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
Could D-backs make Greinke available?
Nov. 12: With the free-agent market for starting pitchers not particularly deep, the D-backs might be able to benefit by making Zack Greinke available via trade, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal suggests (subscription required). In fact, Rosenthal writes, Greinke might end up being the second-most attractive starting pitcher available this offseason, behind only teammate Patrick Corbin (who's now a free agent).
Greinke is 35, has had to deal with diminishing velocity over the past few seasons and is signed to an expensive contract -- he has three years and $104.5 million remaining on his six-year, $206.5 million deal that runs through 2021. But a selling point for the D-backs, per Rosenthal, would be their willingness to ease the financial burden on a prospective trade partner, whether by including cash or taking on another player's unfavorable contract.
And in Greinke's favor: his continued effectiveness and ability to adjust -- he had a 3.21 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 207 2/3 innings this season, after posting a 3.20 mark with 215 strikeouts in 202 1/3 innings in 2017.
Rosenthal notes that the D-backs haven't come out and said they want to trade Greinke, but the time might be right, with Corbin and A.J. Pollock free agents and Paul Goldschmidt a trade candidate since he's set to hit free agency next year.
Yankees doing "extensive" background work on Machado
Nov. 12: It's still a little murky how strong the Yankees' pursuit of Manny Machado will actually be. But they're definitely doing their due diligence.
According to The Athletic's Jayson Stark (subscription required), the Yankees have been doing "particularly extensive" background work on Machado, even beyond the typical amount of background information teams routinely seek about potential free-agent or trade targets.
Sources told Stark that Yankees manager Aaron Boone, front-office members and scouts are all among those who "calling around" about Machado.
The superstar shortstop remains a clear fit for the Yankees, with Didi Gregorius out indefinitely as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
Video: Yanks cautiously testing waters on Machado
Is there a trade market for Cano?
Nov. 12: Even if the Mariners want to rebuild, they might not be able to pull off deal for all their big-contract players, including Felix Hernandez, Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano.
Cano, for one, has several factors working against him, as Rosenthal notes (subscription required). He's 36, and has five years is signed to a 10-year, $240 million contract that runs through 2023. Cano has full no-trade protection. He might have to move from second base to first base/designated hitter in the near future, much less valuable positions. And teams will likely be leery of Cano's suspension this past season for violating MLB's Joint Drug Agreement.
Rosenthal thinks that Cano's preference would be to return to the Yankees, with whom he spent his first nine Major League seasons before signing with Seattle entering 2014. A deal between the two clubs might include, for example, Jacoby Ellsbury, who has another big contract -- the Mariners would likely have to take on such a contract to have a chance at moving Cano. But he notes that the two teams might not really have any reason to make such an exchange.
Are Phillies shopping Santana to clear room for Harper?
Nov. 12: According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required), a rival executive said the Phillies are "shopping the hell" out of first baseman Carlos Santana, who signed a three-year, $60 million contract with Philadelphia last offseason.
Per Rosenthal, the Phillies want to move Rhys Hoskins back to first base. While that makes strategic sense from a defensive standpoint -- Hoskins recorded -19 Outs Above Average, per Statcast™, and -24 Defensive Runs Saved in left field this past season -- Philadelphia may also be trying to clear space on the payroll and in the outfield for free agent Bryce Harper.
Santana's deal included a $10 million signing bonus, leaving him with a base salary of roughly $35 million over 2019-20, and he has a $500,000 buyout on his $17.5 million club option for '21. The Phillies will likely need to send some cash to move the 32-year-old, who hit .229/.352/.414 with 24 homers and 86 RBIs over 161 games in the first year of his contract.
Philadelphia has been consistently connected to Harper this offseason and could conceivably afford to sign him without moving Santana, but doing so would likely mean putting promising right fielder Nick Williams on the bench or giving Santana more playing time at third at the expense of Maikel Franco.
Phillies could look to Donaldson, Moustakas for upgrade at third
Nov. 12: MLB.com's Todd Zolecki notes that Phillies third basemen ranked 18th in the Majors in batting (.248), 21st in on-base percentage (.311), and 13th in slugging percentage (.438) last season. Will the club upgrade at third base? That may depend on whether they sign one of the two big superstar sluggers on the market, Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.
"If they sign Harper, they might be more inclined to pursue help at third," Zolecki writes. "If they sign Machado and he plays shortstop, they might be more inclined to move forward with internal options like J.P. Crawford, Maikel Franco and even Scott Kingery, who could play second base if Philadelphia trades Cesar Hernandez."
Zolecki suggests the Phillies may pursue free agents Josh Donaldson or Mike Moustakas. He writes that they would likely try to ink Donaldson to a short-term deal given the risk involved; he was hurt for most of last season, and was not as productive as in years past when he was in the lineup.
Tigers could trade Castellanos this offseason; might Astros be interested?
Nov. 12: Nicholas Castellanos has one more season left before he can become a free agent, and the Tigers don't expect to contend anytime soon. According to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, that makes Castellanos a prime candidate to be moved this offseason, especially with the club's July 2017 trade of J.D. Martinez still fresh in general manager Al Avila's mind.
As Fenech points out, the Tigers didn't consider trading Martinez before his final season of free agency, as the club wasn't in rebuilding mode yet. Once Detroit opted to move him, it had limited suitors for the slugger and ended up taking an uninspiring three-player package from the D-backs.
The problem for the Tigers is that Castellanos' defensive shortcomings may deter teams from trading for him. The 26-year-old, who was a third baseman before changing positions late in 2017, ended his first full season as an outfielder with an MLB-worst -25 Outs Above Average, per Statcast™.
And while Castellanos is a good hitter whose underlying metrics suggest he has room to grow, he hasn't yet proven to be on Martinez's level, which means he doesn't stand out much from the myriad of productive outfield options currently on the free-agent market.
Fenech mentions the Astros as one potential suitor for Castellanos, as they may still be looking for an outfielder after reportedly coming close to trading for Bryce Harper this past season. Per Fenech, Houston also made an offer for Castellanos before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Astros have openings in left field and at designated hitter with Marwin Gonzalez and Evan Gattis becoming free agents.
Ryu the only player to accept qualifying offer
Nov. 12: Hyun-Jin Ryu is staying with the Dodgers, as he officially accepted Los Angeles' one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer Monday. Bryce Harper, Patrick Corbin, Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel, Yasmani Grandal and A.J. Pollock declined the offer.
The news is not exactly surprising. Ryu recorded a 1.97 ERA in 2018, but he again missed substantial time due to an injury. The left-hander has thrown just 213 2/3 innings since the beginning of '15, and he might have had trouble finding a lucrative multi-year offer on the open market, especially because new teams would have needed to forfeit a Draft pick to sign him.
Video: Ryu only one to accept qualifying offer, six decline
How will Rizzo address Nats' needs this offseason?
Nov. 12: Although the Nationals want to bring back Bryce Harper, the club has other holes to plug, and earmarking a substantial portion of their payroll for a potential Harper reunion could have dire consequences if the team waits too long and the 26-year-old signs elsewhere.
According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required), one agent offered a theory about Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo's offseason approach, predicting that Rizzo will aggressively try to address the team's needs, then leave it up to ownership to make the final decision on Harper if the outfielder is still available.
As Rosenthal points out, Rizzo must proceed as if Harper is not returning after the slugger reportedly rejected a 10-year, $300 million offer from the Nats on the final day of the regular season.
Rosenthal also notes that any upgrades the Nats make could make the team more appealing to Harper and persuade him to re-sign, which would be a win-win scenario for Rizzo.
Will Donaldson headline Cardinals' offseason pursuits?
Nov. 12: The Cardinals may pursue free-agent third baseman Josh Donaldson to upgrade their offense, but Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch argues that the veteran comes with too much uncertainty to be relied upon as the club's marquee addition this offseason.
Donaldson has a lofty ceiling, as he slashed .285/.387/.559 with 111 homers from 2015-17, winning the American League MVP Award in the first year during that span.
But Donaldson will turn 33 years old in December and is coming off a season in which he played just 52 games due to right shoulder and left calf injuries.
Although Frederickson thinks Donaldson would be well-received by the fan base as St. Louis' new starting third baseman, he writes that it "would seem a bit thin" if the slugger was "the Cardinals' sole big move for the lineup."
Will Reds trade for Gray?
Nov. 12: The Reds are in the market for starting pitching, and Cincinnati's new pitching coach, Derek Johnson, was Sonny Gray's college pitching coach at Vanderbilt. Is there a reunion in the cards?
MLB.com's Mark Sheldon answered that question in his most recent Inbox, writing that it would, indeed, be a good match. But the Yankees are looking for starting pitching as well, meaning they might ask for right-hander Luis Castillo. That might be too much of an ask for Cincinnati. Nevertheless, Sheldon adds that he would be shocked if the Reds didn't at least check in with New York on Gray.
Gray struggled in 30 appearances (23 starts) for the Yankees last season, posting a 4.90 ERA. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has indicated the club is looking to move on from the 29-year-old right-hander, saying last month that "to maximize his abilities, it would be more likely best [for him to be] somewhere else."
Despite outfield questions, Indians unlikely to bring back Brantley
Nov. 12: With Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall hitting the open market, the Indians have question marks at all three starting outfield spots for next season.
But after a strong -- and healthy -- 2018 season put him in position to receive a lucrative multi-year offer, the 31-year-old Brantley is seemingly unlikely to return to an Indians club that is reportedly shopping some of its veterans for short-term financial relief and younger, cheaper assets.
In fact, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that there is "nearly a zero chance" of the Tribe re-signing Brantley.
With no qualifying offer attached to Brantley, new teams won't be forced to surrender a Draft pick to sign him. As a result, there could be a robust market for the veteran, especially among clubs that need a corner outfielder but aren't in on Bryce Harper. The Braves, the Phillies and the White Sox have reportedly already made offers to Brantley.
A big gap between Harper and Machado?
Nov. 12: In a piece for The Athletic, Cliff Corcoran ranks the best under-28 free agents of all-time. It's interesting to see where the top two free agents on this year's market land. Manny Machado is ranked third, behind only Alex Rodriguez (2000) and Barry Bonds (1992). Bryce Harper is all the way down at 11th out of 13 players, ahead of Carlos Beltran (2004) and Goose Gossage (1977).
"The math projects [Machado] to be worth 5.2 bWAR in his age-26 season, but he has been a six-win player in four of the last six seasons (I'm counting his 5.7 bWAR this year given his uncharacteristic struggles in the field), so he could very well exceed that projection," writes Corcoran.
With respect to Harper, Corcoran cites his inconsistency at the plate and injury history, pointing out his 1.5 WAR (Baseball Reference) in 2016, and 1.3 WAR last season.
"What was supposed to be the monster free agency to end all free agencies is instead a confusing mixed bag of impressive accomplishment and confounding underperformance," Corcoran writes.
Could poor defense of free-agent competitors help Lowrie's market?
Nov. 12: While the free-agent market for second basemen is deep this offseason, Jed Lowrie stands apart from many of his counterparts -- and not solely because of his bat.
Lowrie isn't an elite defender, but he isn't likely to hurt a team with his fielding, which gives him an edge over some of the alternative free-agent options.
Mark Simon took a look at six players whose free-agent markets could be hindered by their poor defense in an article for The Athletic (subscription required), and the list included three second basemen: Asdrubal Cabrera, Daniel Murphy and Brian Dozier.
Cabrera has made the majority of his defensive appearances at shortstop during his career, but he's played there just 76 times over the past two seasons, and his lifetime Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) mark as a shortstop is -56. The veteran isn't likely to be courted as a shortstop by most teams, but his defense at second base isn't much better.
In 2018, Cabrera's -17 DRS at second base ranked second to last among those with at least 500 innings at the position. Murphy was last with -18 DRS, and Dozier was three spots behind Cabrera with -8. Lowrie recorded 1 DRS with a 6.1 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) in '18, while Cabrera, Murphy and Dozier had negative UZR marks.
Meanwhile, neither DJ LeMahieu or Ian Kinsler was anywhere close to Lowrie in terms of offensive production this past season, mitigating the defensive advantage they have over the 34-year-old Lowrie.
Arenado for Bryant? Hear this out.
Nov. 11: The rumors were flying earlier in the week about whether the Cubs would really entertain the idea of trading former NL MVP Kris Bryant. Former MLB general manager Jim Bowden, in a piece for The Athletic (subscription required), examines the idea, concluding that the likelihood of Bryant beginning the 2019 season anywhere but Wrigley Field is very low. Nevertheless, he suggests that for "the right deal," a swap could make sense for Chicago, and the organization may think hard about making it happen.
One of those "right deal" scenarios is -- brace yourself -- a swap of third basemen with the Rockies. That's right, trading Bryant for Nolan Arenado, who has one year remaining before he becomes a free agent. Bowden writes that such a deal could allow "the Cubs to try to extend Arenado instead, while the Rockies would have an extra two years of control of Bryant."
Arenado, an NL MVP finalist this year, has an .886 OPS (121 OPS+) with 186 home runs over six Major League seasons, along with six Gold Glove Awards at the hot corner. Bryant was the '15 NL Rookie of the Year before winning MVP honors the following season as he helped the Cubs win their first World Series title in 108 years. Though injuries hindered him last season, he remains one of the premier sluggers in the game, with a .900 OPS (137 OPS+) with 107 homers in 559 games.
Bryant has the aforementioned two years of team control remaining, while the Rockies will try to extend Arenado before he hits free agency. The prospect of a swap, while perhaps unlikely, is very intriguing nonetheless.
Should Cubs choose Machado over Bryant? Brisbee thinks so.
Nov. 11: SB Nation senior baseball writer Grant Brisbee decided to chime in on the Manny Machado debate with a lengthy column in which he debates the advantages and disadvantages of several teams' pursuits of the 26-year-old shortstop, including the Yankees, Phillies, White Sox, Dodgers, Cubs and ... Padres.
In his search for an ideal fit for Machado, Brisbee considers four factors: extra money to spend, a fan base that needs a jolt, a robust farm system that can allow them to subsidize a superstar for the coming years, and a young team.
"We need the Padres. Machado needs the Padres. The Padres need Machado," Brisbee writes.
Brisbee points to the Eric Hosmer contract as an example of the Padres making an expensive, long-term investment in a player that could play a key role on a future team in contention, but concedes that Machado playing his home games in Petco Park remains a long shot. He ultimately concludes that he expects Machado to sign a 10-year, $330 million contract to play for the Cubs.
He doesn't feel that it's a coincidence that Kris Bryant trade rumors are gaining steam now, when Machado is also on the market. He writes that for the Cubs, the decision is between committing $300 million to a 29-year-old Bryant after the 2021 season versus making a similar commitment to a 26-year-old Machado right now -- and also reaping the benefits of whatever top prospects they would gain in a trade involving Bryant.
Astros targeting familiar foe
Nov. 11: Could Mariners ace James Paxton pitch for another American League West club in 2019?
Count the Astros among the teams talking to Seattle about a potential trade for the southpaw, per MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, who calls the market for Paxton "active." The Yankees were also identified as a party in contact with the Mariners about Paxton earlier this week, meaning there could be an arms race developing between AL superpowers for what would be an impact arm.
Paxton has fared well against Houston, posting a 2.89 ERA across 12 career starts against the division foe. Houston's rotation was historically good in 2018, but could look a little different with Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton both entering free agency and Lance McCullers Jr. out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Justin Verlander is also entering the final year of his deal in his age-36 season, and so adding an emerging front-of-the-rotation arm like Paxton -- who does not become a free agent until the end of the 2020 season -- could help Houston stay ahead of the curve.
Seattle would likely want a significant haul (especially from a successful division rival like the Astros) for Paxton, who threw his first no-hitter and struck out a career-high 208 batters last season.
Would the Mets part with Thor to bring Bryant to New York?
Nov. 11: It will likely take an offer of seismic proportions to convince the Cubs to part with star third baseman Kris Bryant. Could a package involving Noah Syndergaard do the trick?
SNY's Danny Abriano thinks that a swap of the hard-throwing Mets star for Chicago's former National League Most Valuable Player Award winner would make sense for both sides. And as he goes on to explain, if such a dramatic deal were to unfold, the impact could make ripples around the league, possibily even impacting the free-agency pursuits of high-end starters like Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi.
Why would it make sense for the Cubs? Abriano thinks that despite all of the high-profile names in Chicago's starting rotation, there is still a need for a true ace on the staff. He points to Jon Lester's diminishing numbers, Yu Darvish's inconsistent health and the inability of Jose Quintana and Kyle Hendricks to consistently pitch at an ace-caliber level as examples of why Syndergaard might be a good addition on the North Side.
Meanwhile, the Mets have a need for a right-handed power bat that could slot in at third base, and with New York reportedly not interested in pursuing Manny Machado, Bryant could offer a tantalizing alternative. Since Bryant hasn't yet hit free agency, if the Mets aren't willing to pay Bryce Harper or Machado to add a franchise-altering face, the Cubs third baseman could offer an outside-the-box solution.
With that said, if the Mets felt confident enough in Bryant's shoulder health to part with Syndergaard, they would likely seek a high-upside arm to bolster their rotation. Though Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco or James Paxton could make sense as trade options, the prospect cost of acquiring one of those arms -- in addition to whatever prospects the Mets might send to Chicago to sweeten the Bryant deal -- might be prohibitive.
So in that case, the Mets might join the fray for Corbin, Eovaldi, Dallas Keuchel or other top starters in free agency. Though the bidding for Corbin and Keuchel are expected to be pricey with the Yankees in tow, new Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has expressed that New York remains in win-now mode, and it wouldn't be a surprise if the Mets were aggressive in free agency.
Altuve says he will be ready for spring, addresses Gonzalez free agency
Nov. 11: Jose Altuve said Sunday that he expects to be "120 percent" ready by the start of Spring Training after undergoing surgery to repair a patella avulsion fracture in his right knee last month. The Astros' star second baseman, who's currently in the early stages of rehab, injured his knee sliding into second base in July.
Utility man Marwin Gonzalez filled in for Altuve at second base when Altuve was limited to designated hitter in the American League Championship Series and made 24 starts at the position in the regular season. If Altuve isn't ready or is limited to begin next season, Gonzalez may not be an option for Houston as he's currently a free agent.
"I don't think there's a single team in MLB that doesn't like Marwin," Altuve said. "For me, he's the savior. You have a problem, you call Marwin. That's one of the reasons why it's going to be really hard to get him back because he's in such high demand right now."
Altuve's words echo previous reports that Gonzalez has been a hot commodity on the open market. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported last week for Fancred Sports that nearly every MLB club has at least some level of interest in the versatile 29-year-old, who played every position besides catcher and pitcher this season.
The Astros opted not to extend a $17.9 million qualifying offer to Gonzalez, so they won't receive Draft compensation if he signs elsewhere.
Video: Altuve on Astros' free agents, 2019 season
Will Corbin return to the franchise that drafted him?
Nov. 11: Sure, the Yankees appear to be the favorite to land left-hander Patrick Corbin at this point, but according to MLB.com's Free Agent Matrix, there could be other serious players in the mix, including the Angels. It was the Angels that drafted Corbin in the second round of the 2009 Draft, but they traded him to the D-backs before he made his big league debut.
The Angels could definitely use an upgrade in their rotation, particularly with Shohei Ohtani unable to pitch next season after having Tommy John surgery. With Ohtani, Mike Trout and Corbin, perhaps Los Angeles could finally get back to the postseason. Corbin would be coming full circle, and it would make for a very intriguing move.