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• Free agents, by position
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Alonso is headed to the White Sox. Is Machado next?
Dec. 14: A source confirmed to MLB.com on Friday night that the White Sox are acquiring first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians in exchange for Minor League outfielder Alex Call. The club is expected to announce the trade Saturday morning.
Alonso, 31, hit .250/.317/.421 with 23 home runs in 145 games for the Tribe last season, on the heels of an All-Star campaign split between the A's and Mariners, in which he slugged .501 with 28 homers in 142 games. He has an $8 million salary for 2019, and a $9 million club option for '20, with a $1 million buyout.
Alonso is also the brother-in-law of free-agent superstar Manny Machado, who is reportedly scheduled to meet with the White Sox in a matter of days. Chicago has been rumored to be interested in adding Machado to a club that will soon see top talent from the farm system coming into the big leagues. Adding his brother-in-law to the roster may enhance the organization's chances at landing one of the premier talents in the game. More >
Would Phillies splurge on Kimbrel?
Dec. 14: The Phillies have money to spend. We know this. Heck, their owner himself even said they might be a little "stupid" about it. That has led to most people in and around the baseball world expecting said money to go toward a pursuit of Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado. But could those funds make the Phillies a match for someone else instead?
Like, say, Craig Kimbrel ?
In an all-encompassing look at where the market stands after the Winter Meetings, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand lists the Phillies as his "potential fit" for 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," Feinsand writes. "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."
Given Kimbrel's unprecendented asking price and the Phillies' financial resources -- not to mention, their need for a proven veteran presence to solidify the back end of a promising but very young bullpen -- maybe the two sides make sense as a match. Plus, with all the money the Phillies could spend this winter, it's not as if approaching nine figures for one of the sport's best closers would preclude them from still signing Harper or Machado.
Nats 'leery' of signing Keuchel long term; interest from Padres?
Dec. 14: After shelling out $140 million and committing six years to Patrick Corbin , the Nationals have some apprehension about dishing out another long-term deal in the starting pitching market -- specifically for Dallas Keuchel, according to Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports.
Keuchel is believed to be seeking a deal in the four- to six-year range, and many analysts predict he will get it. The Nats likely won't be willing to commit that length to the left-hander, per Zuckerman.
Washington was one of just two clubs last year (with the Red Sox) to exceed the Competitive Balance Tax. Should it again exceed that mark, set for $206 million in 2019, the penalty will rise to the maximum of 50 percent. The club already has committed $525 million to its top three starters -- Corbin, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg -- over separate deals.
Though they could feature arguably the best 1-2-3 punch in the Majors, the Nats' fourth and fifth starter spots are uncertain, particularly after they traded Tanner Roark to the Reds on Wednesday. The Nats have been linked to Keuchel this offseason, more so before they signed Corbin, but there might be more affordable avenues for them to continue to upgrade the back end of their rotation.
Meanwhile, the Padres have expressed interest in Keuchel, according to The Athletic's Dennis Lin. Lin notes that Keuchel's asking price and length for a contract is likely too high for San Diego right now. But the Padres aren't strangers to making a splash on the free-agent market, inking Eric Hosmer (also a Scott Boras client) to a long-term deal last year. And the organization may be ready to take some strides at the Major League level after spending the last few years in total rebuild mode.
Is there a new team in the mix for Realmuto?
Dec. 14: What, you thought just because the Winter Meetings were over the J.T. Realmuto rumors would stop?
The latest indicates the Brewers could be "a legit player" for the Marlins' All-Star backstop, according to longtime writer Jerry Crasnick, who cites a baseball source saying, "I know they've inquired ... I think they'll quietly creep into this." One thing to consider here: Would the Marlins be hesitant to deal with the Brewers again after acquiring a package of prospects from them last year for Christian Yelich, who went on to win National League MVP?
That could mean there's a new team in the mix for Realmuto after reports Thursday suggested the market was down to these six clubs: the Mets, Reds, Braves, Rays, Dodgers and Padres. From that list, Crasnick's baseball executive source also brought up the latter two, pointing out that they could be fits in particular "because they both have catching prospects to send to Miami: Keibert Ruiz in LA, and Francisco Mejia in SD."
In fact, Mejia and Ruiz are two of the very best catching prospects in baseball. Mejia -- who the Padres acquired from the Indians at the Trade Deadline for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber -- is ranked No. 2 at the position by MLB Pipeline, while Ruiz checks in at No. 3.
This also raises the question of whether the Marlins would prefer to acquire a backstop as part of a return in a potential Realmuto trade, a topic MLB.com's Joe Frisaro explores. Given the club's lack of a capable starter behind Realmuto, the Marlins could struggle to fill the spot otherwise.
Are the Mets closing in on their next catcher? What about center field?
Dec. 14: The Mets are "very serious" about free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal as their next backstop, according to SNY's Andy Martino, who also notes New York's catching situation may be "moving closer to resolution." Grandal is the best defensive catcher on the market, his struggles behind the plate during the postseason notwithstanding.
Grandal, 30, had his best offensive season to date in 2018, hitting .241/.349/.466 with 24 homers in 140 games for the Dodgers. While the Mets have also been rumored to be among several clubs in pursuit of Marlins trade candidate J.T. Realmuto, the situation appears to remain fluid.
The Mets are also continuing a serious pursuit of an upgrade in center field, and free agent A.J. Pollock remains their top choice according to Martino. Pollock, 31, slashed .257/.316/.484 with 21 homers in 113 games for the D-backs last season, though prior to being injured in mid-May, he was hitting .293/.349/.620 with 11 homers in 40 games. He has also proved to be a strong defensive center fielder.
New York has already been very active this offseason, acquiring second baseman Robinson Cano from the Mariners and signing free-agent reliever Jeurys Familia to a three-year deal that reunites him with his former team.
Why Brantley to Braves still makes a lot of sense
Dec. 14: The Braves made the first big free-agent splash of the offseason by signing Josh Donaldson to a one-year, $23 million contract last month, but they've been pretty quiet since then. Will that change?
MLB.com's Richard Justice lists Atlanta as one of his seven teams most likely to make the next big move. In a lot of divisions in baseball, landing Donaldson and catcher Brian McCann in short order, as the Braves did, would be enough for a reigning division champ. But as Justice writes: "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."
It's possible the Braves could make a play for Dallas Keuchel to fit near the top of their rotation or sign Zach Britton to fortify the back of their bullpen. But Justice also mentions Michael Brantley, who has been linked aplenty to Atlanta this offseason, as a name for them to consider for corner outfield -- and out of those three players, he might provide the best bang for the buck.
As the top name left on the open market among starters, it's expected Keuchel will score a four- or five-year deal worth upward of $15 million to $20 million per season, which likely would be out of the Braves' price range. Britton will come cheaper than that, but perhaps Atlanta would prefer to spend a similar amount on an everyday outfielder, especially after the division-rival Phillies just added one of their own in Andrew McCutchen.
After all, someone has to replace free agent Nick Markakis' offense and veteran presence. Brantley -- with his elite contact ability and penchant for compiling good at-bats -- could prove valuable for Atlanta, which boasted a potent, yet often impatient, young lineup in 2018.
2B market is starting to move
Dec. 14: Second base is one of the more well-stocked positions in free agency this offseason, but it seems to be starting to roll at long last.
Ian Kinsler and the Padres agreed to a two-year, $8 million deal (with a team option for 2021) on Friday afternoon, sources told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi. He's expected to provide some stability and depth in the infield, while San Diego allows youngsters Fernando Tatis and Jr. Luis Urias -- MLB Pipeline's Nos. 2 and 27 overall prospects, respectively -- to break into the bigs at a comfortable pace.
Meanwhile, the Cubs and Cardinals are pursuing another veteran in Daniel Descalso -- a versatile infielder who saw most of his action at the keystone with the D-backs the past two years and is coming off a career campaign in 2018 -- according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal and USA Today's Bob Nightengale.
This comes on the heels of the Twins recently landing Jonathan Schoop as a bounceback candidate to handle second base in Minnesota.
A number of quality starting players at the position remain on the open market, including Jed Lowrie, DJ LeMahieu, Daniel Murphy, Brian Dozier and Asdrubal Cabrera. With action starting to happen here, it's possible some of the bigger names soon will look to lock in their own deals to avoid falling behind in a plentiful market where the supply appears to outweigh the demand.
Justice: Astros should target Cruz
Dec. 14: The prevailing thought with regard to Nelson Cruz is that his market is limited by two very key factors. One, he's pretty much a full-time designated hitter at this stage of his career, so it's almost a certainty that only American League teams would be in play. And two, he's 38, so it's more likely that contending clubs would be interested, since he could fit their window to win now.
The first reason above is why just about every Cruz-related rumor so far has linked him to teams like the Rangers, White Sox, Twins, Rays and Astros. The second reason above is why the Rays and Astros -- two teams certainly ready to contend right away in 2019 -- might make the most sense of all.
In his post-Winter Meetings rundown of seven clubs most likely to make the next big move, MLB.com's Richard Justice picks the Astros as perhaps the best fit for Cruz, citing their need for a designated hitter (in addition to rotation help).
As it stands now, Houston would enter next year with Tyler White as arguably its leading internal candidate to DH. While he had an impressive late-2018 showing (.879 OPS across August and September), Cruz's power -- he has averaged over 40 homers with a 145 OPS+ the past five seasons -- would provide an upgrade to a lineup that was still good last year but took a step back after a historic '17.
Cubs in touch with Tulo
Dec. 14: The Cubs are among the teams that have at least made contact with Troy Tulowitzki's camp after the veteran shortstop was released by the Blue Jays on Tuesday, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. Heyman also reports Chicago will send a scout to one of Tulowitzki's workouts.
Tulowitzki has been plagued by injuries throughout his 12-year Major League career. The five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner has missed most of the last six seasons with a variety of ailments, most recently heel injuries on both feet that required surgery and caused him to miss the entire 2018 season.
Tulowitzki hit .299/.371/.513 (123 OPS+) with 188 home runs in 1,048 games for the Rockies before being traded to Toronto in '15. He appeared in 131 games for the Blue Jays in '16, slashing .254/.318/.443 with 24 homers. The following season, he was limited to 66 games, hitting .249/.300/.378 with seven homers.
Fiers, Sanchez drawing interest from multiple teams
Dec. 14: Free-agent right-hander Mike Fiers is drawing interest from several teams, including the Reds, Giants, Nationals and Rangers, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi. Morosi adds that fellow free agent Anibal Sanchez is also of interest to some of the same clubs, including the Reds and Nationals. The Braves, the veteran right-hander's most recent team, are also in the mix.
Fiers, 33, posted a 3.56 ERA with the Tigers and A's in 2018, although his FIP was significantly higher, at 4.75. Sanchez, who will be entering his age-35 season, had a strong '18 campaign following three rough seasons to end his tenure in Detroit. While he posted a 5.67 ERA for the Tigers from '15-'17, his ERA in his first year with Atlanta was 2.83 over 25 appearances (24 starts).
Giants interested in trading for Pillar
Dec. 14: The Giants have had several questions to answer about how they will approach the 2019 season under new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, including whether San Francisco will trade star left-hander Madison Bumgarner this offseason. Another question mark is center field. According to NBC Bay Area, the club may look to Toronto for the answer in a trade for Kevin Pillar.
While San Francisco hopes 25-year-old Steven Duggar is the long-term answer in center, Zaidi reportedly would like a right-handed bat to platoon at the position with the left-handed hitting Duggar. Another potential advantage with a Pillar pickup would be the ability to play two center fielders in the massive AT&T Park outfield at the same time, with Pillar in center and Duggar in right.
Pillar, who turns 30 in January, has always been a defense-first player, hitting .261/.298/.398 with 55 homers in six seasons with the Blue Jays. Duggar appeared in 41 games as a rookie in '18, slashing .255/.303/.390.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
Machado just might be envisioning himself in pinstripes? But do the Yankees see that, as well?