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
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.
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.
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.
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