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Rumors: Kimbrel, Machado, Harper, Realmuto

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

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

Free agents, by position
Free agents, by team 

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

Free agents, by position
Free agents, by team 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video: Michael Hill on Winter Meetings, market for Realmuto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feinsand: For starters, these 4 could upgrade any rotation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video: Scott Boras discusses the market for Bryce Harper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yankees close on Happ, but still interested in Syndergaard
Dec. 12: As the Yankees near an agreement with free agent J.A. Happ, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand and others, the club remains interested in some of the Mets' pitchers, including Noah Syndergaard, according to Andy Martino of SNY.

The Yanks reportedly engaged in discussions with the Mets and Marlins regarding a trade that would have sent Syndergaard to the Bronx and J.T. Realmuto to Queens. Those talks seem to have stalled, but the Yankees are apparently still eyeing Syndergaard.

It's unclear if that means the Yankees are looking to sign Happ and trade for Syndergaard, or if the Mets right-hander is an alternative if their negotiations with Happ don't progress.

Mets meet with Jones in Vegas
Dec. 12: The Mets have met with free-agent outfielder Adam Jones at the Winter Meetings, according to a report from the New York Post's Mike Puma on Wednesday.

Adding an outfielder -- especially a right-handed-hitting outfielder -- is one of the Mets' chief needs this offseason. Jones is among the options they're considering, per Puma.

Tweet from @NYPost_Mets: The Mets had a meeting with Adam Jones here in Las Vegas. He is among the right-handed bat options they are considering for OF.

More of the attention in the free-agent rumor mill has been focused on A.J. Pollock, but Jones also fits the bill. The 33-year-old veteran wouldn't command as high a price tag as someone like Pollock, either.

The longtime Orioles center fielder hit .281/.313/.419 with 15 home runs and 63 RBIs in 145 games for Baltimore this year. Before a slight power dip in 2018, Jones had hit at least 20 homers in each of the previous seven seasons.

Reds, Braves, Mets in mix for Realmuto
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. New York isn't completely out, however. Meanwhile, another club has jumped into the mix, as Craig Mish of SiriusXM reports that the Reds are eyeing the backstop. The Braves are involved as well, per MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi. Read the latest Realmuto trade rumors here.

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

A's, Rangers talking Profar trade
Dec. 12: Faced with the prospect of losing second baseman Jed Lowrie in free agency, the A's are exploring Jurickson Profar as a trade option. MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported Wednesday that Oakland is among the clubs talking to the Rangers about a potential deal.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: #Athletics among clubs talking to #Rangers about a trade for infielder Jurickson Profar, sources tell The Athletic. Profar could play second base for A���s if they lose Jed Lowrie in free agency. Franklin Barreto remains an internal possibility.

The 25-year-old Profar played the first full season of his career with the Rangers in 2018. He was solid at the plate, hitting .254/.335/.458 with 20 home runs and 77 RBIs in 146 games. And Profar is highly versatile defensively -- he can play any infield position, and even the outfield. Second base just happens to be where the A's would need him.

The A's don't necessarily have to go out and find an external replacement for Lowrie, though. Rosenthal notes that they could also opt for Franklin Barreto as a solution from within the organization. The 22-year-old Barreto was ranked the A's top prospect in 2017 (no longer considered a prospect). He hit .233 with five home runs in 32 games for Oakland this season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reds among teams talking to Indians about Kluber, Bauer
Dec. 11: The Reds' desire to upgrade their rotation is no secret, and the Indians are expected to trade one of their aces this offseason. Could the intrastate rivals team up for a deal? Nothing is imminent, but Cincinnati is having "ongoing discussions" with Cleveland about Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Source: #Reds continue to pursue rotation options via trade, including ongoing discussions with #Indians about Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. @MLB @MLBNetwork

Morosi reported Monday, the first full day of the Winter Meetings, that trade talks regarding Kluber had "intensified," with the Dodgers among the teams involved.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Sources: Corey Kluber trade talks have intensified. #Dodgers are among the teams involved. @MLBNetwork @MLB

Cleveland is reportedly hoping to trim payroll while still remaining competitive in an underwhelming American League Central, and Los Angeles could be a perfect trade partner given the club's outfield depth. With Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall departing via free agency, the outfield is a major question mark for the Indians at this point.

Morosi reports that the Dodgers' top prospect, outfielder Alex Verdugo (No. 32 overall, per MLB Pipeline), is part of the discussions between Cleveland and Los Angeles.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Source: #Indians interested in #Dodgers OF Alex Verdugo as part of Corey Kluber trade talks. Cleveland is looking for outfield bats, and Verdugo is the Dodgers' top prospect, according to @MLBPipeline. @MLB @MLBNetwork

Morosi names the Yankees and Brewers as potential landing spots for Kluber as well, as both teams have highly ranked outfielders in their farm systems. The Reds do, too, with No. 2 prospect Taylor Trammell (No. 17 overall).

Tweet from @jonmorosi: If #Indians trade Corey Kluber, they would like to receive a young outfielder in the deal. So it is not a surprise that the #Dodgers (Alex Verdugo), #Yankees (Estevan Florial) and #Brewers (Corey Ray) all are potential landing spots for Kluber. @MLB @MLBNetwork

Kluber and Bauer are arguably more attractive than any of the remaining starters on the free-agent market. Kluber is signed for $17 million in 2019 with club options for 2020 ($17.5 million, $1 million buyout) and 2021 ($18 million, $1 million buyout). To put the value of Kluber's deal in perspective, the Red Sox just signed Nathan Eovaldi for roughly $17 million per year over four years. Meanwhile, Bauer is two years away from free agency.

Per MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal's article for The Athletic (subscription required) on Monday, a rival executive who has been in contact with the Indians said Cleveland is open to trades in which it would attach Kluber or Bauer to a highly paid player such as Jason Kipnis as a way to shed another inflated contract.

Could Tulo be fit for his childhood team?
Dec. 11: Troy Tulowitzki is a free agent after being released by the Blue Jays on Tuesday. He has a well-chronicled injury history, and even when healthy, he has struggled to return to the elite form he exhibited during his 10 seasons with the Rockies. Still, if Tulowitzki could be had for the right price, the veteran shortstop might offer as much upside as any shortstop on the free-agent market. 

Martin Gallegos of the San Jose Mercury News speculates that the A's could be among the most logical fits for the 34-year-old. Tulowitzki grew up in the Bay Area, rooted for the A's as a kid and the club has a positional need within its infield after Jed Lowrie departed via free agency. Most signs, as Gallegos indicated, allude that Oakland will not bring Lowrie back. And for a cost-minded club that has played on a small-market budget and consistently sought to maximize the dollar value of its players, the A's might make a lot of sense for Tulowitzki.

The five-time All-Star will receive $38 million from Toronto as part of the final two years of his contract. Given that he missed the entire 2018 season with a heel injury and was limited to just 66 games in '17 due to an ankle injury, Tulowitzki doesn't necessarily have significant leverage to warrant another multi-year, high-paying contract. Gallegos speculates that the A's could potentially sign Tulowitzki for the league minimum of $600,000.

It would certainly be a risk, but if Tulowitzki could return to some form of his old self, it could be one worth taking. 

Video: Charlie Montoyo on Tulowitzki being released

Impact of McCutchen's deal on Pollock
Dec. 11: One of the bigger names in the free-agent outfielder market has come off the table, as Andrew McCutchen lands in Philadelphia. What does that mean for A.J. Pollock, who entered the offseason as arguably the top outfielder on the open market outside of Bryce Harper?

The 31-year-old center fielder wasn't necessarily linked to the Phillies much this offseason, so it's not as if McCutchen stole a potential destination right out from under Pollock. If anything, McCutchen's deal -- reported at $50 million for three years with an option for a fourth -- should be seen as a good sign for Pollock, as USA Today's Bob Nightengale suggests.

Tweet from @BNightengale: Certainly, free-agent outfielders A.J. Pollock and Adam Jones should benefit nicely from Andrew McCutchen's 3-year, $50 million contract with the #Phillies

On one hand, Pollock doesn't have McCutchen's resume and his injury history is a concern. But on the other, Pollock, by comparison, is younger than McCutchen and as such brings a bit more of a dynamic power-speed combo at this stage of their respective careers -- not to mention, the ability to handle center field still.

In other words, it's possible the floor on offers Pollock will be considering could be about $50 million, with the likelihood for more money and almost certainly more years. Whether he's able to secure the reported five-year, $80 million deal (aka, the "Lorenzo Cain contract") that was rumored to be his asking price, however, remains to be seen.

Reds have discussed Inciarte trade
Dec. 11: The Reds cut ties with one premier defensive center fielder this offseason. Maybe they can add a new one.

Cincinnati has talked to the Braves about a trade for Ender Inciarte, a source told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon on Tuesday.

Tweet from @m_sheldon: Source -- #reds have talked to the Braves about CF Ender Inciarte. Nothing is imminent, however. Club is talking to a lot of teams/agents here .

Even if no deal is imminent, the possibility is intriguing. The Reds have an opening in the outfield after non-tendering Billy Hamilton -- and Inciarte is just as elite defensively. Plus, Inciarte's a significantly better hitter than Hamilton.

Inciarte finished with a +21 Outs Above Average rating in 2018 -- that's Statcast™'s range-based metric for outfield defense -- tied for the best of any MLB outfielder. Hamilton ranked fifth with a +16 OAA mark.

The 28-year-old Inciarte is signed to a five-year, $30.53 million contract that runs through 2021, with a $9 million club option for 2022. If the Braves traded Inciarte, they could hand over the reins in center field to NL Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr.

Red Sox listening on Bogaerts, Porcello, JBJ?
Dec. 11: The Red Sox just inked Nathan Eovaldi to a four-year, $68 million deal to retain the righty and shore up their rotation. Did that decision push the club into a position where it needs to consider moving current big league pieces -- and their corresponding salaries -- to get something else done?

Boston may be trying to cut payroll as a way to simultaneously address its need in the bullpen and stay under the highest tier of the luxury-tax threshold, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, citing a rival exec.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: *Highest tier of luxury-tax threshold��� https://t.co/kmXZ5iekRZ

That matches up with what USA Today's Bob Nightengale is hearing, too - that the Red Sox are "openly listening" too offers on righty Rick Porcello and potentially could discuss shortstop Xander Bogaerts and center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.

Tweet from @BNightengale: The Boston #Redsox, trying to clear salary space for bullpen help, are openly listening to offers on Rick Porcello, and rivals insist also are willing to talk about Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.

Given that both closer Craig Kimbrel and setup reliever Joe Kelly are free agents, the Red Sox have been in the market for bullpen help. General manager Dave Dombrowski suggested Monday, however, that the club is unlikely to make a big expenditure to improve the relief corps, meaning it's unlikely Kimbrel will return. Some names that have been linked to Boston include Zach Britton, Andrew Miller and David Robertson, all of whom have late-inning experience and should be more affordable than Kimbrel, who has floated an initial asking price of six years.

The big question here, then, is how much the defending champs feel the need to unload a key player like Bogaerts, Porcello or Bradley in order to gain some financial relief toward enhancing the bullpen. Dombrowski himself addressed this by saying he's "not driven to trade core players for the purpose of shedding payroll," according to MLB.com's Ian Browne.

Tweet from @IanMBrowne: Dave Dombrowski said he is not driven to trade core players for the purpose of shedding payroll. Added that he would like to have the catching situation resolved before Spring Training.

Both Porcello, whose 2019 salary is $21 million, and Bogaerts, who is projected to earn almost $12 million in arbitration per MLB Trade Rumors, are due to become free agents after next season. Bradley, whose projected arbitration figure is just shy of $8 million for '19, is under control through '20.

The luxury-tax threshold -- officially known as the Competitive Balance Tax -- is set to be $206 million for next season and Boston's projected payroll calls for north of $230 million. The Red Sox surpassed the $197 million threshold this past season on their way to winning the World Series.

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 often linked to the free-agent 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.

White Sox considering Grandal
Dec. 11: While the race for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto has taken center stage at the Winter Meetings, the market for Yasmani Grandal has yet to develop. Some teams, such as the Mets, are seemingly viewing Grandal as more of a fallback option rather than a top target.

However, ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the White Sox, who aren't believed to be in the running for Realmuto, are considering Grandal.

Tweet from @Buster_ESPN: The White Sox pushing to take a step forward in 2019. Nova improves the rotation, and they're looking at Yasmani Grandal as a possible catching upgrade.

The White Sox traded Omar Narvaez to the Mariners earlier this offseason for reliever Alex Colome, leaving Welington Castillo and Seby Zavala as the only catchers on the 40-man roster. Castillo has his share of value, but his lifetime .708 OPS vs. righties (.846 OPS vs. LHP) suggests he's better suited for a part-time role. The 30-year-old Grandal is a switch-hitter who does his best work against righties, so the two could fit well together.

Chicago is reportedly looking to expedite its rebuilding process with a big-name free agent or two and could be in on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in addition to Grandal.

Yankees open to trading Andujar
Dec. 11: Miguel Andujar was one of the Yankees' most consistent hitters during a year in which he finished second to the Angels' Shohei Ohtani in American League Rookie of the Year voting, but he may not be a long-term fixture with the club.

According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, rival executives say that the Yanks are open to moving the 23-year-old.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: Name to watch with #Yankees: Miguel And��jar. Rival execs tell me and @ByRobertMurray NYY open to moving him. Would make sense as #Marlins��� ask for Realmuto; MIA wants established young MLB player as headliner. Also would line up with NYY pursuit of Machado. Torres could play SS.

That's not entirely surprising, as the Yankees are reportedly discussing a three-team blockbuster with the Mets and Marlins that would see Noah Syndergaard join the Yankees and J.T. Realmuto land with the Mets, as well as another trade that would bring Realmuto to the Yanks. It would make sense if Andujar was one of the young pieces being offered to Miami.

The Yankees are also considering signing Manny Machado, who would presumably become the club's starting third baseman once Didi Gregorius is ready to return from Tommy John surgery, leaving Andujar without a place to play. Even if New York doesn't sign Machado, Andujar's defensive struggles give him a questionable future at the hot corner.

Yanks GM: There's 'no spot' for Harper in New York's outfield
Dec. 11: The Yankees continue to be mentioned as a team that could be a fit for Bryce Harper, but could the club actually fit Harper?

When asked about the superstar, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said there's "no spot" for him in New York's crowded outfield and that deploying him at first base "isn't an option," according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

Tweet from @Feinsand: Asked about Bryce Harper, Brian Cashman rattled off the names of his six outfielders and said there���s no spot. Reiterated that playing Harper at first base isn���t an option for the Yankees.

Indeed, with incumbent starters Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks, as well as returning options Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier as backups, the club is more than set in the outfield. And while the topic of Harper as a first baseman has been floated by his agent, Scott Boras, that possibility doesn't appear to interest Cashman, despite the Yankees relying on the still-unproven Luke Voit and Greg Bird at the position.

If that wasn't a forceful enough take on Harper, Cashman followed up by saying, "I'm surprised [the media is] still asking" about the team's interest, as MLB.com's Bryan Hoch relayed.

Tweet from @BryanHoch: Cashman said that at no point this winter did he talk about getting an outfielder. ���The Harper stuff, I���m surprised you���re still asking.���