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Momentum building toward Paxton blockbuster

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The already robust market for left-handed starters grew deeper when reports emerged that the Mariners are willing to trade "just about anyone" this offseason, including 30-year-old ace James Paxton, who will immediately become one of the most highly desired arms on the market. He was 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA and a career-high 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 2018, when he also became the second Canadian to throw a no-hitter with his effort in Toronto on May 8.

Below you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the left-hander.

The already robust market for left-handed starters grew deeper when reports emerged that the Mariners are willing to trade "just about anyone" this offseason, including 30-year-old ace James Paxton, who will immediately become one of the most highly desired arms on the market. He was 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA and a career-high 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 2018, when he also became the second Canadian to throw a no-hitter with his effort in Toronto on May 8.

Below you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the left-hander.

Predicting a Paxton blockbuster
Nov. 13: The noise around the possibility of a Paxton blockbuster trade continues to grow. The Mariners, after all, already have dealt catcher Mike Zunino as the start of what appears to be a "reimagining" of the roster heading into 2019. As TJ Cotterill of the Tacoma News Tribune writes: "And reimagining life without Paxton doesn't appear to be a matter of if, but when."

Paxton, who just turned 30 earlier this month, is coming off his best season yet, having established career highs in innings (160 1/3), strikeouts (208) and strikeouts per nine (11.7). Combine that with two more years of club control, and it's no surprise that a number of teams are interested in adding him as a top-of-the-rotation type of arm.

Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs looks at Paxton's progression from talented-yet-frustrating pitcher a few years ago to the burgeoning ace he became in 2018. His conclusion? "Paxton is one of those guys every team would want in a short series. He's one of those guys every team would want in a one-game playoff. James Paxton is a potential difference-maker in the rotation."

Given that Seattle's farm system is among the weakest in baseball and that the club's timeline for winning may no longer sync up with their control over Paxton, a trade would make sense -- and the return in young Major Leaguers and/or prospects could be massive. Not to mention, there are plenty of contenders loaded with young talent and holes in their rotation (read: Yankees, Astros, Braves, Phillies and Brewers) who already have been linked as possible landing spots for Paxton.

Astros targeting familiar foe
Nov. 11: Could Mariners ace James Paxton pitch for another American League West club in 2019?

Count the Astros among the teams talking to Seattle about a potential trade for the southpaw, per MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, who calls the market for Paxton "active." The Yankees were also identified as a party in contact with the Mariners about Paxton earlier this week, meaning there could be an arms race developing between AL superpowers for what would be an impact arm.

Paxton has fared well against Houston, posting a 2.89 ERA across 12 career starts against the division foe. Houston's rotation was historically good in 2018, but could look a little different with Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton both entering free agency and Lance McCullers Jr. out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Justin Verlander is also entering the final year of his deal in his age-36 season, and so adding an emerging front-of-the-rotation arm like Paxton -- who does not become a free agent until the end of the 2020 season -- could help Houston stay ahead of the curve.

Seattle would likely want a significant haul (especially from a successful division rival like the Astros) for Paxton, who threw his first no-hitter and struck out a career-high 208 batters last season.

Video: Justice talks Paxton, McHugh's preparation for 2019

Yankees checking in on All-Star starters
Nov. 9: The Bronx Bombers are known to be looking for two quality starters in addition to ace Luis Severino, righty Masahiro Tanaka and veteran CC Sabathia, who signed a one-year deal earlier this week. That search includes the trade market, where MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reports the Yankees are among a presumably large number of teams who have contacted the Mariners about talented southpaw Paxton.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: #Yankees among teams that have spoken to #Mariners about a trade for LHP James Paxton, sources tell The Athletic. Paxton has two years of control left and is projected by @mlbtraderumors to earn $9M in arbitration next season. NYY also on free-agent LH starters Corbin, Happ, etc.

Paxton, who turned 30 on Tuesday, represents one of the biggest names on the market now that Seattle has made it known that several of its stars could be available this winter. The lefty features both elite stuff (he struck out nearly one-third of the hitters he faced and threw a no-hitter against Toronto last season) and team control for prospective buyers, as Rosenthal notes, over the next couple seasons. Fellow MLB Network insider Jon Heyman also reported Friday that the Yankees also met with the Indians during this week's General Managers Meetings about possible trades for Cleveland aces Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco.

With varying reports about New York's interest in headliners Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the Yankees could pivot instead toward making their rotation one of the game's best in 2019.

James Paxton

Rumors: Machado, Andujar, Harper, Paxton

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

Would 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, especially after the club just watched the rival Red Sox win their fourth World Series title since 2004. 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.

Are Giants better off signing multiple players instead of Harper?
Nov. 13: The Giants could have between $30 million to $40 million to spend this offseason, and they have been connected to free agent Bryce Harper. However, as Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports points out, Farhan Zaidi, San Francisco's new president of baseball operations, may prefer to spread out the club's resources to fill multiple needs.

When Zaidi was the Dodgers' general manager under president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, the team never gave out any contract totaling more than $80 million, opting instead to focus on building a deep roster.

Pavlovic notes that the Giants need a starting pitcher, an outfielder and a utility man, and he suggests signing J.A. Happ, Nick Markakis and Marwin Gonzalez for what MLB Trade Rumors projects will be a combined $33 million in 2019. None of the three is expected to require a long-term commitment, whereas Harper is believed to be seeking a 10-year deal.

As Pavlovic writes, Harper would certainly make the Giants flashier, but signing multiple players to less expensive deals could be the better route to take.

Phillies may need Harper's personality as much as his bat
Nov. 13: With money to spend and a desire to contend as soon as next season, the Phillies are considered the favorites to sign Bryce Harper. And while the Phils would certainly benefit from adding Harper's bat to their lineup, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports writes that the slugger's personality could be just as important.

Although Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins are strong building blocks, Salisbury argues that Harper would provide Philadelphia with a much needed face of the franchise to energize the fan base and help fill Citizens Bank Park.

While the Phillies made a leap this past season, winning 14 more games than the previous year, they ranked just 17th in average attendance at 27,318. In 2008, when Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels were in their primes and the club won the World Series, the Phils averaged 42,254 fans per game, ranking fifth overall.

Salisbury also writes that Harper's "competitive sneer" will rub off on the rest of Philadelphia's roster, giving the club a much-needed edge as it tries to keep pace with the up-and-coming Braves in the National League East.

Predicting a Paxton blockbuster
Nov. 13: The noise around the possibility of a James Paxton blockbuster trade continues to grow. The Mariners, after all, already have dealt catcher Mike Zunino as the start of what appears to be a "reimagining" of the roster heading into 2019. As TJ Cotterill of the Tacoma News Tribune writes: "And reimagining life without Paxton doesn't appear to be a matter of if, but when."

Paxton, who just turned 30 earlier this month, is coming off his best season yet, having established career highs in innings (160 1/3), strikeouts (208) and strikeouts per nine (11.7). Combine that with two more years of club control, and it's no surprise that a number of teams are interested in adding him as a top-of-the-rotation type of arm.

Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs looks at Paxton's progression from talented-yet-frustrating pitcher a few years ago to the burgeoning ace he became in 2018. His conclusion? "Paxton is one of those guys every team would want in a short series. He's one of those guys every team would want in a one-game playoff. James Paxton is a potential difference-maker in the rotation."

Given that Seattle's farm system is among the weakest in baseball and that the club's timeline for winning may no longer sync up with their control over Paxton, a trade would make sense -- and the return in young Major Leaguers and/or prospects could be massive. Not to mention, there are plenty of contenders loaded with young talent and holes in their rotation (read: Yankees, Astros, Braves, Phillies and Brewers) who already have been linked as possible landing spots for Paxton.

Corbin, Keuchel unlikely to be hurt by Draft-pick baggage
Nov. 13: While some players who rejected the qualifying offer in years past have had trouble finding suitors due to the Draft-pick compensation attached to them, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand doesn't think that will be a problem for Patrick Corbin or Dallas Keuchel.

As Feinsand notes, the market for left-handed starters has shrunk considerably, with Clayton Kershaw re-signing with the Dodgers, David Price deciding not to opt out of his contract with the Red Sox, Hyun-Jin Ryu accepting the qualifying offer from Los Angeles and CC Sabathia re-signing with the Yankees on a one-year deal.

Corbin and Keuchel are arguably the only members of the top tier among all free-agent starters this offseason, J.A. Happ's reliability and Nathan Eovaldi's strong postseason notwithstanding. If any free-agent pitcher gets a nine-figure deal, it's unlikely to be anyone besides Corbin or Keuchel.

Could Realmuto replace Grandal in LA?
Nov. 13: When Yasmani Grandal declined the $17.9 million qualifying offer, he likely bid farewell to the Dodgers. That puts the club in position to look for catching depth to team with Austin Barnes -- or perhaps a major upgrade behind the plate, if it so chooses.

MLB Network insider Peter Gammons discussed the possibility of LA making a play for the highly sought-after J.T. Realmuto: "The team that I keep hearing about ... is the Dodgers."

Video: Dodgers could be a possible destination for Realmuto

As Gammons points out, top catching prospects Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith might be a year away from helping the Dodgers -- or even could be a part of a package sent to the Marlins for Realmuto. And given LA's outfield depth, the club also could consider parting with someone like Joc Pederson, who is just 26 years old and isn't due to hit free agency until after the 2020 season, or Alex Verdugo, an outfield prospect who is ready for The Show.

The late-season reemergence of lefty Julio Urias, who missed most of 2017-18 after shoulder surgery, gives an already deep Dodgers pitching staff even more options, especially after Clayton Kershaw re-signed and Hyun-Jin Ryu accepted the qualifying offer. In other words, LA's front office could have more freedom to deal from its surplus of young, controllable arms as a way to entice Miami.

Ross Stripling might make sense among those with big-league experience and success, while prospects like Dustin May and Mitchell White are high-upside youngsters near the top of a strong Dodgers system who could reach the Majors in the next year or so.

Are White Sox trying to clear space for free-agent stars by shopping Garcia?
Nov. 13: The White Sox are actively shopping right fielder Avisail Garcia, according to a report from MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, which may be part of an effort to clear space for Bryce Harper.

Tweet from @Feinsand: According to a source, the White Sox are actively trying to trade Avisail Garcia. There���s a sense within the industry that Chicago will non-tender Garcia if they���re unable to deal him.

With Jose Abreu at first base, Daniel Palka and Matt Davidson likely to split at-bats at the designated-hitter spot, and top prospect Eloy Jimenez potentially taking over in left field soon, the White Sox will have nowhere for Garcia to play if they sign Harper.

Garcia has battled persistent injury problems during his career, and he's proven to be an unremarkable offensive performer (lifetime 101 wRC+) as well as a subpar defender (lifetime -26 Defensive Runs Saved as an outfielder). And although he was worth 4.2 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in 2017, per FanGraphs, his production was boosted by great batted-ball fortune (.392 BABIP). Over the rest of his career, he has tallied exactly zero WAR.

MLB Trade Rumors projects Garcia will earn $8 million in 2019, his final season of arbitration eligibility. However, Feinsand reports that there is a "sense within the industry that Chicago will non-tender" him if it can't work out a trade.

Trading or non-tendering Garcia would also give the White Sox the additional option of shifting Tim Anderson to the outfield to make room for Manny Machado at shortstop, though Chicago also has an opening at third base if Machado is willing to move back to that position.

Could D-backs make Greinke available?
Nov. 12: With the free-agent market for starting pitchers not particularly deep, the D-backs might be able to benefit by making Zack Greinke available via trade, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal suggests (subscription required). In fact, Rosenthal writes, Greinke might end up being the second-most attractive starting pitcher available this offseason, behind only teammate Patrick Corbin (who's now a free agent).

Greinke is 35, has had to deal with diminishing velocity over the past few seasons and is signed to an expensive contract -- he has three years and $104.5 million remaining on his six-year, $206.5 million deal that runs through 2021. But a selling point for the D-backs, per Rosenthal, would be their willingness to ease the financial burden on a prospective trade partner, whether by including cash or taking on another player's unfavorable contract.

And in Greinke's favor: his continued effectiveness and ability to adjust -- he had a 3.21 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 207 2/3 innings this season, after posting a 3.20 mark with 215 strikeouts in 202 1/3 innings in 2017.

Rosenthal notes that the D-backs haven't come out and said they want to trade Greinke, but the time might be right, with Corbin and A.J. Pollock free agents and Paul Goldschmidt a trade candidate since he's set to hit free agency next year.

Yankees doing "extensive" background work on Machado
Nov. 12: It's still a little murky how strong the Yankees' pursuit of Manny Machado will actually be. But they're definitely doing their due diligence.

According to The Athletic's Jayson Stark (subscription required), the Yankees have been doing "particularly extensive" background work on Machado, even beyond the typical amount of background information teams routinely seek about potential free-agent or trade targets.

Sources told Stark that Yankees manager Aaron Boone, front-office members and scouts are all among those who "calling around" about Machado.

The superstar shortstop remains a clear fit for the Yankees, with Didi Gregorius out indefinitely as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

Video: Yanks cautiously testing waters on Machado

Is there a trade market for Cano?
Nov. 12: Even if the Mariners want to rebuild, they might not be able to pull off deal for all their big-contract players, including Felix Hernandez, Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano.

Cano, for one, has several factors working against him, as Rosenthal notes (subscription required). He's 36, and he has five years remaining on a 10-year, $240 million contract that runs through 2023. Cano has full no-trade protection. He might have to move from second base to first base/designated hitter in the near future, much less valuable positions. And teams will likely be leery of Cano's suspension this past season for violating MLB's Joint Drug Agreement.

Rosenthal thinks that Cano's preference would be to return to the Yankees, with whom he spent his first nine Major League seasons before signing with Seattle entering 2014. A deal between the two clubs might include, for example, Jacoby Ellsbury, who has another big contract -- the Mariners would likely have to take on such a contract to have a chance at moving Cano. But he notes that the two teams might not really have any reason to make such an exchange.

Are Phillies shopping Santana to clear room for Harper?
Nov. 12: According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required), a rival executive said the Phillies are "shopping the hell" out of first baseman Carlos Santana, who signed a three-year, $60 million contract with Philadelphia last offseason.

Per Rosenthal, the Phillies want to move Rhys Hoskins back to first base. While that makes strategic sense from a defensive standpoint -- Hoskins recorded -19 Outs Above Average, per Statcast™, and -24 Defensive Runs Saved in left field this past season -- Philadelphia may also be trying to clear space on the payroll and in the outfield for free agent Bryce Harper.

Santana's deal included a $10 million signing bonus, leaving him with a base salary of roughly $35 million over 2019-20, and he has a $500,000 buyout on his $17.5 million club option for '21. The Phillies will likely need to send some cash to move the 32-year-old, who hit .229/.352/.414 with 24 homers and 86 RBIs over 161 games in the first year of his contract.

Philadelphia has been consistently connected to Harper this offseason and could conceivably afford to sign him without moving Santana, but doing so would likely mean putting promising right fielder Nick Williams on the bench or giving Santana more playing time at third at the expense of Maikel Franco.

What does recent history say about the contract Eovaldi should expect?
Nov. 12: Nathan Eovaldi is one of the most intriguing arms on this offseason's market thanks to his postseason heroics, but even just a few months ago, when the hard-throwing right-hander was acquired by the Red Sox at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, he was a high-upside arm with electric stuff but was on pace to post an ERA over 4.00 for the fourth straight season. It was only after he moved to Boston and made various adjustments that he saw extended success and his stock soared down the stretch.

But as the Boston Globe's Alex Speier points out, that might simply have been considered overperformance in a small sample size in the past, but these days, with teams increasingly focused on the promise of future performance and potential, those few months of elite performance with the Red Sox will be enough to land him a lucrative contract.

But just how lucrative? Speier examines a pair of similar cases in the recent past -- Rich Hill of the Dodgers and Tyler Chatwood of the Cubs -- to estimate the dollar figure that Eovaldi might be looking at.

After the Red Sox signed Hill out of independent ball in 2015 and the left-hander posted a 1.55 ERA down the stretch, he landed a prove-it deal with Oakland and locked down a three-year, $48 million deal as a 36-year-old after the 2016 season given just over a year of proven success. Meanwhile, Chatwood landed a three-year, $38 million contract with the Cubs based on his relative youth and track record of success on the road, among other factors, despite his 4.69 ERA in his final year with the Rockies.

With Eovaldi a surer bet than Chatwood and the 28-year-old having pitched 111 innings in 2018, nearly identical to Hill's 110 1/3 successful innings in 2016, the precedents suggest that Eovaldi, eight years younger than Hill at the time, should be in line for a floor of three years and $40 million or four years and $52 million. And it's not hard to imagine Eovaldi approaching Hill's average annual value of $16 million per year despite his injury history, meaning that a best-case scenario could be around four years and $65 million.

Cruz could bring much-needed stability to Houston's DH role
Nov. 12: The Astros won a World Series in 2017 and reached the American League Championship Series in '18 despite inconsistency from their designated hitter for large swaths of those seasons.

Prior to the 2017 campaign, Houston brought on Carlos Beltran to be the primary DH, but he struggled in his final MLB season and split time with Evan Gattis, who was expected to flourish in the role in 2018 but struggled to a .226 average. Though Tyler White was successful down the stretch, he might need to play more first base in 2019 after the departure of Marwin Gonzalez and the transition of Yuli Gurriel to more of a utility role.

That's why an article in House of Houston calls for a commitment to Cruz, who has undoubtedly been one of the game's elite DHs over the last five seasons with the Orioles and Mariners. Cruz could bring a welcome dose of consistency to the middle of the Astros' lineup alongside the younger Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve, and though he's a shorter-term solution, he would give Houston an impact bat at a position of need while they still have the 1-2 rotation punch of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole locked up for one more year.

Phillies could look to Donaldson, Moustakas for upgrade at third
Nov. 12: MLB.com's Todd Zolecki notes that Phillies third basemen ranked 18th in the Majors in batting (.248), 21st in on-base percentage (.311), and 13th in slugging percentage (.438) last season. Will the club upgrade at third base? That may depend on whether they sign one of the two big superstar sluggers on the market, Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.

"If they sign Harper, they might be more inclined to pursue help at third," Zolecki writes. "If they sign Machado and he plays shortstop, they might be more inclined to move forward with internal options like J.P. Crawford, Maikel Franco and even Scott Kingery, who could play second base if Philadelphia trades Cesar Hernandez."

Zolecki suggests the Phillies may pursue free agents Josh Donaldson or Mike Moustakas. He writes that they would likely try to ink Donaldson to a short-term deal given the risk involved; he was hurt for most of last season, and was not as productive as in years past when he was in the lineup.

Tigers could trade Castellanos this offseason; might Astros be interested?
Nov. 12: Nicholas Castellanos has one more season left before he can become a free agent, and the Tigers don't expect to contend anytime soon. According to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, that makes Castellanos a prime candidate to be moved this offseason, especially with the club's July 2017 trade of J.D. Martinez still fresh in general manager Al Avila's mind.

As Fenech points out, the Tigers didn't consider trading Martinez before his final season of free agency, as the club wasn't in rebuilding mode yet. Once Detroit opted to move him, it had limited suitors for the slugger and ended up taking an uninspiring three-player package from the D-backs.

The problem for the Tigers is that Castellanos' defensive shortcomings may deter teams from trading for him. The 26-year-old, who was a third baseman before changing positions late in 2017, ended his first full season as an outfielder with an MLB-worst -25 Outs Above Average, per Statcast™.

And while Castellanos is a good hitter whose underlying metrics suggest he has room to grow, he hasn't yet proven to be on Martinez's level, which means he doesn't stand out much from the myriad of productive outfield options currently on the free-agent market.

Fenech mentions the Astros as one potential suitor for Castellanos, as they may still be looking for an outfielder after reportedly coming close to trading for Bryce Harper this past season. Per Fenech, Houston also made an offer for Castellanos before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Astros have openings in left field and at designated hitter with Marwin Gonzalez and Evan Gattis becoming free agents.

Tweet from @anthonyfenech: One team who could be a fit for Castellanos: The Astros, who made an offer for him before the July 31 trade deadline last year.

Ryu the only player to accept qualifying offer
Nov. 12: Hyun-Jin Ryu is staying with the Dodgers, as he officially accepted Los Angeles' one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer Monday. Bryce Harper, Patrick Corbin, Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel, Yasmani Grandal and A.J. Pollock declined the offer.

The news is not exactly surprising. Ryu recorded a 1.97 ERA in 2018, but he again missed substantial time due to an injury. The left-hander has thrown just 213 2/3 innings since the beginning of '15, and he might have had trouble finding a lucrative multi-year offer on the open market, especially because new teams would have needed to forfeit a Draft pick to sign him.

Video: Ryu only one to accept qualifying offer, six decline

How will Rizzo address Nats' needs this offseason?
Nov. 12: Although the Nationals want to bring back Bryce Harper, the club has other holes to plug, and earmarking a substantial portion of their payroll for a potential Harper reunion could have dire consequences if the team waits too long and the 26-year-old signs elsewhere.

According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required), one agent offered a theory about Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo's offseason approach, predicting that Rizzo will aggressively try to address the team's needs, then leave it up to ownership to make the final decision on Harper if the outfielder is still available.

As Rosenthal points out, Rizzo must proceed as if Harper is not returning after the slugger reportedly rejected a 10-year, $300 million offer from the Nats on the final day of the regular season.

Rosenthal also notes that any upgrades the Nats make could make the team more appealing to Harper and persuade him to re-sign, which would be a win-win scenario for Rizzo.

Will Donaldson headline Cardinals' offseason pursuits?
Nov. 12: The Cardinals may pursue free-agent third baseman Josh Donaldson to upgrade their offense, but Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch argues that the veteran comes with too much uncertainty to be relied upon as the club's marquee addition this offseason.

Donaldson has a lofty ceiling, as he slashed .285/.387/.559 with 111 homers from 2015-17, winning the American League MVP Award in the first year during that span.

But Donaldson will turn 33 years old in December and is coming off a season in which he played just 52 games due to right shoulder and left calf injuries.

Although Frederickson thinks Donaldson would be well-received by the fan base as St. Louis' new starting third baseman, he writes that it "would seem a bit thin" if the slugger was "the Cardinals' sole big move for the lineup."

Will Reds trade for Gray?
Nov. 12: The Reds are in the market for starting pitching, and Cincinnati's new pitching coach, Derek Johnson, was Sonny Gray's college pitching coach at Vanderbilt. Is there a reunion in the cards?

MLB.com's Mark Sheldon answered that question in his most recent Inbox, writing that it would, indeed, be a good match. But the Yankees are looking for starting pitching as well, meaning they might ask for right-hander Luis Castillo. That might be too much of an ask for Cincinnati. Nevertheless, Sheldon adds that he would be shocked if the Reds didn't at least check in with New York on Gray.

Gray struggled in 30 appearances (23 starts) for the Yankees last season, posting a 4.90 ERA. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has indicated the club is looking to move on from the 29-year-old right-hander, saying last month that "to maximize his abilities, it would be more likely best [for him to be] somewhere else."

Despite outfield questions, Indians unlikely to bring back Brantley
Nov. 12: With Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall hitting the open market, the Indians have question marks at all three starting outfield spots for next season.

But after a strong -- and healthy -- 2018 season put him in position to receive a lucrative multi-year offer, the 31-year-old Brantley is seemingly unlikely to return to an Indians club that is reportedly shopping some of its veterans for short-term financial relief and younger, cheaper assets.

In fact, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that there is "nearly a zero chance" of the Tribe re-signing Brantley.

With no qualifying offer attached to Brantley, new teams won't be forced to surrender a Draft pick to sign him. As a result, there could be a robust market for the veteran, especially among clubs that need a corner outfielder but aren't in on Bryce Harper. The Braves, the Phillies and the White Sox have reportedly already made offers to Brantley.

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.

Could poor defense of free-agent competitors help Lowrie's market?
Nov. 12: While the free-agent market for second basemen is deep this offseason, Jed Lowrie stands apart from many of his counterparts -- and not solely because of his bat.

Lowrie isn't an elite defender, but he isn't likely to hurt a team with his fielding, which gives him an edge over some of the alternative free-agent options.

Mark Simon took a look at six players whose free-agent markets could be hindered by their poor defense in an article for The Athletic (subscription required), and the list included three second basemen: Asdrubal Cabrera, Daniel Murphy and Brian Dozier.

Cabrera has made the majority of his defensive appearances at shortstop during his career, but he's played there just 76 times over the past two seasons, and his lifetime Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) mark as a shortstop is -56. The veteran isn't likely to be courted as a shortstop by most teams, but his defense at second base isn't much better.

In 2018, Cabrera's -17 DRS at second base ranked second to last among those with at least 500 innings at the position. Murphy was last with -18 DRS, and Dozier was three spots behind Cabrera with -8. Lowrie recorded 1 DRS with a 6.1 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) in '18, while Cabrera, Murphy and Dozier had negative UZR marks.

Meanwhile, neither DJ LeMahieu or Ian Kinsler was anywhere close to Lowrie in terms of offensive production this past season, mitigating the defensive advantage they have over the 34-year-old Lowrie.

Four logical trade fits for Carlos Santana

Philly doesn't have to trade the first baseman, but the club will have suitors
MLB.com @mike_petriello

The Phillies need to make some changes to their lineup this offseason; that much has been obvious for some time. Maybe that's importing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado or both, but no matter how it happens, this is a group that had baseball's seventh-worst OPS+, ninth-fewest runs scored and some of the weakest defense we've seen in years.

The easiest way to begin solving the defensive problem is relatively simple. They need to take left fielder Rhys Hoskins, who was probably the least effective outfield defender in the National League last year, and move him back to first base, which is where he was playing before Philadelphia signed Carlos Santana last offseason. In order to do that, they'd likely need to trade Santana, and that's exactly what they may do, as they are reportedly shopping him heavily to other teams.

The Phillies need to make some changes to their lineup this offseason; that much has been obvious for some time. Maybe that's importing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado or both, but no matter how it happens, this is a group that had baseball's seventh-worst OPS+, ninth-fewest runs scored and some of the weakest defense we've seen in years.

The easiest way to begin solving the defensive problem is relatively simple. They need to take left fielder Rhys Hoskins, who was probably the least effective outfield defender in the National League last year, and move him back to first base, which is where he was playing before Philadelphia signed Carlos Santana last offseason. In order to do that, they'd likely need to trade Santana, and that's exactly what they may do, as they are reportedly shopping him heavily to other teams.

Forget the optics of potentially trading Santana after just one year of his three-year deal. If the right move comes along to improve the team on the field in 2019 and '20, then that's absolutely what the Phillies should do. If you're going to fix the defense, another year of Hoskins in left full-time is simply untenable. In order to figure out how to best achieve that, there are really three questions to answer, so let's dig into each one.

1. Do they have to trade Santana to move Hoskins back to first?
Probably! But not definitely.

2. What kind of player could interested teams expect to get in Santana?
Better than you might think, as we'll show you shortly.

3. Who might be interested in trading for Santana?
First base/DH types in their 30s aren't generally in high demand, but there is one thing about this offseason's market that does work in Philadelphia's favor.

Let's explain all that, in order.

Video: PHI@COL: Santana goes the other way for 2-run blast

1. The Phillies should probably trade Santana, but they don't necessarily have to.

If you want Hoskins back at first, the simplest thing to do is to trade Santana (and non-tender Justin Bour, probably). Then add Harper, or another outfielder like A.J. Pollock or Andrew McCutchen, and things look much cleaner.

But it's not a must-do, either. Third baseman Maikel Franco is a good bet to be traded, according to one report, and Santana did get into 19 late-season games at third. You wouldn't want him there on a daily basis if you're trying to fix the defense, but there's at least an argument for a job share where Hoskins only has to play left field once or twice a week, and Santana rotates between first, third and pinch-hitting. That's maybe not what you'd expect for the $35 million still due Santana, but it also doesn't matter: He's a quality player, and the Phillies can afford it. They need more quality players, not fewer.

Even in what was something of a down year for Santana -- more on that in a minute -- he was tied, essentially, with Hoskins and Cesar Hernandez for the best on-base percentage on the team. The Phils didn't have enough bats as it was last year; take him away, and now you need even more.

2. Santana's year was both "poor for him" and "better than you'd think."

Let's start with the place most people start. Santana had a .229 batting average. It was the lowest of any season of his career. That's enough for many to think that his first year in Philadelphia was a failure, but it's not that simple, mostly because teams don't use just batting average to evaluate hitters. (Not that it's not telling you anything here; while hitting lefty, Santana was shifted against 85 percent of the time, third most of any regular lefty hitter.)

That said, it really wasn't a great year for him. Santana's .352 on-base percentage, while still a strongly above-average figure (the 2018 non-pitcher Major League average was .323), was down from his pre-Phillies average of .365. His .414 slugging was his second-worst, and below his pre-Phils average of .445.

But it's important to remember just how rough Santana's April was. He hit only .153/.295 /.276 in his first month with the Phillies. It was the second-worst month of Santana's career; it was so rough that it was barely two weeks into the season when we called him "baseball's early hard-luck hitter," pointing out that he was still hitting the ball with such authority that his numbers would have to pick up.

They did, to an astonishingly consistent extent. Check out what Santana did from May 1 as compared to his career numbers or his 2019 projections. You can't tell them apart. They're identical.

After May 1:
.245/.364/.444, 119 wRC+

Career:
.247/.363/.442 ,121 wRC+

2019 Steamer projection:
.242/.359/.445, 119 wRC+

The point there is that Santana's lousy April shouldn't meaningfully change what you think about him. In addition, by walking 110 times against only 93 strikeouts, Santana gained entry into a pretty exclusive club. Only three other players took at least 400 plate appearances and walked as much as (or more than) they struck out. The other three? Joey Votto, Alex Bregman and Jose Ramirez. That's a list you want to be on.

Think about it this way: Santana may not be a fit on the 2019 Phils because of the way their roster is constructed, but that doesn't mean he's not still a quality big league hitter. It just might need to be somewhere else.

Video: PHI@TOR: Santana makes tought over-the-shoulder grab

3. The main reason teams might be interested in trading for Santana -- and who might do it.

Take a look at the current list of free agents, focusing on first basemen. What you'll notice there is that there is not one starting-caliber first-base option available. World Series hero Steve Pearce is probably the most notable name, but he'll be 36 and has never taken even 400 plate appearances in a season. 

That means if you want a first baseman, you're trading for Paul Goldschmidt, who is a superior player to Santana but would cost far more, or perhaps Jose Abreu, if the White Sox are willing to let him go. Santana is projected to be the 12th-best first baseman in 2019; while that doesn't include Hoskins, it also sounds about right, because it's slightly better than average.

So, let's assume that the Phillies would take on some of his remaining salary. Where could we find fits?

Rockies
Last year's Colorado team was fueled by outstanding starting pitching, but ultimately fell short due to a lack of offensive depth. Nowhere was that more noticeable than at first base, where the Rockies had a .232/.314/.405 line that was the third-weakest in baseball. Headed into 2019, they're projected in the same range, tied for fourth-weakest, because Ian Desmond's .236/.307/.422 (81 wRC+) last year just wasn't good enough; he ought to be moved into a multi-positional backup role.

The Rockies could just go with ready-now Ryan McMahon, but he hasn't proven much yet, and there's plenty of ways to find time between the lefty McMahon, who can also play second or third, and the switch-hitting Santana. A contact hitter like Santana would also be an interesting fit in Denver, as the enormous Coors Field outfield could help him find a few extra hits. 

Twins
Ideally, however, Santana goes to an American League team where he can take some time as a DH. Minnesota fits the bill well, because now that Joe Mauer is retired and Logan Morrison is a free agent, the Twins have plenty of time available at first base and DH, even if Tyler Austin is likely to get some opportunities there. If you combine those two spots, Minnesota had the third-weakest 1B/DH combo in 2018, so even a slightly above-average hitter like Santana would be an upgrade, as well as providing insurance for the relatively unproven Austin.

Video: NYM@PHI: Santana drills a 2-run homer off scoreboard

Mariners
It's a little difficult to know how Seattle is approaching 2019, though we do know there was reportedly some interest in Santana last year. We also know that general manager Jerry Dipoto is a more frantic trader than anyone else in the game, and you can expect more of that this offseason.

"We've not been huge players in free agency to begin with," Dipoto said last week. "A lot of that will be defined by what we wind up doing by trade. I'd never say never, but I'd say that's not our first path."

Last year's DH, Nelson Cruz, is a free agent, and Ryon Healy (who hit .235/.277/.412 in 2018) is no roadblock. The Mariners are projected for the 25th-best first-base performance in 2019, though it remains to be seen how much time Robinson Cano gets there.

Angels
Any year with Mike Trout is a year you need to try to win in, and the Angels may only have two of them left. While they need starting pitching help, they could also use a bat, too, and their first-base situation is dire, projected to be the second weakest in baseball. That, of course, has everything to do with the fact that Shohei Ohtani should get the bulk of the plate appearances at DH, forcing Albert Pujols once again to first base. The Halos would be better off bidding Pujols farewell and trading for Santana, though we admit it's unlikely. 

Santana is a solid bat, last year's slow start aside. The market is rarely friendly to over-30 players who are 1B/DH types, and perhaps this year won't be any different, so maybe staying in Philadelphia is the best outcome -- there's no value in trading him just to trade him. If not, however, someone will be interested. There's a fit out there.

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

Philadelphia Phillies, Carlos Santana

10 Rookie of the Year candidates for 2019

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

The 2018 season's top rookies were announced on Monday, and both Rookies of the Year were mentioned in last year's ROY radar story.

Predicting who will win Rookie of the Year honors a year in advance is tough. Evidence comes from last year's group of 10 candidates. None of the five American League names received a vote (though Gleyber Torres, who finished third in the AL, was on the "others to watch" list). The National League choices were a bit more spot on, with Walker Buehler finishing third and Jack Flaherty landing in fifth place this year.

The 2018 season's top rookies were announced on Monday, and both Rookies of the Year were mentioned in last year's ROY radar story.

Predicting who will win Rookie of the Year honors a year in advance is tough. Evidence comes from last year's group of 10 candidates. None of the five American League names received a vote (though Gleyber Torres, who finished third in the AL, was on the "others to watch" list). The National League choices were a bit more spot on, with Walker Buehler finishing third and Jack Flaherty landing in fifth place this year.

That's not serving as a deterrent to trying again. All candidates on the lists below are on MLB Pipeline's current Top 100 list.

American League

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Blue Jays' No. 1 prospect
The No. 1 prospect in baseball has to be considered the front-runner for ROY honors next year, doesn't he? He flirted with a .400 batting average for much of the season and reached Triple-A at age 19, finishing the year with an OPS over 1.000 across four levels. He then capped things off with a very productive Arizona Fall League campaign.

Josh James, RHP, Astros' No. 4 prospect
James took as big a step forward in 2018 as any pitching prospect in baseball, with improved conditioning among the factors that allowed him to pitch his way from Double-A to the big leagues. He struck out 13.5 per nine across two Minor League levels, then pitched well enough in Houston to earn a spot on the postseason roster. A full-time spot in the rotation could be his for the taking.

Danny Jansen, C, Blue Jays' No. 3 prospect
A solid all-around backstop, Jansen was able to shake off past injuries to homer in the Futures Game and make his big league debut in 2018. Russell Martin is still under contract for a year, but Jansen should get most of the time behind the plate in 2019.

Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox No. 1 prospect
If Guerrero Jr. is the front-runner, then Jimenez isn't that far behind. Splitting the year between Double- and Triple-A, the 21-year-old outfielder hit a combined .337 with a .961 OPS. There's no question he'd be an upgrade in one of the outfield corners in Chicago next season.

Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros' No. 1 prospect
His brief stints in the big leagues in 2018 should not be used to extrapolate any kind of projection. He'll be just 22 for all of 2019 and flat-out raked as one of the youngest players in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League last season. It might be crowded in that Houston outfield, but Tucker and his back-to-back 20 home run/20 stolen base seasons have the chance to provide a greater everyday impact.

Others to watch: Yordan Alvarez, OF/1B, Astros; Bo Bichette, SS, Blue Jays; Griffin Canning, RHP, Angels; Dylan Cease, RHP, White Sox; Michael Chavis, 3B, Red Sox; Jonathan Loaisiga, RHP, Yankees; Sean Murphy, C, A's; Jesus Luzardo, LHP, A's; Justus Sheffield, LHP, Yankees; Forrest Whitley, RHP, Astros

Video: Mayo on potential 2019 NL Rookie of Year candidates

National League

Peter Alonso, 1B, Mets' No. 2 prospect
Mets fans wanted him up in 2018. After Alonso tied for the Minor League lead in home runs (36) and ran away with the RBI title (119), there's no question his power right-handed bat is ready for Citi Field. Hitting five more balls out in the AFL certainly doesn't hurt, and the Mets have said they're open to having him start the year in the big leagues.

Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers' No. 1 prospect
Yes, he only has one-plus year of pro ball under his belt, but his bat is so advanced, it's hard to see him needing much more time to be ready. His AFL season (.333/.387/.548 and a league-leading 30 RBIs in 20 games) should be a good springboard for him, providing space has been made in Milwaukee.

Victor Robles, OF, Nationals' No. 1 prospect
Robles was on this list a year ago, but injuries slowed him and Juan Soto passed him by up to Washington. Even though he played just 52 games in the Minors, he did make an impact in the big leagues last year and his tools will definitely play in the Nats' outfield, where he should get the chance to play alongside Soto all year.

Brendan Rodgers, INF, Rockies' No. 1 prospect
The two-time Futures Game participant had a solid season in Double-A to earn a bump to Triple-A before his 22nd birthday. His bat speed, power and ability to play three infield positions should help him break into the Rockies' lineup -- and there's no telling what kind of numbers he could put up in Coors Field.

Touki Toussaint, RHP, Braves' No. 4 prospect
There are a number of young Braves pitchers who could figure into ROY talk in 2019. Toussaint gets the nod because of his pure swing-and-miss stuff, the impression he made during his big league callup and the fact the Braves trusted him enough to put him on the postseason roster.

Others to watch: Kolby Allard, LHP, Braves; Logan Allen, LHP, Padres; Luiz Gohara, LHP, Braves; Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pirates; Dakota Hudson, RHP, Cardinals; Mitch Keller, RHP, Pirates; Francisco Mejia, C/OF, Padres; Austin Riley, 3B, Braves; Keibert Ruiz, C, Dodgers; Nick Senzel, INF, Reds; Mike Soroka, RHP, Braves; Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres; Luis Urias, 2B, Padres; Alex Verdugo, OF, Dodgers; Taylor Widener, RHP, D-backs; Bryse Wilson, RHP, Braves; Kyle Wright, RHP, Braves

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

12 players for Rangers to target in offseason

Pitching, catching high on Texas' list of priorities
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels was busy at the General Managers Meetings last week in California. Between meeting with other GMs and player agents, Daniels has begun to lay the groundwork for potential offseason moves.

The Rangers will express interest in just about every starting pitcher or reliever available either by trade or free agency. Texas' need for pitching is so deep that there are very few pitchers it won't at least discuss internally.

ARLINGTON -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels was busy at the General Managers Meetings last week in California. Between meeting with other GMs and player agents, Daniels has begun to lay the groundwork for potential offseason moves.

The Rangers will express interest in just about every starting pitcher or reliever available either by trade or free agency. Texas' need for pitching is so deep that there are very few pitchers it won't at least discuss internally.

The Rangers could use as many as four more starters before Spring Training. They will need at least four relievers, too. There are additional needs, including catcher.

Here are a dozen candidates who could be of interest:

LHP Yusei Kikuchi
The Rangers' offseason plans always include investigating the next star player from Japan. Kikuchi is this year's highly coveted pitcher from the Pacific Rim, and Texas will be among his suitors. Kikuchi, 27, was 14-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 23 games for the Seibu Lions, striking out 153 batters in 163 2/3 innings.

IF Manny Machado
Why not, especially if there are other teams backing away because of Machado's postseason issues? He is 26 and still a powerful force in the middle of the lineup who might help out Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara and others around him. His contract would be a strain for a team in desperate need for pitching, but he would give the Rangers a marquee player going into the new ballpark with Minor League pitching help expected in the next few years. Chris Woodward was one of his coaches with the Dodgers. It is probably a long shot, but it can't be dismissed.

Video: Ken Rosenthal discusses Manny Machado's future

LHP Patrick Corbin
The D-backs' southpaw and the Astros' Dallas Keuchel are considered the top two starting pitchers on the free-agent market. Corbin had the better numbers and is 1 1/2 years younger than Keuchel, so put him at the forefront. The Rangers didn't play in that market last year, and they will probably be reluctant to do so again this offseason.

RHP James Shields
Shields turns 37 in December and has seen better years. He was 7-16 with a 4.53 ERA with the White Sox this past year, though he threw 204 2/3 innings and had a respectable 1.31 WHIP. Shields could give the Rangers a leading presence in the rotation and a reliable arm that would allow some of their young pitchers more development time in the Minor Leagues.

LHP Gio Gonzalez
Gonzalez is no longer in his prime, but he is relatively durable. The free agent has made at least 31 starts in eight of the past nine years. He's no longer a pitcher to build a staff around, but he could give the Rangers badly needed innings and time to let younger pitchers develop.

Video: Gio Gonzalez enters free-agent market for 2019 season

RHP Sonny Gray
The Yankees are trying to trade Gray after he struggled the past two seasons in the Bronx. He is also a free agent after the 2019 season, so he may not fit into the Rangers' long-term future. But if Texas got him in a trade for the right price, he could have a big rebound year and may decide that Arlington is the place for him long term. If nothing else, Gray could give some short-term stability to the rotation -- and maybe even get the Rangers a non-waiver Trade Deadline candidate for better than what they might have to give up this season.

RHP Dylan Bundy
Bundy was 8-16 with a 5.45 ERA in 31 starts for the Orioles last year, but he was a 13-game winner in 2017 with a 4.24 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP, and he still has three years before he can become a free agent. The O's still don't have a general manager, but they are obviously in rebuild mode, so Bundy could be an interesting target.

Video: HOU@BAL: Bundy strikes out 7 across 6 solid innings

LHP Robbie Ray
The D-backs left-hander, another trade possibility, was outstanding in 2017, going 15-5 with a 2.89 ERA in 28 starts. He was 6-2 with a 3.93 ERA in 24 starts last season, despite missing almost two months with a strained oblique. He is 27 and has two years to go before free agency.

C J.T. Realmuto
If the Marlins are serious about trading Realmuto, there are going to be plenty of interested teams. He is one of the best catchers in the game, and he has two years to go before free agency. If Miami trades him, it is going to expect a lot in return.

Video: Rosenthal on Marlins' plans for Realmuto

C Wilson Ramos
The Rangers' curious decision to decline Robinson Chirinos' option leaves them in need of a catcher. Ramos and Yasmani Grandal are the best of the free agents. Grandal was given a $17.9 million qualifying offer by the Dodgers, so Ramos might be more attractive, although his long list of injuries includes two torn ACLs in his right knee.

OF Adam Jones
The battery should be the Rangers' biggest concern, but Jones is a right-handed-hitting outfielder who should be able to play all three positions, as well as designated hitter, if needed. He is also a well-respected veteran who could add some leadership. A productive right-handed bat on Texas' left-handed-leaning lineup could be a good thing.

Video: Adam Jones enters free agency after productive 2018

RHP Garrett Richards
Richards is a free agent, and he will miss the entire 2019 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. But the former Angels right-hander was once considered to have No. 1 stuff. The Rangers might be intrigued by the possibility of taking on a project, but they also need to find some healthy pitchers along with any reclamation projects.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers

Here's how QO decisions will affect FA market

Corbin, Grandal, Harper, Keuchel, Kimbrel, Pollock decline offers
MLB.com @feinsand

The free-agent market took further shape on Monday as six players declined qualifying offers from their previous clubs, attaching Draft-pick compensation to them as they seek new contracts.

Hyun-Jin Ryu was the lone player to accept, so he'll return to the Dodgers on a one-year, $17.9 million deal. Ryu became only the sixth player to accept of the 80 who have been extended qualifying offers since the system was implemented in 2012.

The free-agent market took further shape on Monday as six players declined qualifying offers from their previous clubs, attaching Draft-pick compensation to them as they seek new contracts.

Hyun-Jin Ryu was the lone player to accept, so he'll return to the Dodgers on a one-year, $17.9 million deal. Ryu became only the sixth player to accept of the 80 who have been extended qualifying offers since the system was implemented in 2012.

Qualifying offer rules explained

The other six players who received qualifying offers this year -- Patrick Corbin, Yasmani Grandal, Bryce Harper, Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel and A.J. Pollock -- declined and are now free agents, albeit with some strings attached.

Will the Draft-pick compensation attached to them have a major impact on any of these free agents?

In years past, some players who rejected qualifying offers struggled to find suitors, though teams signing such players are no longer subjected to the loss of their first-round picks as they once were. This year the pick forfeited is based on the team's status in regard to revenue sharing and the competitive-balance tax, and every team's highest first-round pick is protected.

Video: MLB Now: Assessing Harper's value in free agency

The teams interested in Harper are unlikely to care about the Draft-pick compensation, considering the type of dollars they will be committing in order to bring in a face-of-the-franchise player.

Then again, should a club be deciding between a pursuit of Harper and fellow prized free agent Manny Machado, the fact that Machado won't cost them any Draft picks or affect the size of their international bonus pool could become a factor.

The teams that would pay the heaviest price for signing any player who rejected a qualifying offer are the Nationals and Red Sox, who were the only two clubs to exceed the competitive-balance-tax threshold in 2018.

That means Washington and Boston would sacrifice their second- and fifth-highest selections in the 2019 Draft -- as well as $1 million of international bonus pool for the upcoming signing period -- if they sign one of the five players who rejected qualifying offers and who wasn't on their roster last season. (The Nats would not be penalized for re-signing Harper, and the Sox would not be penalized for re-signing Kimbrel.) Should either team sign two of those players, they would also lose their third- and sixth-highest picks.

The 16 teams that received revenue-sharing money -- the A's, Braves, Brewers, D-backs, Indians, Mariners, Marlins, Orioles, Padres, Pirates, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Royals, Tigers and Twins -- would lose their third-highest pick if they sign one of those players who wasn't on their roster last season.

The other 12 teams would lose their second-highest pick in next June's Draft, as well as $500,000 of their international bonus pool. If one of those teams sign two, they would also sacrifice their third-highest pick and an additional $500,000 of their international bonus pool.

Video: Dallas Keuchel enters free agency

The biggest winners of the early weeks of the offseason might be Keuchel and Corbin. With Ryu accepting the qualifying offer, Clayton Kershaw re-signing with the Dodgers, David Price deciding not to opt out of his deal with the Red Sox and CC Sabathia returning to the Yankees, the market for left-handed pitchers has shrunk considerably.

The rest of the catching market could benefit from the Dodgers' decision to offer Grandal a qualifying offer. Grandal will cost his next team a Draft pick -- two picks if it is the Nationals or Red Sox -- which is good news for free-agent backstops Wilson Ramos, Kurt Suzuki and Martin Maldonado. It could also work in the Marlins' favor as they continue to ponder trading All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Kimbrel is the lone free-agent reliever with compensation attached to him, though he also possesses the lengthiest track record as an All-Star closer, so he shouldn't have a problem landing a multiyear deal in the Kenley Jansen/Aroldis Chapman range. For teams concerned about giving up a Draft pick and/or international bonus pool dollars, the market also includes Jeurys Familia, David Robertson, Zach Britton, Andrew Miller, Adam Ottavino and Kelvin Herrera, leaving numerous late-inning options.

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.

Patrick Corbin, Yasmani Grandal, Bryce Harper, Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel, A.J. Pollock

The case for each AL Manager of the Year finalist

MLB.com

It's difficult to make an argument against any of the three finalists for the 2018 American League Manager of the Year Award. In many other years, Alex Cora of the Red Sox would have been a runaway winner after leading Boston to the most wins in franchise history and a World Series championship -- in his first year at the helm of the team. But nobody in the league did more with less than Oakland's Bob Melvin and Tampa Bay's Kevin Cash, who turned young, low-cost rosters into a shocking 97 wins and an AL Wild Card Game berth for the A's and 90 wins for the Rays.

With the 2018 AL Manager of the Year set to be revealed in Tuesday's 6 p.m. ET announcement on MLB Network, here's a look at the case for each of the finalists.

It's difficult to make an argument against any of the three finalists for the 2018 American League Manager of the Year Award. In many other years, Alex Cora of the Red Sox would have been a runaway winner after leading Boston to the most wins in franchise history and a World Series championship -- in his first year at the helm of the team. But nobody in the league did more with less than Oakland's Bob Melvin and Tampa Bay's Kevin Cash, who turned young, low-cost rosters into a shocking 97 wins and an AL Wild Card Game berth for the A's and 90 wins for the Rays.

With the 2018 AL Manager of the Year set to be revealed in Tuesday's 6 p.m. ET announcement on MLB Network, here's a look at the case for each of the finalists.

• NL Manager of the Year Award: A case for each finalist

Kevin Cash, Rays
At the helm in one of baseball's smallest markets, every year presents challenges for a manager in Cash's position. But 2018 arguably brought more of one: near-continuous roster turnover, the losses of some of the franchise's most accomplished veterans and an awful start that threatened to make the Rays irrelevant by Memorial Day. How, then, did Tampa Bay finish 2018 with 90 wins, its highest total since 2013?

Much of the credit goes to Cash, the fourth-year skipper who turned one of baseball's most fluid and least experienced rosters into one of the sport's biggest surprises in 2018. Cash has long earned praise from in the industry for his communication and leadership skills and openness to implementing new ideas, and this year, that combination translated to the win column. The Rays played to a .593 winning percentage after starting the year 4-13, overcame injuries to several key pitchers and introduced the revolutionary "opener" strategy to the world.

The Rays used 31 pitchers and 19 rookies and won 28 one-run games. And ultimately, a calendar year that saw Tampa Bay trade veteran stalwarts Evan Longoria, Chris Archer and Alex Colome, among others, ended as the most successful of Cash's tenure.

As a reward, the Rays restructured what was left of Cash's original five-year, $5 million contract and signed him to an extension through 2024, with an option for 2025. That makes Cash, soon to be 41, not only one of the youngest managers in baseball, but also one of the most secure. Any hardware would only add to his resume.

--Joe Trezza

Video: Darling breaks down Cash's Manager of the Year case

Alex Cora, Red Sox
Cora is aiming to be the first Red Sox skipper to be named AL Manager of the Year since Jimy Williams in 1999. Behind Cora, the Red Sox notched a franchise-record 108 wins. With one more victory, Cora would have tied Ralph Houk (1961 Yankees) for the most ever for a rookie manager.

With largely the same roster as in 2017, the Sox improved their win total by 15 games. That had a lot to do with the 43-year-old Cora, who drew rave reviews for the way he communicated with his players and for the way he blended analytics into his daily life in the dugout.

The process of Cora getting his players to buy in started in the weeks before Spring Training, when he went on a winter caravan to various regions of the country and met with most of the players on the team.

For his hitters, Cora preached hunting for pitches rather than being passive early in the count. This resulted in MVP finalist Mookie Betts and shortstop Xander Bogaerts both having major upticks in their numbers from the previous season. Cora also kept all of his position players involved all season, which made role players effective and also kept his starters fresh.

From a pitching standpoint, Cora closely managed the workload of the staff from the start of Spring Training through the end of the regular season, always with the postseason in mind. That enabled him to empty the tank in October as pitchers like David Price, Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi went back and forth from the rotation to bullpen -- "rovers," as Cora called them.

In pressurized Boston, Cora remained unflappable. When he made a mistake, he usually owned up to it before anyone got the chance to criticize him.

--Ian Browne

Video: Reynolds on Cora's Manager of the Year candidacy

Bob Melvin, Athletics
Melvin, already deemed the winner of the Sporting News AL Manager of the Year Award last month, is a frontrunner for yet another BBWAA honor. The longtime manager is a two-time winner of the prestigious award, having earned it with Arizona in 2007 and Oakland in 2012.

There's good reason for Melvin to win another, after he guided the A's to a surprising 97-win campaign -- the fourth-best record in the Majors -- and took them to the Wild Card Game against the Yankees despite fielding a team with the lowest Opening Day payroll in the league. Faced with limited resources and a host of injuries, Melvin and the A's scripted one of baseball's best stories in 2018. He effortlessly managed a ransacked rotation, a bullpen with multiple moving parts and a mostly inexperienced lineup, his players continuously showing faith in his decision-making throughout.

Their 22-win improvement amazingly marked the third time Melvin has led a team to a 20-game improvement. While they were eliminated by the Yankees in the Wild Card Game in the Bronx, the A's appear poised to compete for years to come, thanks in no small part to Melvin.

--Jane Lee

Video: Lee on Melvin's chances to win AL Manager of the Year

Boston Red Sox, Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays

Yankees' Machado research is 'extensive'

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.

Would 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, especially after the club just watched the rival Red Sox win their fourth World Series title since 2004. 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.

Yankees doing "extensive" background work on Machado
Nov. 12: It's still a little murky how strong the Yankees' pursuit of Machado will actually be. But they're definitely doing their due diligence.

According to The Athletic's Jayson Stark (subscription required), the Yankees have been doing "particularly extensive" background work on Machado, even beyond the typical amount of background information teams routinely seek about potential free-agent or trade targets.

Sources told Stark that Yankees manager Aaron Boone, front-office members and scouts are all among those who "calling around" about Machado.

The superstar shortstop remains a clear fit for the Yankees, with Didi Gregorius out indefinitely as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

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.

Should Cubs choose Machado over Bryant? Brisbee thinks so.
Nov. 11: SB Nation senior baseball writer Grant Brisbee decided to chime in on the Machado debate with a lengthy column in which he debates the advantages and disadvantages of several teams' pursuits of the 26-year-old shortstop, including the Yankees, Phillies, White Sox, Dodgers, Cubs and Padres.

In his search for an ideal fit for Machado, Brisbee considers four factors: extra money to spend, a fan base that needs a jolt, a robust farm system that can allow them to subsidize a superstar for the coming years, and a young team.

"We need the Padres. Machado needs the Padres. The Padres need Machado," Brisbee writes.

Brisbee points to the Eric Hosmer contract as an example of the Padres making an expensive, long-term investment in a player that could play a key role on a future team in contention, but concedes that Machado playing his home games in Petco Park remains a long shot. He ultimately concludes that he expects Machado to sign a 10-year, $330 million contract to play for the Cubs.

He doesn't feel that it's a coincidence that Kris Bryant trade rumors are gaining steam now, when Machado is also on the market. He writes that for the Cubs, it could be a matter of committing $300 million to a 29-year-old Bryant after the 2021 season versus making a similar commitment to a 26-year-old Machado right now -- and also reaping the benefits of whatever top prospects they would gain in a trade involving Bryant.

Would Harper or Machado be enough for Phillies to contend?
Nov. 10: In hopes of contending next year, the Phillies are expected to make a run at big-name free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado this offseason. But Jonah Keri of CBS Sports argues that adding one of those players might not be enough to spark a postseason run in 2019.

As Keri points out, the last three World Series winners -- the Cubs, the Astros and the Red Sox -- all had a strong core in place before adding to it in free agency. The Phils, though, have a ton of question marks after Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins.

Philadelphia's roster isn't barren, but Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez are coming off poor second halves, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and Zach Eflin haven't proven to be consistent rotation options, and neither J.P. Crawford nor Scott Kingery have lived up to expectations as former top prospects.

Keri writes that signing Harper or Machado -- potentially for $400 million -- should be part of a larger free-agency plan that involves adding relief help as well as a starting pitcher. Keri names J.A. Happ and Charlie Morton, who has expressed his desire to be close to his wife's family's Delaware home, as potential options.

Meanwhile, Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes that this offseason could get tricky for the Phillies, with the markets for Harper and Machado potentially playing out slowly as their agents -- Scott Boras and Dan Lozano, respectively -- try to land the longest and most lucrative deal possible. As Lauber writes, neither agent is going to want his client to be the first of the two to sign, instead preferring to let the other player set the market. Moreover, the longer each player's free agency endures, the more likely it is that other teams will join the bidding.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak has indicated that he won't wait around for Harper or Machado if he has a chance to improve the team.

"We're not going to forgo opportunities early in the offseason because we're waiting on something else," Klentak said this past week during the General Managers Meetings in Carlsbad, Calif. "If there are good opportunities for us to improve our club now or in the coming weeks or months that make sense for us, we will do it."

Will Yankees make competitive bid for Machado?
Nov. 10: While the Yankees continue to be connected to both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News does not think the club is a likely suitor for either player.

Madden wrote Saturday that New York "will monitor the Manny Machado sweepstakes, if only because he has previously expressed a desire to play for the Yankees and his market may be more limited than you might think."

But teams such as the Phillies are expected to offer more than $300 million for Machado, and Maddon doesn't expect New York will want to saddle itself with another potential albatross after being burned by the Alex Rodriguez and Jacoby Ellsbury deals.

Said one former big league executive: "All you have to know with Machado is he says he's no 'Charlie hustle' or whatever before he even gets the money. What's he going to do AFTER he gets the money, when he's got the security and nobody can talk to him? For me, he'd be toxic. To give that guy 10 years? That's one bad contract waiting to happen."

Meanwhile, Madden considers the Harper-to-the-Yankees dream to be "dead," noting that New York has no interest in spending another $250 million or more on an outfielder.

Madden writes that the Yanks' priority instead is "to add at least two more proven quality frontline pitchers," and he predicts that after staying under the luxury-tax threshold in 2018, New York "will not be out-bid for Patrick Corbin" or J.A. Happ, if they choose to pursue them.

Murti: No matter what Yanks say, don't count them out on Machado or Harper
Nov. 9: The Yankees say that they're focused on starting pitching this offseason. The Yankees say that they're not interested in Bryce Harper. The Yankees say that Machado is a back-burner item. WFAN Yankees beat reporter Sweeny Murti says to ignore all that.

"They tell everybody right now that they have no level of interest in these guys, but that doesn't mean anything at this point in time," Murti said in a Friday interview on MLB Now.

Murti goes on to explain that he feels that the Yankees are distancing themselves because they're not willing to pursue 12-year or 14-year deals with Machado or Harper, but if they remain on the market and New York feels that they can fill holes on the roster, he "guarantees" that the Yankees are still part of the equation.

"I will never believe a guy like Harper or Machado is not a Yankee until I see him holding up another jersey and wearing another cap at the podium," Murti said.

Murti pointed to the Yankees' past signings of Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira as examples of pursuits in which New York distanced itself at the start before ultimately choosing to pull the trigger on both. And Murti also feels the Yankees have more of a need than they would indicate at shortstop with the uncertainty around Didi Gregorius, pointing to the time in 2013 when Derek Jeter's injury necessitated them scrambling to find Luis Cruz to fill the gap.

With that said, this time could be different, with the Yankees finally having dropped below the luxury tax threshold after 15 straight years of being penalized, and owner Hal Steinbrenner reportedly reluctant to make another significant commitment.

Will last year's acquisition of Stanton cost Yankees Harper or Machado?
Nov. 9: The Yankees made a blockbuster move to acquire slugger Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins last offseason, also taking on $265 million remaining on his contract after Miami agreed to pick up $30 million in the trade. Did that acquisition make it unlikely New York could land one of this year's prized superstars, Bryce Harper or Manny Machado?

It did, according to SNY's John Harper (no relation), who argues that Stanton's no-trade clause, coupled with Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner's aversion to putting another giant contract on the franchise's payroll, makes the chances of Harper or Machado landing in the Bronx slim to none. The Yankees have also made it very apparent their first priority this offseason is starting pitching.

Who is the better investment: Harper or Machado?
Nov. 9: With both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado expected to command a long-term contract valued at more than $300 million this offseason, the question arises: which young superstar is the better investment?

ESPN's Bradford Doolittle takes a shot at answering that question, and he comes to the conclusion that Harper is the better bet. In a nutshell, Harper has more value offensively, and Machado has more value defensively, but Doolittle sees the offensive advantage Harper brings to the table outweighing Machado's superior defensive ability.

Obviously, these types of decisions are subject to many other factors, including positional need, for the different clubs that may pursue the two sluggers. But in a vacuum, Doolittle sees a Harper mega-deal paying off more than one for Machado.

What does the future hold for Harper and Machado?
Nov. 9: Since being drafted first and third overall, respectively, in the 2010 MLB Draft, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have become two of the biggest stars in baseball. And regardless of where the two players land in free agency this offseason, the signing clubs will surely be hoping they'll be as good or better over the next decade.

History paints a positive picture about what teams might be able to expect, with some exceptions.

According to FanGraphs, Harper and Machado have each generated roughly 30 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in their careers. To determine potential future outcomes for the duo, MLB.com's Andrew Simon took a look at 43 players who each also recorded between 20-40 WAR through their age-25 seasons and have seen at least 10 years pass since then.

Breaking down WAR totals from their age 26-35 seasons, Simon found Willie Mays (92.2 WAR), Barry Bonds (79.1) and Hank Aaron (75.7) to be the cream of the crop, and seven players -- Rickey Henderson (62.1 WAR), Carl Yastrzemski (58.2), Frank Robinson (57.9), Eddie Mathews (56.7), George Brett (53.7), Albert Pujols (51.8) and Cal Ripken Jr. (50.9) -- qualified as all-time greats. Simon put an additional 16 players in the superstars group.

Fifteen players were productive for a while, but injuries and/or age typically caught up to them, with David Wright serving as a representative example. On the lower end of the spectrum, Simon lists Jim Ray Hart (4.0 WAR) and Grady Sizemore (1.4) as the worst-case scenarios. Sizemore posted 27.2 WAR over his first four full seasons, ranking fourth in the Majors, behind only Pujols, Chase Utley and Alex Rodriguez. But due to injuries, the outfielder barely collected 1,000 at-bats between 2010-15, and he played his final season in '15 at age 32.

Manny Machado

deGrom's future unclear as agent becomes GM

Ace 'willing to explore' extension as Van Wagenen settles in
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- As Brodie Van Wagenen navigated the Mets' general manager interview process earlier this month, he stayed in close contact with Jacob deGrom and his other clients at CAA. Unwilling to blindside deGrom with the news that he might change jobs, Van Wagenen kept his star client updated on what was happening.

Shortly after Van Wagenen became GM, divesting himself of all interests in CAA and forfeiting the chance to represent deGrom in contract negotiations, he chatted again on the phone with his ex-client.

NEW YORK -- As Brodie Van Wagenen navigated the Mets' general manager interview process earlier this month, he stayed in close contact with Jacob deGrom and his other clients at CAA. Unwilling to blindside deGrom with the news that he might change jobs, Van Wagenen kept his star client updated on what was happening.

Shortly after Van Wagenen became GM, divesting himself of all interests in CAA and forfeiting the chance to represent deGrom in contract negotiations, he chatted again on the phone with his ex-client.

"Have you talked to my agent?" deGrom recalled asking him.

"I don't know who that is," Van Wagenen deadpanned.

"Yeah, me neither," deGrom said, laughing.

For now, deGrom is still working out that detail, as he tries to determine how Van Wagenen's move to the Mets' front office might affect him. Back in July, Van Wagenen was vocal in saying the Mets should either sign deGrom to a long-term deal or trade him. Like most around baseball, deGrom is unsure if his agent's career change will facilitate either of those things. (Van Wagenen has language written into his contract that he cannot fight deGrom in arbitration, among other limitations, given the nature of their past dealings.)

"That's what I'm still trying to wrap my head around over this past week, week and a half," deGrom said in a telephone interview. "I've had conversations with him since then, and they've been good. It's still a little confusing for me, I guess."

Upon leaving the GM Meetings last Friday in Carlsbad, Calif., Van Wagenen expressed interest in locking deGrom up to a long-term deal. But the two sides have not engaged in negotiations, which is nothing new for deGrom (and nothing abnormal for this point in the offseason). Ex-GM Sandy Alderson never approached deGrom about a contract extension during his tenure, despite the pitcher's interest in making something happen.

"I've remained steadfast that I think he's tremendous," Van Wagenen said. "I'd love to try to keep him if it's possible. We'll explore that in the coming weeks."

deGrom's position has not changed since the end of the season.

"I think anybody is open to an extension if it's right for you and your family," said deGrom, who is under team control through the 2020 season, at which point he will be 32 years old. "Nothing is guaranteed in this game until you sign that deal or hit free agency and sign a deal there. You just have to sit down and, at the end of the day, look at what's right for you and your family and kind of make a decision based upon that.

"I really do enjoy playing in New York. The fans have treated me great. I enjoy taking the mound at Citi Field in front of them, and it's rare that a guy spends his career with one team. If that was something that they wanted to do, and me and [my wife] Stacey felt like it was the right move for us, then we'd be willing to definitely explore that."

No matter what happens this offseason, deGrom will enter next year in an enviable position. MLB Trade Rumors projects his salary to jump from $7.4 million to $12.9 million, after he went 10-9 with a 1.70 ERA. He is an overwhelming favorite to win the National League Cy Young Award, which the Baseball Writers' Association of America will announce Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network.

Although deGrom knows he stands an excellent chance of taking home the award, he remains anxious for the announcement.

"That was a goal of mine," deGrom said. "I've said it for the past couple of years -- you win a Cy Young Award, you were probably the best pitcher in your league that year. Yeah, I'm nervous. It's something that I've set as a goal, and [I] would definitely like to win it."

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

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom