Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Let's review the front-runners to land Harper

MLB.com @williamfleitch

The Winter Meetings are almost over. Paul Goldschmidt is a Cardinal. Andrew McCutchen is a Phillie. It's time for that last-minute realization that it's almost Christmas and you've been fretting too much about Manny Machado to go shopping yet. It's getting late, early.

But we still don't have a landing spot for Bryce Harper. Many teams met with him in his hometown, agent Scott Boras has soliloquized on his behalf and even Nelly has gotten involved. We don't know where Harper is going, but the last week has given us, if not a destination, at least some clues. So as the Meetings wind down, let's do an updated Harper Destination Power Rankings.

The Winter Meetings are almost over. Paul Goldschmidt is a Cardinal. Andrew McCutchen is a Phillie. It's time for that last-minute realization that it's almost Christmas and you've been fretting too much about Manny Machado to go shopping yet. It's getting late, early.

But we still don't have a landing spot for Bryce Harper. Many teams met with him in his hometown, agent Scott Boras has soliloquized on his behalf and even Nelly has gotten involved. We don't know where Harper is going, but the last week has given us, if not a destination, at least some clues. So as the Meetings wind down, let's do an updated Harper Destination Power Rankings.

Video: Kapler discusses Harper's talent at the plate

1. Philadelphia Phillies
When you just come out and say you're willing to spend "stupid money," well, let's just say you can find the words "stupid money" somewhere on the Boras Corporation letterhead. The signing of McCutchen doesn't lower the possibility of going after Harper. If anything, it makes the idea of a Harper-Rhys Hoskins-McCutchen middle of the order that much more exciting. That said: Machado is coming to visit next week, and in some ways he's an even better fit than Harper. (Though he'll have some work to do with those fans.) The Phillies seem absolutely committed to get one of the two superstars on the market, and since there aren't many teams being so openly vocal, that'll keep them atop the list. For now.

Video: Could Dodgers trade Puig, Kemp and sign Harper?

2. Los Angeles Dodgers
All those rumors flying around about outfielder trades -- specifically Yasiel Puig trades -- hint that something is up. As great as the Dodgers have been the last few years, they really don't have that everyday megastar that the franchise is used to having around. They are under the luxury tax, for now, and can spend if they want to. They don't have an obvious vacancy for Harper to fill, but if you can get Harper, you'll find a spot.

Video: Cashman says Yanks are 'fully operational Death Star'

3. New York Yankees
They say they're mostly out of the bidding -- but then again, Brian Cashman will tell you that his Death Star is "fully operational." If they want Harper, they'll go get him. There is space for him, both in the lineup -- in left field, spelling Aaron Judge in right, at designated hitter, perhaps even someday at first base -- and in the payroll. And the Yankees were Harper's favorite team as a kid and the one he has said he always wanted to play for. I will believe the Yankees are truly out of the chase for Harper when I see him in another uniform, and perhaps not quite even then.

Video: White Sox open to signing big name free agents

4. Chicago White Sox
A little self-serving here, I'll grant you, since I just wrote about this, but man, the White Sox 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. He'd be in a major market, he'd still get to hang around with his childhood pal Kris Bryant and he wouldn't have the glare of a New York or a Los Angeles. There's still some debate about whether the White Sox are truly willing to do what it takes to pay for him, but if they are … this is where he should go.

Video: Martinez on possibility of Harper not returning

5. Washington Nationals
There's always an incumbency advantage, but this is starting to look a little faded. The owner says that the $300 million they've already offered him is "the best we could do," which, while probably not entirely true, does sound like a team ready to move on, particularly when it just paid for the top starter on the market. The Nationals will still be good next year with or without Harper and, if anything, their real reckoning will come after Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman become free agents. Still, this is where Harper has played his entire career, and they're still a legit contender: They're not entirely out of the running.

6. Chicago Cubs
As much fun as it sounds to have Harper and Bryant playing together, signing Harper would likely mean waving goodbye to Bryant in a few years. (Or at least it makes an extension that much more unlikely.) Boras clearly thinks the Cubs have the money for both, and maybe they do, but the Cubs certainly aren't acting like a team that's on the verge of signing Harper. Maybe that's them just brilliantly slow-playing it.

7. St. Louis Cardinals
This is nearly a perfect a fit as the White Sox. But the Cardinals reportedly didn't even meet with Harper or Boras in Vegas, and they seem more than satisfied with their lineup now that they've traded for Goldschmidt. The Cardinals are eventually going to have to pay up for somebody in the middle of their lineup, and I'd argue that Harper is a much better bet than Goldschmidt or Nolan Arenado (both free agents after the year), but John Mozeliak obviously disagrees. Maybe they'll lurk about to see if the price goes down ... but the price probably isn't going down.

8. The field
The Giants appear to have dropped out entirely, the Angels have been tossed out a few times (the idea of Mike Trout and Harper in the same outfield makes one salivate), the Braves have an opening in right field, the Astros are always up for a surprising move. And hey, the Mets are doing some crazy things right now, and I dunno, the Padres could be wanting to make a wild splash? But it'll almost certainly one of those first seven. And with everybody packing up from Vegas … it might be a while still until we find out.

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Bryce Harper

Edwin to M's, Santana to Tribe in 3-team deal

Rays send Bauers to Cleveland for corner infielder Diaz to complete trade
MLB.com

The Indians, Mariners and Rays on Thursday finalized the following three-team deal:

• Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and a Competitive Balance Round B Draft pick (77th overall in 2019) go from the Indians to the Mariners.

The Indians, Mariners and Rays on Thursday finalized the following three-team deal:

• Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and a Competitive Balance Round B Draft pick (77th overall in 2019) go from the Indians to the Mariners.

• First baseman Carlos Santana and cash go from the Mariners to the Indians.

• Infielder Yandy Diaz and Minor League righty Cole Sulser go from the Indians to the Rays.

• First baseman Jake Bauers and cash go from the Rays to the Indians.

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

The Rays are also sending the Mariners $5 million as part of the deal, which was first reported by MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. Interestingly, the Rays have interest in Encarnacion, who could be dealt by the Mariners. Rays officials say there's no secondary deal in place to acquire Encarnacion, who has one year and $21.6 million remaining on his contract, plus a $20 million option or a $5 million buyout for 2020.

Video: Santana returns to Indians following pair of trades

After donning an Indians uniform for his first eight seasons in the Majors, Santana will have a homecoming in 2019. The 32-year-old spent his '18 season in Philadelphia after being signed as a free agent last December. The infielder slashed .229/.352/.414 last year with 24 homers and 86 RBIs. He was traded by the Phillies to the Mariners on Dec. 3 for shortstop Jean Segura, right-hander Juan Nicasio and lefty James Pazos. Santana is under contract for $34.5 million over the next two seasons and is reportedly "thrilled" to return to Cleveland, where he still has a home, according to Heyman.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto completed the trade from a hospital bed a day after being admitted for blood clots, although he was hopeful to head home to Seattle on Thursday.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: Money exchanged in the three-team trade, per source:$5M from #Rays to #Mariners.$6M from #Mariners to #Indians.Encarnacion owed $25M for one year, including $5M buyout.Santana, headed to #Indians, owed $35M for two years, including $500K buyout.

"We were texting back and forth," Mariners assistant general manager Justin Hollander said. "Some of the ground work had been laid. [Dipoto] basically handed me the keys and said, 'You know what I want to do, roughly. Just check in when you have questions, but go run with it.'"

Encarnacion, who turns 36 in January, has been one of MLB's top sluggers over the past seven seasons while earning three All-Star berths in that span. He hit .246/.336/.474 with 32 home runs and 107 RBIs last year in 137 games, with 115 of those at designated hitter and the rest at first base.

Since 2012, the Dominican Republic native leads MLB in home runs with 263 and RBIs at 764. Cruz is second in both those categories in the same span at 254 and 688. Encarnacion was third in the AL in RBIs last season and tied for ninth in home runs.

Tweet from @JakeBauers11: Going to #TheLand https://t.co/IYAN3RleGu

In Cleveland, Diaz was blocked by veteran stars. Now, the Rays get a full look at a player who hit the baseball hard more consistently than almost anyone, according to Statcast™.

Of 504 players over the last two seasons -- those who've made contact at least 100 times -- Aaron Judge's 54.6-percent hard-hit rate is No. 1. Diaz ranks 19th at 47.6 percent.

So why has Diaz hit one home run in 265 at-bats? Because he has the eighth-lowest launch angle and 25th-highest ground-ball rate. If the Rays can get him to elevate the ball, they could have a star.

"We like him as is," Rays senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom said, "but any time you get a guy who hits the ball really hard, there's always additional upside, to the extent they can drive the ball a little bit. Even if he doesn't do that, we think he's a very polished hitter."

Video: Justice discusses Tribe trading for Bauers, Santana

Here's more from Statcast™ on Diaz's hard-hit rate:

2017: 50.0 percent (MLB average 33.3 percent)

2018: 44.4 percent (MLB average 35.3 percent)

2017-18: 47.6 percent (MLB average 34.3 percent)

And there's this: Of the 504 players with 100-plus batted balls, three of the top 26 have been acquired by the Rays in the last six months:

• Diaz (19th), 47.6 percent

Tommy Pham (23rd), 46.6 percent

Mike Zunino (26th), 45.9 percent

Video: Bloom on trade for Yandy Diaz, losing Jake Bauers

"We're excited about his ability," Bloom said. "He fits in to what we have been doing, in terms of taking a player who we think is really talented, has a lot of ability and giving him a chance to establish himself."

Bauers played both first base and outfield for the Rays last season. After getting the callup to the big leagues in June, Bauers, 23, hit .201 with 11 homers and 48 RBIs in 388 plate appearances. The rookie would be used in the Indians' outfield after the team lost multiple outfielders to free agency at the end of the season.

Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com. Richard Justice, Greg Johns and Chad Thornburg contributed to this report.

Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners, Edwin Encarnacion

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

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.

Happ helps staff, but Yanks still seeking more

As Winter Meetings close, New York eyeing infield, pitching depth
MLB.com @BryanHoch

LAS VEGAS -- The Yankees identified upgrading their starting pitching as a priority entering the offseason, and as general manager Brian Cashman departed from the Winter Meetings on Thursday morning, there was confidence that his visit to Sin City had achieved that objective.

Over a four-night stay at the Delano Las Vegas, Cashman set the groundwork for a new agreement with veteran left-hander J.A. Happ, which is pending a physical but expected to be finalized shortly. The deal is likely to be for two years at $34 million, with a vesting option for the 2021 campaign valued at $17 million.

LAS VEGAS -- The Yankees identified upgrading their starting pitching as a priority entering the offseason, and as general manager Brian Cashman departed from the Winter Meetings on Thursday morning, there was confidence that his visit to Sin City had achieved that objective.

Over a four-night stay at the Delano Las Vegas, Cashman set the groundwork for a new agreement with veteran left-hander J.A. Happ, which is pending a physical but expected to be finalized shortly. The deal is likely to be for two years at $34 million, with a vesting option for the 2021 campaign valued at $17 million.

"He's somebody who did a great job for us," said assistant general manager Michael Fishman. "We're hopeful on bringing him back here. He's continued to pitch well for us all year. We made a lot of progress here with him. Hopefully we can have him back here for 2019."

Combined with last month's acquisition of left-hander James Paxton from the Mariners, the Yankees believe they have upgraded a rotation that they viewed as deficient following the American League Division Series. Though agent Scott Boras would love to bait Cashman into bidding for outfielder Bryce Harper, the Yanks are now focusing their attention on the bullpen and middle infield.

Video: MLB Tonight: Cashman on Yanks' pursuit of Happ

While the tantalizing possibility of dressing infielder Manny Machado in pinstripes continues to fuel Hot Stove chatter, Cashman said that he has spoken with many other options as the club weighs how it will address the absence of shortstop Didi Gregorius early in 2019.

"I've talked to [agent] Danny Lozano about Manny, I've talked to the agents for Freddy Galvis. I've talked to everybody, from high end to low end," Cashman said. "This marketplace is deep on second basemen. I have a shortstop that we're playing at second in Gleyber Torres, so how does this play out?

"Do I swing Gleyber back to shortstop and import a second baseman, or do I leave Gleyber at second and play on the more shallow pool of available shortstops? That's the stuff we're trying to figure out right now and assess price tags, whether it's just a pure defender or someone that's got more upside on both sides of it with defense and offense."

With Zach Britton and David Robertson having filed for free agency, the Yankees are aiming to maintain the strength of their bullpen. Having spoken with both Britton and Robertson since the season's end, New York has shown interest in Adam Ottavino, Andrew Miller and Joakim Soria, among others.

"We've had discussions on various relievers, both on the free-agent market and the trade market," Fishman said. "It looks like that market on the free-agent side is starting to move; we're hearing about some players coming off the board. We're having those discussions now. That's an area we're looking to address."

Video: Happ reportedly rejoining Yankees on two-year deal

Then there is the case of Sonny Gray, whom the Yankees intend to trade before Opening Day. Cashman said that 11 teams have made proposals for the right-hander, some offering big league talent. A prospect return is also possible for the 29-year-old, who will be a free agent after 2019.

"I'm definitely getting matches for him," Cashman said. "There's been a lot of interest. Nothing has moved my needle enough to find that sweet spot yet."

Video: Would the Yankees prefer Harper or Machado?

BIGGEST REMAINING NEEDS

1. Shorstop/second base
A sit-down with Machado appears to be in the future, as the superstar gauges interest from the Phillies, White Sox, Yankees and several mystery teams. Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner has said that he wants an explanation for Machado's comments during the postseason, when the 26-year-old said that he was "not the type of player that's going to be Johnny Hustle." The Yanks also have been connected to Cincinnati's Scooter Gennett.

2. Right-handed pitching
The markets for Britton and Robertson may be too pricey for the Yankees, though both have said that they wouldn't mind returning in a non-closer situation. Ottavino's reps have met with the Bombers; a 33-year-old Brooklyn native, the right-hander recently told MLB.com's Statcast™ podcast that he would "whiff Babe Ruth every time." Reunions with Miller or Adam Warren remain possible.

3. Starting pitching
The Happ agreement crystallized after the pursuit of Indians ace Corey Kluber hit a snag, but the Yanks remain interested in starters, considering some uncertainty with CC Sabathia's health as he enters his final season. Cashman has referred to Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi as "somebody that's worth talking about." A three-way proposal that involved the Mets' Noah Syndergaard made for fun chatter, but it is considered unlikely at this point.

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

RULE 5 DRAFT

The Yankees made one selection in the Rule 5 Draft, taking right-hander Adonis De la Cruz from the Mariners' Double-A roster in the first round of the Triple-A phase. De la Cruz, 23, was 3-4 with a 4.71 ERA  and 75 strikeouts over 57 1/3 innings (34 appearances) for Class-A Clinton this past year.

Right-hander Nick Green was selected by the D-backs from the Yankees in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. In the Minor League phases, catcher Chris Rabago (Royals), right-hander Gilmael Troya (Phillies), right-hander Anyelo Gomez (Red Sox), outfielder Mark Payton (Athletics) and right-hander Alexander Vargas (Cubs) were selected from the Yanks.

GM'S BOTTOM LINE

"If something doesn't make sense today, it doesn't mean it won't make sense tomorrow. All I can keep telling you is, you know where my current focuses are. But at the same time, we're a fully operational Death Star." -- Cashman, addressing the Yankees' interest in Harper

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees

The Yankees didn't want the Red Sox's pizzas, so the Sox gave them away to random people in the Bronx

On Wednesday afternoon, the Red Sox traveled down to the Bronx to make a special pizza delivery at Yankee Stadium as part of their #TheGiftOfSox day. While at first their delicious gift seemed to be a gracious gesture between rivals, it was revealed that the pizza in question had pineapple on it and therefore presented a contentious issue for pizza purists in the Bronx. Many around the baseball and culinary worlds questioned whether or not the Yankees would accept such a provocative peace offering, and on Thursday, we received an answer.

10 notable examples of 3-team trades

MLB.com @AndrewSimonMLB

When it comes to pulling off a trade, three is sometimes not a crowd, but a necessity.

Such was the case Thursday, when the Indians, Mariners and Rays all got together to manufacture a complicated but interesting transaction. Edwin Encarnacion jumped from Cleveland to Seattle, switching teams with fellow slugger Carlos Santana. Meanwhile, the Tribe also flipped infielder Yandy Diaz and prospect Cole Sulser to the Rays for first baseman/outfielder Jake Bauers. Cash and a Competitive Balance Round B Draft pick also changed hands.

When it comes to pulling off a trade, three is sometimes not a crowd, but a necessity.

Such was the case Thursday, when the Indians, Mariners and Rays all got together to manufacture a complicated but interesting transaction. Edwin Encarnacion jumped from Cleveland to Seattle, switching teams with fellow slugger Carlos Santana. Meanwhile, the Tribe also flipped infielder Yandy Diaz and prospect Cole Sulser to the Rays for first baseman/outfielder Jake Bauers. Cash and a Competitive Balance Round B Draft pick also changed hands.

It's far too early to know how this all will play out, but given the talent involved, it certainly could be remembered someday as one of the biggest three-team deals ever executed.

With that in mind, here is a look back at 10 of the most notable three-way trades from recent history:

July 30, 2015: A baker's dozen
BRAVES GOT: Hector Olivera (from LAD), Paco Rodriguez (LAD), Zachary Bird (LAD), competitive balance pick (MIA)
DODGERS GOT: Alex Wood (ATL), Jose Peraza (ATL), Bronson Arroyo (ATL), Luis Avilan (ATL), Jim Johnson (ATL), Mat Latos (MIA), Mike Morse (MIA)
MARLINS GOT: Victor Araujo (LAD), Kevin Guzman (LAD), Jeff Brigham (MIA)

This ludicrously complicated deal stands out more for its sheer size and strangeness than any impact it had on the field. Of the 13 players involved, Wood has provided far and away the most production for his acquiring team, becoming a key rotation piece in L.A. Notably, Peraza became part of another three-team deal less than six months later, going to Cincinnati as part of a transaction that also involved the White Sox acquiring Todd Frazier.

Video: LAD@LAA: Wood K's Trout swinging to end the 1st

Dec. 9, 2014: Trea to D.C. -- eventually
NATIONALS GOT: Trea Turner (PTBNL from SD), Joe Ross (SD)
PADRES GOT: Wil Myers (TB), Ryan Hanigan (TB), Jose Castillo (TB), Gerardo Reyes (TB)
RAYS GOT: Steven Souza Jr. (WSH), Jake Bauers (SD), Rene Rivera (SD), Burch Smith (SD), Travis Ott (WSH)

While it could be viewed as two distinct trades, this deal was effectively a three-way concoction -- and one that might leave a bad taste for fans of the Padres and Rays. That's because of the emergence of Turner, who was selected 13th overall in the 2014 MLB Draft and could not be officially included in the trade until a year after that, under the rules in effect at the time. Turner since has become a star shortstop and one of MLB's top basestealers in Washington. Both Bauers and Souza since have been involved in other three-team trades, with Souza going to Arizona in February 2018, and Bauers to Cleveland as noted above.

Dec. 5, 2014: Didi to NYC
D-BACKS GOT: Robbie Ray (from DET), Domingo Leyba (DET)
TIGERS GOT: Shane Greene (NYY)
YANKEES GOT: Didi Gregorius (ARI)

This was Gregorius' second big three-teamer in two years (see below), and it thrust him into quite a spotlight. Derek Jeter had just wrapped up his career in the Bronx, and the Yankees needed a shortstop. Gregorius stepped in admirably and since then has gradually shaken off his label as a defensive specialist. Greene and Ray also have tasted some success, with Ray an All-Star in 2017 for Arizona.

July 31, 2014: Tigers meet Rays' Price
MARINERS GOT: Austin Jackson (from DET)
RAYS GOT: Willy Adames (DET), Drew Smyly (DET), Nick Franklin (SEA)
TIGERS GOT: David Price (TB)

The prize of the Trade Deadline, Price ultimately spent exactly one year in Detroit before he was dealt to Toronto in 2015, but he gave the Tigers a 2.90 ERA over 32 starts. It still remains to be seen how much they gave up for that performance, with Adames showing promise as a Rays rookie in '18 after years as a top prospect.

Video: DET@NYY: Price fans 10, goes 8 2/3 in Tigers debut

Dec. 11, 2012: Didi, Part I
D-BACKS GOT: Gregorius (from CIN), Tony Sipp (CLE), Lars Anderson (CLE)
INDIANS GOT: Trevor Bauer (ARI), Bryan Shaw (ARI), Matt Albers (ARI), Drew Stubbs (CIN)
REDS GOT: Shin-Soo Choo (CLE), Jason Donald (CLE)

Quite a bit of talent changed hands in this trade. Cleveland made out particularly well, taking advantage of Arizona's impatience with Bauer (the third overall pick in 2011) and also landing Shaw, who became a key bullpen piece for the next five seasons. Cincinnati only got one season of Choo before he reached free agency, but it featured a .423 OBP. Gregorius' tenure in the desert also was brief, as previously discussed.

July 31, 2010: Klubot, activate
CARDINALS GOT: Jake Westbrook (from CLE), Nick Greenwood (SD)
INDIANS GOT: Corey Kluber (SD)
PADRES GOT: Ryan Ludwick (STL)

St. Louis got a solid veteran starting pitcher in Westbrook, while Ludwick struggled in San Diego. Kluber wasn't a household name at the time, as a former fourth-round pick who was in Double-A, but four years later, he was the American League Cy Young Award winner.

Dec. 8, 2009: Max value
D-BACKS GOT: Ian Kennedy (from NYY), Edwin Jackson (DET)
TIGERS GOT: Max Scherzer (ARI), Austin Jackson (NYY), Phil Coke (NYY), Daniel Schlereth (ARI)
YANKEES GOT: Curtis Granderson (DET)

This is just a fun trade all around, though less so for the D-backs, who got decent value over three-plus seasons from Kennedy and a no-hitter from Jackson while giving up too early on Scherzer. The 11th overall pick in the 2006 MLB Draft made only 37 starts for Arizona before continuing his development in Detroit, where he won his first Cy Young Award in '13. The Tigers came away with not only Scherzer, but five seasons of a valuable starting center fielder (Jackson). Granderson put together four productive seasons in the Bronx -- including two with 40-plus homers -- before moving on to the Mets.

Video: Max Scherzer wins his first Cy Young Award

Dec. 11, 2008: "It was a mess"
INDIANS GOT: Joe Smith (from NYM), Luis Valbuena (SEA)
MARINERS GOT: Franklin Gutierrez (CLE), Jason Vargas (NYM), Aaron Heilman (NYM), Endy Chavez (NYM), Ezequiel Carrera (NYM), Mike Carp (NYM), Maikel Cleto (NYM)
METS GOT: J.J. Putz (SEA), Sean Green (SEA), Jeremy Reed (SEA)

Ten years later, it's hard to say this was a true blockbuster. Smith's "mess" assessment -- recently shared with MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince -- seems more accurate. But this massive deal executed at the 2008 Winter Meetings remains fascinating. It ultimately backfired on the Mets, who got little from Putz, previously a top closer in Seattle. Smith, Vargas, Gutierrez, and the late Valbuena went on to greater success afterward, though none of the dozen players involved was bound for stardom.

July 31, 2008: Mannywood is born
DODGERS GOT: Manny Ramirez (from BOS)
PIRATES GOT: Brandon Moss (BOS), Craig Hansen (BOS), Andy LaRoche (LAD), Bryan Morris (LAD)
RED SOX GOT: Jason Bay (PIT)

Ramirez's highly successful and tumultuous tenure in Boston finally came to an end, as he was shipped off to L.A. The immediate result was an all-time great stretch run that included a .396/.489/.743 slash line and 17 home runs in 53 games. The Sox didn't come away empty-handed, either, as Bay posted a 36-homer, 119-RBI season in 2009. No such luck for the Bucs, with only Moss going on to success -- after he'd moved on from Pittsburgh.

July 31, 2004: Tour de fource
CUBS GOT: Nomar Garciaparra (from BOS), Matt Murton (BOS)
EXPOS GOT: Alex Gonzalez (CHC), Brendan Harris (CHC), Francis Beltran (CHC)
RED SOX GOT: Orlando Cabrera (MON), Doug Mientkiewicz (MIN)
TWINS GOT: Justin Jones (CHC)

While this technically wasn't a three-team trade, it's certainly worth mentioning here, as a rare example of a deal that required more than three clubs to complete. It took place a month after Carlos Beltran went from the Royals to the Astros in a three-way transaction that also had major postseason implications. In this case, Garciaparra was the biggest name involved, as a five-time All-Star and two-time batting champion. But Cabrera brought a steadier glove at shortstop and played well in his short stint in Boston before leaving as a free agent. Mientkiewicz secured his own place in Sox history, catching the final out of the World Series at first base as the club snapped its infamous championship drought.

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

Six teams remain in pursuit of 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.

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.

Martin goes No. 1 in pitching-heavy Rule 5 Draft

Pitchers make up 11 of 14 selections in Major League phase
MLB.com @JonathanMayo

LAS VEGAS -- The Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft has a tendency to be pitching-heavy and the 2018 edition on Thursday was no different. Of the 14 players taken, 11 of them will try to land spots on big league pitching staffs next spring. But for the second year in a row, the festivities kicked off with the selection of a position player in the top spot.

Richie Martin, who was No. 12 on the A's Top 30 prospects list prior to being taken, was selected No. 1 by the Orioles. Martin, the No. 20 overall pick in the 2015 Draft out of the University of Florida, has spent the bulk of his pro career playing shortstop, but also saw time at second in 2018. Knee injuries had slowed the infielder in his career, though after he came back from meniscus surgery in 2018, he turned in his best offensive season to date, hitting .300/.368/.439 with 25 steals in the Double-A Texas League.

LAS VEGAS -- The Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft has a tendency to be pitching-heavy and the 2018 edition on Thursday was no different. Of the 14 players taken, 11 of them will try to land spots on big league pitching staffs next spring. But for the second year in a row, the festivities kicked off with the selection of a position player in the top spot.

Richie Martin, who was No. 12 on the A's Top 30 prospects list prior to being taken, was selected No. 1 by the Orioles. Martin, the No. 20 overall pick in the 2015 Draft out of the University of Florida, has spent the bulk of his pro career playing shortstop, but also saw time at second in 2018. Knee injuries had slowed the infielder in his career, though after he came back from meniscus surgery in 2018, he turned in his best offensive season to date, hitting .300/.368/.439 with 25 steals in the Double-A Texas League.

:: 2018 Rule 5 Draft coverage ::

"Richie, we saw him as an above-average defender with plus range, with a plus arm at short, and someone who can also move over to play second base," Orioles director of baseball operations Tripp Norton said. "He had a resurgence offensively this year at Double-A. We view that as trending up.

"It wasn't a slam dunk. We spent a few days talking about it. But in the end, we kept coming back to Richie."

"Great for Richie," A's general manager David Forst. "It's a good opportunity, obviously with a club that needs players, so I'm sure he'll have every opportunity to stick. That's part of the decisions we have to make, but I wish him the best of luck."

Martin and the others taken in the Major League phase will head to big league camp in Spring Training and try to make a 25-man roster. Each selection cost $100,000 for teams, and if the player doesn't stick on the roster all year, he must be offered back to his original organization for $50,000.

A total of five players on their original organization's Top 30 list were taken. After Martin, right-hander Jordan Romano (Blue Jays' No. 28) was taken by the White Sox at No. 3, right-handed reliever Riley Ferrell (Astros' No. 17) was selected by the Marlins at No. 4, righty Elvis Luciano (Royals' No. 23) was taken by the Blue Jays ninth overall, and infielder Drew Jackson (Dodgers' No. 19) was taken by the Phillies at No. 11, and then sent to the Orioles as new general manager Mike Elias worked to add middle infield depth.

"Shortstops are a hole for us right now … acquiring Richie and Drew gives us options to look at in Spring Training in regards to our shortstop situation," Norton said. "These selections really strike what Mike has been talking about, increasing the overall value in the organization, getting better and getting more depth."

Post-draft trades are not uncommon, and Jackson wasn't the only selection on the move. Chris Ellis, who was taken seventh by the Rangers (from the Cardinals), was sent to the Royals. As a result, Kansas City ended up with a pair of right-handed pitchers after taking Sam McWilliams from the Rays with the second pick. The Royals had success in selecting pitching a year ago, with Brad Keller developing into one of their most dependable arms in 2018, and Burch Smith eating up 78 innings, mostly in relief.

"He's a big lanky right-hander who we think has a lot of upside," Royals vice president and assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said about McWilliams. "He's just starting to come into his own, not too dissimilar as was Keller last year. Different types of guys. We just think he's going to get better. He's got a big fastball, good slider. We see him as a starter down the road. We'll just let him compete and get him worked in.

"Ellis is physical with a heavy fastball, a plus fastball. We like his curveball and he has a durable frame."

Connor Joe, a corner infielder taken by the Reds from the Dodgers, and Drew Ferguson, an Astros outfielder nabbed by the Giants, were the two other position players taken in the Major League phase.

"He's going to come in with a chance to compete for a job in Spring Training," Reds general manager Nick Krall said about Joe, who had a breakout season (.299/.408/.527) and reached Triple-A in his first year with the Dodgers organization. "Our guys liked him. He made some improvements this year with his swing and approach. He had a really excellent year."

There were a total of 42 players taken in the Minor League phase. Outfielder Braxton Lee was the lone player on a team Top 30 list, having been ranked No. 29 on the Marlins' list. Infielder Riley Unroe was taken in this phase for the second year in a row. Last year, the Rays former second-round pick went from Tampa Bay's system to the Angels' system. This time around, he was taken by the Braves.

Complete results

Major League phase

Round 1
1. Orioles: SS Richie Martin (A's No. 12 prospect)
2. Royals: RHP Sam McWilliams (Rays)
3. White Sox: RHP Jordan Romano (Blue Jays' No. 28) -- traded to Rangers
4. Marlins: RHP Riley Ferrell (Astros' No. 17)
5. Tigers: RHP Reed Garrett (Rangers)
6. Reds:  1B/3B Connor Joe (Dodgers)
7. Rangers: RHP Chris Ellis (Cardinals) -- traded to Royals
8. Giants: LHP Travis Bergen (Blue Jays)
9. Blue Jays: RHP Elvis Luciano (Royals' No. 23)
10. Mets: RHP Kyle Dowdy (Indians)
11. Phillies: 2B/SS Drew Jackson (Dodgers' No. 19) -- traded to Orioles
12. D-backs: RHP Nick Green (Yankees)
13. Mariners: RHP Brandon Brennan (Rockies)

Round 2
14. Giants: OF Drew Ferguson (Astros)

Triple-A phase

Round 1
1. Orioles: RHP Taylor Grover (Reds)
2. Royals: C Chris Rabago (Yankees)
3. White Sox: 1B Jordan George (Pirates) 
4. Tigers: CF Tyler Hill (Red Sox)
5. Padres:  RHP Cristofer Melendez (White Sox) -- traded to Pirates
6. Rangers: RHP Jeffeson Medina (Orioles)
7. Giants: 3B Peter Maris (Rays)
8. Blue Jays: RHP David Garner (Cubs) 
9. Mets: LF Braxton Lee (Marlins' No. 29)
10. Twins:  RHP Dusten Knight (Giants) 
11. Phillies: RHP Gilmael Troya  (Yankees)
12. Angels: RHP Matt Esparza (Indians)
13. D-backs: OF Jeffrey Baez (Giants)
14. Nationals: CF Chuck Taylor (Mariners) 
15. Pirates: OF Randolph Gassaway (Orioles)
16. Cardinals:  RHP John Fasola (Rangers) 
17. Braves: RHP Jason Creasy (D-backs)
18. Rays: RHP Ryan Thompson (Astros)
19. Indians: LHP Yapson Gomez (Cubs)  
20. Cubs: LHP Luis Lugo (Royals)
21. Brewers: SS Julio Garcia (Angels) 
22. A's: 2B Corban Joseph (Orioles)
23. Yankees: RHP Adonis De La Cruz (Mariners) 
24. Astros: C Alejandro Flores (Nationals)
25. Red Sox: RHP Anyelo Gomez (Yankees)

Round 2
26. Giants: LHP Sam Moll (Blue Jays)
27. Mets: RHP Chris Mazza (Mariners)
28. Pirates: RHP Winston Nicacio (Cardinals) 
29. Cardinals: SS Alberto Triunfel (Angels)
30. Braves:  RHP Rafael De Paula (Reds) 
31. Rays: RHP Ian Gardeck (Giants)
32. Indians: 1B Wilson Garcia (Orioles)
33. Cubs: C Rafelin Lorenzo (Pirates) 
34. Brewers: C Alexander Alvarez (Rays)
35. A's: CF Mark Payton (Yankees) 
36. Red Sox: RHP Andrew Schwaab (Tigers)

Round 3
37. Mets: C Mitch Ghelfi (Angels)
38. Braves: SS Riley Unroe (Angels)
39. Rays: RHP Cristofer Ogando (D-backs) 
40. Cubs: RHP Alexander Vargas (Yankees)
41. A's:  RHP Anthony Miller (Indians)

Round 4
42. Rays: RHP Hector Figueroa (Indians) 

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

Does deal mean Rays are out on Cruz?

MLB.com

Although he is approaching his 40s and spends most of his time at designated hitter these days, Nelson Cruz is still one of the top sluggers in the game and should draw plenty of interest on the free-agent market this offseason.

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

Although he is approaching his 40s and spends most of his time at designated hitter these days, Nelson Cruz is still one of the top sluggers in the game and should draw plenty of interest on the free-agent market this offseason.

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

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

Cruz negotiations 'progressing'
Dec. 12: Nelson Cruz's negotiations toward a free-agent contract are "progressing" on Day 3 of the Winter Meetings, a source told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi, but a deal isn't necessarily expected to happen Wednesday.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Source: Nelson Cruz free-agent negotiations are "progressing," but a deal is not expected today. #Twins, #Rays and at least one more team are still involved in the talks. @MLB @MLBNetwork

The Rays and Twins, who have emerged as two of the chief suitors for Cruz in recent days, still are both involved in the talks, per Morosi. So is at least one other mystery team. Which team could that be? Besides Tampa Bay and Minnesota, other clubs that likely would be in on Cruz include the Astros and White Sox.

The Rays' reported two-year, $30 million contract with righty Charlie Morton shouldn't preclude the club from staying in the hunt for Cruz, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who says the veteran slugger "fits the Rays perfectly."

Tweet from @JeffPassan: One free agent to keep an eye on: Nelson Cruz, who fits the Rays perfectly. With a lefty-heavy lineup (Kiermaier, Meadows, Wendle, Bauers) and need for power, Rays see Cruz fitting with a short-term, high-impact deal. Cruz's history of production is leading him to seek two years.

The small-market club still has some financial resources to play with this offseason, and another short-term deal -- like the one for Morton -- makes sense for Cruz, too, especially at this stage of his career and given his limited market as a full-time designated hitter. 

Are Twins, Rays the front-runners for Cruz?
Dec. 11: Given Nelson Cruz's role as a full-time designated hitter at this stage of the 38-year-old's career, it's not surprising that the teams most linked to the slugger are in the American League. In recent days, the Rays, Twins, Astros and White Sox have emerged as the four likeliest landing spots, but is there a chance that batch of clubs has been whittled down even more?

 

Cruz's agent, Bryce Dixon, tells MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi that there still are ongoing discussions with teams beyond the Twins and Rays.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Nelson Cruz���s agent, Bryce Dixon, tells me he���s talking with additional teams beyond the Twins and Rays. @MLB @MLBNetwork

That seems to throw a little cold water on an earlier report that Minnesota and Tampa Bay are the two front-runners for Cruz.

Tweet from @hgomez27: SOURCE: The race to sign DH Nelson Cruz is down to two teams - the #Twins and the #Rays.#ZDigital #ZDeportes @z101digital @ZDeportes

It's hard to tell, then, whether there has been any real development here. One thing does seem pretty clear, though: The number of clubs in the mix for Cruz likely can be counted on one hand.

These are the four primary suitors for Cruz
Dec. 10: Although Nelson Cruz became a free agent more than a month ago, his market doesn't seem to have changed all that much. According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the Rays, Astros and Twins are in on the slugger, and the White Sox possibly could be as well.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: #MNTwins are a new team in the mix for Nelson Cruz. The Goldy trade may have helped clarify things. Astros, Rays also in. White Sox possibly.

All along, those clubs have been viewed as four of the likelier suitors for the slugger, whose role as a full-time designated hitter limits the number of teams that could realistically sign him. The list became even smaller when his former team, the Mariners, opted to rebuild.

Of those suitors, the Rays have been linked to Cruz more than any other team, as the club has an opening at DH after waiving C.J. Cron (who was claimed by the Twins), seeks a right-handed slugger and can fit Cruz into its modest budget. The club has maintained a "running dialogue" with Cruz, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Tweet from @TBTimes_Rays: #Rays have maintained "running dialogue" and discussed some parameters with free-agent DH Nelson Cruz. Agent Bryce Dixon says Cruz very much interested, calls it "a perfect fit.'' BUT ... Cruz has 3-4 other teams interested, #Rays looking at other options besides a DH-only bat.

It's uncertain how aggressive Minnesota will be when it comes to Cruz, as La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the club prefers to rotate multiple players at the DH spot in 2019. Neal noted that the Twins could still pull off a surprise by signing the 38-year-old, but only if the price is right. To that end, MLB.com's Do-Hyoung Park reports there is "mutual interest" between the Twins and Cruz, who could provide a different look for an offense that hit 166 home runs (fourth fewest in the AL) in 2018.

Tweet from @dohyoungpark: According to source, there is indeed ���mutual interest��� between #MNTwins and Cruz, with DHs seeing MN as an attractive destination. Thad Levine said yesterday that Twins are comfortable with in-house options but see DH as possible way to improve/diversify lineup. https://t.co/I58mjb7myO

The Astros and the White Sox, meanwhile, also have an opening at DH, but the latter may view Cruz only as a fallback option if it can't land a bigger-name free agent.

Bowden: Rays should sign Cruz
Dec. 5: The Rays have been linked to free agent Nelson Cruz throughout the offseason as a club with money to spend, and former MLB general manager Jim Bowden writes Cruz could be a perfect fit in Tampa Bay in a column for The Athletic (subscription required). 

Bowden included Cruz to the Rays in a column listing the transactions he'd like to see completed by the end of Winter Meetings next week, suggesting a one- or two-year deal at $15 million per season for the 38-year-old slugger.

Cruz may be limited to American League clubs looking for a designated hitter, so the Rays may not have much competition to acquire him with only the Rangers, Twins and Astros among possible destinations.

Cruz's veteran presence could benefit a developing Rays team, Bowden says, and he fits their need for a middle-of-the-order bat as he's hit 37 or more home runs for five consecutive seasons.

What might be the exact date Cruz signs?
Dec. 4: Given the limited needs in the designated hitter market, his 38 years of age and the throng of other coveted players available in this year's loaded free-agent class, the market for Cruz may take some time to manifest. 

In a detailed post for Cut4, Jordan Shusterman of Cespedes Family BBQ looks back at the top 50 free agents of each of the last 10 seasons and created a speculative formula for dates that each free agent will sign. 

He lists Cruz for Jan. 14. 

"This is Round 3 on the open market for Cruz. Five Hot Stoves ago, he committed to the Orioles on Feb. 24, 2014, as one of the last top free agents to sign. A year later, he signed relatively early, agreeing to terms with the Mariners on Dec. 4, 2015. Look for a January signing this time around for the Boomstick -- Jan. 14, to be exact," Shusterman writes. 

Cruz has been linked most prominently to the Rays, White Sox and Astros -- all of whom have needs more paramount than DH. As such, whether he signs with one of those three clubs or another, the dominos will likely need to fall before a more clear market for Cruz takes shape. 

Making sense of a Cruz reunion in Texas
Dec. 3: Cruz may have played his most formative years over the last four seasons in Seattle, during which he led the Majors with 163 home runs and was a three-time All-Star, but it was in Texas where the 14-year veteran made his mark. Could a reunion with the Rangers be in the cards? MLB Network's MLB Tonight panel weighed in recently. 

Tweet from @MLBNetwork: Nelson Cruz back in Texas. Kimbrel returns to Atlanta. #MLBTonight looks at some homecomings that could make sense. pic.twitter.com/KM7X9sWwKq

Cruz was originally brought up by the Mets, A's and Brewers, but he spent nearly all of his first nine years in the Majors with the Rangers, and he was a critical cog for the club in their run to back to back American League pennants in 2010-11, winning the AL Championship Series MVP Award in 2011. 

"I would love to see him go home," MLB Network analyst Ron Darling said. "Remember through some of their greatest times -- I know they lost two World Series in a row -- but that team was so good, so talented, and he was a big part of that."

Cruz will turn 39 on July 1, yet he still remains an elite hitter. Over the last two seasons, Cruz has posted an .889 OPS and averaged nearly 40 homers per season while driving in 216 RBIs. Fellow analyst Tom Verducci likened Cruz to another icon who played at a high level into his 40s. 

"He's like a smaller David Ortiz," Verducci said. "The impact in the clubhouse and the fact that he hits now at 38 and he'll continue to hit. It's not like it's a charity signing. He'll help the team."

According to FanGraphs' Steamer projections, Cruz is on par for a 35-homer, 2.5-WAR season. That would be a huge for a Rangers club that will need to allocate the plate appearances that would've gone to Adrian Beltre, who retired last month. Should it sign Cruz, Texas may need to get creative in how it would utilize All-Star DH Shin-Soo Choo. 

Rays are "big-name hunting." Is Cruz still an option?
Dec. 1: With money to spend and a flexible roster, the typically frugal Rays are "big-name hunting" this offseason, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, with team officials talking about "exploring the top shelf" and "considering high-end upgrades."

Per Topkin, the club is looking at a wide range of options, including trade targets Paul Goldschmidt, J.T. Realmuto, Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner, and free agent Nathan Eovaldi.

Nelson Cruz also remains a possibility, though the Rays will need to determine if the 38-year-old represents enough of an upgrade to make it worthwhile for the club to spend its resources on him.

While Cruz produced an .850 OPS overall last season, his mark vs. right-handed pitchers was .819 (.932 vs. LHP). As Topkin notes, Cruz may not be worth adding if he's not providing a significant upgrade vs. righties, especially as a full-time designated hitter who won't be contributing value on the defensive end.

Signing Cruz would likely mean a reduced role for multiple players from the group of Austin Meadows, Jake Bauers, Brandon Lowe and Ji-Man Choi, who all bat from the left side. Tampa Bay may be better served spending big in another area and adding a less-expensive right-handed hitter who can play the field.

Granted, Cruz belted 37 homers in 2018 and is far more accomplished than any of those players, but the Rays front office needs to consider every angle given the team's limited budget.

Nelson Cruz