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Sources: Kinsler, Padres agree to 2-year deal

Veteran infielder could move Urias to shortstop until Tatis arrives
MLB.com @AJCassavell

The Padres entered the offseason in dire need of infield help. They landed some on Friday -- in a move that certainly qualifies as a surprise.

San Diego agreed to a two-year deal with free-agent second baseman Ian Kinsler, sources told MLB.com. The club has yet to confirm the deal, which is reportedly worth $8 million and is pending a physical.

The Padres entered the offseason in dire need of infield help. They landed some on Friday -- in a move that certainly qualifies as a surprise.

San Diego agreed to a two-year deal with free-agent second baseman Ian Kinsler, sources told MLB.com. The club has yet to confirm the deal, which is reportedly worth $8 million and is pending a physical.

For the most part, the Padres' infield openings revolved around the left side, with both shortstop and third base available. Even though Kinsler is a lifelong second baseman, his signing might help address both of those needs.

Luis Urias, the presumed second baseman of the future, is now the favorite to open the season at shortstop. He's played there plenty in the Minors, and has been mostly solid defensively.

When No. 1 prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. arrives at short -- potentially as early as May -- Urias will slide to second base, and Kinsler would serve as a utility option who could also play third. Still, a team source said the Friars are still looking to add at third base.

Kinsler, a four-time All-Star and reigning American League Gold Glove Award winner at second base, struggled at the plate last season, batting .240/.301/.380 with 14 homers. He was dealt from the Angels to the Red Sox midseason and played a useful role in their run to the World Series title.

Team sources made it explicitly clear that the Kinsler deal does not mean Urias is going anywhere in a trade. Quite the contrary, in fact. The Padres wanted a veteran with big-game experience to help guide their young infield.

They feel as though they've gotten that in the 36-year-old Kinsler.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Ian Kinsler

Top needs for all 30 clubs after Winter Meetings

MLB.com

With the Winter Meetings in the books, it's a great time to take stock of each club's offseason to this point, as well as what its needs are for the remainder of the offseason. With the help of each MLB.com beat writer, here's a look at where each team stands as executives leave Las Vegas, and what remains to be done before Spring Training.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

With the Winter Meetings in the books, it's a great time to take stock of each club's offseason to this point, as well as what its needs are for the remainder of the offseason. With the help of each MLB.com beat writer, here's a look at where each team stands as executives leave Las Vegas, and what remains to be done before Spring Training.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: SP, RP, SS
The Blue Jays need another starting pitcher or two, who could come via trade or free agency, as well as another set-up man, a left-handed reliever and depth for the bullpen. Troy Tulowitzki's departure also opened up a need for a backup shortstop. While Toronto isn't expected to make a play for some of the bigger names on the starting pitcher market, some potential targets include Drew Pomeranz, Yusei Kikuchi, and Gio Gonzalez. More >

Orioles: Front office, coaching staff, OF
With a new manager reportedly selected in Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde, the Orioles' next priority will be filling vacancies in the club's baseball operations department and coaching staff. As for the roster, Baltimore is monitoring the trade market for outfielders, with the current group being Joey Rickard, Cedric Mullins and Trey Mancini. More >

Rays: DH, RP, SP
The Rays made a pair of moves during the Winter Meetings to solidify their roster, adding veteran right-hander Charlie Morton and trading for infielder Yandy Diaz from the Indians. While president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom said he likes his roster as currently constructed, Tampa Bay will be on the lookout for potential upgrades at designated hitter, on the pitching staff and on the bench. The most prominent DH on the market is Nelson Cruz, and the Rays have reportedly been in talks with his representatives. More >

Red Sox: RP, C, 2B
The reigning World Series champs know where they stand after leaving the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. With setup reliever Joe Kelly on his way to the Dodgers, the bullpen will be Dave Dombrowski's main focus, as well as sorting out the catching situation. Boston could target some of the top names on the free-agent reliever market, including Adam Ottavino, David Robertson, Zach Britton and Andrew Miller. More >

Yankees: INF, RP, SP
The Yankees continued to bolster their starting rotation during the Winter Meetings, nearing an agreement with free-agent left-hander J.A. Happ after acquiring fellow southpaw James Paxton from the Mariners earlier in the offseason. While New York could add even more to the rotation, the focus shifts to the middle infield (with Didi Gregorius out for the first half of the 2019 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery) and the bullpen. Will Manny Machado be donning pinstripes next spring? And what about fellow superstar free agent Bryce Harper? More >

Video: With Happ deal close, will Yanks move Gray?

AL CENTRAL

Indians: OF, RP
The Indians were part of a blockbuster three-team trade on the final day of the Winter Meetings, acquiring Carlos Santana and cash from the Mariners for Edwin Encarnacion, as well as Jake Bauers from the Rays in exchange for Yandy Diaz and Cole Sulser. Moving forward, the Tribe will look to address perhaps its biggest need, the outfield. With Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall and Melky Cabrera all free agents, some of Cleveland's options include Marwin Gonzalez, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones. Bolstering a bullpen that could lose Andrew Miller, Oliver Perez and Josh Tomlin to free agency will also be a priority. More >

Video: Edwin to Mariners, Santana to Tribe in 3-team deal

Royals: RP, SP, LF/RF
Hoping to repeat the success of last year, when they landed Brad Keller, the Royals added a pair of right-handers in the Rule 5 Draft, but the club still is on the hunt for pitching depth for both the rotation and bullpen. Look for Kansas City to target any veteran starters remaining on the market late in the offseason, and cost-efficient relief options such as Justin Wilson, Blake Parker or Luis Avilan. More >

Tigers: 2B, C, RP
As they continue their rebuilding process, the Tigers leave the Winter Meetings having added veteran starter Tyson Ross to a young rotation, as well as a stopgap shortstop to plug a hole while promising prospects develop, in Jordy Mercer. Going forward, Detroit will continue to seek a trade partner for right fielder Nicholas Castellanos, an established second baseman, a third-string catcher and potentially a reliever or two. More >

Twins: RP, SP, Another bat
The Twins were "pretty active" in engaging other clubs in trade discussion and evaluating free agents at the Winter Meetings, according to general manager Thad Levine. Now it's a matter of turning that prep work into action by adding another big bat and, ideally, a late-inning arm. As far as bolstering the lineup is concerned, Minnesota has reportedly been courting veteran slugger Cruz, who was with Levine when the two were in Texas several years ago. More >

White Sox: C, RP, SP
While the White Sox only made one move during the Winter Meetings, acquiring right-hander Ivan Nova from the Pirates, Chicago may have laid the groundwork for a major splash in the coming weeks. Adding a premium free agent such as Harper or Machado, or even potentially both, is on the to-do list for the rest of the offseason. Also on the list are adding a catcher (the Sox have been connected with free agent Yasmani Grandal), a late-inning reliever and possibly another starter. More >

Video: Rick Hahn on productive Winter Meetings for White Sox

AL WEST

Angels: SP, RP, C
The Angels didn't make any flashy moves at the Winter Meetings, but they weren't quiet, signing slugging first baseman Justin Bour to a one-year contract, as well as seven players to Minor League deals. General manager Billy Eppler now turns his focus to adding pitching and acquiring a catcher. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports that Wilson Ramos is currently the Angels' main focus. A left-handed reliever is also a need. More >

Astros: SP, OF/DH, C
The Astros are in the market for a middle-of-the-rotation veteran with Morton signing with the Rays, Lance McCullers Jr. out after Tommy John surgery and Dallas Keuchel a free agent. They're also seeking another bat and possibly another catcher even after signing Robinson Chirinos last week. Could J.T. Realmuto end up in Houston? Or perhaps free agents Grandal or Wilson Ramos? More >

Athletics: SP, 2B, C
It was a relatively quiet Winter Meetings for the A's, who nevertheless know that upgrading the rotation, addressing second base and adding another catcher to team with newcomer Chris Herrmann are necessities as they look to build on a 97-win season. Oakland has recently been linked with free agent second baseman DJ LeMahieu. More >

Mariners: RP, OF, SS
If you thought the Mariners were going to sit tight during the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, you don't know ever-active general manager Jerry Dipoto, who signed off on his latest trade -- flipping recently acquired Santana to the Indians for slugger Encarnacion and a Competitive Balance Round B Draft pick -- from a hospital bed. More >

Rangers: SP, RP, bench
The Rangers had a busy few days at the Winter Meetings, agreeing to terms with free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, claiming infielder Carlos Asuaje off waivers from the Padres, acquiring third baseman Patrick Wisdom in a trade with the Cardinals, and trading pitcher Alex Claudio to the Brewers for a Competitive Balance Round A Draft pick. Going forward, Texas will focus on pitching and bench depth. Former Rangers reliever Jake Diekman is on the market, and a reunion is certainly possible. More >

Video: Lance Lynn reportedly signs 3-year deal with Rangers

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: SP, OF, RP
Fresh off an NL East title, the Braves did not officially make any moves during the Winter Meetings, but that doesn't mean signings and/or trades aren't yet to come this offseason. General manager Alex Anthopoulos said the club is cautious about over-committing before the market further develops. But needing a starting pitcher, the Braves may look to partner with the Yankees on a trade that would bring right-hander Sonny Gray to Atlanta. There's also a need to replace free agent Nick Markakis in right field. Could Michael Brantley be the answer there? More >

Marlins: Left-handed bat, 1B, RP
While rumors about Realmuto dominated the Winter Meetings, Miami didn't make a trade with any of a number of teams interested in acquiring the catcher. While Realmuto will remain a focus around baseball the rest of the offseason, the Marlins will look to fill needs at first base, with free agent Bour signing with the Angels, and the bullpen. The club will also seek a left-handed bat for the lineup. Free agent first baseman Matt Adams fits the bill in two of those categories. More >

Mets: C, OF, RP
The Mets came away with two new players as the Winter Meetings wrapped up Thursday, trading for All-Star closer Edwin Diaz and bringing back right-handed reliever Jeurys Familia after sending him to the A's last season. It's safe to assume New York will make more moves during the rest of the offseason, with an upgrade behind the plate (Realmuto?) and in the outfield, as well as a left-handed reliever on new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen's mind. More >

Video: Brodie Van Wagenen on the Mets' active offseason

Nationals: SP, 2B, Bench
Though it's appearing less likely, the Nationals have left the door open for Harper's return and could still ink Anthony Rendon to a contract extension. Though they already signed Patrick Corbin, they still need to add more starting pitching to a thin rotation and may upgrade at second base. Washington's options to fill the second base vacancy are plenty, including LeMahieu, Brian Dozier, Jed Lowrie, Josh Harrisonand Gonzalez. More >

Phillies: Big bat, RP, SP
The Phillies could still sign an impact player like Harper or Machado, or even a more affordable option like Brantley to bolster their lineup. They maintain interest in free-agent relievers Britton and Miller, and could potentially add to their rotation. More >

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: 2B, 3B, C
The Brewers need a second baseman for 2019, but they will be flexible in how they address the position. They could add a third baseman, allowing them to shift Travis Shaw to second, and upgrades at catcher and the pitching staff are in play. Given that flexibility, there are many options to choose from on the free-agent market, including versatile players like Gonzalez and Harrison. More >

Cardinals: RP, IF/OF, C
The Cardinals are still without a closer and enough lefty bullpen arms. They could address that need via trade, but Britton and Miller are among the top left-handed relievers available in free agency, and St. Louis has the payroll flexibility to make a deal for one of them happen. A backup to veteran catcher Yadier Molina is also a need. More >

Cubs: RP, bench
With Brandon Morrow likely to miss the start of the regular season, bullpen help is Chicago's priority. The Cubs will likely target value later in the relief market and explore the market for bench depth and a backup catcher. They would particularly like to add a left-handed reliever, and options may include bringing back Wilson or signing someone like Avilan or Dan Jennings. More >

Pirates: SP, RP, SS
The Pirates' fifth starter could be an in-house candidate, or perhaps they'll use an "opener," but it's also possible they add someone before Opening Day. Pittsburgh could also bring in a left-handed reliever or a shortstop now that Mercer is signing with the Tigers. The Pirates spoke with the D-backs about shortstop Nick Ahmed during the Winter Meetings. More >

Reds: SP, CF, RP
Cincinnati acquired right-hander Tanner Roark from the Nationals during the Winter Meetings, but president of baseball operations Dick Williams and general manager Nick Krall have indicated the club isn't done adding to the rotation. Other needs include a center fielder after non-tendering Billy Hamilton, and bolstering the bullpen. A.J. Pollock has been rumored to be on the Reds' radar to fill the center field void. More >

Video: Sheldon talks about Reds trading for Roark

NL WEST

D-backs: CF, 1B/2B, RP
The D-backs will need to address the void left by Pollock, who is a free agent, and they may add an infielder depending on how the lineup shakes out in the absence of Paul Goldschmidt. Bullpen depth is also on the club's agenda, and the club has shown interest in veteran right-hander Joakim Soria. More >

Dodgers: C, game-changer, shed salary
The Dodgers bolstered their bullpen with the addition of Kelly late Wednesday night, but are still seeking a veteran catcher to replace Grandal. The Marlins' Realmuto remains a possibility, and the Dodgers could also be in the mix for a difference-marker like Indians ace Corey Kluber or Harper. More >

Video: Kelly reportedly agrees to 3-year deal with Dodgers

Giants: OF, SP, C
Farhan Zaidi's first Winter Meetings as Giants president of baseball operations didn't include a splashy signing or blockbuster trade, but he knows what areas the club needs to work on going forward: outfield, rotation and backup catcher. It was reported during the Winter Meetings that the Cardinals were eyeing San Francisco relievers Will Smith and Tony Watson, potentially willing to send Jose Martinez to the Giants. More >

Padres: 3B, SP, SS
The Padres didn't make a major move at the Winter Meetings, but they're almost certain to add a third baseman. Three rotation spots are currently up for grabs, and the club could also add a short-term solution at shortstop while it awaits Fernando Tatis Jr.'s MLB debut. San Diego has been connected in recent days to Rangers utility player Jurickson Profar, though talks don't appear to have progressed much. They also were said to have agreed with Ian Kinsler on a two-year deal.  More >

Rockies: Offense, RP, C
Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich entered the offseason looking to upgrade Colorado's offense, and following the Winter Meetings there remain several options on the market to bolster the lineup. Gonzalez and Harrison would fit Colorado's desire for flexible defensive players, while Daniel Murphy or Neil Walker could take free agent LeMahieu's place at second base, and Logan Morrison or the Blue Jays' Justin Smoak could fill a need for a power-hitting first baseman. Beyond offense, the Rockies are surveying the reliever and catcher markets for depth. More >

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.

Jason Catania is an editor for MLB.com.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Is a new team in the mix for Realmuto?

MLB.com

The Marlins reportedly are shopping J.T. Realmuto, who is arguably MLB's best catcher at a time when productive all-around backstops are in short supply.

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

The Marlins reportedly are shopping J.T. Realmuto, who is arguably MLB's best catcher at a time when productive all-around backstops are in short supply.

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

Is there a new team in the mix for Realmuto?
Dec. 14: What, you thought just because the Winter Meetings were over the J.T. Realmuto rumors would stop?

The latest indicates the Brewers could be "a legit player" for the Marlins' All-Star backstop, according to longtime writer Jerry Crasnick, who cites a baseball source saying "I know they've inquired ... I think they'll quietly creep into this." One thing to consider here: Would the Marlins be hesitant to deal with the Brewers again after acquiring a package of prospects from them last year for Christian Yelich, who went on to win National League MVP?

Tweet from @jcrasnick: One MLB personnel man thinks the #Brewers could be a legit player for Realmuto. "I haven't read much about them, but I know they've inquired,'' he said. "They were interested at the trade deadline. I think they'll quietly creep into this.'' https://t.co/2NfxH6D66l

That could mean there's a new team in the mix for Realmuto after reports Thursday suggested the market was down to these six clubs: the Mets, Reds, Braves, Rays, Dodgers and Padres. From that list, Crasnick's baseball executive source also brought up the latter two, pointing out that they could be fits in particular "because they both have catching prospects to send to Miami: Keibert Ruiz in LA, and Francisco Mejia in SD."

Tweet from @jcrasnick: The same exec likes the #Dodgers and #Padres as Realmuto fits because they both have catching prospects to send to Miami: Keibert Ruiz in LA, and Francisco Mejia in SD. The #Marlins currently have Bryan Holaday and Chad Wallach behind Realmuto, so they're thin at the position.

In fact, Mejia and Ruiz are two of the very best catching prospects in baseball. Mejia -- who the Padres acquired from the Indians at the Trade Deadline for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber -- is ranked No. 2 at the position by MLB Pipeline, while Ruiz checks in at No. 3.

This also raises the question of whether the Marlins would prefer to acquire a backstop as part of a return in a potential Realmuto trade, a topic MLB.com's Joe Frisaro explores. Given the club's lack of a capable starter behind Realmuto, the Marlins could struggle to fill the spot otherwise. 

These six teams are in on Realmuto
Dec. 13: The Winter Meetings have wrapped up, and J.T. Realmuto is still a Marlins player. The club, however, appears to have made a lot of headway in terms of fully fleshing out the trade market for its All-Star catcher.

The field is "essentially down to six teams," according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald: the Reds, Rays, Braves, Dodgers, Padres and Mets, the latter of which have been most aggressive in their pursuit of Realmuto under new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.

Tweet from @clarkspencer: The field for J.T. Realmuto is essentially down to six teams: Reds, Mets, Rays, Braves, Dodgers and Padres. But with Winter Meetings wrapping up, no trade expected today. Stay tuned.

Earlier in the week, Realmuto became the hottest topic in Las Vegas as reports surfaced that the Marlins, Mets and Yankees were discussing a three-team blockbuster that would send Realmuto to Queens and Noah Syndergaard to the Bronx. While that appears to have fizzled, the Mets are continuing to be creative and approach the Marlins by trying to work in a third club to make progress toward a deal.

One such scenario involves the Padres, as MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: #Mets have discussed three-team trades with multiple teams trying to get Realmuto, at this point to no avail. Framework of one proposal, per sources: Realmuto-plus to #Mets, Syndergaard to #Padres, young players to #Marlins. Not close. Just one of many ideas kicked around

That's similar to what Andy Martino of SNY has been hearing -- a swap in which the Mets get Realmuto, the Padres land Syndergaard and the Marlins pick up prospects to help their rebuilding process.

Tweet from @martinonyc: Sources: Mets, Padres talking this week about 3 team deal w Marlins. Syndergaard, Realmuto and Padres prospects discussed.Context: This is one of many creative ways to get realmuto that Mets are pursuing. Padres/Marlins/Mets discussions are active, but nothing close to imminent

It's important to note that while these Mets-Marlins-Padres talks are active and ongoing, nothing is especially close, according to both Rosenthal and Martino.

In the meantime, other teams certainly will be looking to wedge their way into the picture for Realmuto, who may be baseball's best all-around backstop. While the Marlins have been patient and don't need to trade the 27-year-old, who is under club control for two more years, at this point it would be surprising if Realmuto is not moved some time soon.

Video: Michael Hill on Winter Meetings, market for Realmuto

Reds enter mix for Realmuto; Braves, Mets involved, too
Dec. 12: The Reds have jumped into the J.T. Realmuto sweepstakes, according to Craig Mish of SiriusXM, though Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald has heard Cincinnati has been interested in the catcher for "a while."

Tweet from @CraigMish: Sources indicate the Cincinnati Reds have jumped into the Realmuto talks. Could be moving up into the candidates to acquire him.

Tweet from @clarkspencer: Reds have been in on Realmuto for ���a while��� I���m told. Not like they suddenly became interested. At least a half-dozen teams still in play, perhaps diminishing chance a deal gets done here in Vegas. https://t.co/y1Fck0VG55

Per Mish, catcher Tucker Barnhart and outfield prospect Taylor Trammell (Cincinnati's No. 2 prospect, No. 17 overall, per MLB Pipeline) are among the names that could highlight a potential package from the Reds. But MLB Network insider Jon Heyman has heard the Reds are refusing to include No. 1 prospect Nick Senzel (No. 6 overall).

Tweet from @CraigMish: Sources indicate the names possibly in a potential deal would be hilighted by top prospect Taylor Trammell and a catcher. Possibly Barnhart.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Reds and Marlins continue to engage on Realmuto, though Cincy has so far held the line and not agreed to include Nick Senzel

MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Braves and Mets remain involved as well.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: J.T. Realmuto trade is possible in the coming days. #Reds, #Mets, #Braves among the teams involved as of this morning. @MLBNetwork @MLB

Realmuto represents a significant upgrade over Barnhart, especially on the offseason end. Barnhart makes sense for Miami, though, as he is just a couple months older than the 27-year-old Realmuto and is signed for the next three years for a base salary of only $9.75 million. Barnhart also has a $7.5 million team option with a $500,000 buyout for 2022. Realmuto, meanwhile, can become a free agent in two years, and his agent has indicated the catcher won't be signing an extension with the Marlins.

Mets' pursuit of Realmuto may be fizzling, but NY not completely out
Dec. 12: The Mets have been the most aggressive suitor for catcher J.T. Realmuto during the Winter Meetings, but their talks with the Marlins may be stalling.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the club hasn't made progress in Realmuto discussions over the last 24 hours and may look at alternatives. One possibility could be signing Martin Maldonado, with whom the club met Tuesday, and putting more resources into the bullpen. The Mets have also met with Wilson Ramos, per Heyman, and Andy Martino of SNY reported Tuesday that Yasmani Grandal is still in play for New York if the club is unable to acquire Realmuto. That said, signing Ramos or Grandal would leave the Mets with less money to add a reliever and an outfielder.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Mets are to lose a bit of confidence in realmuto talks, and are starting to think about the value of acquiring a defensive catcher ��� they met on Maldonado Tuesday ��� and bulking up the bullpen instead.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Mets haven���t given up on Realmuto but haven���t made progress on that front last 24 hours and are looking into alternative plans at the moment. Preference at catcher is to get a strong defender.

The Marlins covet Amed Rosario, as well as outfielders Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto, but the Mets have been hesitant to part with those players.

Granted, all this doesn't mean the club is out of the running. According to MLB Network insider Joel Sherman, the Mets still view Realmuto as a possibility for them.

Tweet from @Joelsherman1: #Mets feel Realmuto is still a possibility for them. This is what I SENSE: Syndergaard off table. #Marlins want Conforto. NYM perhaps willing to mull Rosario/Nimmo/Peterson. Miami has multiple suitors so price will be big.

Realmuto, 27, has been one of the most talked-about trade candidates in recent days, with a potential three-team deal featuring the Marlins and both New York teams drawing significant buzz on Day 1 of the Winter Meetings before petering out. In the discussed trade, Realmuto would have gone to the Mets, with Noah Syndergaard joining the Yankees and prospects presumably heading to the Marlins.

Per Sherman, the Marlins also tried to float the idea that the Yanks were independently trying to acquire Realmuto, but Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the club is pursuing no primary catchers and confirmed that Gary Sanchez is the team's starting backstop.

Tweet from @Joelsherman1: #Marlins have tried to create perception that #Yankees are independently in to try to obtain Realmuto. Cashman said they are pursuing ���no��� primary catchers. Sanchez is the starter, he said.

7 teams most likely to make the next big move

MLB.com @RichardJustice

LAS VEGAS -- If you are the Phillies or Astros or Dodgers. If you are the Braves or Rockies or White Sox. What's next? Has the Hot Stove gotten any hotter?

This week's Winter Meetings produced a flurry of deals that added a bit of focus to the offseason puzzle. But virtually every team still has a lengthy to-do list.

LAS VEGAS -- If you are the Phillies or Astros or Dodgers. If you are the Braves or Rockies or White Sox. What's next? Has the Hot Stove gotten any hotter?

This week's Winter Meetings produced a flurry of deals that added a bit of focus to the offseason puzzle. But virtually every team still has a lengthy to-do list.

Baseball executives start to get really nervous when there's heavy lifting remaining after December, and that's almost certain to be the case for a bunch of teams this year.

Let's look at seven clubs most likely to make a move, and soon:

1. Phillies
No team had a more ambitious offseason agenda, and the signing of outfielder Andrew McCutchen is a big step in the right direction. But the Phillies want another bat, a starting pitcher and a reliever. They're in on pretty much every name you've read about, including the two biggest -- Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. There's still time to check off every box.

Names to consider: OF Harper, SS Machado, LHP Dallas Keuchel, LHP Zach Britton

Video: Will Harper show Philadelphia some brotherly love?

2. Astros
The Astros also have a lengthy shopping list, and while there's a much lower sense of urgency, there are very real needs: a veteran starting pitcher to line up behind Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Collin McHugh; a designated hitter; and perhaps an outfielder and/or a catcher. With Verlander and Cole under contract for only one more season, the Astros understand their window could close a bit after 2019.

Names to consider: DH Nelson Cruz, RHP Sonny Gray

Video: Nelson Cruz slugs his way to free agency in 2019

3. Dodgers
If the Dodgers hadn't done a single thing, they'd still have a very deep, very talented team capable of going to a third straight World Series. Signing veteran right-hander Joe Kelly deepens a pitching staff that was already deep, and adding a catcher is probably No. 1 on president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman's list. But because of all that depth, Friedman appears to be considering all sorts of other options, including possibly Harper. Stay tuned.

Names to consider: Harper

4. Yankees
The Yankees have done exactly what they set out to do by adding a pair of veteran starters in James Paxton and J.A. Happ. What's next, you ask? Almost everyone in the industry is asking the same question. Wasn't it about this time last year that the Yankees were the surprise winners in the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes? Until both Harper and Machado are off the market, it's fair to envision one -- or both -- of them in pinstripes.

Names to consider: Harper, Machado

Video: Yanks cautiously testing waters on Machado

5. Braves
To sign both Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann is a great start to the offseason. In a lot of divisions, that would be enough. But in the National League East arms race, it's not enough. So GM Alex Anthopoulos is still thinking big in his pursuit of a corner outfielder, a top-of-the-rotation starter and possibly a reliever.

Names to consider: OF Michael Brantley, Keuchel, Britton

Video: Brantley enters free agency after All-Star season

6. Reds
With RHP Tanner Roark in the fold, the Reds would like to acquire at least one more starting pitcher and a center fielder. They've discussed a variety of options, including Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto is a possible trade acquisition, despite the presence of Gold Glove catcher Tucker Barnhart.

Names to consider: Puig, Realmuto, RHP Matt Harvey

Video: Matt Harvey set to enter free agency in 2019

7. White Sox
The White Sox appear capable of turning a big corner in 2019 thanks to a Minor League system flush with talent. To speed that process along, they're shopping for an array of veterans, including Harper and Machado. Acquiring right-hander Ivan Nova from the Pirates will allow some of the young pitchers more time to develop.

Names to consider: Harper, Machado

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.

Chicago White Sox, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros

Rumors: Kimbrel, Keuchel, Realmuto, Brantley

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

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

Free agents, by position
Free agents, by team

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

Free agents, by position
Free agents, by team

Would Phillies splurge on Kimbrel?
Dec. 14: The Phillies have money to spend. We know this. Heck, their owner himself even said they might be a little "stupid" about it. That has led to most people in and around the baseball world expecting said money to go toward a pursuit of Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado. But could those funds make the Phillies a match for someone else instead?

Like, say, Craig Kimbrel?

In an all-encompassing look at where the market stands after the Winter Meetings, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand lists the Phillies as his "potential fit" for Kimbrel.

"The star closer is reportedly seeking a six-year deal worth more than $100 million, which would blow away the previous record of five years and $86 million signed by Aroldis Chapman two years ago," Feinsand writes. "Several executives cast doubt that Kimbrel will be able to score that type of contract, though he could get five years and upwards of $75 million. The Red Sox have been viewed as having moved on from their closer, but they remain a potential landing spot along with the Braves, Phillies and Cardinals."

Given Kimbrel's unprecendented asking price and the Phillies' financial resources -- not to mention, their need for a proven veteran presence to solidify the back end of a promising but very young bullpen -- maybe the two sides make sense as a match. Plus, with all the money the Phillies could spend this winter, it's not as if approaching nine figures for one of the sport's best closers would preclude them from still signing Harper or Machado.

Nats 'leery' of signing Keuchel long term
Dec. 14: After shelling out $140 million and committing six years to Patrick Corbin, the Nationals have some apprehension about dishing out another long-term deal in the starting pitching market -- specifically for Dallas Keuchelaccording to Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports

Keuchel is believed to be seeking a deal in the four- to six-year range, and many analysts predict he will get it. The Nats likely won't be willing to commit that length to the left-hander, per Zuckerman. 

Washington was one of just two clubs last year (with the Red Sox) to exceed the Competitive Balance Tax. Should it again exceed that mark, set for $206 million in 2019, the penalty will rise to the maximum of 50 percent. The club already has committed $525 million to its top three starters -- Corbin, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg -- over separate deals. 

Though they could feature arguably the best 1-2-3 punch in the Majors, the Nats' fourth and fifth starter spots are uncertain, particularly after they traded Tanner Roark to the Reds on Wednesday. The Nats have been linked to Keuchel this offseason, more so before they signed Corbin, but there might be more affordable avenues for them to continue to upgrade the back end of their rotation.

Is there a new team in the mix for Realmuto?
Dec. 14: What, you thought just because the Winter Meetings were over the J.T. Realmuto rumors would stop?

The latest indicates the Brewers could be "a legit player" for the Marlins' All-Star backstop, according to longtime writer Jerry Crasnick, who cites a baseball source saying, "I know they've inquired ... I think they'll quietly creep into this." One thing to consider here: Would the Marlins be hesitant to deal with the Brewers again after acquiring a package of prospects from them last year for Christian Yelich, who went on to win National League MVP?

Tweet from @jcrasnick: One MLB personnel man thinks the #Brewers could be a legit player for Realmuto. "I haven't read much about them, but I know they've inquired,'' he said. "They were interested at the trade deadline. I think they'll quietly creep into this.'' https://t.co/2NfxH6D66l

That could mean there's a new team in the mix for Realmuto after reports Thursday suggested the market was down to these six clubs: the Mets, Reds, Braves, Rays, Dodgers and Padres. From that list, Crasnick's baseball executive source also brought up the latter two, pointing out that they could be fits in particular "because they both have catching prospects to send to Miami: Keibert Ruiz in LA, and Francisco Mejia in SD."

Tweet from @jcrasnick: The same exec likes the #Dodgers and #Padres as Realmuto fits because they both have catching prospects to send to Miami: Keibert Ruiz in LA, and Francisco Mejia in SD. The #Marlins currently have Bryan Holaday and Chad Wallach behind Realmuto, so they're thin at the position.

In fact, Mejia and Ruiz are two of the very best catching prospects in baseball. Mejia -- who the Padres acquired from the Indians at the Trade Deadline for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber -- is ranked No. 2 at the position by MLB Pipeline, while Ruiz checks in at No. 3.

This also raises the question of whether the Marlins would prefer to acquire a backstop as part of a return in a potential Realmuto trade, a topic MLB.com's Joe Frisaro explores. Given the club's lack of a capable starter behind Realmuto, the Marlins could struggle to fill the spot otherwise. 

Why Brantley to Braves still makes a lot of sense
Dec. 14: The Braves made the first big free-agent splash of the offseason by signing Josh Donaldson to a one-year, $23 million contract last month, but they've been pretty quiet since then. Will that change?

MLB.com's Richard Justice lists Atlanta as one of his seven teams most likely to make the next big move. In a lot of divisions in baseball, landing Donaldson and catcher Brian McCann in short order, as the Braves did, would be enough for a reigning division champ. But as Justice writes: "In the National League East arms race, it's not enough. So GM Alex Anthopoulos is still thinking big in his pursuit of a corner outfielder, a top-of-the-rotation starter and possibly a reliever."

It's possible the Braves could make a play for Dallas Keuchel to fit near the top of their rotation or sign Zach Britton to fortify the back of their bullpen. But Justice also mentions Michael Brantley, who has been linked aplenty to Atlanta this offseason, as a name for them to consider for corner outfield -- and out of those three players, he might provide the best bang for the buck.

As the top name left on the open market among starters, it's expected Keuchel will score a four- or five-year deal worth upward of $15 million to $20 million per season, which likely would be out of the Braves' price range. Britton will come cheaper than that, but perhaps Atlanta would prefer to spend a similar amount on an everyday outfielder, especially after the division-rival Phillies just added one of their own in Andrew McCutchen.

After all, someone has to replace free agent Nick Markakis' offense and veteran presence. Brantley -- with his elite contact ability and penchant for compiling good at-bats -- could prove valuable for Atlanta, which boasted a potent, yet often impatient, young lineup in 2018.

2B market is starting to move
Dec. 14: Second base is one of the more well-stocked positions in free agency this offseason, but it seems to be starting to roll at long last.

Ian Kinsler and the Padres agreed to a two-year, $8 million deal (with a team option for 2021) on Friday afternoon, sources told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi. He's expected to provide some stability and depth in the infield, while San Diego allows youngsters Fernando Tatis and Jr. Luis Urias -- MLB Pipeline's Nos. 2 and 27 overall prospects, respectively -- to break into the bigs at a comfortable pace.

Tweet from @AJCassavell: Friars view Kinsler as a veteran option who can play multiple spots. If and when Tatis arrives this season, it seems like Urias at 2B, Tatis at SS and Kinsler at 3B is the likeliest option.

Meanwhile, the Cubs and Cardinals are pursuing another veteran in Daniel Descalso -- a versatile infielder who saw most of his action at the keystone with the D-backs the past two years and is coming off a career campaign in 2018 -- according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal and USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: #Cubs in strong pursuit of free-agent infielder Daniel Descalso, sources tell The Athletic.

Tweet from @BNightengale: Daniel Descalso indeed the #Cubs first choice as a super utility player but they just don���t know whether they can afford him in their budget with Descalso also on #Stlcards radar. https://t.co/xRhm6FXK78

This comes on the heels of the Twins recently landing Jonathan Schoop as a bounceback candidate to handle second base in Minnesota.

A number of quality starting players at the position remain on the open market, including Jed Lowrie, DJ LeMahieu, Daniel Murphy, Brian Dozier and Asdrubal Cabrera. With action starting to happen here, it's possible some of the bigger names soon will look to lock in their own deals to avoid falling behind in a plentiful market where the supply appears to outweigh the demand.

Justice: Astros should target Cruz 
Dec. 14: The prevailing thought with regard to Nelson Cruz is that his market is limited by two very key factors. One, he's pretty much a full-time designated hitter at this stage of his career, so it's almost a certainty that only American League teams would be in play. And two, he's 38, so it's more likely that contending clubs would be interested, since he could fit their window to win now.

The first reason above is why just about every Cruz-related rumor so far has linked him to teams like the Rangers, White Sox, Twins, Rays and Astros. The second reason above is why the Rays and Astros -- two teams certainly ready to contend right away in 2019 -- might make the most sense of all.

In his post-Winter Meetings rundown of seven clubs most likely to make the next big move, MLB.com's Richard Justice picks the Astros as perhaps the best fit for Cruz, citing their need for a designated hitter (in addition to rotation help).

As it stands now, Houston would enter next year with Tyler White as arguably its leading internal candidate to DH. While he had an impressive late-2018 showing (.879 OPS across August and September), Cruz's power -- he has averaged over 40 homers with a 145 OPS+ the past five seasons -- would provide an upgrade to a lineup that was still good last year but took a step back after a historic '17. 

Would Machado return to 3B if price is right?
Dec. 13: Manny Machado spent the past year making it abundantly clear that he prefers playing shortstop. It's why he moved last offseason from third base, where he played the vast majority of the first six seasons in the Major Leagues, to short -- his natural position, the one at which he was drafted back in 2010.

But now that he's a free agent and various teams courting him have different needs on the left side of their infields, would Machado consider moving back to the hot corner? Is it a matter of finding the right fit? The right team? The most amount of money?

"Manny's mindset is to be a shortstop," Machado's longtime coach and baseball mentor Bobby Dickerson told Scott Lauber of Philly.com. "He really wants to play short. But I do think for the correct team in the correct situation and the right contract, all those things, he'd be willing to play third. I don't know this, but I believe it."

After emerging as one of the elite defensive third basemen in the sport early in his career, Machado's performance at short came into question at times in 2018, particularly before he was traded to the Dodgers from the Orioles.

That could mean certain suitors might be wary of how he'd handle the position going forward, especially as the 26-year-old heads toward his late 20s and into his 30s. Given their current rosters, it's possible the Phillies, Yankees and White Sox -- the three known clubs with which Machado is expected to meet, among other mystery teams -- would prefer to deploy him at third.

Asked specifically about whether he thinks Machado would play third base for the Phillies in the wake of their recent acquisition of shortstop Jean Segura, Dickerson offered: "I think if the contract is right, he would. It may have to go an extra five million, or more, or whatever to get him out of [shortstop]. But if the contract is right, I think he would go to third."

The 'Updated Harper Destination Power Rankings'
Dec. 13: If you were hoping there'd be some resolution to the Bryce Harper sweepstakes by the end of the Winter Meetings -- you know, since they were held in his hometown of Las Vegas this year -- well, sorry to disappoint.

While the superstar outfielder isn't going to be signing before all the managers and front-office executives depart, that doesn't mean no headway was made on the Harper front. Plus, the baseball world still will be plenty focused on Harper -- as well as his chief competitor for a record-setting contract, Manny Machado -- as we hurtle toward the holiday season.

That in mind, here are the latest "Harper Destination Power Rankings," courtesy of MLB.com's Will Leitch.

The Phillies remain atop the list because they "seem absolutely committed to get one of the two superstars on the market," Leitch writes.

The next two teams? That would be the Dodgers and Yankees, neither of whom has much space in their loaded outfields -- at least, not at the moment. But given the resources, spending power and World-Series-title-or-bust goal, both franchises simply cannot be ruled out.

If there's one dark horse in the chase for Harper, it's the White Sox, who Leitch ranks fourth, stating they "might be the most perfect fit in all of baseball for Harper. Their cascades of young talent will be reaching the Majors in the next few years, right as Harper is in his prime. He'll be surrounded by hyper-talented, cost-controlled stars for the next five or six years, in a division that the White Sox could rule well into the next decade."

So ... what's it gonna be, Bryce?

These six teams are in on Realmuto
Dec. 13: The Winter Meetings have wrapped up, and J.T. Realmuto is still a Marlins player. The club, however, appears to have made a lot of headway in terms of fully fleshing out the trade market for its All-Star catcher.

The field is "essentially down to six teams," according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald: the Reds, Rays, Braves, Dodgers, Padres and Mets, the latter of which have been most aggressive in their pursuit of Realmuto under new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.

Tweet from @clarkspencer: The field for J.T. Realmuto is essentially down to six teams: Reds, Mets, Rays, Braves, Dodgers and Padres. But with Winter Meetings wrapping up, no trade expected today. Stay tuned.

Earlier in the week, Realmuto became the hottest topic in Las Vegas as reports surfaced that the Marlins, Mets and Yankees were discussing a three-team blockbuster that would send Realmuto to Queens and Noah Syndergaard to the Bronx. While that appears to have fizzled, the Mets are continuing to be creative and approach the Marlins by trying to work in a third club to make progress toward a deal.

One such scenario involves the Padres, as MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: #Mets have discussed three-team trades with multiple teams trying to get Realmuto, at this point to no avail. Framework of one proposal, per sources: Realmuto-plus to #Mets, Syndergaard to #Padres, young players to #Marlins. Not close. Just one of many ideas kicked around.

That's similar to what Andy Martino of SNY has been hearing -- a swap in which the Mets get Realmuto, the Padres land Syndergaard and the Marlins pick up prospects to help their rebuilding process.

Tweet from @martinonyc: Sources: Mets, Padres talking this week about 3 team deal w Marlins. Syndergaard, Realmuto and Padres prospects discussed.Context: This is one of many creative ways to get realmuto that Mets are pursuing. Padres/Marlins/Mets discussions are active, but nothing close to imminent

It's important to note that while these Mets-Marlins-Padres talks are active and ongoing, nothing is especially close, according to both Rosenthal and Martino.

In the meantime, other teams certainly will be looking to wedge their way into the picture for Realmuto, who may be baseball's best all-around backstop. While the Marlins have been patient and don't need to trade the 27-year-old, who is under club control for two more years, at this point it would be surprising if Realmuto is not moved some time soon.

Video: Michael Hill on Winter Meetings, market for Realmuto

Relief market starting to move without Kimbrel
Dec. 13: It took until the wee hours of the final night of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, but it looks like the market for relief pitchers has started to move -- finally.

Jeurys Familia has agreed to a three-year deal to return to the Mets, who traded him to the A's last July, and fellow righty Joe Kelly has departed Boston for his own three-year pact with the Dodgers.

Plenty of big-name, late-inning options remain on the open market, including Andrew Miller, Zach Britton, Adam Ottavino, David Robertson, Cody Allen and Joakim Soria, each of whom has generated some buzz for being linked to a number of teams. The biggest name of them all, however, is Craig Kimbrel, who so far has made news not so much for being connected to clubs but primarily for an exorbitant asking price.

The 30-year-old closer reportedly is seeking not only a six-year deal but also one worth nine figures -- both of which would be unprecedented for a relief pitcher.

There had been some speculation that Kimbrel could hold up other relievers on the open market while he waits to land the highest offer, but with the Mets and Dodgers jumping out from the pack to scoop up Familia and Kelly, respectively, on three-year contracts, it might only be a matter of time before other teams -- and other relievers -- start using those deals as a baseline for finding matches. If that happens, the demand for back-of-the-bullpen help could dry up, leaving Kimbrel facing a tricky market.

Tweet from @MLBNetwork: While you may have been sleeping... two relievers reportedly came off the market. #MLBNHotStove #Winter MeetingsJeurys Familia returns to the @Mets. Joe Kelly signs with the @Dodgers. pic.twitter.com/jnf5aJajuq

Angels' focus behind the plate is on Ramos
Dec. 13: ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports that the Angels, who are looking to add a catcher to team with Jose Briceno and Kevan Smith, have identified Wilson Ramos as their "primary target." Ramos, 31, had strong seasons at the plate in 2016 and '18, being named an All-Star in each campaign. He struggled in an injury-shortened '17 season, in which he was limited to 64 games. Last season, he hit .306/.358/.487 with 15 home runs in 111 games split between the Rays and Phillies.

Tweet from @jcrasnick: Free-agent catcher Wilson Ramos is the #Angels ���primary target��� at the moment, says a source. Ramos has already been linked to the #Dodgers and several other clubs in search of a catching upgrade.

Nationals prefer Gonzalez over Harrison at second base
Dec. 13: The Nationals have a void to fill at second base for the 2019 season, and according to the Washington Post, they prefer Marwin Gonzalez over Josh Harrison. Gonzalez, 29, is viewed as the most versatile defensive player on the market, as he's played at every position except pitcher and catcher over a seven-year MLB career. Though he had a mediocre season at the plate for the Astros in '18, he's just a season removed from hitting .303/.377/.530 with 23 homers in 134 games for Houston.

Harrison, who has similar positional versatility, had a breakout season in '14, when he posted a 133 OPS+ for the Pirates. But since then, he's hit .274/.319/.396 (92 OPS+).

Are Rays out on Cruz?
Dec. 13: The Rays have been mentioned repeatedly in recent days as one of the teams after free-agent slugger Nelson Cruz for his right-handed power bat. Is that still the case?

Tampa Bay acquired Yandy Diaz from the Indians as part of a three-team deal also involving the Mariners that was completed Thursday afternoon and sent first baseman Carlos Santana to Cleveland and Edwin Encarnacion to Seattle. That could impact the Rays' pursuit of Cruz.

Despite underwhelming slugging numbers in his brief MLB career, Diaz -- unlike Jake Bauers, who the Rays also traded to the Indians in the deal -- is a righty hitter and offers defensive versatility at both corner infield positions.

"The key to this for us is how we feel about Yandy Diaz," Rays senior VP of baseball operations Chaim Bloom said. "He's a guy we've been on for a while. We really like his bat. He hasn't gotten an opportunity to show it regularly at the Major League level, just being blocked by some of the players the Indians have had. But we think there's a lot of upside there. He hits the ball to all fields, hits the ball really, really hard and has the chance to drive the ball more as he continues to mature as a hitter. ... And the fact that he's a right-handed hitter is a really good fit for our roster."

Indeed, the 27-year-old also has shown a knack for making hard contact in his young big league career, suggesting perhaps that he could be a late-blooming power hitter once given regular playing time, which escaped him in Cleveland. To wit, Diaz's average exit velocity of 92.1 mph last season was the 25th highest of all players with at least 50 batted balls in 2018.

If this trade does, in fact, take the Rays out of the running for Cruz, the veteran slugger's most likely destinations would appear to be the Twins, White Sox and possibly the Astros.

Tweet from @MLBNetwork: We have a deal!!!Here's the scoop on the Rays, Indians & Mariners' three-team deal highlighted by Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers from @Ken_Rosenthal on #HighHeat. pic.twitter.com/pTXV4azdSu

Does Machado have a preferred landing spot?
Dec. 13: There's been no shortage of speculation about which teams are in on free-agent star Manny Machado. It's been reported he's due to meet with the Phillies, the White Sox and the Yankees. Oh, and at least three mystery clubs, too.

While teams continue to woo Machado, perhaps it's worth considering this process from his point of view, too. Does Machado have a preference for where he winds up?

"Manny Machado's first choice is the New York Yankees," CBS Sports Network analyst and former big league general manager Jim Bowden said Wednesday evening. "So if the Yankees come to the table ... and are willing to compete financially for his services, they will be the team that gets Manny Machado."

Tweet from @CBSSportsNet: ���Manny Machado���s first choice is the New York Yankees.���If the Yankees are willing to meet Machado���s price tag, @JimBowdenGM tells @AdamSchein he will be wearing pinstripes. #T2S pic.twitter.com/rLwUfByWj5

The Yankees certainly have the resources to go after Machado, who is expected to score a contract that could rival that of Bryce Harper's this offseason (read: north of $300 million over 10 years). The question, then, might be how badly general manager Brian Cashman and the rest of the club's front office and ownership want Machado.

While owner Hal Steinbrenner said last month he took issue with Machado's lack of hustle in the postseason, Cashman has said he's discussed Machado with agent Dan Lozano and multiple reports have indicated Cashman indeed is interested in finding a way to make this fit. There are ways to make that happen, between the immediate need for a shortstop with Didi Gregorius due to miss a chunk of 2019 after Tommy John surgery and the possibility the Yankees could dangle young third baseman Miguel Andujar.

Tweet from @JackCurryYES: Cashman said Yankees haven���t met w/ Machado or any free agents yet. But if they advance to having serious discussions w/ Machado, Cashman noted how Hal Steinbrenner has already said he���d want to have a sit down w/ the player and discuss what was said in October.

Machado just might be envisioning himself in pinstripes? But do the Yankees see that, as well?

After active day, the top name among free-agent starting pitchers is ...
Dec. 12: The market for starting pitchers took off on Day 3 of the Winter Meetings.

First came reports that lefty J.A. Happ was close to a three-year deal to return to the Yankees. Then there was news of Charlie Morton agreeing to a two-year pact with the Rays. Next? Fellow righty Lance Lynn landed a reported three-year contract from the Rangers. And soon thereafter, the Reds acquired right-hander Tanner Roark in a trade with the Nationals. Got all that?

That's a lot of action -- and a lot of pretty big starting pitcher names more or less off the board -- in a very short amount of time. On the heels of Patrick Corbin signing for $140 million with the Nationals and Nathan Eovaldi getting $68 million to stay with the Red Sox, it's time to recalibrate and reevaluate what's left.

Feinsand: For starters, these 4 could upgrade any rotation

For starters, one name now sticks out as the top pitcher available in free agency: Dallas Keuchel.

Gio Gonzalez, Matt Harvey, Anibal Sanchez, Trevor Cahill and Wade Miley now represent some of the better options among starters in free agency. Japanese lefty Yusei Kikuchi -- who has until Jan. 2 to sign a deal with a Major League team after being posted by the Seibu Lions earlier this month -- is the other intriguing option in play, as the 27-year-old might possess the most upside (and also the most uncertainty) of the bunch.

While all of the above can be capable rotation options, none has the same combination of age, durability and proven performance that the soon-to-be 31-year-old Keuchel offers. That should be a very good thing for the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner, who owns a 3.28 ERA while pitching 950 1/3 innings over his past five seasons.

Put simply: While there's no shortage of trade candidates, including Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Madison Bumgarner and others, if a team wants to land a free-agent starter who can pitch at or near the top of a rotation, that list pretty much boils down to Keuchel.

"Now, I think you get into some of the guys like Keuchel, like Kikuchi -- they're the guys who we're going to see [get] longer-term [deals]," MLB Network analyst Jim Duquette said Wednesday evening at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. "Talking to Scott Boras, who represents both of them, he seemed to indicate there were several teams willing to give them four or five years."

The Phillies, Braves, Brewers, Reds and Angels are among the teams that have been linked to and/or could be fits for the left-hander, who appears to be in a strong position to command a big-money, multi-year deal from clubs that have missed out on other starters on the open market so far.

Who is the front-runner for Harper?
Dec. 12: The Phillies? The Yankees? The Nationals? The Cubs? The Dodgers? All of those teams -- and a few more -- have been linked to Bryce Harper so far this offseason. But which club appears to be in the lead to land the superstar slugger in free agency?

"The front-runner right now, believe it or not, is the Chicago White Sox," CBS Sports Network analyst and former MLB general manager Jim Bowden said Wednesday. "They're the team with the checkbook open. They're being very aggressive."

Tweet from @CBSSportsNet: ���The front runner right now, believe it or not, is the Chicago White Sox.���@JimBowdenGM tells @AdamSchein that it���s the White Sox who are in the lead for Bryce Harper's services. #T2S pic.twitter.com/XoXndaF0F2

With the Winter Meetings being held in Harper's hometown of Las Vegas, the White Sox met with Harper at some point, according to Bowden, who reported that the club stressed the strength of its promising farm system. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez, right-handers Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning, as well as infielder Nick Madrigal -- the club's top pick in the 2018 Draft -- are among the big-name, high-upside prospects who have reached the Major Leagues or should arrive soon.

Will the White Sox pull off a surprise splurge on Harper with a record-setting contract to push the franchise from rebuilding mode toward contention mode in an AL Central division that could be up for grabs as soon as 2020?

Video: Scott Boras discusses the market for Bryce Harper

Feinsand: Dodgers 'actively trying' to trade Puig and/or Kemp, among others
Dec. 12: As the Dodgers explore a number of avenues to improve their roster, they are unsurprisingly looking to trade from the two areas where they have great depth: the rotation and the outfield.

Los Angeles is prepared to move starters Rich Hill and Alex Wood as well as two outfielders, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.

Tweet from @Buster_ESPN: Dodgers have talked to other teams about moving two outfielders among the group of Kemp, Puig, Pederson, Bellinger, and as they look to re-shape payroll, they are also are prepared to move starting pitchers Rich Hill and Alex Wood.

As for Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, specifically, the Dodgers are "actively trying" to move one or both of them, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

Tweet from @Feinsand: According to a source, the Dodgers are actively trying to trade Yasiel Puig and/or Matt Kemp.

That echoes what MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal is hearing, particularly the part about Puig being discussed, and in this case with the Reds. While Rosenthal doesn't mention a possible target in the Dodgers' talks with Cincy, second baseman Scooter Gennett could be in play because of L.A.'s need at that spot.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: #Dodgers, #Reds have talked multiple times, sources tell The Athletic. Different packages being discussed; Puig in play as well as other LAD outfielders, pitchers. Dodgers want to clear money for other pursuits. Puig projected $11.3M in arb, per @mlbtraderumors, Alex Wood $9M.

The Dodgers have also had discussions with the Cardinals about Jose Martinez, per Rosenthal, with a creative plan to potentially move Martinez to first base and have Max Muncy play second and Bellinger play center field. 

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: This one is a surprise. #Dodgers talking to #STLCards about Jose Martinez, sources tell The Athletic. LAD could play the defensively challenged Martinez at first base, with Muncy at second and Bellinger in center.

As far as other trade targets go, the Dodgers have been connected most prominently to the Indians' Corey Kluber and the Marlins' J.T. Realmuto this offseason. MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported Monday that trade talks for Kluber had "intensified," and that Cleveland is interested in the Dodgers' top prospect, outfielder Alex Verdugo.

Cody Bellinger was among the outfielders Olney mentioned as being available for trade, but a source from a rival team got the sense that the Dodgers aren't open to that idea, per MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Impression from a rival about the Dodgers: ���Any of their guys are in play except Buehler and Bellinger.��� (My add: we���ll assume Kershaw, Turner, Seager and Jansen probably aren���t going anywhere either).

The 23-year-old Bellinger took a step backward in 2018, but he is just one season removed from slashing .267/.352/.581 with 39 homers in 132 games as a rookie. While the slugger has primarily played first base during his time in the Majors, he has shown the ability to capably handle center field as well, which is a major plus for a Dodgers club that seems to value versatility as much as any team in baseball.

Los Angeles has also been linked to Bryce Harper, but it's unclear if the club plans to make an aggressive play for the superstar free agent. The contract that Harper is expected to command would be out of character for the Andrew Friedman-led Dodgers front office, which hasn't handed out more than $93 million to any one player despite consistently maintaining a high payroll.

As MLB Network insider Joel Sherman noted in a column for the New York Post on Tuesday, Los Angeles is hesitant to tie up a large portion of its future payroll, which could reduce its flexibility as the retooling Giants and D-backs become serious contenders in the National League West again within the next few years.

But Sherman still envisions a scenario in which Harper lands with the Dodgers.

"Again, it takes dominoes falling," Sherman writes. "Manny Machado would sign with the Phillies; the Nationals, Cardinals and Yankees really would continue to have no interest in Harper; and the only substantial long-term offers would come from someplace like the White Sox. In that scenario, could Harper instead pivot to accept a four-year deal from the Dodgers for a record annual amount and, say, an opt-out after two years to get back into free agency either after his age-27 or -29 season?"

Kimbrel reportedly seeking record 9-figure deal
Dec. 12: Craig Kimbrel's agent, David Meter, has touted his client's resume as being comparable to those of the all-time great closers, and the right-hander could be seeking a record-breaking deal for a relief pitcher.

Jayson Stark of The Athletic reported Wednesday night that he's heard from executives from two clubs that Kimbrel is shooting for a contract valued at more than $100 million for six years. That would exceed the five-year, $86 million contract Aroldis Chapman signed with the Yankees after the 2016 -- the record for a reliever. The Rockies' Wade Davis owns the record for average annual value at $17.3 million, but over three years.

Tweet from @jaysonst: I've heard execs from 2 teams say this week that Craig Kimbrel is looking for a deal north of $100 million for 6 years. He's one of the greatest closers of all time. But is there a record deal out there for him? Hard to say in a bullpen market that has barely moved.

It's unclear if any club would be willing to approach a nine-figurer number, and Stark points out the relief market is difficult to evaluate with minimal activity at the position to date. 

MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi suggested Tuesday a more plausible result is Kimbrel inking a four-year deal exceeding Davis' annual value. Also factoring into Kimbrel's value? He will cost the team that signs him a Draft pick after he declined the Red Sox's qualifying offer.

Kikuchi unlikely to sign until late December
Dec. 12: Those hoping for a resolution to Yusei Kikuchi's free agency will have to wait. The Japanese left-hander won't be signing anywhere soon, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman.

Kikuchi will meet with the many interested teams in Los Angeles later this month, per Schulman. Kikuchi has until Jan. 2 to sign with a Major League team after he was posted by the Seibu Lions earlier this month.

Tweet from @hankschulman: Yusei Kikuchi is not going to sign soon. Scott Boras said the Japanese left-hander will meet with interested teams ��� and there are lots ��� to make their pitches in LA later this month. #sfgiants expected there.

The club that signs him must pay a release fee to the Lions based on the guaranteed value of his MLB contract, beginning with 20 percent of the first $25 million and continuing with 17.5 percent of the next $25 million and 15 percent of any amount beyond $50 million. Additionally, the Lions could also receive a 15 percent supplemental fee for bonuses, salary escalators or options.

Gonzalez among candidates for Padres infield
Dec. 12: The Padres are in need of a short-term solution at shortstop to bridge the gap to top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., preferably a utility man who can contribute across the infield after Tatis debuts.

MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal named a list of candidates Wednesday: free-agent Daniel Descalso, the D-backs' Nick Ahmed and the Rangers' Jurickson Profar. The Athletic's Dennis Lin added free-agent Marwin Gonzalez to the mix. 

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: Per @dennistlin, #Padres also have interest in free agent Marwin Gonzalez, who would be the best - and most expensive - of this group. https://t.co/KRhSQZxOQv

Gonzalez would be the most costly option, but is perhaps the best player of that group. Rosenthal points out Ahmed has ties to Padres manager Andy Green, who was the third-base coach in Arizona before joining San Diego, and Profar was originally signed by Padres general manager A.J. Preller, who previously worked in the Rangers' front office, in 2009.

Ramos meets with at least three teams
Dec. 12: Free-agent catcher Wilson Ramos is in Las Vegas for the Winter Meetings and has met with the Mets, A's and Brewers, with more meetings possibly to come, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Wilson Ramos has met with the Brewers, A���s and Mets while in Las Vegas, but he���s still here so there could be more meetings

The Mets have been aggressively engaged in trade discussions with the Marlins for J.T. Realmuto, but Heyman reports that the club is losing confidence that a deal will get done. As a result, New York seems to be exploring alternatives, including Ramos, Martin Maldonado and Yasmani Grandal.

With Jonathan Lucroy hitting the open market, Oakland is in need of a starting catcher. The A's signed Chris Herrmann on Tuesday, but the 31-year-old has never held a full-time job.

Ramos' camp is said to have sensed "serious interest" from the Brewers, reports MLB.com's Adam McCalvy, though the club is working with some payroll restraints. Ramos would be an upgrade over Milwaukee's catching trio of Manny Pina, Erik Kratz and Jacob Nottingham.

Realmuto's trade market is impacting Grandal
Dec. 12: In case you haven't been paying attention, J.T. Realmuto arguably has been the most headline-making name at the Winter Meetings this week. (If you want the latest on the Marlins' catcher, who could be traded any day now, you can find it here.) Just as important, though, is the impact all of the Realmuto rumors are having on the rest of the backstop market, especially for free agents like Yasmani Grandal, who is at or near the top of those available.

While everyone waits to see what will happen with Realmuto, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo speculates that once that long-awaited saga is decided, the big free agent catchers -- including Grandal and Wilson Ramos, among others -- could start falling into place.

Tweet from @AnthonyDiComo: If the Winter Meetings seem quiet, that's because they have been. Teams curious to see what happens with J.T. Realmuto. When he goes, the big FA catchers could quickly follow.Likewise with relievers, where everyone is waiting for that first notable signing to de-ice the market.

For instance: It's been widely reported the Mets are after Realmuto and may, in fact, be the front-runners to make a swap for him. But if that doesn't happen, they could pivot quickly and target Grandal. "We know how much [Mets GM] Brodie [Van Wagenen] likes Realmuto, but we're starting to hear that he likes Grandal quite a bit as well," as SNY's Andy Martino said. 

Tweet from @SNYtv: "We know how much Brodie likes Realmuto, but we're starting to hear that he likes Grandal quite a bit as well" - @martinonyc pic.twitter.com/SJFgTuvsVY

Stay tuned here, because once we get some resolution with Realmuto, the backstop dominoes could start to fall -- fast.

Will Giants trade Bumgarner now ... or later?
Dec. 12: It's hard to imagine longtime Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner in another uniform, isn't it? And yet, the biggest topic of conversation surrounding the club this offseason is whether -- maybe even when -- San Francisco should look to trade its ace. After all, the Giants are unlikely to contend in 2019, and the 29-year-old lefty's contract runs out after next season.

As to the question of when the Giants might be ready to move Bumgarner, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reports that it's looking "less and less likely" the club pulls the trigger this winter. While that possibility can't be ruled out, as Feinsand notes, a midseason move might make more sense.

Tweet from @Feinsand: A source said it is becoming less and less likely that the Giants will trade Madison Bumgarner this winter, though it still can't be ruled out. A midseason trade seems more likely if the Giants are not in contention, the source said.

Perhaps one reason for this approach is that the club has a new director of baseball operations in Farhan Zaidi. In addition to being busy plotting a course for the future of the franchise at the moment, Zaidi might not want to have his first major transaction involve shipping off a franchise face and three-time World Series champion, as MLB Network insider Joel Sherman wrote in a story for the New York Post.

That said, there is some risk in waiting until June or July to make Bumgarner available; he could see a further decline in his performance or suffer an injury that saps his value on the trade market. Not to mention, if Bumgarner is traded midseason, he would be ineligible for the qualifying offer and the corresponding Draft-pick compensation, which also must be factored into his value. At the same time, his historic postseason performances also would be mighty appealing to contending clubs as they gear up for October.

Among the teams that have been mentioned as interested in and/or possible fits for Bumgarner are the Braves, Phillies, Yankees, Astros and Brewers.

Tweet from @MLBNetworkRadio: Has Bruce Bochy considered a #SFGiants rotation without Madison Bumgarner?In a word: Nope. pic.twitter.com/xOtGMGN2ga

Nats already eyeing replacement for Roark?
Dec. 12: The Nationals traded away right-hander Tanner Roark to the Reds on Wednesday evening, and a possible replacement emerged not long after.

The club has discussed signing free-agent lefty Wade Miley, MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: #Nationals have discussed free-agent LHP Wade Miley as a possible replacement for Tanner Roark, sources tell The Athletic.

Miley, 32, spent last season with the Brewers, going 5-2 with 2.57 ERA in 16 starts. He missed time with groin and oblique injuries.

The Nationals already have made a big splash in their rotation by signing Patrick Corbin, widely considered the top starter on the market this offseason, to a six-year deal last week, but their starting pitching depth remains thin, especially now without Roark.

Boras not ruling out Yankees, Nats as suitors for Harper
Dec. 12: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman all but ruled out the club as a suitor for free agent Bryce Harper earlier this week, saying that there's "no spot" for the 26-year-old in New York's crowded outfield and that using him at first base "isn't an option," according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. And yet, Harper's agent, Scott Boras, isn't ready to say the club is out of the running. He's not counting out the Nats, either. Read the latest Harper rumors here.

Yankees meet with Ottavino's rep
Dec. 12: With Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and Chad Green in the fold, the Yankees should have a solid bullpen in 2019, even if free agents David Robertson and Zach Britton sign elsewhere.

But the club is still engaging with some of the top relief arms on the market, including New York native Adam Ottavino. According to MLB Network insider Joel Sherman, Yanks general manager Brian Cashman met with Ottavino's representative Tuesday. While no firm offers were exchanged, Sherman considers the 33-year-old to be high on the Yankees' wish list.

Tweet from @Joelsherman1: Heard Cashman met with Adam Ottavino���s rep tonight. Still no firm offers exchanged. But clear Ottavino is high on #Yankees wish list

Ottavino is also a reported target of the rival Red Sox, as is Robertson, whom the Yankees haven't ruled out bringing back.

Britton, though, is considered unlikely to return, as he is believed to be looking for closing opportunities. Per MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the Phillies and Cardinals are among several teams pursuing the left-hander.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: #STLCards and #Phillies are among several teams pursuing Zach Britton @Ken_Rosenthal mentioned Philly earlier. And their execs all know Britton from time in Baltimore together.

Machado to meet with Yanks, Phils, White Sox and mystery teams
Dec. 11: The biggest transaction on the second day of the Winter Meetings -- at least as of late afternoon -- was the Phillies' deal to sign Andrew McCutchen to a reported three-year, $50 million pact. How does that impact Manny Machado, specifically?

It doesn't really change much, frankly, as McCutchen is expected to handle one of the corner outfield spots in Philly, and the amount of money -- while not insignificant -- shouldn't preclude the Phillies from making any substantial offer to Machado. In short: There's still a fit on the left side of the Phillies' infield, as MLB Network insider Jon Heyman pointed out. 

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Brantley is out as a Phillies option since McCutchen deal, but door is still open for Harper (and of course Machado)

So what's next for the superstar 26-year-old? Machado is slated to meet with teams most interested in him soon, and Heyman reports that three of them are the Yankees, White Sox and -- yep -- the Phillies, as well as three "mystery teams."

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Yanks, White Sox and Phillies are 3 teams that will meet with Manny Machado. The 3 alleged mystery teams remain so.

The takeaways from that? One, those three clubs are in big markets and have money to spend. Two, it's likely that nothing will happen any time soon (think: during the Winter Meetings) on the Machado front, given that he's planning to visit with a number of franchises.

Video: After Cutch, Phils could still target Harper, Machado

Leaving Las Vegas: Where the market stands

Predicting potential fits for top free agents, trade candidates
MLB.com @feinsand

LAS VEGAS -- The Winter Meetings have come and gone, and most of the major free agents remain available for potential buyers.

The same goes for the trade market, though Thursday morning's three-team trade took Carlos Santana off the market.

LAS VEGAS -- The Winter Meetings have come and gone, and most of the major free agents remain available for potential buyers.

The same goes for the trade market, though Thursday morning's three-team trade took Carlos Santana off the market.

Hot Stove Tracker

To this point, the starting pitching market has been the most active, with Patrick Corbin, Nathan Eovaldi, J.A. Happ, Charlie Morton and Lance Lynn all agreeing to deals, some of which have not been formally announced.

The two biggest names available continue to be Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, though neither is expected to sign before the end of the year.

Teams used the past four days to kick the tires on a number of fronts, gaining traction on both the free-agent and trade markets. As the baseball world leaves Las Vegas, here's where the market stands:

FREE AGENTS
Manny Machado

The superstar shortstop was not in Las Vegas this week, though his agent, Dan Lozano, spoke with teams about Machado. The Yankees, Phillies and White Sox are all in the mix for Machado, who will begin meeting with teams in person in the coming days. A fourth team is believed to also be in play for the All-Star, though it's unclear which club.
Potential fit: Yankees

Video: Machado will reportedly meet with 3 teams

Bryce Harper
Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, met with clubs at their suite at the Aria Resort and Casino this week, getting a feel for the superstar outfielder's market. The Phillies and White Sox appear to have serious interest, though teams including the Cubs and Dodgers are also monitoring the situation. The Yankees insist they're not in on Harper, taking a big-market club out of the picture.
Potential fit: Phillies

Video: Zolecki on Phils' fans preferring Machado or Harper

Dallas Keuchel
While the rest of the starting pitching market has been landing new deals, Keuchel -- considered to be the second-best free-agent starter behind Corbin -- has been relatively quiet. The Phillies and Reds seem to be the two most obvious candidates to sign the former Cy Young winner, though it remains to be seen how many years Keuchel will get. He's believed to be seeking six, though he might have to settle for five, or even four with a higher average annual value.
Potential fit: Reds

Video: Dallas Keuchel enters free agency

Craig Kimbrel
The star closer is reportedly seeking a six-year deal worth more than $100 million, which would blow away the previous record of five years and $86 million signed by Aroldis Chapman two years ago. Several executives cast doubt that Kimbrel will be able to score that type of contract, though he could get five years and upwards of $75 million. The Red Sox have been viewed as having moved on from their closer, but they remain a potential landing spot along with the Braves, Phillies and Cardinals.
Potential fit: Phillies

Video: MLB Now on Kimbrel looking for a 6-year deal

Yasmani Grandal
The seemingly never-ending saga of J.T. Realmuto has been holding up the market for free-agent catchers, so Grandal and Wilson Ramos will likely have to wait until the Marlins move their catcher. But the Mets and White Sox are among the teams that have been linked to Grandal, so he should find a deal once the Realmuto situation is settled.
Potential fit: White Sox

Video: Grandal becomes free agent in 2019

A.J. Pollock
Andrew McCutchen was the most notable outfielder to sign during the Winter Meetings, landing a three-year, $50 million deal from the Phillies. Pollock is considered the top outfielder available, with the Mets, Dodgers, Braves and Reds all reported to be interested. Pollock is said to be seeking a deal similar to the five-year, $80 million pact Lorenzo Cain got from the Brewers last year.
Potential fit: Braves

Video: A.J. Pollock is hitting the free-agent market

TRADE CANDIDATES
J.T. Realmuto

Aside from Machado and Harper, no name was uttered as much this week as Realmuto, who has been rumored to be headed to at least a half-dozen clubs at different points this offseason. The Mets and Dodgers appear to be the most serious suitors, be it in a straight-up deal with the Marlins or a three-team trade. Realmuto's situation is holding up the rest of the catching market, but the teams looking for a top-notch backstop all seem to have him atop their list, viewing free agents Grandal and Ramos as Plan B.
Potential fit: Mets

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

Corey Kluber/Trevor Bauer
We'll lump these two Indians pitchers together since it appears likely only one of them will be moved. The Dodgers have been viewed as the most obvious candidate to deal for one of them -- likely Kluber, whom they could pair with Clayton Kershaw to form a lethal 1-2 combination -- though multiple teams remain in the mix. The Reds were said to be speaking with their in-state rivals, as well.
Potential fits: Dodgers (Kluber); Reds (Bauer)

Video: Bell on Indians possibly moving Kluber or Bauer

Yasiel Puig
The Dodgers have been actively trying to move Puig and/or Matt Kemp in an attempt to clear up their overcrowded outfield situation. The Reds have spoken with Cincinnati about a number of deals involving each of them, also putting left-hander Alex Wood into the mix, with right-hander Homer Bailey potentially going back to Los Angeles. The White Sox, Mets and Cardinals are also potential trade partners for the Dodgers. While nothing appears imminent, it's definitely a situation to watch.
Potential fit: Reds

Video: Duquette breaks down Dodgers' outfielder surplus

Nicholas Castellanos
The Tigers spoke with a number of teams about Castellanos, who is in his final year of salary arbitration before becoming a free agent next offseason. The Braves, who are players on a number of fronts, appear to be very interested in the outfielder and former third baseman, though the Astros, Indians and Phillies have also been linked.
Potential fit: Braves

Video: Castellanos could provide big bat to new team

Noah Syndergaard
The hottest rumor at the Meetings may have been the potential three-team trade that would have sent Realmuto to the Mets and Syndergaard to the Yankees, though the chances of the Mets shipping their star pitcher across town seemed remote at best. That said, new GM Brodie Van Wagenen has been ultra-aggressive since taking the job, so a Syndergaard deal remains possible. Other executives believe he'll remain with the Mets to start the season, though the Padres remain hot for the right-hander -- as long as top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. isn't involved in the deal.
Potential fit: Padres

Video: Van Wagenen discusses Syndergaard on MLB Tonight

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

Sources: White Sox sign James McCann

MLB.com @beckjason

The White Sox didn't have to look far for catching help following the Omar Narvaez trade. They've reached an agreement with former American League Central foe James McCann on a one-year, $2.5 million contract, a source confirmed to MLB.com.

The White Sox have not announced the agreement, which is pending a physical. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports was the first to report the agreement.

The White Sox didn't have to look far for catching help following the Omar Narvaez trade. They've reached an agreement with former American League Central foe James McCann on a one-year, $2.5 million contract, a source confirmed to MLB.com.

The White Sox have not announced the agreement, which is pending a physical. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports was the first to report the agreement.

McCann is the second former Tigers catcher in three years to sign with the White Sox as a free agent after leaving Detroit, following in the footsteps of Alex Avila. The Tigers non-tendered the 28-year-old McCann last month, making him a free agent after four-plus seasons in Detroit -- spending the majority of the time as the Tigers' primary catcher.

McCann is a prime bounceback candidate coming off some of the deepest offensive struggles of his career. He batted just .220 (94-for-427) in 2018 with eight home runs, 39 RBIs and a .581 OPS, 72 points below his career clip. Much of his offensive production came in the first two months of the season.

Though McCann has traditionally been known as an effective hitter against left-handed pitchers, he hit just .176 (18-for-102) off lefties last year with 30 strikeouts and a .514 OPS.

McCann's struggles coincided with an offseason workout routine last winter that added muscle and bulk to his frame in hopes of helping him stay strong through the grind of his season. In terms of durability, it helped; his 114 games caught and 112 starts were both career bests, the former ranking him third among AL catchers.

Defensively, McCann has consistently been among the strongest catchers in baseball at controlling the running game. He threw out 36 percent of attempted basestealers last season, eight points above league average, and owns a 37 percent career rate. His pitch-framing skills drew varied ratings: While his minus-11 Framing Runs Above Average ranked 67th out of 85 Major League catchers with at least 1,000 pitches caught last season according to StatCorner.com, he sat in the middle of the pack among regular catchers in extra called strikes above expectations according to the Bill James Handbook.

Video: HOU@DET: McCann throws out Marisnick stealing 2nd

When the Tigers non-tendered him, McCann tried to take a positive outlook on a chance for a fresh start.

"Could be a good thing, could be a neutral thing, and that's something that only time will be able to tell," McCann said earlier this month. "Moving forward, I'm extremely thankful and grateful for the time I had in Detroit, and I'm excited to see what the future holds."

In Chicago, he'll be part of a catching mix with Welington Castillo, working with a group of talented young pitchers. He'll also have a chance to face a Tigers pitching staff he knows well.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Chicago White Sox, James McCann