5J9bYDx6

Why the Braves should consider signing Machado
Nov. 15: Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos is on record saying he doesn't foresee the club handing out any 10-year deals this offseason, but The Athletic's Jim Bowden thinks he should reconsider for Manny Machado.

In his story (subscription required) looking at one move each 2018 postseason team needs to make to get back to October, Bowden points out that Machado will likely want opt-out clauses in his contract, so a 10-year deal might end up being a short-term commitment that considerably increases the Braves' chances of winning a World Series in the next three years.

And even if Machado did stay with the Braves for a decade, he would be 36 by the end of the contract and may still be contributing at a high level.

Adding Machado to Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies would give Atlanta an outstanding nucleus, with more talent on the way via the farm system.

Betances wants the Yankees to sign Machado
Nov. 14: As the Yankees consider whether to make a run at free-agent infielder Manny Machado, one New York player gave the potential move his full endorsement Tuesday.

"I think he'll put us over the top," Yankees reliever Dellin Betances said. "We were short last year. Things could have gone our way, but they didn't. Adding a guy like that would help any team. Our lineup is already impactful, so adding a guy like that would be pretty crazy."

Betances and Machado were teammates for the Dominican Republic in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, and they have plenty of experience as opponents from Machado's years with the Orioles.

"I played with him in the Classic and got a chance to develop a good relationship with him over the years, playing against him," Betances said. "I'm hoping that we get him. I'm keeping close tabs on it. It's not my decision, but that would be a big piece for the team. We have a good team, but adding a guy like that, that can play at a high level and has played at a high level for quite some time, we would be great."

What would a Yankees spending spree look like?
Nov. 13: Picture Manny MachadoPatrick Corbin and Corey Kluber in pinstripes. MLB Network insider Joel Sherman does just that in a column for the New York Post.

To be clear, Sherman is doing little more than speculating on such a scenario by harkening back to the days when the mercurial George Steinbrenner was the owner of the Yankees, not his more patient son, Hal. Still, it's fun at least to wonder whether there's any way this could play out, especially after New York just watched its bitter rival, the Red Sox, win their fourth title since 2000 -- compared to two for the Yankees.

"The Yankees are, at minimum, intrigued by Machado," Sherman writes, "and his signing would give them latitude to use Miguel Andujar as the central trade piece to obtain Kluber - taking a logical leap that the Indians like the AL Rookie of the Year runner-up enough to deal their ace. Imagine 10 years at $330 million for Machado, six years at $126 million for Corbin (the Yu Darvish pact from last offseason) and the assumption of Kluber's Indians contract, which, if his 2020-21 options are picked up, has three years at $52.5 million left, but costs just $11.3 million toward the luxury tax in 2019."

That would, in theory, address the Yankees' biggest need by bringing in not one, but two front-of-the-rotation arms, while also putting another foundation piece at the hot corner in Machado. It's still a little murky how strong the Yankees' pursuit of Machado will actually be. But they're definitely doing their due diligence, as The Athletic's Jayson Stark reports that the club is doing "particularly extensive" (subscription required) background work on Machado, even beyond the typical amount teams routinely seek for potential free-agent or trade targets.

Would the Yanks trade Andujar to make way for Machado?
Nov. 13: While it's unclear exactly where Manny Machado falls on the Yankees' offseason wish list, a big splash by New York can't be ruled out. The Yanks certainly have the money to afford the 26-year-old, and the club is doing "extensive" background work on him, according to a report from The Athletic (subscription required).

Of course, improving the starting rotation remains the Yankees' top priority. General manager Brian Cashman has made it known he's looking to add two starting pitchers, and signing Machado may lower New York's chances of inking one of the top hurlers on the free-agent market, such as Patrick Corbin.

Still, there is a way for Cashman to possibly acquire Machado and multiple high-end starters, as Joe Rivera of the Sporting News points out. The Yankees could do so by dangling third baseman Miguel Andujar in a trade for an ace, and then sign a mid-market free agent such as J.A. Happ.

Andujar finished second to Shohei Ohtani in the American League Rookie of the Year Award voting after hitting .297 with 27 homers and 92 RBIs in 2018, but he struggled defensively to the point where there are questions about his long-term viability at the hot corner.

If New York trades Andujar, Machado could slot in as the club's starting third baseman, with Gleyber Torres shifting to shortstop until Didi Gregorius is ready to return from Tommy John surgery.

Granted, the Yanks wouldn't have to trade the 23-year-old Andujar to make room for Machado. They could play Machado at shortstop while Gregorius is out, leaving Andujar at third base and Torres at second, or move Andujar across the diamond to first. But dealing Andujar may be the best way for the Yankees to get Machado and still acquire the ace starting pitcher they covet.

A big gap between Harper and Machado?
Nov. 12: In a piece for The Athletic, Cliff Corcoran ranks the best under-28 free agents of all-time. It's interesting to see where the top two free agents on this year's market land. Manny Machado is ranked third, behind only Alex Rodriguez (2000) and Barry Bonds (1992). Bryce Harper is all the way down at 11th out of 13 players, ahead of Carlos Beltran (2004) and Goose Gossage (1977).

"The math projects [Machado] to be worth 5.2 bWAR in his age-26 season, but he has been a six-win player in four of the last six seasons (I'm counting his 5.7 bWAR this year given his uncharacteristic struggles in the field), so he could very well exceed that projection," writes Corcoran.

With respect to Harper, Corcoran cites his inconsistency at the plate and injury history, pointing out his 1.5 WAR (Baseball Reference) in 2016, and 1.3 WAR last season.

"What was supposed to be the monster free agency to end all free agencies is instead a confusing mixed bag of impressive accomplishment and confounding underperformance," Corcoran writes.

Manny Machado

Here are the AFL's Top 10 breakout prospects

MLB.com @GoldenSombrero

The Arizona Fall League's exciting championship game on Saturday tied a bow on a six-week season that saw several of MLB Pipeline's more highly touted prospects, led by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Forrest Whitley and league MVP Keston Hiura, all move a step closer toward reaching Major Leagues.

But so much of what makes the Fall League great is that every year there are players who might not be at the top of prospect lists, but who use the Fall League as a bit of a coming out party. These are players who can be considered breakout prospects, with the usual caveat about small sample sizes.

The Arizona Fall League's exciting championship game on Saturday tied a bow on a six-week season that saw several of MLB Pipeline's more highly touted prospects, led by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Forrest Whitley and league MVP Keston Hiura, all move a step closer toward reaching Major Leagues.

But so much of what makes the Fall League great is that every year there are players who might not be at the top of prospect lists, but who use the Fall League as a bit of a coming out party. These are players who can be considered breakout prospects, with the usual caveat about small sample sizes.

:: Complete coveraege of the 2018 AFL championship game ::

David Bote is a recent example, as he emerged as a valuable utility infielder for the Cubs this season after a breakout turn in last year's Fall League, following an upward-trending performance in his first Double-A campaign.

With all of that in mind, the 10 players below (listed alphabetically) were among the top breakout prospects in this year's Arizona Fall League.

Melvin Adon, RHP, Giants' No. 19 prospect
After starting games for his entire pro career, the 24-year-old right-hander dominated in his first stint as a full-time reliever, pairing a fastball that reached 102 mph with a wipeout slider in the low 90s. Altogether, Adon compiled 21 strikeouts and three walks and allowed seven hits in 12 1/3 innings (10 appearances) for Scottsdale.

Jazz Chisholm, SS, D-backs' No. 3
Jazz didn't see as much playing time as others on the list due to his taxi-squad designation on Salt River's roster, but the 20-year-old shortstop consistently impressed when in the lineup. Chisholm collected 19 hits and posted a.442/.489/.767 slashline over 10 games, hitting three homers, three doubles and a triple while producing some of the AFL's top recorded exit velocities. He also showed the tools needed to stick at shortstop and went 7-for-9 on the basepaths.

Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP, Red Sox's No. 7 prospect
After finishing the regular season with five relief appearances (his first ever as a reliever) following a promotion to Double-A Portland, Hernandez tied for sixth overall in strikeouts (24), despite logging just 11 1/3 innings across eight appearances, in the Fall League. Behind an upper-90s fastball and a curveball featuring a spin rate of 3,000-plus RPMs, Hernandez racked up multiple strikeouts in all but two outings.

Video: Hernandez, Adon impressing in Arizona Fall League

Nico Hoerner, SS, Cubs' No. 6
The Cubs' 2018 first-rounder (No. 24 overall pick) proved he belonged in the AFL despite having played just four full-season games (all with Class A South Bend). In addition to hitting .337, good for a share of ninth in the AFL, Hoerner finished tied for second in hits (30), tied for the league lead in triples (four) and tied for third in total bases (45). The Stanford product also played a quality shortstop, showing the type of across-the-board defensive tools and skills that could make him useful at a host of other positions.

Video: Cubs prospect Nico Hoerner on Fall League experience

Evan Kruczynski, LHP, Cardinals
The 23-year-old left-hander posted three scoreless starts in six turns for Surprise en route to a 1.99 ERA that ranked second in the AFL among starting pitchers. His 88-91 mph fastball plays up because he gets good extension and angle toward the plate from a 6-foot-5 frame that enables him to effectively change hitters' eye levels. Factor in his trio of quality second offerings and overall durability, and Kruczynski has the ingredients needed to become a back-end starter or long reliever at the highest level.

Justin Lawrence, RHP, Rockies' No. 17 prospect
Lawrence blew the save in both the Fall Stars Game and AFL championship, but the low-slot righty nonetheless showed he has big league-caliber stuff in a darting 97-100 mph fastball and wipeout slider. His control of both pitches is currently below average, but it's a combination that, when around the zone, generates an ideal mix of whiffs and weak, ground-ball contact that should play nicely at Coors Field.

Tyler Nevin, 1B/3B, Rockies' No. 11
Arguably the Fall League's top breakout prospect, Nevin led the league in all three triple-slash categories, hitting .426/.535/.593 line in 17 games. His OBP was a product of a 3.0 BB/K ratio (15 BB/5 K), by far the best mark in the league, and he also finished third in RBIs (20). And while he failed to homer in the AFL after going deep 13 times with Class A Advanced Lancaster, Nevin's size (6-foot-4, 200 pounds), advanced approach and the fact that his AFL exit velocities regularly exceeded 100 mph all suggest power is on the way.

Video: SRR@PEJ: Nevin recovers nicely to end the 3rd

Cole Tucker, SS, Pirates' No. 5
Tucker, 22, was dynamic on both sides of the ball as he played plus defense as Surprise's regular shortstop while also pacing the club in most offensive categories. Overall, the switch-hitter finished third in the AFL batting race (.370) and tied for second in hits (30). He's well on his way toward becoming an above-average everyday shortstop -- possibly even a five-tool player, as there's a growing contingent of evaluators who believe Tucker will add significant strength to his athletic, 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame. On top of that, Tucker, an Arizona native, received the annual Stenson Sportsmanship Award.

Daniel Woodrow, OF, Tigers
The 2016 12th-round pick swiped five bags while recording multiple hits four times in his final five games to finish second in the AFL in both average (.371) and stolen bases (12). He's an undersized left-handed hitter with well-below-average power but the requisite contact skills and plus speed -- he's a good bunter and very quick out of the box -- to profile at either the top or bottom of a lineup, at the least offering value as a versatile outfielder off the bench.

Andy Young, 2B, Cardinals
St. Louis appears to have found another Draft steal in Young, the club's 37th-round pick in '16 out of Indiana State. After hitting .289 with a career-best 21 homers while reaching Double-A during the regular season, Young ranked fifth in the AFL in OPS (.936) behind a .301/.416/.521 line over 20 games with Surprise. He offers an intriguing blend of power and patience from the keystone, where's he a reliable defender.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Elias introduced as O's GM, lays out vision

Former Astros assistant GM wants to build an 'elite pipeline' in Baltimore