Rumors: AL club has 'strong interest' in Zack Britton (report)

LATEST FREE AGENT & TRADE RUMORS

January 30th, 2023

We're keeping track of all the latest free agent and trade rumors.

Jan. 30: Angels have 'strong interest' in LHP Britton (report)

There are a handful of quality relievers still remaining on the free-agent market. That includes left-hander Zack Britton, but perhaps he is close to finding a home for the 2023 season. USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale reports that the Angels "have strong interest in Britton if his price tag drops."

The two-time All-Star has been beset by injuries over the past couple of years. He dealt with a COVID-19 diagnosis, a bone chip in his left elbow and a hamstring strain in 2021, all before undergoing Tommy John surgery in September of that year. He returned late in the '22 regular season but made just three appearances for the Yankees before being shelved due to arm fatigue. However, from 2014-20 with the Orioles and Yanks, Britton was one of the best relievers in baseball, as he recorded a 1.84 ERA through 367 1/3 innings. If signed, Britton would join the back end of an Angels bullpen that already made one significant addition this winter in signing right-hander Carlos Estévez.

The Mets have also been linked to Britton recently.

Jan. 24: Astros, Twins in play for Gurriel?

The Marlins seemed to be the favorites for free-agent first baseman Yuli Gurriel last week, but MLB Network insider Jon Heyman notes that the Astros and Twins may be more likely destinations for the 2021 AL batting champion at this point.

Craig Mish of the Miami Herald reported Monday that the Marlins have “stopped any aggressive pursuit” of Gurriel in the wake of the trade that brought infielder Luis Arraez to Miami and sent pitcher Pablo López and two prospects to the Twins.

After trading Arraez, the Twins have an unsettled situation at first base. Alex Kirilloff is penciled in as the team’s current starter at that spot. José Miranda is also an option there, though he may see more of his playing time at third base or designated hitter.

Gurriel’s days with Houston appeared to be over after the team inked José Abreu to a three-year deal and re-signed Michael Brantley, who will likely get a lot of playing time at DH. But it sounds as though the Astros haven’t ruled out a reunion with the 38-year-old Gurriel.

Gurriel hit just .242 with a .647 OPS in 2022, but he won the AL batting title with a .319 average the previous season and has posted a .776 OPS in his big league career. Gurriel also showed up for Houston in the 2022 postseason, going 17-for-49 (.349) with two homers and an .850 OPS in 12 games.

Jan. 24: White Sox interested in trading for Royals' Lopez (report)

The Royals dealt one middle infielder on Tuesday, and they are receiving calls about another one from a division rival. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reports that the White Sox have expressed interest in Kansas City second baseman Nicky Lopez. However, Rosenthal adds that the Royals are "not eager" to trade the 27-year-old Lopez, whom they view as an important depth piece for their infield, especially if Michael Massey isn't ready to handle second base during his first full season in the Majors.

Lopez, who is under club control through 2025, has some of the best bat-to-ball skills in the game, as evidenced by his 13.1 percent strikeout rate in each of the past two seasons. He's also an exquisite fielder who has tallied an MLB-best 39 Outs Above Average since the start of 2021. He logged at least 30 games at second base, third base and shortstop last season and finished with positive defensive marks at each spot.

Jan. 20: Will Yanks add Profar or Harrison?

Looking to bolster their depth and versatility, the Yankees have discussed signing outfielder Jurickson Profar and have also "checked in" on free-agent infielder Josh Harrison, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. However, Heyman writes that the the reigning AL East champs are wary of carrying a luxury tax figure of more than $293 million. Any dollars spent beyond $293 million -- the third and final surcharge threshold of the Competitive Balance Tax this year -- would be taxed at 60 percent. The Yankees' current luxury tax estimate is $292.3 million, per FanGraphs.

Profar, 29, played in a career-high 152 games for the Padres last season. The switch-hitter recorded a .723 OPS, and his 110 wRC+ was his best over a full season since debuting in the Majors in 2012. He has played all over the field during his career, but in 2022, Profar spent 146 games in left field.

Harrison, 35, was a below-average bat in 119 games for the White Sox last year (98 wRC+), but the two-time All-Star handled second base and third base well, registering three Defensive Runs Saved at each spot.

Jan. 18: Mets remain in hunt for bullpen help

The Mets have been one of baseball’s busiest teams this offseason, and they continue to explore ways to improve several weeks before pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Spring Training. 

New York reached a one-year deal with outfielder Tommy Pham (per a source) on Wednesday, and MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports that the team is interested in Andrew Chafin, one of the top relievers left on the free-agent market. The Mets also have talked to free-agent southpaw Zack Britton. More >

Jan. 15: Padres 'all in' for Ohtani next offseason?

The most anticipated free agency of next offseason, unless the Angels sign him to a contract extension before then, is that of two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani. The Dodgers have long been rumored to be lining things up to make a run at Ohtani if and when he hits the market, but according to USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale, the Padres are Los Angeles' "stiffest competition" for Ohtani and are planning to be "all in."

While San Diego will already be thinking about a potentially record-setting contract extension to retain Juan Soto before he hits free agency after the 2024 season, and it recently signed shortstop Xander Bogaerts to a massive long-term deal, third baseman Manny Machado will be able to exercise an opt-out in his current contract after the 2023 campaign, and we've learned never to doubt the willingness of the Padres to spend big money.