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• Free agents, by position
• Free agents, by team
Relief market starting to move without Kimbrel
Dec. 13: It took until the wee hours of the final night of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, but it looks like the market for relief pitchers has started to move -- finally.
Jeurys Familia has agreed to a three-year deal to return to the Mets, who traded him to the A's last July, and fellow righty Joe Kelly has departed Boston for his own three-year pact with the Dodgers.
Plenty of big-name, late-inning options remain on the open market, including Andrew Miller, Zach Britton, Adam Ottavino, David Robertson, Cody Allen and Joakim Soria, each of whom has generated some buzz for being linked to a number of teams. The biggest name of them all, however, is Craig Kimbrel, who so far has made news not so much for being connected to clubs but primarily for an exorbitant asking price.
The 30-year-old closer reportedly is seeking not only a six-year deal but also one worth nine figures -- both of which would be unprecedented for a relief pitcher.
There had been some speculation that Kimbrel could hold up other relievers on the open market while he waits to land the highest offer, but with the Mets and Dodgers jumping out from the pack to scoop up Familia and Kelly, respectively, on three-year contracts, it might only be a matter of time before other teams -- and other relievers -- start using those deals as a baseline for finding matches. If that happens, the demand for back-of-the-bullpen help could dry up, leaving Kimbrel facing a tricky market.
The 'Updated Harper Destination Power Rankings'
Dec. 13: If you were hoping there'd be some resolution to the Bryce Harper sweepstakes by the end of the Winter Meetings -- you know, since they were held in his hometown of Las Vegas this year -- well, sorry to disappoint.
While the superstar outfielder isn't going to be signing before all the managers and front-office executives depart, that doesn't mean no headway was made on the Harper front. Plus, the baseball world still will be plenty focused on Harper -- as well as his chief competitor for a record-setting contract, Manny Machado -- as we hurtle toward the holiday season.
That in mind, here are the latest "Harper Destination Power Rankings," courtesy of MLB.com's Will Leitch.
The Phillies remain atop the list because they "seem absolutely committed to get one of the two superstars on the market," Leitch writes.
The next two teams? That would be the Dodgers and Yankees, neither of whom has much space in their loaded outfields -- at least, not at the moment. But given the resources, spending power and World-Series-title-or-bust goal, both franchises simply cannot be ruled out.
If there's one dark horse in the chase for Harper, it's the White Sox, who Leitch ranks fourth, stating they "might be the most perfect fit in all of baseball for Harper. Their cascades of young talent will be reaching the Majors in the next few years, right as Harper is in his prime. He'll be surrounded by hyper-talented, cost-controlled stars for the next five or six years, in a division that the White Sox could rule well into the next decade."
So ... what's it gonna be, Bryce?
Does Machado have a preferred landing spot?
Dec. 13: There's been no shortage of speculation about which teams are in on free-agent star Manny Machado. It's been reported he's due to meet with the Phillies, the White Sox and the Yankees. Oh, and at least three mystery clubs, too.
While teams continue to woo Machado, perhaps it's worth considering this process from his point of view, too. Does Machado have a preference for where he winds up?
"Manny Machado's first choice is the New York Yankees," CBS Sports Network analyst and former big league general manager Jim Bowden said Wednesday evening. "So if the Yankees come to the table ... and are willing to compete financially for his services, they will be the team that gets Manny Machado."
The Yankees certainly have the resources to go after Machado, who is expected to score a contract that could rival that of Bryce Harper's this offseason (read: north of $300 million over 10 years). The question, then, might be how badly general manager Brian Cashman and the rest of the club's front office and ownership want Machado.
While owner Hal Steinbrenner said last month he took issue with Machado's lack of hustle in the postseason, Cashman has said he's discussed Machado with agent Dan Lozano and multiple reports have indicated Cashman indeed is interested in finding a way to make this fit. There are ways to make that happen, between the immediate need for a shortstop with Didi Gregorius due to miss a chunk of 2019 after Tommy John surgery and the possibility the Yankees could dangle young third baseman Miguel Andujar.
Machado just might be envisioning himself in pinstripes? But do the Yankees see that, as well?
After active day, the top name among free-agent starting pitchers is ...
Dec. 12: The market for starting pitchers took off on Day 3 of the Winter Meetings.
First came reports that lefty J.A. Happ was close to a three-year deal to return to the Yankees. Then there was news of Charlie Morton agreeing to a two-year pact with the Rays. Next? Fellow righty Lance Lynn landed a reported three-year contract from the Rangers. And soon thereafter, the Reds acquired right-hander Tanner Roark in a trade with the Nationals. Got all that?
That's a lot of action -- and a lot of pretty big starting pitcher names more or less off the board -- in a very short amount of time. On the heels of Patrick Corbin signing for $140 million with the Nationals and Nathan Eovaldi getting $68 million to stay with the Red Sox, it's time to recalibrate and reevaluate what's left.
• Feinsand: For starters, these 4 could upgrade any rotation
For starters, one name now sticks out as the top pitcher available in free agency: Dallas Keuchel.
Gio Gonzalez, Matt Harvey, Anibal Sanchez, Trevor Cahill and Wade Miley now represent some of the better options among starters in free agency. Japanese lefty Yusei Kikuchi -- who has until Jan. 2 to sign a deal with a Major League team after being posted by the Seibu Lions earlier this month -- is the other intriguing option in play, as the 27-year-old might possess the most upside (and also the most uncertainty) of the bunch.
While all of the above can be capable rotation options, none has the same combination of age, durability and proven performance that the soon-to-be 31-year-old Keuchel offers. That should be a very good thing for the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner, who owns a 3.28 ERA while pitching 950 1/3 innings over his past five seasons.
Put simply: While there's no shortage of trade candidates, including Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Madison Bumgarner and others, if a team wants to land a free-agent starter who can pitch at or near the top of a rotation, that list pretty much boils down to Keuchel.
"Now, I think you get into some of the guys like Keuchel, like Kikuchi -- they're the guys who we're going to see [get] longer-term [deals]," MLB Network analyst Jim Duquette said Wednesday evening at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. "Talking to Scott Boras, who represents both of them, he seemed to indicate there were several teams willing to give them four or five years."
The Phillies, Braves, Brewers, Reds and Angels are among the teams that have been linked to and/or could be fits for the left-hander, who appears to be in a strong position to command a big-money, multi-year deal from clubs that have missed out on other starters on the open market so far.
Who is the front-runner for Harper?
Dec. 12: The Phillies? The Yankees? The Nationals? The Cubs? The Dodgers? All of those teams -- and a few more -- have been linked to Bryce Harper so far this offseason. But which club appears to be in the lead to land the superstar slugger in free agency?
"The front-runner right now, believe it or not, is the Chicago White Sox," CBS Sports Network analyst and former MLB general manager Jim Bowden said Wednesday. "They're the team with the checkbook open. They're being very aggressive."
With the Winter Meetings being held in Harper's hometown of Las Vegas, the White Sox met with Harper at some point, according to Bowden, who reported that the club stressed the strength of its promising farm system. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez, right-handers Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning, as well as infielder Nick Madrigal -- the club's top pick in the 2018 Draft -- are among the big-name, high-upside prospects who have reached the Major Leagues or should arrive soon.
Will the White Sox pull off a surprise splurge on Harper with a record-setting contract to push the franchise from rebuilding mode toward contention mode in an AL Central division that could be up for grabs as soon as 2020?
Video: Scott Boras discusses the market for Bryce Harper
Feinsand: Dodgers 'actively trying' to trade Puig and/or Kemp, among others
Dec. 12: As the Dodgers explore a number of avenues to improve their roster, they are unsurprisingly looking to trade from the two areas where they have great depth: the rotation and the outfield.
Los Angeles is prepared to move starters Rich Hill and Alex Wood as well as two outfielders, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.
As for Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, specifically, the Dodgers are "actively trying" to move one or both of them, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.
That echoes what MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal is hearing, particularly the part about Puig being discussed, and in this case with the Reds. While Rosenthal doesn't mention a possible target in the Dodgers' talks with Cincy, second baseman Scooter Gennett could be in play because of L.A.'s need at that spot.
The Dodgers have also had discussions with the Cardinals about Jose Martinez, per Rosenthal, with a creative plan to potentially move Martinez to first base and have Max Muncy play second and Bellinger play center field.
As far as other trade targets go, the Dodgers have been connected most prominently to the Indians' Corey Kluber and the Marlins' J.T. Realmuto this offseason. MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported Monday that trade talks for Kluber had "intensified," and that Cleveland is interested in the Dodgers' top prospect, outfielder Alex Verdugo.
Cody Bellinger was among the outfielders Olney mentioned as being available for trade, but a source from a rival team got the sense that the Dodgers aren't open to that idea, per MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.
The 23-year-old Bellinger took a step backward in 2018, but he is just one season removed from slashing .267/.352/.581 with 39 homers in 132 games as a rookie. While the slugger has primarily played first base during his time in the Majors, he has shown the ability to capably handle center field as well, which is a major plus for a Dodgers club that seems to value versatility as much as any team in baseball.
Los Angeles has also been linked to Bryce Harper, but it's unclear if the club plans to make an aggressive play for the superstar free agent. The contract that Harper is expected to command would be out of character for the Andrew Friedman-led Dodgers front office, which hasn't handed out more than $93 million to any one player despite consistently maintaining a high payroll.
As MLB Network insider Joel Sherman noted in a column for the New York Post on Tuesday, Los Angeles is hesitant to tie up a large portion of its future payroll, which could reduce its flexibility as the retooling Giants and D-backs become serious contenders in the National League West again within the next few years.
But Sherman still envisions a scenario in which Harper lands with the Dodgers.
"Again, it takes dominoes falling," Sherman writes. "Manny Machado would sign with the Phillies; the Nationals, Cardinals and Yankees really would continue to have no interest in Harper; and the only substantial long-term offers would come from someplace like the White Sox. In that scenario, could Harper instead pivot to accept a four-year deal from the Dodgers for a record annual amount and, say, an opt-out after two years to get back into free agency either after his age-27 or -29 season?"
Kimbrel reportedly seeking record 9-figure deal
Dec. 12: Craig Kimbrel's agent, David Meter, has touted his client's resume as being comparable to those of the all-time great closers, and the right-hander could be seeking a record-breaking deal for a relief pitcher.
Jayson Stark of The Athletic reported Wednesday night that he's heard from executives from two clubs that Kimbrel is shooting for a contract valued at more than $100 million for six years. That would exceed the five-year, $86 million contract Aroldis Chapman signed with the Yankees after the 2016 -- the record for a reliever. The Rockies' Wade Davis owns the record for average annual value at $17.3 million, but over three years.
It's unclear if any club would be willing to approach a nine-figurer number, and Stark points out the relief market is difficult to evaluate with minimal activity at the position to date.
MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi suggested Tuesday a more plausible result is Kimbrel inking a four-year deal exceeding Davis' annual value. Also factoring into Kimbrel's value? He will cost the team that signs him a Draft pick after he declined the Red Sox's qualifying offer.
Kikuchi unlikely to sign until late December
Dec. 12: Those hoping for a resolution to Yusei Kikuchi's free agency will have to wait. The Japanese left-hander won't be signing anywhere soon, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman.
Kikuchi will meet with the many interested teams in Los Angeles later this month, per Schulman. Kikuchi has until Jan. 2 to sign with a Major League team after he was posted by the Seibu Lions earlier this month.
The club that signs him must pay a release fee to the Lions based on the guaranteed value of his MLB contract, beginning with 20 percent of the first $25 million and continuing with 17.5 percent of the next $25 million and 15 percent of any amount beyond $50 million. Additionally, the Lions could also receive a 15 percent supplemental fee for bonuses, salary escalators or options.
Gonzalez among candidates for Padres infield
Dec. 12: The Padres are in need of a short-term solution at shortstop to bridge the gap to top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., preferably a utility man who can contribute across the infield after Tatis debuts.
MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal named a list of candidates Wednesday: free-agent Daniel Descalso, the D-backs' Nick Ahmed and the Rangers' Jurickson Profar. The Athletic's Dennis Lin added free-agent Marwin Gonzalez to the mix.
Gonzalez would be the most costly option, but is perhaps the best player of that group. Rosenthal points out Ahmed has ties to Padres manager Andy Green, who was the third-base coach in Arizona before joining San Diego, and Profar was originally signed by Padres general manager A.J. Preller, who previously worked in the Rangers' front office, in 2009.
Ramos meets with at least three teams
Dec. 12: Free-agent catcher Wilson Ramos is in Las Vegas for the Winter Meetings and has met with the Mets, A's and Brewers, with more meetings possibly to come, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.
The Mets have been aggressively engaged in trade discussions with the Marlins for J.T. Realmuto, but Heyman reports that the club is losing confidence that a deal will get done. As a result, New York seems to be exploring alternatives, including Ramos, Martin Maldonado and Yasmani Grandal.
With Jonathan Lucroy hitting the open market, Oakland is in need of a starting catcher. The A's signed Chris Herrmann on Tuesday, but the 31-year-old has never held a full-time job.
Ramos' camp is said to have sensed "serious interest" from the Brewers, reports MLB.com's Adam McCalvy, though the club is working with some payroll restraints. Ramos would be an upgrade over Milwaukee's catching trio of Manny Pina, Erik Kratz and Jacob Nottingham.
Realmuto's trade market is impacting Grandal
Dec. 12: In case you haven't been paying attention, J.T. Realmuto arguably has been the most headline-making name at the Winter Meetings this week. (If you want the latest on the Marlins' catcher, who could be traded any day now, you can find it here.) Just as important, though, is the impact all of the Realmuto rumors are having on the rest of the backstop market, especially for free agents like Yasmani Grandal, who is at or near the top of those available.
While everyone waits to see what will happen with Realmuto, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo speculates that once that long-awaited saga is decided, the big free agent catchers -- including Grandal and Wilson Ramos, among others -- could start falling into place.
For instance: It's been widely reported the Mets are after Realmuto and may, in fact, be the front-runners to make a swap for him. But if that doesn't happen, they could pivot quickly and target Grandal. "We know how much [Mets GM] Brodie [Van Wagenen] likes Realmuto, but we're starting to hear that he likes Grandal quite a bit as well," as SNY's Andy Martino said.
Stay tuned here, because once we get some resolution with Realmuto, the backstop dominoes could start to fall -- fast.
Will Giants trade Bumgarner now ... or later?
Dec. 12: It's hard to imagine longtime Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner in another uniform, isn't it? And yet, the biggest topic of conversation surrounding the club this offseason is whether -- maybe even when -- San Francisco should look to trade its ace. After all, the Giants are unlikely to contend in 2019, and the 29-year-old lefty's contract runs out after next season.
As to the question of when the Giants might be ready to move Bumgarner, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reports that it's looking "less and less likely" the club pulls the trigger this winter. While that possibility can't be ruled out, as Feinsand notes, a midseason move might make more sense.
Perhaps one reason for this approach is that the club has a new director of baseball operations in Farhan Zaidi. In addition to being busy plotting a course for the future of the franchise at the moment, Zaidi might not want to have his first major transaction involve shipping off a franchise face and three-time World Series champion, as MLB Network insider Joel Sherman wrote in a story for the New York Post.
That said, there is some risk in waiting until June or July to make Bumgarner available; he could see a further decline in his performance or suffer an injury that saps his value on the trade market. Not to mention, if Bumgarner is traded midseason, he would be ineligible for the qualifying offer and the corresponding Draft-pick compensation, which also must be factored into his value. At the same time, his historic postseason performances also would be mighty appealing to contending clubs as they gear up for October.
Among the teams that have been mentioned as interested in and/or possible fits for Bumgarner are the Braves, Phillies, Yankees, Astros and Brewers.
Nats already eyeing replacement for Roark?