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
At least a half-dozen teams involved in Syndergaard trade talks
Nov. 21: The Mets are "seriously considering deals" for Noah Syndergaard, and at least a half-dozen teams are "believed to be real players" to trade for the right-hander, reports MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. Per Heyman, New York is looking to fill multiple holes via the haul they would get from trading Syndergaard.
That might be only one part of the plan, however. According to SNY's Andy Martino, New York is also considering free-agent options to replace Syndergaard, should he be dealt.
"Trading Syndergaard -- which is no sure thing to happen, even though the Mets are exploring it -- would only be one piece in a larger strategy," writes Martino, citing Major League sources. "The Mets could obtain a package of prospects and Major Leaguers for Syndergaard, then replace him with a free agent such as Patrick Corbin, J.A. Happ, Dallas Keuchel, or Nathan Eovaldi."
Martino adds that the Mets are pushing back against the idea that a trade of Syndergaard would portend a "step back for 2019," writing that the front office's "view is that dealing from a position of depth, and then finding a replacement at that position, could be a win-win."
Machado clarifies 'Johnny Hustle' comment
Nov. 21: In an exclusive interview with MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, free-agent superstar Manny Machado clarified his infamous comment from the postseason, in which he said, "I'm not the type of player that's going to be 'Johnny Hustle.'"
"When I was asked that question, I was definitely on the defensive, and I was wrong to answer it the way that I did, because looking back, it doesn't come across how I meant it," Machado said. "For me, I was trying to talk about how I'm not the guy who is eye wash. There's a difference between fake hustle for show and being someone who tries hard to win. I've always been the guy who does whatever he can to win for his team.
"But I know how I said it and how that came across, and it's something I take responsibility for. I look forward to talking with each GM and owner that we meet with about that, or any other questions they have."
Machado also addressed several other questions during the interview, including what a potential timetable might be for his decision on where to sign what is expected to be one of the richest contracts in North American sports history.
At just 26 years old, Machado is a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner, coming off the best offensive season of his career. In a season split between the Orioles and Dodgers, he slashed .297/.367/.538 with 37 home runs and 14 steals. For the second time in his career, he played in all 162 games of the season.
Could the Yankees sign Corbin and Happ, even after trading for Paxton?
Nov. 21: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has said multiple times this offseason that upgrading the rotation is a priority, and the club is expected to add another starter even after re-signing CC Sabathia and trading for James Paxton. But could they bring in two more? MLB Network Radio's Steve Phillips isn't ruling it out.
Phillips thinks the Yankees could still sign Patrick Corbin and J.A. Happ, which would give the club six established starters: Corbin, Happ, Paxton, Sabathia, Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka.
Phillips notes that Paxton has never made more than 28 starts in a season, Sabathia is 38 years old, Severino faded in the second half last year, and Tanaka has another year of wear and tear on his elbow after being diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in 2014.
The former MLB general manager argues the Yankees could benefit greatly from having six starters, allowing them to ease the burden on all six pitchers, even if they didn't necessarily use a six-man rotation all year. Phillips points to the Dodgers as an example of a team effectively working in more than five solid starters. Los Angeles had seven pitchers make at least 15 starts in 2018 -- Alex Wood, Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Walker Buehler, Ross Stripling, Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Cardinals maintaining interest in Brantley
Nov. 21: The Cardinals have the payroll room for Bryce Harper. That much is clear, based on comments made by team president Bill DeWitt III. Whether St. Louis actually pursues the superstar slugger is a matter of determining if it wants to put all of its "eggs in one basket," as DeWitt put it.
If the Cardinals decide not to get involved in the Harper sweepstakes or simply fall short, Michael Brantley could be a viable alternative. A source told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi that the Cards are "maintaining interest" in the former Indians outfielder.
However, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has been told by multiple sources that "it would take a series of moves to find a fit for Brantley" in St. Louis.
Goold interprets that to mean the Cardinals would need to miss on other targets and then trade players such as Dexter Fowler, who is still owed nearly $50 million over the next three seasons and may be tough to move after posting a .576 OPS in 2018.
Granted, it would likely take some maneuvering to clear space for Harper as well, as he and Brantley are both corner outfielders. But it doesn't seem as though St. Louis has Brantley high on its list of potential targets, and it may not necessarily elevate him unless a number of other pursuits don't come to fruition.
Harper and the Rockies?
Nov. 20: Bryce Harper has been connected with several teams during this Hot Stove season, but a club that would create shock waves if it were to land the superstar slugger is the Rockies.
USA TODAY Sports' Gabe Lacques suggests the idea isn't as far-fetched as you might think. In fact, he argues Harper and Colorado would be a fit.
"The Rockies should recognize that their window to win may never be better, given their offensive core and that rarest of sights in Denver -- young, capable starting pitching," writes Lacques. "With the status of one franchise player in doubt, locking down another in the near term would ensure them enduring relevance -- along with a powerful shot to win it all now."
Harper playing 81 games a season at hitter-friendly Coors Field is quite a thought. In 90 career plate appearances there, he has a .387/.489/.627 slash line. And even if it's just for one year, can you imagine Harper and Nolan Arenado in the same lineup?
On the other hand, the spacious outfield of Coors Field can be a nightmare for mediocre defensive outfielders. MLB.com's Mike Petriello took a deep dive to investigate the causes behind Harper's poor defense in 2018.
"Defensive Runs Saved scored him a -26, worst of any outfielder who doesn't call massive Coors Field home," Petriello notes. "Ultimate Zone Rating scored him a -14.4, at the bottom of the list. Statcast™ Outs Above Average, which for the moment includes only range and not arm value, puts him at -12, fifth-worst."
That's not to say all is lost, of course. Petriello also writes that "he's still just 26 and enormously talented. Teams aren't just going to assume he can't play defense anymore."
Cashman weighs in on Harper as a potential first baseman
Nov. 20: When agent Scott Boras touted Bryce Harper's ability to play first base two weeks ago, some viewed it as a sales pitch to the Yankees, who don't have an obvious need in the outfield.
In an appearance Tuesday on MLB Network Radio, Yanks general manager Brian Cashman weighed in on Harper as a potential fit and quashed the idea of New York considering him for a position switch.
"People have talked about Bryce Harper being able to play first base, I don't know if he can or can't," Cashman said. "I know he's very athletic, but that's not necessarily a bet I would recommend placing with the amount of money he's expected to get."
Cashman again pinpointed the starting rotation as an area of focus, along with addressing the bullpen and covering the absence of shortstop Didi Gregorius, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery and likely won't be ready until the summer. Cashman, though, didn't close the door on signing Harper.
"I'm not ruling anything out," the GM said. "We like to think of ourselves as very progressive and open-minded to any idea, if it's a good idea. My main laser focus currently is on those areas of need, but that doesn't preclude me from, with ownership obviously directing things from above, being open to any idea that makes us the best that we can possibly be."
Dodgers, Astros have interest in Realmuto
Nov. 20: The Dodgers have catching prospect Keibert Ruiz on the farm, so they don't necessarily have to seek a long-term replacement for free agent Yasmani Grandal. But MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi thinks that Los Angeles "appears destined to acquire a frontline catcher" this offseason.
Per Morosi, the Dodgers have interest in trade candidate J.T. Realmuto of the Marlins. Despite its blockbuster deal for Manny Machado in July, Los Angeles still has a solid farm system with four top-100 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline, so it can make Miami a competitive offer for Realmuto.
Morosi notes that the Astros are also eyeing Realmuto. Like the Dodgers, Houston has four top-100 prospects, including two -- outfielder Kyle Tucker and right-hander Forrest Whitley -- in the top 10.
The Braves, who have a whopping 10 top-100 prospects, are known to have interest in Realmuto as well, but the Marlins reportedly prefer to trade the backstop outside of the National League East.
The Nationals have been connected to Realmuto in the past, but their acquisition of Kurt Suzuki on Monday likely takes them out of the running for the Marlins catcher, as well as Grandal and fellow free agent Wilson Ramos.
Phillies are considering other big names besides Harper and Machado
Nov. 20: The Phillies have long been connected to Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, but those aren't the only two big-name players they are targeting, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi.
Morosi reports that Philadelphia is showing interest in Patrick Corbin and Craig Kimbrel, who are considered by many to be the top available starter and closer, respectively.
The Phillies are known to be seeking a left-handed starter to balance the rotation after giving just three starts to a southpaw over the past two years combined, and Corbin fits that bill.
Philadelphia had some success using a closer committee in 2018, but adding Kimbrel to the bullpen would undoubtedly make manager Gabe Kapler's job easier.
If they don't land Corbin or Kimbrel, the Phillies could look to the trade market for a starter and a closer, with Morosi mentioning the D-backs' Zack Greinke and the Mariners' Edwin Diaz as potential options.
A source told Morosi the D-backs are confident they won't need to include cash to move Greinke, who is owed more than $90 million over the next three years. The Phils have the payroll space to take on the entire contract.
After dealing left-hander James Paxton to the Yankees on Monday, the Mariners haven't ruled out trading Diaz, according to Morosi. The right-hander, who is under control for four more seasons, saved 57 games in 2018.
Video: Zolecki discusses Phillies' offseason spending plans
A-Rod touts Machado as "a great player" and "a fine young man"
Nov. 20: Alex Rodriguez has acted as a mentor to Manny Machado since Machado was a teenager in Miami -- where both Rodriguez and Machado grew up -- and he still holds a role as an advisor for the Yankees organization, leading some to wonder whether A-Rod could help bring Machado to New York.
Rodriguez, who was in London on Monday as part of MLB's promotional tour for next year's series between the Yankees and the Red Sox at London Stadium, said he hasn't been approached by the Yanks or Machado. But Rodriguez did endorse Machado's talent and character, according to the New York Post.
"I haven't had a chance to talk to [owner] Hal [Steinbrenner] or [GM Brian] Cashman, but I know ownership is as hungry as ever to put a great product and winner on the field," Rodriguez said. "And he's a great player.
"No one has asked me for advice. I do wish Manny well. He's a fine young man. It's a fun part of his career. I would just tell him to eliminate the white noise and focus on the game."
Machado drew criticism in October for admitting in an interview with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) that he wasn't a "Johnny Hustle" type of player, and he was also called a "dirty player" by Christian Yelich of the Brewers after spiking first baseman Jesus Aguilar during the NLCS. The debate about Machado has continued this month, with the infielder expected to command more than $300 million on the free-agent market.
The Athletic's Jayson Stark reported last week that the Yankees were doing "extensive" background work on Machado to determine if he's the right fit for the left side of their infield.
"Any time you're going after a player, due diligence is a part of it," Rodriguez said. "He's a great player and he's young and has played well in the AL East. But Hal and Cashman would be right to do a deep dive on any player, whether it's someone making the minimum [salary] or if it's a big free agent like Manny."
Cron adds another first-base option to the market. Which teams might be suitors?
Nov. 20: When the Rays designated C.J. Cron for assignment prior to Tuesday's deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft, it added another first baseman to the free-agent market. So which teams might pounce?
MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger suggests the Twins could be a player, as Minnesota had the fifth-worst OPS from the first base position last season, and have been linked to other first basemen, like Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt.
Cron had the best season of his career at the plate in 2018, slashing .253/.323/.493 with 30 home runs in 140 games for Tampa Bay. Other clubs that may show interest include the Cardinals, Astros and Rockies. St. Louis may be looking to move the versatile Matt Carpenter off first base, the Astros may look to add a first baseman with super-utility player Marwin Gonzalez on the free-agent market, and the Rockies may look for more production at first base, to move Ian Desmond to the outfield.
Kimbrel not an option for Cubs?
Nov. 20: The Cubs' bullpen faltered down the stretch last season, contributing to a second-place finish in the NL Central and a loss to the Rockies in the NL Wild Card Game. NBC Sports Chicago's Tony Andracki writes that the club will be focused on adding bullpen depth so that its relievers aren't overused, which the front office sees as a big reason for the late-season struggles.
While Craig Kimbrel is the premier closer on the free-agent market, Andracki suggests that given president of baseball operations Theo Epstein's track record in free agency, it is unlikely Chicago will spend big on a closer. Andracki sees the club going after other late-inning relievers instead, which potentially includes Zach Britton and Andrew Miller.
"It's more likely we'll see the Cubs make some smaller moves in free agency (maybe bringing back Jesse Chavez?) and potentially acquire an impact reliever via trade (a la Wade Davis for Jorge Soler two years back)," Andracki writes.
With 'suspect' infield defense, will Yankees prefer Eovaldi?
Nov. 20: The Yankees are seeking to bolster their rotation this offseason, and according to MLB Network insider Joel Sherman in an article for the New York Post, that leads to the question of whether they'll prefer strikeout pitchers, given what he calls a "suspect" infield defense.
"Their best gloveman, Didi Gregorius, will miss at least two months after Tommy John surgery," Sherman writes. "Miguel Andujar was, by metrics, the Majors' worst defender at third. Gleyber Torres has the quick-hand/strong-arm attributes to be a top defender, but was not consistent last year. Luke Voit is a below-average defender and Greg Bird, perhaps, average at first."
That leads Sherman to wonder if hard-throwing right-hander Nathan Eovaldi may be the preferred starter for the Yankees, as his strikeout rate increased significantly last season.
"The most interesting case is Nathan Eovaldi, whose strikeout average rose last year over eight per nine innings for the first time -- more befitting his power stuff -- while he remained groundball proficient," Sherman continues. "Will teams such as the Yankees see Eovaldi trending more toward missing bats and, thus, even more attractive?"
Of course, there is no shortage of strikeout pitchers on this year's market, both via free agency and trade, including Patrick Corbin, Charlie Morton, J.A. Happ, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber.
Indians and Dodgers are having "lots of different discussions"
Nov. 20: File this rumor under "vague but juicy." MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reports that the Indians and Dodgers are "engaged in lots of different discussions," then suggests that there could be a match given Cleveland's need for outfield help -- even after getting good news about Leonys Martin -- and L.A.'s search for a catcher.
That's right: Rosenthal just casually dropped names like Indians backstop Yan Gomes and (clears throat) Dodgers outfielders Joc Pederson, Alex Verdugo and ... Yasiel Puig. Not to mention, there's a reference to what would appear to be none other than Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco.
Imagine the possibilities: Puig, Pederson, Verdugo and one of L.A.'s high-end catching prospects (Keibert Ruiz or Will Smith) to Cleveland for one of Kluber or Carrasco and Gomes? There's no way that actually would come to fruition (right?), but it's Hot Stove season, so hey, fan the flames.
Why the Brewers could consider Lowrie and Murphy
Nov. 20: At the end of 2018, second base became something of a revolving door in Milwaukee. Not that the Brewers didn't have talented options to handle the position, but they never settled on any one player. That leaves the spot in a bit of flux this winter.
Sure, the club could continue playing Travis Shaw there, but he's better suited for third base, which is once again open with midseason acquisition Mike Moustakas on the open market. Hernan Perez is another candidate, but he's been extremely useful in a utility player role the past few seasons. And then there's Jonathan Schoop, who simply did not work out after joining the Crew from the Orioles in July.
In fact, given that Schoop hit .202/.246/.331 in 46 games with Milwaukee and is projected to get north of $10 million as his 2019 salary via arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors, there's at least a chance he could be non-tendered by the Nov. 30 deadline. If not, then Schoop could become a trade chip, with the hope that other teams focus more on his monster 2017 (.841 OPS, 32 homers) and age (still only 27) than on his disastrous '18.
If the Brewers are to consider a second-base solution in free agency, Jonah Keri of CBS Sports suggests that Jed Lowrie or Daniel Murphy could be good fits. Both veterans have continued to be productive, contact-making hitters with good pop well into their mid-30s, and they are likely to land reasonable two- or three-year deals because of their age. Solidifying a potential problem spot could help push a Brewers team that reached the National League Championship Series to the next level.
Which teams are making a push for Goldschmidt?
Nov. 20: It doesn't appear the D-backs are close to trading star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, but the Cardinals, Astros and Twins are three potential suitors if they choose to go down that road.
MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported Monday that St. Louis and Houston have had the "most meaningful" discussions with the D-backs about Goldschmidt, but a deal isn't imminent with either club.
According to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi, the Twins "have had preliminary talks about a Paul Goldschmidt trade, source confirms, though the dialogue has not advanced in recent days." Morosi also noted that Minnesota had the fifth-lowest OPS from the first base position of any team last season.
The D-backs picked up Goldschmidt's $14.5 million club option last month, and he's slated to become a free agent for the first time in his career after next season. Arizona is poised to lose starting pitcher Patrick Corbin and outfielder A.J. Pollock in free agency, and could look to the future and deal its franchise player. It's unlikely the D-backs will act aggressively in shopping Goldschmidt, but for the first time since he broke into the big leagues, they've declined to say they wouldn't entertain trade offers for the six-time All-Star.
It's also possible Arizona offers Goldschmidt a contact extension or at least waits to see how the team performs next season before making a decision prior to the Trade Deadline.
Video: Langosch on Cards' chances of trading for Goldschmidt
What's next for the Nationals?
Nov. 20: The Nationals addressed their hole at catcher by signing Kurt Suzuki away from the National League East division-rival Braves at the relatively low cost of $10 million for two years.
Between that move and the earlier additions of right-handers Kyle Barraclough and Trevor Rosenthal to the bullpen, general manager Mike Rizzo already has solidified a couple of different areas without spending big. It appears the Nats now will hone in on their rotation, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, who highlights lefties Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel as well as right-handers Nathan Eovaldi and Charlie Morton as the likeliest free-agent targets.
Washington's rotation is fronted by two of the best in Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, but it drops off after that with durable veteran Tanner Roark as the only other sure thing in place. With all three of those being righties, it's possible Rizzo would prefer a southpaw like Corbin or Keuchel to provide some variety.
Those two, however, are expected to command multi-year contracts approaching (if not exceeding) $80 million to $100 million. It's worth wondering whether the Nationals would meet that price point, especially if it costs them a chance to re-sign their longtime star Bryce Harper.
Thin third-base market could benefit Donaldson, Moose
Nov. 20: Adrian Beltre announced his retirement Tuesday morning after a Hall of Fame-worthy career, leaving one fewer third baseman on the free-agent market.
However, this may not affect the market all that much, as Beltre was expected by many to re-sign with the Rangers if he didn't retire. Texas can plug in Jurickson Profar at the hot corner, so the club probably won't immediately jump into the mix for a free-agent replacement.
That said, having one less viable alternative out there certainly isn't a negative for Josh Donaldson and Mike Moustakas, the top two free-agent third basemen not named Manny Machado.
With Beltre retiring and Eduardo Escobar and Jung Ho Kang re-signing with their respective teams, the best free-agent third baseman behind Machado, Donaldson and Moustakas is Chase Headley, at least in terms of 2018 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Headley, 34, wasn't signed after being released by the Padres in May, and he finished 2018 with -0.4 WAR, per FanGraphs.
Machado is also being courted as a shortstop, and only a select number of teams can afford his contract demands, so many of the clubs that need a third baseman may have only two realistic options: Donaldson or Moustakas.
Although he played just 52 games during an injury-plagued season and is nearly three years older than Moustakas, Donaldson is clearly the higher-ceiling option of the two. Donaldson won an American League MVP Award in 2015 and has recorded 36.5 WAR over 883 career games. Moustakas, meanwhile, has posted 13.2 WAR in 988 games.
Cardinals could trade Martinez, sign Corbin or Keuchel
Nov. 20: After missing the postseason in each of the past three seasons, the Cardinals are expected to explore a number of avenues to upgrade their roster this offseason. According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, their plans could include both adding to and subtracting from the starting rotation.
Per Goold, St. Louis has explored the trade interest in Carlos Martinez and will continue to do so, having seen other pitchers with similar contracts bring back significant talent in past deals.
Martinez, 27, is owed roughly $35 million over the next three seasons, and he has team options for 2022 ($17 million) and 2023 ($18 million). Each option comes with a $500,000 buyout.
The right-hander has flashed ace potential during his career, but he has more often performed like a No. 2 starter and may be viewed as such on the trade market. Martinez also battled right shoulder problems in 2018 and spent much of the second half pitching out of the bullpen.
In addition, Goold notes that St. Louis will have conversations about Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel, who are arguably the top two pitchers on the free-agent market. The Cards have been more closely linked to the latter, but they may wait for Corbin's market to take shape before they determine if Keuchel makes sense financially.
Is Pollock the answer if Markakis departs Atlanta?
Nov. 20: With Nick Markakis on the free-agent market, the Braves may need to find a replacement in the outfield. In matching free agents to each NL club, Sports Illustrated's Jon Tayler has A.J. Pollock as the right fit for Atlanta.
"Pollock's injury history is worrisome, and his last two years have been largely unexceptional at the plate, but he can handle center or the corners and boasts a lot of upside, even at 31," Tayler writes.
Prior to being injured last season, Pollock was off to a great start, hitting .293/.349/.620 with 11 homers through May 14. Though he struggled after returning, as Tayler notes, there is high potential upside should Pollock stay healthy and regain his form at the plate.
Signing Kimbrel would be "out of character" for Cards
Nov. 20: The Cardinals have been mentioned as a potential landing spot for free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel, but Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch doesn't see it happening.
"It would be so completely out of character and against everything the Cardinals have done the past three years," Goold wrote Monday.
Goold points out that when the Cards signed Greg Holland to a one-year, $14 million contract in March, they expressly said they did not want a long-term commitment at closer so Jordan Hicks wouldn't be blocked from eventually taking on the role. Holland's poor performance only reinforced St. Louis' internal stance against paying up for big-name closers.