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These 3 teams could be perfect fits for Greinke

Veteran righty would be highly attractive target on trade market
MLB.com @_dadler

With the free-agent market light on front-end starting pitchers -- there's Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel, Nathan Eovaldi and not a whole lot behind them -- an interesting trade possibility has been floated this week: Could the D-backs move Zack Greinke?

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal suggested the idea on Monday (subscription required), writing that Greinke might be one of the most attractive starters available, alongside his Arizona teammate Corbin. Greinke's reliable production -- he had a 3.21 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 207 2/3 innings in 2018, and a 3.20 ERA and 215 strikeouts in 202 1/3 innings the year before -- could make him a valuable addition to any number of teams looking for a proven starter to help lead their staff.

With the free-agent market light on front-end starting pitchers -- there's Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel, Nathan Eovaldi and not a whole lot behind them -- an interesting trade possibility has been floated this week: Could the D-backs move Zack Greinke?

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal suggested the idea on Monday (subscription required), writing that Greinke might be one of the most attractive starters available, alongside his Arizona teammate Corbin. Greinke's reliable production -- he had a 3.21 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 207 2/3 innings in 2018, and a 3.20 ERA and 215 strikeouts in 202 1/3 innings the year before -- could make him a valuable addition to any number of teams looking for a proven starter to help lead their staff.

Latest Hot Stove rumors

Yes, Greinke is 35 and has a big contract -- three years and $104.5 million remaining through 2021 -- but that might lower the required return. And on top of that, per Rosenthal, the D-backs are willing to reduce the financial burden for a trade partner. Three years of Greinke, especially at a reduced cost, would be an enticing bet for the right teams. Compared to a similar salary over four or five years for Keuchel, or having to spend nine figures for Corbin on the strength of one breakout year, they might even prefer it.

Here are three teams that would be interesting fits for Greinke.

Astros
Houston could lose both Keuchel and Charlie Morton to free agency, and Lance McCullers Jr. will miss all of 2019 after Tommy John surgery. The Astros have gotten a lot out of Keuchel and Morton, and could try to bring them back, but Greinke would be a great match.

The Astros are one of the best teams at using analytics to get the most out of their pitchers -- they've done it with Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Morton and others. Greinke is one of the most studious pitchers in baseball, embracing data and using it to his advantage.

Greinke wins 5th straight Gold Glove Award

Greinke's ability to adjust has kept him pitching at a high level even with diminished velocity over the last few years (his fastball averaged 89.6 mph in 2018, and 90.7 mph in '17). He throws his fastball lower in the zone than he used to; he throws his eephus-like slow curve more, and to great effect; he uses his changeup more often in right-on-right matchups.

Video: COL@ARI: Greinke K's Arenado swinging on eephus

Greinke has excellent command, especially with his fastball-slider combination he throws down and away to right-handed hitters, and his fastball-changeup combo he offers down and away to lefties. That makes him one of the best pitchers at getting hitters to chase out of the zone -- his 31.4 percent chase rate induced in 2018 ranked 14th among starters, and his 32.6 percent mark in '17 was sixth best. Greinke's velocity might not jump back up, but his exceptional knowledge of the craft makes him the kind of pitcher the Astros embrace.

The Yankees
The Yankees want to add multiple starters this offseason, and they are targeting arms who can pitch alongside Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka. They've been linked to Corbin, and Keuchel seems like a good fit, too. Greinke still might be the best-suited of the three to put on the pinstripes.

For one, he's much more established than Corbin, who was excellent in 2018 and '13 but doesn't have the sustained success in between. The Yankees are also an immediate World Series championship contender, so Greinke's age isn't the same issue for them as an up-and-coming team like the White Sox. Greinke's proven he can pitch in a big market, and the Yankees want to avoid another Sonny Gray situation, as they shop Gray after his ongoing struggles in New York. Greinke's run with the Dodgers from 2013-15 was one of the best of his career -- he went 51-15 with a 2.30 ERA in 92 starts.

And there's one interesting factor at play when comparing Greinke to Keuchel: The Yankees' infield defense is a huge question mark, and Keuchel is a heavy ground-ball pitcher. Miguel Andujar's struggles at third base were bad enough that he was removed for defense in playoff games. Gleyber Torres didn't rate well defensively, either. New York's strongest defender, Didi Gregorius, will miss a lot of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Compare that to the trio that played behind Keuchel in Houston: Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve. The Astros allowed a .232 batting average on ground balls in 2018, the sixth-lowest of any team, while the Yankees allowed a .261 average, the fifth-highest.

Greinke gets more outs in the air and via strikeout -- he's struck out 25.2 percent of the batters he's faced over the last two seasons, compared to 19.1 percent for Keuchel.

Video: Greinke, Ahmed take home Gold Gloves for D-backs

The Angels
Here's a dark-horse candidate. The Angels don't have the strongest farm system, so they might not have the right prospects to put together a Greinke package. But maybe Greinke falls in their price range because of his age and contract status. And if he does, the fit is perfect.

Greinke is exactly the type of pitcher the Angels need: a durable workhorse. The Angels' pitching staff has been ravaged by injuries in recent seasons. Their ace, Garrett Richards, is a free agent and already out for 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Shohei Ohtani won't be a two-way player again until 2020 after having Tommy John surgery himself.

Greinke has made 30-plus starts and pitched 200-plus innings in four of the last five seasons, and he can anchor a staff. The chief free-agent options, Corbin, Keuchel and Eovaldi, all have spottier injury histories.

Video: Greinke named Wilson Defensive POY at pitcher

The Angels want to contend now. They've still only made the playoffs once in Mike Trout's career, and they don't want to squander their chance as he enters the second-to-last year on his contract. They have enough pieces to push for a playoff spot. They've traded for Greinke once before in 2012. Maybe they'll try to do it again.

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

Arizona Diamondbacks, Zack Greinke

Melvin wins 3rd Manager Award, Snitker his first

MLB.com @castrovince

The established formula for winning the Baseball Writers' Association of America's Manager of the Year Award is a regular-season result that greatly exceeds preseason expectation. Brian Snitker and Bob Melvin fit that formula perfectly in 2018, making the announcement on Tuesday night as their respective leagues' top skippers relatively unsurprising.

Melvin's A's (plus-22) and Snitker's Braves (plus-18) had the two highest win total increases in baseball from 2017 to '18. With the Braves still in the midst of a rebuild and the A's entering '18 with the lowest Opening Day payroll in the game, little was externally expected of these clubs going into the year. But the Braves won the National League East ahead of schedule, and the A's pushed the defending champion Astros in the AL West en route to an AL Wild Card spot.

The established formula for winning the Baseball Writers' Association of America's Manager of the Year Award is a regular-season result that greatly exceeds preseason expectation. Brian Snitker and Bob Melvin fit that formula perfectly in 2018, making the announcement on Tuesday night as their respective leagues' top skippers relatively unsurprising.

Melvin's A's (plus-22) and Snitker's Braves (plus-18) had the two highest win total increases in baseball from 2017 to '18. With the Braves still in the midst of a rebuild and the A's entering '18 with the lowest Opening Day payroll in the game, little was externally expected of these clubs going into the year. But the Braves won the National League East ahead of schedule, and the A's pushed the defending champion Astros in the AL West en route to an AL Wild Card spot.

• Complete 2018 awards coverage

Because the BBWAA voting takes place at the conclusion of the regular season, postseason results -- and, specifically, Boston manager Alex Cora's special place in history as one of just five rookie skippers to win the World Series -- were not reflected in the ballot results.

:: AL Manager of the Year voting totals ::

Melvin, who previously won Manager of the Year in the NL with the D-backs in 2007 and in the AL with the A's in '12, received 18 first-place votes and 121 total points in the voting. Cora finished second with seven first-place votes and 79 points, and the Rays' Kevin Cash, whose club won 90 games despite massive sell-offs in the trade market and a revolutionary pitching plan, finished third with five first-place votes and 57 points. The Astros' AJ Hinch and Yankees rookie skipper Aaron Boone rounded out the top five.

Though Melvin is no stranger to the BBWAA honor, what he did in 2018 was plenty strange.

"To accomplish what we did takes a lot of buy-in," Melvin said on MLB Network. "Our coaches and our players had a really cool bond this year and a trust. It allows us to accomplish what we did, against all odds."

Video: Bob Melvin wins AL Manager of the Year Award

Oakland's 97-win season and Wild Card Game entry was even more amazing when you consider that the entire Opening Day rotation was erased by injury over the course of the year, forcing the club to dole out impactful innings to veterans such as Edwin Jackson, Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill.

"I think at some point in time, we got a little bit immune to [the injuries]," Melvin said. "We had some guys go down in spring, we had some guys go down early, but it didn't detract from what our goal was, to go out there and play as hard as we could and try to win a ballgame. Our front office gave us a lot of guys and some depth to draw from, and ... we just didn't let those things bother us."

The 57-year-old Melvin's leadership was a steady presence amid the mixing, matching and revision it took to get the A's back to the postseason stage for the fourth time in the past seven years but the first since 2014.

Video: Melvin discusses what makes him a successful manager

Melvin is just the eighth manager to earn this award at least three times, joining four-time winners Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa and three-time victors Dusty Baker, Jim Leyland, Lou Piniella, Buck Showalter and Joe Maddon.

:: NL Manager of the Year voting totals ::

Snitker, meanwhile, received 17 first-place votes and 116 points overall. Brewers manager Craig Counsell, whose club tied a franchise record with 96 wins and beat the Cubs in Game 163 to decide the NL Central, finished second with 11 first-place votes and 99 points. Third-place finisher Bud Black of the Rockies received one first-place vote, as did fifth-place finisher Maddon of the Cubs (with Cardinals interim-turned-permanent skipper Mike Shildt in fourth place on points).

At a time when the managerial role has gravitated more toward former big league players, regardless of their inexperience on the bench, Snitker, who has spent more than 40 years in the Atlanta organization, was the increasingly rare longtime organizational guy given a chance to not only guide a club during the rebuild phase but to finish the job. The Braves' surge to the top of the NL East standings this season was a credit to his calm and optimistic approach. 

"I've been through a lot," Snitker said. "I think the biggest thing I can say for myself is I understand that this is a rough game. I'd always tell teams, 'I don't care if we're going good or bad, today's always the day we can start something really good and start a winning streak.'"

The Braves entered 2018 picked by many to finish third or fourth in the division. Instead, they spent 115 days in first and never lost more than four in a row.

Video: Snitker wins NL Manager of the Year Award

Given the relative youth of the roster, the Braves' ability to stay atop the standings throughout the second half was especially impressive, and Snitker's decision to put NL Rookie of the Year Award winner Ronald Acuna Jr. in the leadoff spot coming out of the All-Star break reaped major dividends for the offense. The 63-year-old Snitker also had to guide an inexperienced bullpen that was without closer Arodys Vizcaino for 3 1/2 months.

Atlanta general manager Alex Anthopoulos stayed with Snitker at a time when he could have hired his own guy, and Snitker rewarded Anthopoulos' loyalty. Now, Snitker joins his mentor and former boss Cox as the only Braves skippers to obtain this BBWAA honor.

Video: Snitker on Bobby Cox, impact of his coaching staff

"I think it's a testament to our organization," Snitker said. "An award like this is indicative of you have really good players. Our organization, our scouting, our player development, our front office and the job Alex and his team did here this year was phenomenal. I'm the recipient of a really solid, quality job by a really strong organization."

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Oakland Athletics, Atlanta Braves

Rumors: Bumgarner, Machado, Andujar, Murphy

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

Will Bumgarner be in a new uniform by Spring Training?
Nov. 13: This past season, teams that called the Giants about a Madison Bumgarner trade were told that he was not available, with San Francisco placing great importance on the left-hander's legacy, according to Buster Olney in an article for ESPN+ (subscription required).

But Olney argues that the club must at least consider dealing Bumgarner this offseason, with the southpaw starting to show signs of regression and set to hit the free-agent market in a year.

As Olney notes, Bumgarner's fastball velocity and OPS against his four-seamer are going in the wrong direction, as is his hard-hit rate, and it's questionable whether San Francisco should offer him a long-term contract extension. Meanwhile, trading Bumgarner may be the Giants' best chance to replenish a lackluster farm system.

Olney considers new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi the right person to make a tough decision about Bumgarner, as the former Dodgers general manager has no ties to the Giants' three World Series-winning clubs and can fairly assess Bumgarner's future without being swayed by his past.

Olney also writes that Bumgarner may still be viewed as an attractive trade target by many teams because of his track record and the fact that he requires only a one-year obligation for $12 million.

Would the Yanks trade Andujar to make way for Machado?
Nov. 13: While it's unclear exactly where Manny Machado falls on the Yankees' offseason wish list, a big splash by New York can't be ruled out, 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.

Yanks would be logical fit for Murphy
Nov. 13: The Yankees are in fine-tuning mode with their lineup, but with the unexpected timeline of Didi Gregorius' return from Tommy John surgery, the club all of a sudden has a left-handed, pull-power void. MLB.com's Matt Kelly makes the argument that Daniel Murphy could fit that bill splendidly, while also outlining other factors that make Murphy and the Yanks a strong match on paper. 

5 reasons why Yankees should sign Murphy

Murphy might be an economical solution in dollars and years, would bring a hitting acumen to the Yanks' young stars and could even serve as insurance at first base for Greg Bird, who has yet to hit his stride, and Luke Voit, who may need to still prove himself as an everyday player. 

No stranger to the New York spotlight, Murphy has been a poster boy for the launch-angle era, which could prove valuable with the short porch in right at Yankee Stadium. As Kelly notes, from 2016-17, only 10 left-handed hitters recorded a higher rate of pulled fly balls and line drives, per Statcast™, and Murphy hit .642 when putting those balls in play.

Kelly also points out that after a sluggish start to his 2018 season -- Murphy missed the first two and a half months while recovering from right knee surgery last offseason, then hit .188 over his first 21 games -- Murphy slashed .328/.365/.506 over his last 70 games for a 132 weighted runs created plus (wRC+) -- the exact same in that stretch as Manny Machado, whom the Yanks are also reportedly targeting. 

Murphy will turn 34 years old on April 1, has proven to be defensively inferior to most everyday second basemen, and was limited to just 91 games last year. But his October-laden resume, affordability and veteran impact might make him a strong fit in the Bronx. 

Are the 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.

The Twins need a DH. Will they go after Cruz?
Nov. 13: Minnesota was starved for production out of its designated hitter spot throughout all of 2018. The Logan Morrison signing was a flop, and the revolving door of Joe Mauer, Robbie Grossman, Tyler Austin and Eddie Rosario down the stretch didn't fare well, either. Twins DHs combined for a .682 OPS and 15 homers last season, topping only the Tigers in those categories among American League teams.

With the large salaries of Mauer, Ervin Santana, Lance Lynn, Morrison and Brian Dozier now off the books, the Twins have plenty of payroll flexibility to work with for 2019. Brandon Warne of Zone Coverage thinks that the Twins will use that money to sign Nelson Cruz to bring some much-needed stability to the DH position, at least in the short term.

Tweet from @Brandon_Warne: Abbreviated #MNTwins Blueprint v.III:Trade for Carlos SantanaSign Nelson CruzSign Jose Iglesias Sign Garrett Richards/Trevor CahillSign David RobertsonWin the AL Central.

Warne sees Cruz as the "perfect bridge" to Austin, Miguel Sano or Twins No. 7 prospect Brent Rooker, as the 38-year-old would give Minnesota's lineup an immediate influx of elite power without commanding a lengthy commitment.

That's not to mention Cruz's connection to Minnesota's front office -- Twins general manager Thad Levine and Cruz spent eight years together with the Rangers during Levine's lengthy stint as Texas' assistant general manager.

Deciding between Brantley and Pollock
Nov. 13: When it comes to choosing the second-best free-agent outfielder -- that is, the No. 2 option after Bryce Harper -- the decision could come down to Michael Brantley and A.J. Pollock. As is, there are a number of similarities between the two as veterans north of 30 years old who possess top-of-the-lineup skills and solid defensive ability but also come with a history of missing time.

Ryan Fagan of The Sporting News weighs the choice between Brantley and Pollock, making the case for each by breaking down various aspects of their games, including the fact that Pollock was offered -- and declined -- the $17.9 million qualifying offer, thus saddling him with Draft-pick compensation. The verdict?

"Teams will roll the injury dice to sign either guy," Fagan writes. "Pollock has the higher upside, but for a team that is loathe to part with any draft pick, Brantley might be the better bet."

Who's your pick: Kimbrel or Ottavino?
Nov. 13: Thanks to his elite track record of 333 saves in eight-plus seasons as a closer, Craig Kimbrel is going to get paid very handsomely this offseason, with Aroldis Chapman's five-year, $86 million contract and Kenley Jansen's five-year, $80 million deal serving as high-end benchmarks for what Kimbrel, MLB's active saves leader, might expect.

But is Kimbrel the free-agent reliever that will provide the most value to his team moving forward? Michael Clair of MLB.com's Cut4 doesn't think so. Instead, he argues that suitors for Kimbrel should be clamoring for the services of Adam Ottavino.

It might sound crazy given Kimbrel's history, but Clair considers it to be just that: history. To make his case, Clair points to some peripherals that suggest that Kimbrel, now entering his 30s, might be in for a regression. Not only did the hard-throwing righty's walk and homer rate rise in 2018, but his FIP also rose to a career-high 3.13 and he lost over a mile per hour on his fastball from '17.

On the other hand, Ottavino is trending up, having worked hard after an abysmal 2017 season to remake his approach and arsenal, emerging on the other side with a career-best ERA (2.43) and strikeout rate (13 K/9) in '18, a season that rivaled that of Kimbrel -- despite Ottavino playing his home games at Coors Field. (For the record, Ottavino actually pitched better in Denver, with opposing batters registering a .418 OPS against him at Coors.)

Now, as both of these pitchers know, one-season blips happen, and Kimbrel is both more proven and 2 1/2 years younger than Ottavino. Kimbrel took a step back in 2016 but rebounded with arguably the best season of his career in '17. Ottavino is only one year removed from a disastrous 5.06 ERA and 6.6 BB/9 walk rate.

But as a non-closer, Ottavino is more accustomed to being flexible in relief and pitching longer outings when needed, which is more in line with the modern trend of bullpen usage. And given that Kimbrel's price and contract length will likely be driven up by aggressive bidding, Ottavino could still provide better value without requiring as steep of a commitment.

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.

Despite two seasons of success, could Lowrie be a value buy?
Nov. 13: After posting 8.5 WAR (per FanGraphs) over the last two years, is it still possible that Jed Lowrie might actually be undervalued by the contract that he'll ultimately sign this offseason?

Emma Baccellieri of Sports Illustrated considers Lowrie to be a potential "value buy" in free agency, as she writes in an article in which she lists the switch-hitting second baseman among the available players that could provide the "biggest bang for their buck."

She points to Lowrie's relatively advanced age (34 years) and robust injury history (significant time missed in two of the last four seasons) as reasons why he might not get a contract that will truly reflect his on-field potential in the coming years. Baccellieri also cites Lowrie's increasing launch angle (following the A's recent trend), his resultant low ground-ball rate and his high hard-hit rate (37.6 percent per Statcast™, fourth among American League second basemen with 150 batted balls) as reasons to believe that Lowrie's recent success is an indication of a changed approach that will lead to continued future production.

Are the White Sox clearing space for free-agent stars?
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.

The case for each NL Cy Young Award finalist

MLB.com

The National League East provided much of the Senior Circuit's pitching star power during the 2018 season, ultimately producing all three of the finalists for the NL Cy Young Award. While Max Scherzer of the Nationals has won the honor in each of the past two seasons and Phillies ace Aaron Nola led the NL in pitching WAR during a true breakout campaign, they could be facing an uphill battle this year against Jacob deGrom of the Mets, who posted historic numbers despite taking the mound for a non-contending team that didn't give him much help in amassing pitcher wins.

With the 2018 NL Cy Young Award winner set to be revealed in Wednesday's 6 p.m. ET announcement on MLB Network, here's a look at the case for each of the finalists.

The National League East provided much of the Senior Circuit's pitching star power during the 2018 season, ultimately producing all three of the finalists for the NL Cy Young Award. While Max Scherzer of the Nationals has won the honor in each of the past two seasons and Phillies ace Aaron Nola led the NL in pitching WAR during a true breakout campaign, they could be facing an uphill battle this year against Jacob deGrom of the Mets, who posted historic numbers despite taking the mound for a non-contending team that didn't give him much help in amassing pitcher wins.

With the 2018 NL Cy Young Award winner set to be revealed in Wednesday's 6 p.m. ET announcement on MLB Network, here's a look at the case for each of the finalists.

AL Cy Young Award: A case for each finalist

Jacob deGrom, Mets
The case for deGrom as Cy Young is not particularly difficult to make; he was, statistically, the best pitcher in the NL.

Many baseball fans, when discussing matters of pitching, value ERA above all else. deGrom's 1.70 mark not only led the NL by a wide margin, it was MLB's sixth lowest among qualifying pitchers since the league lowered the mound to its current height in 1969. deGrom also ranked second in the NL in innings and strikeouts. He set Major League records for consecutive quality starts and consecutive starts of three or fewer runs.

Prefer advanced metrics? deGrom's league-leading ERA+, which is adjusted for league and ballpark factors, ranked 24th among qualified starters in Major League history. He led all MLB pitchers in WAR, whether your preferred calculation is fWAR, bWAR, RA9-WAR or Baseball Prospectus' WARP. According to Statcast™ data, deGrom led NL pitchers in barrels per plate appearance and expected on-base percentage, both weighted and unweighted. Simply put, pitching is about run prevention, and no one was better at that than deGrom.

There are really only two arguments against him. One is that deGrom did all this for a Mets team that was never in a pennant race -- a fact that voters sometimes take into consideration, even though it's not a ballot criterion. The other is that, due to the Mets' 23rd-ranked offense by runs scored and 28th-ranked bullpen by ERA, deGrom finished with a personal record of 10-9. Wins and losses have long since fallen out of vogue with the bulk of the BBWAA's constituency, but a few voters will surely punish him for that record.

The rest? They'll reward deGrom for what was statistically one of the greatest seasons by any pitcher in the last half century.

-- Anthony DiComo

Video: Darling makes case for Jacob deGrom to win Cy Young

Aaron Nola, Phillies
Nola, 25, went 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA in 33 starts. He ranked second in the NL in ERA, opponents' OPS (.570) and barrels per plate appearance (3.0 percent); third in innings (212 1/3) and wOBA (.251); fourth in wins and FIP (2.97); fifth in strikeouts (224) and opponents' batting average (.197); sixth in average exit velocity (85.9) and eighth in hard-hit percentage (31.0 percent).

Nola finished with a 10.5 pitching WAR, according to Baseball Reference. deGrom finished second (9.6). Historically, Nola's WAR puts him in rare company. It ranks 18th in baseball in the past 100 seasons. It is the highest by any pitcher since Randy Johnson's 10.7 in 2002. The Mets' Dwight Gooden is the only NL pitcher in the past 100 years to post a better WAR during or before his age 25 season. Gooden posted a 12.2 WAR in 1985.

Nola's 19 starts allowing four or fewer hits are three more than any other Phillies pitcher since the mound moved to 60 feet, 6 inches, in 1893. Nola and Hall of Fame right-hander Grover Cleveland Alexander are the only Phillies pitchers since at least 1908 with 200 or more strikeouts and an opponents' batting average of .200 or lower.

-- Todd Zolecki

Video: Nola among finalists for NL Cy Young award

Max Scherzer, Nationals
"Strikeouts are sexy," Scherzer once said, a statement that encapsulates his bid for a third consecutive Cy Young award. Scherzer scoffs at the notion of "pitching to contact," believing strikeouts are the best way to show his dominance as a pitcher over the opposing hitter. In 2018, Scherzer paced the NL with 12.24 strikeouts per nine innings and 300 strikeouts overall, becoming the fifth pitcher since 2001 to reach that plateau. Even during an era in which strikeouts are higher than ever, few have reached that mark.

Scherzer will be going for his fourth Cy Young Award overall, including an American League Cy Young Award he won in 2013 with the Tigers to go along with his awards in the past two seasons with the Nats. Another win would put Scherzer in even more rarefied territory, but deGrom will enter this announcement as the favorite. Scherzer's 2.53 ERA is good, but it doesn't approach deGrom's historic 1.70 mark, which makes him the favorite. But Scherzer holds an advantage in a few other categories, including WHIP (0.91), innings (220 2/3) and wins (18), all of which paced the NL.

Even after winning Cy Young Awards in the past two seasons, Scherzer made it a goal for himself to get better. At the age of 34, he continues to do so, putting himself in position to potentially win his third straight award.

-- Jamal Collier

Video: Reynolds breaks down Max Scherzer's Cy Young chances

Washington Nationals, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies

The case for each AL Cy Young Award finalist

MLB.com

The Rays didn't exactly put an emphasis on traditional starting pitching during the 2018 season, but the one starter that they maintained thoughout the year, left-hander Blake Snell, excelled by any standards in a breakout campaign that made him one of the finalists for the American League Cy Young Award. Joining him are two veterans with Cy Young Awards already under their belts: Corey Kluber of the Indians, who won 20 games for the first time in his career; and Houston's Justin Verlander, whose resurgence in Houston continued at age 35 with one of the best seasons of his career.

With the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner set to be revealed in Wednesday's 6 p.m. ET announcement on MLB Network, here's a look at the case for each of the finalists.

The Rays didn't exactly put an emphasis on traditional starting pitching during the 2018 season, but the one starter that they maintained thoughout the year, left-hander Blake Snell, excelled by any standards in a breakout campaign that made him one of the finalists for the American League Cy Young Award. Joining him are two veterans with Cy Young Awards already under their belts: Corey Kluber of the Indians, who won 20 games for the first time in his career; and Houston's Justin Verlander, whose resurgence in Houston continued at age 35 with one of the best seasons of his career.

With the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner set to be revealed in Wednesday's 6 p.m. ET announcement on MLB Network, here's a look at the case for each of the finalists.

NL Cy Young Award: A case for each finalist

Corey Kluber, Indians
This AL Cy Young debate has centered around volume versus value. It has been a discussion about traditional numbers and analytics. Indians ace Kluber checks boxes in just about every aspect of the conversation.

The leader of Cleveland's talented rotation did not take home his ultimate goal -- a World Series ring -- but he did back up his 2017 AL Cy Young campaign with another well-rounded showing. Even with a minor knee issue altering his midseason schedule, Kluber finished as the AL's leader in innings pitched, with 215.

Kluber also notched 20 wins for the first time in his career, joining Rays lefty Snell as the only pitchers to have at least that many victories in the Majors this past season.

"It's a cool accomplishment," Kluber said. "It's something to be proud of, but I think it just means that -- the way I look at it -- I gave us a chance to win a lot of times. I think that there's times where they probably picked me up when I didn't, and maybe I got credited with a win."

Kluber finished with a 2.89 ERA to go along with 222 strikeouts and 34 walks. The right-hander's rate of 1.4 walks per nine innings was the lowest in the AL -- helped by 46 1/3 consecutive walk-free frames between May and June. Along the way, Kluber became the first pitcher in Indians history to post at least 200 strikeouts and 200 innings in five straight years.

Kluber finished fourth in the AL with 5.9 WAR (per Baseball Reference) and was fifth in the AL with 5.6 WAR (per FanGraphs). He was the first Indians pitcher to lead the AL in innings since CC Sabathia achieved the feat in 2007, and the first Indians arm to win 20 games since Cliff Lee in 2008. During those seasons, Sabathia and Lee both won the AL Cy Young Award.

-- Jordan Bastian

Video: Kluber among finalists for 2018 AL Cy Young Award

Blake Snell, Rays
While Jacob deGrom was sparking debates over the importance of pitchers' wins over in the National League, Snell spent 2018 racking them up. The 21 wins Snell notched will serve as the bedrock of his candidacy, but they are far from the only indicator of the 25-year-old southpaw's breakout season. Snell also paced the AL with a 1.89 ERA and 5.6 hits allowed per nine innings while striking out 221 across 180 2/3 innings.

Snell was the Majors' first 20-game winner since 2016 and backed up his first career All-Star selection with a dominant second half, going 9-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 11 starts down the stretch. Snell did it all in the ultra-competitive AL East, but seemed to elevate his game against better competition. He went 9-2 with a 2.00 ERA against the Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, A's and Astros -- the AL's top scoring teams.

But if there is a case against Snell, it lives in his workload. Snell's 180 2/3 innings pitched are the lowest ever for a 20-game winner, and sit 33 1/3 innings behind the total for Verlander, the award's other top candidate. Snell is largely not at fault for this discrepancy, which stems from the lefty's two trips to the disabled list and the Rays' organizational preference to avoid keeping starters late in games.

"For me, innings is a personal goal," Snell told the Tampa Bay Times recently. "180 to 200, we're talking 20 innings, what's the difference?"

That's what the voters will reveal in short time.

-- Joe Trezza

Video: Snell reacts to being named AL Cy Young finalist

Justin Verlander, Astros
Verlander had one of the best seasons of his career, going 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA and a career-high 290 strikeouts in 214 innings pitched in his first full season in Houston. At 35 years old, he led all Major League pitchers with a 0.90 WHIP, which is the fifth-lowest for an AL starter in the last 50 seasons (minimum 175 innings).

He also led all AL starters in WAR according to FanGraphs (6.8), strikeouts, opponents' on-base percentage (.242) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.84), and was second in innings pitched. He had a 2.14 ERA on the road, which was second among AL starters. He ranked second in the AL in strikeouts per nine innings (12.2) and fewest walks per nine innings (1.6), and also ranked third in ERA and opponents' batting average (.200) and fourth in opponents' OPS (.602).

In five starts in September, Verlander went 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 33 innings, posting at least 10 strikeouts in each of his final four starts to help the Astros win the AL West title.

His 290 strikeouts are the fourth-most in Astros history and he struck out at least 10 batters in a game 13 times, which led the AL. Verlander struck out 38.8 percent of the left-handed hitters he faced this year, which was the second-most in the Majors behind teammate Gerrit Cole (41.1 percent). He made the All-Star team this year, was the AL Pitcher of the Month for May (0.86 ERA in 41 2/3 innings) and was twice named AL Player of the Week.

-- Brian McTaggart

Video: Darling, Reynolds analyze Verlander's Cy Young case

Cleveland Indians, Tampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros

Momentum building toward Paxton blockbuster

MLB.com

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.

Video: James Paxton could be a part of a blockbuster trade

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

5 reasons why Yankees should sign Murphy

Free agent's bat could help pinstripes' offense
MLB.com @mattkellyMLB

Didi Gregorius' Tommy John surgery sent a ripple through the Yankees' offseason plans, creating a hole at shortstop and fueling speculation that New York could be frontrunners for free-agent superstar Manny Machado.

But with Hot Stove reports painting a murky picture of the Yankees' interest in Machado, it's worth considering alternatives. Gleyber Torres could shift over to his natural position, but New York would still have a spot to fill in its infield. As the Yankees aim to stay under the competitive balance tax (CBT), one former crosstown rival could be a logical, cost-effective choice for 2019: Daniel Murphy.

Didi Gregorius' Tommy John surgery sent a ripple through the Yankees' offseason plans, creating a hole at shortstop and fueling speculation that New York could be frontrunners for free-agent superstar Manny Machado.

But with Hot Stove reports painting a murky picture of the Yankees' interest in Machado, it's worth considering alternatives. Gleyber Torres could shift over to his natural position, but New York would still have a spot to fill in its infield. As the Yankees aim to stay under the competitive balance tax (CBT), one former crosstown rival could be a logical, cost-effective choice for 2019: Daniel Murphy.

There are obvious caveats: Murphy will turn 34 in April, he's not far removed from microfracture knee surgery and his second-base defense remains poor. But the Yankees are in the fine-tuning stages; outside of filling holes in their rotation (which they'll likely do through free agency), the Bronx Bombers can pay more attention to addressing the edges of their roster.

Here are five reasons why adding Murphy could be a low-risk win for the pinstripes:

He could serve as insurance for Greg Bird and Luke Voit
Murphy rates as one of MLB's worst defenders at second base, and his mobility figures to become even more limited. But the Yankees' first-base situation is relatively the same as when the Nationals placed Murphy on the waiver wire last August.

Video: Luke Voit on 2018 success with the Yankees

Bird has struggled to both stay on the field and produce once he's on it, while Voit still needs to prove he's an everyday player despite a white-hot finish to 2018. The Yankees could either go with Ronald Torreyes or sign a cheaper free agent like Ian Kinsler, Josh Harrison or Neil Walker to play second base, and then have Murphy platoon with Voit or share time with Bird and DH on the side. None of these options are perfect from a defensive standpoint, but the Yankees just slugged their way to 100 wins while allowing the Majors' fifth-highest average on ground balls. There's no obvious way for New York to turn that around with Gregorius sidelined and Miguel Andujar returning to third base, so it may as well try for an offensive upgrade.

A short porch awaits in right field
Murphy's approach is well known: He's looking to pull the ball in the air. From 2016-17, only 10 left-handed hitters recorded a higher rate of pulled fly balls and line drives, per Statcast™, and Murphy hit .642 when putting those balls in play. The Yankees, meanwhile, have seen their own left-handed batter tailor his swing to the short right-field porch at his home park.

Tweet from @darenw: Didi Gregorius with his 89th career home run... Let's take a moment to appreciate his pull tendency. pic.twitter.com/5F9jjUeP4P

Statcast™ says Murphy has pulled 53 of his 69 home runs since the 2015 All-Star break. While he went the other way on air balls much more last season, that could be due to reduced leg strength as he recuperated from surgery. With a full winter of rest and rehabilitation, there's a good chance Murphy could attack Yankee Stadium -- whose right-field foul pole is much closer to home than Nationals Park or Wrigley Field -- the same way Gregorius did.

He was better in 2018 than you may recall
It was easy to look at Murphy's .188 average in his first 21 games last summer and write him off. But as the Nationals faded from contention, Murphy heated up. Beginning July 8, Murphy hit .328/.365/.506 over his last 70 games for a 132 weighted runs created plus (wRC+), which happened to be the exact same as Machado. It's a small sample, but Murphy's .348 expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA) -- which approximates how a hitter should fare based on his walks, strikeouts and quality of contact -- suggested he was still well above league average at the plate.

Video: CHC@CWS: Murphy leads off the game with a home run

His resume fits the October spotlight
Mets fans need no reminders of Murphy's torrid run in October 2015, when he set a postseason record by homering in six straight games. Including his subsequent runs with the Nationals and Cubs, Murphy owns a career .986 postseason OPS -- good for 11th-best all time among players with 100 postseason plate appearances. Any contender, including the Yankees, would gladly sign up for that.

Murphy has thrived in October because his game is suited for postseason at-bats. Even in a hamstrung 2018, he still finished among the league's top 25 in both overall and two-strike contact rate, per Statcast™. Murphy also owns an .878 OPS with two outs since the start of 2015. The Yankees just watched the Red Sox, their biggest rival, bully their way to a title by grinding out every at-bat, and Murphy could help New York replicate that mindset in 2019.

He's thrived in New York before
Murphy became a Mets hero in 2015, and then tormented his former club each time he went back to Queens. His 85 at-bats as a visitor since the start of '16 includes a .341 average, 15 extra-base hits and six home runs -- all amid a chorus of boos from the Citi Field crowd.

Video: WSH@NYM: Murphy pulls a clutch 2-run single to right

Murphy's track record suggests he'd be just fine returning to the New York market, but the spotlight wouldn't be on him as a Yankee. Sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton would gobble up the headlines, likely leaving Murphy free to do his thing in the bottom half of the order. Plus, Murphy could pass on some of his hitting acumen to young teammates like Andujar and Torres like he has in the past.

The Yankees don't necessarily need to make the biggest splashes this offseason, but with Boston's juggernaut returning in 2019, they also can't stand still. Adding Murphy -- whom FanGraphs projects will earn a two-year deal with an average annual value between $9 million to $14 million -- wouldn't break the bank. But it could be a move that pays off big next October.

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

Is signing Harper best use of Giants' resources?

MLB.com

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

Harper rejects Nationals' qualifying offer
Nov. 12: Bryce Harper has rejected the Nationals' one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer, as was expected. The 26-year-old superstar is expected to receive a long-term contract somewhere in the $300 million-$400 million range. Since he was made a qualifying offer, any club that signs him will be required to send Washington a selection after the fourth round of next year's MLB Draft.

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.

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.

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.

Rosenthal: Harper was very nearly an Astro
Nov. 10: The coming weeks will determine whose uniform Bryce Harper wears next, but the superstar outfielder very nearly switched uniforms at last season's Trade Deadline. 

In a story published Saturday for the The Athletic, MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal revealed that the Astros had a deal in place for Harper leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline before Nationals ownership rejected the move, per Major League sources. The Astros, without Harper, were ultimately unable to defend their 2017 World Series title as they fell to the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.

Rosenthal reports the proposed trade would have sent right-handed pitcher J.B. Bukauskas, the Astros' eighth-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline, to Washington along with two other Minor League players for Harper. One of those two players could have been catcher Garrett Stubbs, Houston's No. 15 prospect, who was brought up in discussions between the two clubs. That kind of haul would offer significantly more value to the Nationals than their current compensation if Harper rejects their qualifying offer and signs with another team: A pick after the fourth round of the 2019 MLB Draft, per the current rules in MLB's Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Nationals' potential compensation is lower than 28 of the other 29 Major League clubs (with the Red Sox being the other exception) because they exceeded the $197 million competitive balance threshold (CBT) in '18.

The Nationals informed teams that Harper was available in the days leading up to the non-waiver Deadline as their NL East hopes began to wane, but general manager Mike Rizzo informed the Washington Post on the morning of the Deadline via text that "Bryce is not going anywhere." Harper then rejected the Nationals' 10-year, $300 million contract offer at the close of the regular season, per the Post. 

Bukauskas, 22, missed the first three months of 2018 due to a slipped disc, but returned to compile a 2.14 ERA in 59 combined Minor League innings while ascending to Double-A. Stubbs hit .310 and posted an .836 OPS across 84 games for Triple-A Fresno last season. 

Is the Harper-to-the-Yankees dream dead?
Nov. 10: As he prepares for an offseason in which he'll be heavily promoting Bryce Harper behind closed doors, agent Scott Boras spent some time this week talking up his client in public. When he wasn't touting Harper as a "generational player" who is worth "$400 million to $500 million" in true value, Boras was trumpeting Harper's ability to help a team at first base.

The Daily News' Bill Madden thinks the latter proclamation was a last-ditch effort by Boras to keep alive an idea the agent has held for quite some time -- that Harper will sign the biggest contract in baseball history with the Yankees.

But 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.

Could Harper captivate Chicago like Sammy Sosa?
Nov. 10: Bryce Harper or Manny Machado? Manny Machado or Bryce Harper? The White Sox would likely be thrilled to sign either player this offseason, but if they had to pick just one, who would it be?

In the opinion of Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times, it should be Harper.

Morrissey argues that while Machado may be the more consistent player, Harper is more compelling and would be the most magnetic baseball personality in Chicago since Sammy Sosa.

And although the White Sox are hoping to put their rebuild into overdrive this offseason, Morrissey contends that owner Jerry Reinsdorf should first be concerned about filling Guaranteed Rate Field, where a captivating personality and prodigious talent like Harper would be a significant draw.

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."

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 Harper. The Yankees say that Manny 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.

Should teams be concerned about Harper's poor defensive metrics?
Nov. 9: Free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper is coming off a poor year from a defensive standpoint, recording -12 Outs Above Average, per Statcast™, and -26 Defensive Runs Saved. But former MLB general manager Jim Bowden of The Athletic doesn't think that should matter much to potential suitors.

While Bowden said he doesn't think Harper will ever be one of the top defensive outfielders in baseball, he also doesn't consider him to be a liability on that side of that ball, and the 26-year-old can more than make up for any defensive shortcomings with his performance at the plate.

"I'm signing [Harper] for the bat and I'm putting him in the category of Barry Bonds, where I think he's a 1.000 OPS guy that can be a 150 OPS+ guy coming home," Bowden said Friday on MLB Network Radio. "And I think prime years, I think we're going to see 40 homers a year, depending on the ballpark that he signs with."

Tweet from @MLBNetworkRadio: Jim Bowden (@JimBowdenGM): If you don't want to sign Bryce Harper because he had a subpar year defensively, then you're doing it wrong. pic.twitter.com/XXbpgXKI3B

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.

7 teams most likely to break bank in free agency

MLB.com @RichardJustice

Let's say up front that there's nothing more fun than telling other people how to do their business. For one thing, we have no skin in this game. We can recommend a team spends $200 million on a player, and if it doesn't work out, no fuss, no muss.

Yes, this is an inexact science. While there is a time for teams to be aggressive regarding big-ticket free agents, positive results are not guaranteed. If there was ever a time when teams could shell out enough money to buy a postseason berth, that time has passed. That's true of the Royals and Astros, but it's true of the Yankees and Red Sox, too.

Let's say up front that there's nothing more fun than telling other people how to do their business. For one thing, we have no skin in this game. We can recommend a team spends $200 million on a player, and if it doesn't work out, no fuss, no muss.

Yes, this is an inexact science. While there is a time for teams to be aggressive regarding big-ticket free agents, positive results are not guaranteed. If there was ever a time when teams could shell out enough money to buy a postseason berth, that time has passed. That's true of the Royals and Astros, but it's true of the Yankees and Red Sox, too.

Latest Hot Stove rumors

The Red Sox opened the checkbook for David Price and J.D. Martinez, but if their player development system hadn't delivered Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, et al., the 2018 World Series trophy would be elsewhere.

So with the free-agent marketplace having opened, let's look at seven teams that seem to be in a position to think big:

1. Phillies
They're so close to being a playoff team. That's what we learned during a 64-49 start last summer. That they finished so poorly should not take away from the strides they made. This is that rare time in a franchise's history when it has both the financial flexibility and the justification to be aggressive. Would signing Bryce Harper and Manny Machado -- or, say, Josh Donaldson and Patrick Corbin -- guarantee anything? Absolutely not. But it certainly would close the gap in the National League East.

Latest Harper free-agent rumors

Video: Hoskins on potential pairing with Harper, Machado

2. Cardinals
The Cardinals would be poised to make some noise this offseason even if they hadn't missed the postseason three straight years -- or, to put it another way, even if they hadn't finished behind the Cubs three straight years. Beyond that, it's time. All those gifted young players -- Jordan Hicks, Tyler O'Neill, Harrison Bader and lots of others -- give the Cardinals a foundation from which to build. Harper? Sure, he'd be a great fit. Donaldson? Corbin? Yes to both.

Should Cardinals overhaul the infield?

Video: Harper, Donaldson's possible fit in St. Louis

3. Angels
The Halos have one of the best players in baseball history in the prime of his career and have not won a playoff game in his seven seasons. Mike Trout is 27, so the clock is ticking. He's also two years removed from free agency. As difficult as the American League West is -- with the 103-win Astros and 97-win Athletics -- the Angels have to add pitching, pitching and more pitching. There's plenty of it out there. This is the time to go for it.

Who will be dealt? Each team's top trade chip

Video: Eppler discusses 2019 Angels, new skipper Ausmus

4. Giants
The Giants were once seen as a big-time player for Harper and still might be. But the hiring of Farhan Zaidi as president of baseball operations may signal a change, not a retreat so much as a different approach to allocating resources. His background is with the A's and Dodgers, two teams that pride themselves on efficiency and roster depth and flexibility. No team's offseason will be more interesting than this one as Zaidi attempts to shore up his new roster around Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey to see if the window of opportunity can remain open another year or two.

Zaidi to cast a wide net in bolstering Giants

Video: Rosenthal on Zaidi, Harper from the GM meetings

5. Mets
The Mets have too much starting pitching to do anything except be active this offseason. This is a market deep in relievers, so new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen needs to load up, signing at least two. Three would be even better. More challenging will be finding a catcher and keeping his fingers crossed that Yoenis Cespedes is back from two heel surgeries early next season.

Van Wagenen ready to 'charge forward' as Mets GM

Video: Brodie Van Wagenen discusses Mets' offseason plans

6. White Sox
The White Sox have accumulated so much prospect talent that winning seems inevitable at some point in the next season or two. That timetable has been delayed because of injuries to players like outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, but things can turn quickly as the top talent approaches the upper level of the Minor Leagues, and it seems to be the right time to upgrade the big league roster in preparation for the kids' arrival.

10 Rookie of the Year candidates for 2019

Video: Merkin on White Sox interest in Harper, Machado

7. Reds
It's not a question of whether the Reds will be aggressive this offseason. They will be. At least, they hope to be and will pursue starting pitching in both trades and free agency. Don't be surprised if the Reds sign multiple starters. Even if the contract demands of Corbin and Dallas Keuchel are out of their comfort zone, there are plenty of other options.

Can Reds add high-end pitchers to rotation?

Video: Winker discusses offseason, praises Reds teammates

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

Just how far will Yanks go to add Machado?

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Ha