The Hot Stove is open for business. As the top free agents begin to ink new deals and clubs begin to make the moves they think will vault them into contention or put them over the top, MLB.com will have you covered with all the latest buzz right here.
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Cubs, Yankees check in on Duffy
If the Royals are indeed intent on initiating a rebuild in 2018, it could be more than free agents Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas switching uniforms. MLB Network insider Joel Sherman reports that many clubs, most notably the Cubs and Yankees, have asked Kansas City about left-handed starter Danny Duffy, though a deal did not seem imminent.
Duffy, 28, broke out with a 12-3 record, 3.51 ERA and 188 strikeouts over 179 2/3 innings for the Royals while moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation in 2016. Last year was rockier for the southpaw, as he managed to toss just 146 1/3 innings while dealing with injury. Duffy, who underwent surgery in October to remove a loose body from his left elbow, is under team control until 2022 and is slated to earn $14 million next season.
Duffy presents an interesting match for the Cubs, who may let Jake Arrieta walk in free agency and have already added Tyler Chatwood to their rotation this offseason. The Yankees, meanwhile, cleared financial space by trading Chase Headley to the Padres on Tuesday morning and now have roughly $30 million to spend before reaching the luxury tax threshold, per MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal. Bolstering the starting rotation is seen as the Yankees' next priority after the Bronx Bombers finalized their trade for Giancarlo Stanton on Monday.
Yankees eyeing Fulmer?
The Yankees are clearly not content with simply acquiring home run champ Giancarlo Stanton, as New York traded third baseman Chase Headley and reliever Bryan Mitchell to the Padres on Tuesday for outfielder Jabari Blash. The Yankees' next need would figure to be filling out their starting rotation, and a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand that Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer is a potential trade target for New York.
Fulmer won't come cheap. The 2016 American League Rookie of the Year is under team control for five more years and is seen is one of the brightest young starters in the game. As the Tigers embark on their rebuild in full, they certainly appear to be in the market for talented position-player prospects. Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier seems like the natural headliner for a Yankees-Tigers deal involving Fulmer, but Detroit would be expected to garner a big prospect haul beyond Frazier, too.
Fulmer represents a big piece of Detroit's future, but the Tigers could potentially turn one talented prospect into three or four from the Yankees' revered farm system. Fulmer just turned 23, and he is coming off a season in which he went 10-12 with a 3.83 ERA for a team that lost 98 games. In a record-setting year for home runs across the Majors, Fulmer's rate of 0.711 homers allowed per nine innings was the best in the AL.
Market developing for CarGo
MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported Tuesday that the market for outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is beginning to take shape, noting the Astros, Orioles, Rockies and A's are among the teams to express interest. The Blue Jays, Rays, Giants and Royals have also been linked to the 32-year-old this winter.
Gonzalez endured a down year in 2017, batting .262/.339/.423 with 14 homers in 136 games with the Rockies. But he's just one year removed from his 2016 All-Star campaign, during which he hit .298 with 100 RBIs, 25 homers and a career-best 42 doubles.
A return to Colorado isn't out of the cards. Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said Monday on MLB Network that the club will "continue conversations" with Gonzalez.
Gonzalez has spent nine of his 10 big league seasons with the Rockies, earning three trips to the All-Star Game (2012, '13 and '16). He's a .288 career hitter with 215 home runs.
Video: LAD@COL: Gonzalez belts a solo homer to right field
Reds' outfielders generating interest
Billy Hamilton ranks among the Majors' fastest baserunners and best defensive center fielders, and he's drawing interest on the Hot Stove.
MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reports that Hamilton and other Reds outfielders are floating around Winter Meetings discussions, with the Giants reportedly being the team most interested in Hamilton. Those other outfielders could include Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler.
Hamilton, 27, recorded the second-fastest average sprint speed among MLB players last year at 30.1 feet per second, ranking just behind Twins center fielder Byron Buxton. Hamilton was also a top-10 outfielder in terms of the Statcast™ Outs Above Average (OAA) metric. That makes Hamilton a potential fit for San Francisco, who missed out on both Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton and featured the Majors' second-worst outfield by OAA in 2017.
Hamilton is the only player in this decade to record at least four seasons with 50 or more stolen bases, doing so consecutively from 2014 through last year. Getting on base to affect opposing pitchers and defenses has been a bigger challenge, as Hamilton hit only .247 in 2017 and owns a career .298 on-base percentage. He won''t fix the power issues for the Giants' offense, who finished last in the Majors in home runs and OPS a year ago. But he would figure to be a defensive upgrade in center over Denard Span, who could be moved to left to platoon with Hunter Pence in 2018. Hamilton is still under team control for two more years before he becomes a free agent in the fall of 2020.
Orioles shopping Machado, who seeks return to SS
The Orioles are shopping star third baseman Manny Machado as he enters his final season before free agency, per MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.
While the Orioles are seeking two young, controllable starting pitchers according to Rosenthal, Machado is also seeking something himself: a return to shortstop.
Machado came up through the Orioles' system as a top shortstop prospect, but the presence of veteran J.J. Hardy caused the team to move Machado to third when he reached the Majors, a position in which he as flourished as one of the best in baseball.
Soon entering free agency at age 26, Machado could make himself even more valuable if he shows he still has what it takes at shortstop. Machado's .840 OPS the past three seasons would rank third among shortstops during that span.
Hosmer to Padres is "very real" possibility
The Padres have already added a friendly face in their trade for Chase Headley and now they might be opening the checkbook for a big boost to their lineup. The possibility of free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer signing with the Padres is "very real," a source told MLB.com's AJ Cassavell.
The Padres already have a franchise player at first base in Wil Myers, but it has been reported in the past that Myers is open to a move back to the outfield, where he played coming up through the Minors and then in Tampa Bay. After two seasons as the Rays' full-time right fielder, Myers has played just nine games in right through three seasons with San Diego.
Phillies, Nationals considering Arrieta
The Phillies might still be a year away from contending, but they're considering what would be a big splash with free-agent starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. The Nationals, meanwhile already figure to have a playoff-worthy rotation in 2018, but they've also expressed interest in adding Arrieta, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.
As Heyman pointed out, many Phillies executives know Arrieta well from their shared time in the Orioles organization, including president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and general manager Matt Klentak.
Arrieta represents one of the biggest draws in free agency this offseason. Signing him would be both a big risk for a Phillies team that went 66-96 last season, but also a message that they think contention is just around the corner.
As far as the Nats go, it's worth noting that the club has a good relationship with Scott Boras, who is the agent Arrieta -- as well as Washington's 1-2 punch of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
Arrieta's contract year didn't go exactly as planned last season, as he struggled with the long ball and right hamstring issues on the way to a 3.53 ERA in 2017, but his track record with the Cubs is stellar. He ranks fifth in the Majors in ERA over the past four seasons with a 2.67 mark.
Interest high for Ozuna, Yelich
The Marlins have cleared two massive chunks of salary in Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton in their quest to get their payroll under $90 million, but could All-Star outfielder Marcell Ozuna be next?
MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported Monday night that the Marlins are pushing Ozuna over fellow outfielder Christian Yelich, telling teams that Ozuna will cost less in a trade. Ozuna is under team control for two more years and due to become a free agent in 2020, while the 26-year-old Yelich will be under control for five more years -- his contract runs through 2021 with a club option for '22.
The Marlins have remained reluctant to trade Yelich, but at least 10 teams are expressing interest in the 26-year-old left fielder. The D-backs, Cardinals and Braves are among the inquiring clubs, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
Yelich, who turned 26 on Dec. 5, is making $7 million in 2018, and he is signed for $43.25 million through 2021, with a $15 million club option in 2022.
The market for Ozuna has eight-to-10 teams interested -- the Nationals, Cardinals and Giants. According to the Miami Herald, the Rockies, Rangers and Blue Jays also are in the mix.
Frisaro reported Monday that the market for Ozuna is starting to build now that Stanton has been dealt to the Yankees. As many as six to eight teams have expressed some level of interest to the Marlins concerning Ozuna, per Frisaro, who states the Cardinals, Giants and Nationals are among the interested parties.
St. Louis and San Francisco seem like natural fits for Ozuna, as each expressed a willingness to take on salary in the Stanton sweepstakes and are both looking for impact bats in the outfield. Ozuna is coming into his prime years at age 27, having posted a .312/.376/.548 slash line with 37 home runs and 124 RBIs last season. The left fielder is eligible for arbitration this winter after playing on a one-year, $3.5 million deal in 2017.
Phillies not done fortifying bullpen
One day after they brought Pat Neshek back into the fold with a reported two-year deal worth at least $16 million, t