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Source: White Sox to get Alonso from Tribe

Veteran is Machado's brother-in-law; expected to split time between first base, DH
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- A few days before premium free agent Manny Machado reportedly will be visiting with the White Sox, the team enhanced its recruitment process by adding his brother-in-law via trade.

Yonder Alonso was acquired from Cleveland on Friday night in exchange for Minor League outfielder Alex Call, a source confirmed to MLB.com. Alonso has an $8 million salary for 2019 and a $9 million option for '20 with a $1 million buyout. The club is expected to officially announce the deal on Saturday morning.

CHICAGO -- A few days before premium free agent Manny Machado reportedly will be visiting with the White Sox, the team enhanced its recruitment process by adding his brother-in-law via trade.

Yonder Alonso was acquired from Cleveland on Friday night in exchange for Minor League outfielder Alex Call, a source confirmed to MLB.com. Alonso has an $8 million salary for 2019 and a $9 million option for '20 with a $1 million buyout. The club is expected to officially announce the deal on Saturday morning.

Hot Stove Tracker

Per Cot's Contracts, Alonso's 2020 option is guaranteed if he passes a physical after the 2019 season and has 550 plate appearances in 2019 or 1,100 plate appearances in '18-19 combined. Alonso, 31, hit .250 with 23 home runs, 83 RBIs, 19 doubles and a .738 OPS in '18.

Video: DET@CLE: Alonso pounds a 2-run homer to right field

Alonso played 138 games at first base in 2018 for the American League Central champions, but if all things stay the same with the White Sox roster makeup, he figures to split time with Jose Abreu between first and designated hitter. The move, which followed the free-agent signing of catcher James McCann on Friday, might indicate a change in direction from fellow premium Bryce Harper. Or the relationship between Machado and Alonso could be just an interesting side note.

The White Sox still have plenty of contractual room even with adding Alonso's salary, as Spotrac has them just over $33 million pre-arbitration for '19, so this trade won't influence moves in that way.

Call, 24, was the White Sox third round pick in the 2016 Draft. He hit .248 between stops at Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham last season, with 12 home runs, 28 doubles and 58 RBIs.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Yonder Alonso

Breaking down the market at second base

Several notable free agents remain available at the keystone
MLB.com

Second base is a plentiful position this offseason, and the game of musical chairs may just be getting started.

While the market was quiet at this week's Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, the Padres broke the silence Friday, agreeing to a two-year deal with veteran Ian Kinsler. Heading into his age-37 season, the four-time All-Star has seen his offense slip, but remains a rock-solid defender, although San Diego might be planning to use him more at third base.

Second base is a plentiful position this offseason, and the game of musical chairs may just be getting started.

While the market was quiet at this week's Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, the Padres broke the silence Friday, agreeing to a two-year deal with veteran Ian Kinsler. Heading into his age-37 season, the four-time All-Star has seen his offense slip, but remains a rock-solid defender, although San Diego might be planning to use him more at third base.

• Hot Stove Tracker

Jonathan Schoop, who joined the Twins on a one-year deal after the Brewers non-tendered him, is the only other free-agent second baseman to sign with a new club, thus far. (Robinson Cano was traded from the Mariners to the Mets earlier this month.)

So even with Kinsler coming off the board, a plethora of free agents who can play at that spot remain available. The flip side is that numerous teams are searching for help there, a list that could include the Brewers, Nationals, A's, Rockies, Angels and Dodgers.

Here is a breakdown of free-agent second basemen and what they bring to the table. Each player is listed with his 2018 team(s), 2019 seasonal age (as of July 1), and three-year total in wins above replacement (WAR), according to Baseball-Reference.com.

TOP OF THE MARKET

DJ LeMahieu, Rockies
2019 age: 30
Three-year WAR: 11.2
Pro: He's a two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner (including in 2018), who ranks second at his position in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) over the past five seasons. A .298 career hitter, LeMahieu won a batting title in 2016 (.348).
Con: LeMahieu owns a below-average 91 OPS+ since that terrific '16 campaign, and the longtime Rockie is only a .264/.311/.362 career hitter on the road.
Bottom line: The defense makes LeMahieu a reliable contributor, and his ability to make hard contact -- as shown by Statcast™ -- suggests offensive upside even if he leaves Coors Field.

Video: WSH@COL: LeMahieu robs Soto with a smooth diving stop

Jed Lowrie, A's
2019 age: 35
Three-year WAR: 8.1
Pro: Lowrie has been one of the top offensive second basemen in the game over the past two years, batting .272/.356/.448 over that span. The switch-hitter set career highs in homers (23) and RBIs (99) in 2018.
Con: Lowrie battled injuries prior to playing more than 150 games in both 2017 and '18, he turns 35 in April, and he faded a bit late last year (.727 second-half OPS).
Bottom line: Lowrie's age and shaky long-term track record might make teams skittish about betting heavily on his recent production continuing.

Marwin Gonzalez, Astros
2019 age: 30
Three-year WAR: 8.1
Pro: He's much more than a second baseman, with extensive experience -- and the ability to handle -- every infield position, plus left field. Gonzalez also enjoyed a big second half at the plate that approached his excellent 2017 production.
Con: That surge aside, Gonzalez's 103 OPS+ in '18 exactly matched his career output, with '17 the only season in which the switch-hitter was significantly above average.
Bottom line: His versatility beyond second base will be coveted, but it's fair to wonder if '17 will remain an offensive outlier.

Daniel Murphy, Nationals/Cubs
2019 age: 34
Three-year WAR: 6.4
Pro: In the three seasons since his huge performance for the Mets in the 2015 playoffs, Murphy's 136 OPS+ ties him with Jose Ramirez for 14th best in the Majors (minimum 1,500 plate appearances), sandwiched between Paul Goldschmidt and Bryce Harper.
Con: Never known for his defense, Murphy has posted a minus-33 DRS score at second over the past two years, and his production at the plate fell in 2018, after he returned late from knee surgery.
Bottom line: Murphy's second-half rebound suggested he's still an excellent hitter, but some teams might view him as a first baseman and/or DH at this point.

Video: CHC@ARI: Murphy launches a 2-run homer to right field

BOUNCEBACK BETS

Brian Dozier, Twins/Dodgers
2019 age: 32
Three-year WAR: 11.8
Pro: Dozier has smacked at least 20 home runs and 30 doubles in five consecutive seasons, and his 148 homers since 2014 give him far and away the highest total among MLB second basemen.
Con: Dozier's offensive numbers plummeted in 2018, to his lowest since his rookie year ('12). He batted just .182/.300/.350 in 170 plate appearances after a trade to Los Angeles, and struggled in the postseason.
Bottom line: Dozier may have the most impressive recent resume among free-agent second basemen, but last season generated serious questions about whether he is entering a steep decline phase.

Josh Harrison, Pirates
2019 age: 31
Three-year WAR: 5.5
Pro: While he's not Gonzalez, Harrison is a solid defender with some versatility, including significant experience at third base and the corner outfield spots. He was above average with the bat as recently as 2017 (.272/.339/.432).
Con: Harrison doesn't walk much or hit for a lot of power, and his numbers tumbled last year at the plate (.250/.293/.363). He also has seen his sprint speed decline to MLB average, per Statcast™.
Bottom line: Much could depend on whether clubs believe Harrison's 2018 decline was related to the fractured left hand he sustained when he was hit by a pitch in April.

Video: PIT@MIL: 'J Hay' charges in to make strong play

Neil Walker, Yankees
2019 age: 33
Three-year WAR: 3.9
Pro: Until last season, Walker was about as steady as it gets. From 2010-17, the switch-hitter posted an OPS+ between 106 and 126 each year (100 is league average), and averaged 2.6 WAR.
Con: Last year was just a bust for Walker, who batted a mere .219/.309/.354 overall and struggled in particular from the right side of the plate.
Bottom line: Walker's free agency last offseason dragged into March and might have contributed to a slow start. His .788 second-half OPS suggests a possible buy-low opportunity.

SOLID CONTRIBUTORS

Asdrubal Cabrera, Mets/Phillies
2019 age: 33
Three-year WAR: 4.6
Pro: The switch-hitter has put together four straight years with at least 540 plate appearances and a 106 OPS+, providing some pop from both sides of the plate.
Con: Cabrera has a DRS score of minus-23 at second over the past two seasons, plus -13 at shortstop, over about half as many innings.
Bottom line: The bat is stellar, but the glove limits his upside, especially as he pushes into his mid-30s.

Daniel Descalso, D-backs
2019 age: 32
Three-year WAR: 1.4
Pro: Descalso revamped himself at the plate in 2018, hitting the ball in the air and pulling it more, which yielded career-best numbers (.238/.353/.436, 13 homers) in 423 plate appearances.
Con: Descalso's larger body of work with the bat is uninspiring (career 85 OPS+), and while he has some positional versatility, his defensive numbers have not been especially strong.
Bottom line: He's a highly useful part-timer or utility man, especially if his new approach sticks going forward.

Video: ARI@LAD: Descalso lifts go-ahead solo homer in 9th

OTHERS OF NOTE

Logan Forsythe, Dodgers/Twins (age 32): He produced 8.6 WAR for the Rays in 2015-16, but needs to resurrect his value after batting .228/.332/.309 with eight home runs over the past two seasons.

Yangervis Solarte, Blue Jays (age 31): More of a third baseman over his career, the switch-hitter started hot in 2018, but had a .558 OPS over his final 92 games.

Derek Dietrich, Marlins (age 29): He has struggled to find a home defensively, playing four positions, but posted a 114 OPS+ over the past four seasons.

Wilmer Flores, Mets (age 27): The bat makes him an intriguing pickup, and Flores has more than held his own against righties over the past two seasons. But the defense around the infield is suspect.

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

Marwin Gonzalez, DJ LeMahieu, Jed Lowrie, Daniel Murphy

Rumors: Alonso, Machado, Kimbrel, Keuchel

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

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.

Tweet from @dennistlin: The Padres have interest in Dallas Keuchel, according to sources, though the asking price is currently prohibitive (likely so for most teams). Keuchel, a Scott Boras client and the top free-agent starter left, isn���t expected to sign until late in the offseason.

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?

Tweet from @jcrasnick: One MLB personnel man thinks the #Brewers could be a legit player for Realmuto. "I haven't read much about them, but I know they've inquired,'' he said. "They were interested at the trade deadline. I think they'll quietly creep into this.'' https://t.co/2NfxH6D66l

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."

Tweet from @jcrasnick: The same exec likes the #Dodgers and #Padres as Realmuto fits because they both have catching prospects to send to Miami: Keibert Ruiz in LA, and Francisco Mejia in SD. The #Marlins currently have Bryan Holaday and Chad Wallach behind Realmuto, so they're thin at the position.

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.

Tweet from @martinonyc: Mets catching situation moving closer to resolution (not sayin tonight, but they���re working hard on it.)I keep hearing from different people that they���re very serious about Yasmani Grandal

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.

Tweet from @martinonyc: Mets still serious about A.J. Pollock as they weigh catching options

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.

Tweet from @AJCassavell: Friars view Kinsler as a veteran option who can play multiple spots. If and when Tatis arrives this season, it seems like Urias at 2B, Tatis at SS and Kinsler at 3B is the likeliest option.

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.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: #Cubs in strong pursuit of free-agent infielder Daniel Descalso, sources tell The Athletic.

Tweet from @BNightengale: Daniel Descalso indeed the #Cubs first choice as a super utility player but they just don���t know whether they can afford him in their budget with Descalso also on #Stlcards radar. https://t.co/xRhm6FXK78

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.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Cubs are one of the teams that has at least been in contact with Tulo, and they will send a scout to a workout. There are others though, so they aren���t necessarily the favorite. His agent told @susanslusser there are 6 teams and they will narrow field soon.

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.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Sources: Free agent Mike Fiers drawing interest from multiple clubs, including the Reds, Giants, Nationals and Rangers. Fiers, 33, is coming off a year in which he posted his best full-season ERA as a starter (3.56). @MLB @MLBNetwork

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).

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Free agent Anibal Sanchez's marketplace has some overlap with that of Fiers. The Braves (Sanchez's most recent team), Reds and Nationals have shown interest in Sanchez, sources say. @MLB @MLBNetwork

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.

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

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

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?

Sources: Kinsler, Padres agree to 2-year deal

Veteran infielder could move Urias to shortstop until Tatis arrives
MLB.com

The Padres entered the offseason in dire need of infield help. They landed some on Friday -- in a move that certainly qualifies as a surprise.

San Diego agreed to a two-year deal with free-agent second baseman Ian Kinsler, sources told MLB.com. The club has yet to confirm the deal, which is reportedly worth $8 million and is pending a physical.

The Padres entered the offseason in dire need of infield help. They landed some on Friday -- in a move that certainly qualifies as a surprise.

San Diego agreed to a two-year deal with free-agent second baseman Ian Kinsler, sources told MLB.com. The club has yet to confirm the deal, which is reportedly worth $8 million and is pending a physical.

For the most part, the Padres' infield openings revolved around the left side, with both shortstop and third base available. Even though Kinsler is a lifelong second baseman, his signing might help address both of those needs.

Luis Urias, the presumed second baseman of the future, is now the favorite to open the season at shortstop. He's played there plenty in the Minors, and has been mostly solid defensively.

When No. 1 prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. arrives at short -- potentially as early as May -- Urias will slide to second base, and Kinsler would serve as a utility option who could also play third. Still, a team source said the Friars are still looking to add at third base.

Kinsler, a four-time All-Star and reigning American League Gold Glove Award winner at second base, struggled at the plate last season, batting .240/.301/.380 with 14 homers. He was dealt from the Angels to the Red Sox midseason and played a useful role in their run to the World Series title.

Team sources made it explicitly clear that the Kinsler deal does not mean Urias is going anywhere in a trade. Quite the contrary, in fact. The Padres wanted a veteran with big-game experience to help guide their young infield.

They feel as though they've gotten that in the 36-year-old Kinsler.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Ian Kinsler

Dodgers hope Kelly's 'great stuff' turns into results

Righty reliever had 13/0 K/BB in Boston's run to '18 World Series title
MLB.com

In certain circles of the baseball internet, there's a long-running joke that Joe Kelly has "great stuff." The humor there is clear: Kelly has elite velocity, averaging 98.1 mph, and he's got a great-looking high-spin curveball, but he's never had the results to match. He's got the tools, he's got the "stuff," and he's long since made the rotation-to-bullpen shift that many failed starters make. It should have clicked by now. It hasn't, stuff or not.

Or it hadn't, at least, until the 2018 playoffs. Kelly threw 11 1/3 innings during Boston's run to a World Series title, striking out 13 while issuing zero walks and allowing only a single earned run. For a pitcher with regular control issues -- his 11.2 percent walk rate was worse than 90 percent of the other pitchers who threw at least 60 innings this year -- it was a stunning turnaround. It was only 11 1/3 innings, sure. But they were great innings.

In certain circles of the baseball internet, there's a long-running joke that Joe Kelly has "great stuff." The humor there is clear: Kelly has elite velocity, averaging 98.1 mph, and he's got a great-looking high-spin curveball, but he's never had the results to match. He's got the tools, he's got the "stuff," and he's long since made the rotation-to-bullpen shift that many failed starters make. It should have clicked by now. It hasn't, stuff or not.

Or it hadn't, at least, until the 2018 playoffs. Kelly threw 11 1/3 innings during Boston's run to a World Series title, striking out 13 while issuing zero walks and allowing only a single earned run. For a pitcher with regular control issues -- his 11.2 percent walk rate was worse than 90 percent of the other pitchers who threw at least 60 innings this year -- it was a stunning turnaround. It was only 11 1/3 innings, sure. But they were great innings.

Six of those innings -- and 10 strikeouts -- came against the Dodgers in the World Series, and they must have been impressed by what they saw, because Kelly is now a Dodger, having reportedly signed a three-year deal worth $25 million to return to his native Southern California and attempt to fill the "2017 Brandon Morrow" role that Los Angeles struggled so badly to replicate in 2018. 

For a fanbase somewhat scarred by failed three-year deals to unimpressive relievers like Brandon League and Matt Guerrier and seemingly apprehensive about this deal, that's really the question here: Can 11 admittedly great innings overshadow the 600-plus up-and-down innings that came before it? The Dodgers appear to be banking that they will.

Video: WS2018 Gm5: Kelly strikes out Bellinger, side in 8th

First off, let's not worry about the contract, because it's exactly what was expected. At FanGraphs, writer Kiley McDaniel projected three years and $24 million before the offseason began, exactly what Jon Heyman had. MLB Trade Rumors suggested three years and $27 million, a nearly identical figure. Three years and $25 million is exactly right, and it's really not that much in a world where Craig Kimbrel reportedly wants north of $100 million. The money is fine. If he succeeds, it's a steal for the team. If he doesn't, it's a drop in the Dodger payroll bucket. 

It doesn't matter what his career stats are, because half of that time was spent trying unsuccessfully to be a starter with St. Louis and Boston. It doesn't matter that he has two career saves, because saves aren't important -- just look at Andrew Miller -- and he's not coming to Los Angeles to unseat Kenley Jansen, anyway. What matters is if the Dodgers think they can take the October version of Kelly and help make that the version they see over the next three seasons -- just like how the Astros have helped talented pitchers improve after arriving in Houston.

Tweet from @bradfo: Joe Kelly had lengthy meeting with Dodgers president Andrew Friedman last Friday. Was blown away by detailed plan of how LA viewed him

Can they? It all depends on if Kelly's October success was small-sample luck, or the results of actual changes. We can say with certainty that he made changes, at least. That's a start. 

Kelly brings an elite skillset 

Obviously, you start with the aforementioned "great stuff," and it's not hard to see what's attracting the Dodgers here. Over 600 pitchers threw at least 100 fastballs, and Kelly's 98.1 mph average velocity was fourth-best. Call it a 99th percentile skill. Over 230 pitchers threw at least 100 curveballs, and Kelly was one of only six to average over 3,000 RPM of spin rate. Call that a 99th percentile skill, too. 

Combine those two skills to find pitchers with similar fastball velocity and curveball spin, and you can't, really. It's difficult to teach velocity or spin, and Kelly is an outlier in both.

(Those two dots nearest him in the upper right are Garrett Richards, who has been so good when healthy that the Padres just gave him a two-year deal despite knowing he won't pitch in 2019, and Ryan Pressly, who, after several unmemorable years in Minnesota, became one of baseball's biggest relief weapons after being traded to the Astros.)

It's easy to see an analytically-inclined team looking at that and thinking that with minor tweaks, they can help him be the next Pressly. 

But if we already saw the beginnings of that ... what changed? How did Kelly manage that October performance in the first place?

What made the October Kelly a different pitcher

Just after the World Series, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand spoke to a Major League scout about whether Kelly's postseason heroics might have increased his market value.

"I think in this day and age, the performance in the postseason won't provide as big a bump as it might have in the past, unless there is data/information that shows a sustainable change to his stuff or how he was using it," the scout said.

That's exactly right. The small sample numbers are nice, but it has to be more than that. There has to be a reason behind it in order to put any stock into it. As you'd expect, there's no shortage of theories here. Two different local reports out of Boston pointed to a meeting Kelly had with the coaching staff during a Sept. 18-20 road trip to New York.

"Basically, went into the clubhouse after the game, said, 'What's going on? What are you feeling?'" said pitching coach Dana LeVangie to the Boston Globe in October. "From that point on, he was willing to buy in to make adjustments. This is where we're at now."

During the same meeting, WEEI reported that a pitch-tipping issue had been identified as well.

It's not hard to see all of those changes happening. First, about the tipping, let's take a look at five randomly-selected Kelly appearances, three from before the coaching meeting, and two after. The only thing they have in common is that they're all at Fenway against righty hitters. See anything notable?

It's pretty clear that Kelly changed the position of his hands as he came to the set position. For most of the year, he would bring them to his chest. After the meeting, and into the playoffs, he would hold them at his waist. If there was concern that runners on base could see his grip and signal to the hitter, or if somehow the batter himself could see what was coming, this is a pretty clear indicator.

Beyond that, it's pretty clear that his pitch usage changed as well, emphasizing the curveball more, and the slider less.

Kelly 2018 regular-season pitch usage

Four-seam: 50 percent
Curve: 19 percent
Slider: 15 percent
Changeup: 11 percent
Sinker: 6 percent

Kelly 2018 postseason pitch usage

Four-seam: 58 percent
Curve: 33 percent
Slider: 0 percent
Changeup: 8 percent
Sinker: 1 percent

While this view doesn't make it clear, the changeup was more prominent in the postseason than it might look, because he had all but abandoned it in the middle of season. (He threw it just 3 percent of the time in June, but 20 percent in September, and it was a big weapon for him in October, as Matt Kemp found out.)

Video: WS2018 Gm1: Kelly K's Kemp on nasty changeup

Now, remember when we talked about the characteristics of his four-seamer and curveball above? Those two pitches comprised 90 percent of his postseason offerings, with the slider and sinker disappearing entirely. (As WEEI reported, Kelly replaced the slider with a pitch that used "the curveball grip but with a velocity more resembling the slider.")

So he used the curve more, and he used it differently. During the regular season, that curve would come on the first pitch 28 percent of the time. In the postseason, hitters would see it 43 percent of the time. When he got to two strikes, out came that 100 mph heat, very regularly high in the strike zone, even more than in the regular season.

Put another way, 49 percent of Kelly's two-strike fastballs were 3 feet or higher in the regular season ... and 71 percent of them were in the postseason.

There's an argument to be made that they could have spent more for a potentially more dominant and reliable reliever like Adam Ottavino, though Ottavino had a poor season as recently as 2017. There's an argument for bigger names with longer track records, like Miller or Zach Britton, though both have had serious injury concerns lately. Most of all, there's an argument that 11 1/3 innings worth of very good work just isn't enough of a look to think that Kelly is somehow improved.

Those are all fair and valid and good arguments. But you can at least see what the Dodgers are thinking here. They're thinking that Pedro Baez, Scott Alexander, Dylan Floro, Tony Cingrani, and friends in front of a coming-off-his-worst-year Jansen isn't enough. They're thinking that Kelly has now had three straight years of postseason success -- in 17 2/3 October innings since 2016, he's yet to walk a single hitter, and has a 0.51 ERA -- and they're thinking that the changes he's made and the ones they may yet make will finally unlock all that talent.

Kelly has always had that "great stuff," obviously. The Dodgers are betting they can turn that into great production. It's not hard to see what they're thinking.

Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Joe Kelly

Jose Ramirez's backyard has its own infield and a pool shaped like an infield, and it's an inspiration

This week, Radiohead was officially announced as a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee after decades of accolades and consistent musical weirdness. The band's most recent album was 2016's "A Moon Shaped Pool," which earned Thom Yorke and company a pair of Grammy nominations.

There's no Hall of Fame specifically for the backyard structures built by professional athletes, but if one existed, Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez would no doubt hold a spot in its hallowed halls after this, his infield-shaped pool he proudly shared with the world on Friday. 

Tulowitzki, Descalso reportedly on Cubs' radar

MLB.com

Given the situation surrounding shortstop Addison Russell, the Cubs need to have a contingency plan up the middle for the first month of next season. Free agents Troy Tulowitzki and Daniel Descalso are reportedly on Chicago's radar as infield reinforcements.

Russell will be ineligible to play until May 3, while finishing out a 40-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. While he is inactive, the Cubs plan on using Javier Baez at short, creating a temporary vacancy at second base.

Given the situation surrounding shortstop Addison Russell, the Cubs need to have a contingency plan up the middle for the first month of next season. Free agents Troy Tulowitzki and Daniel Descalso are reportedly on Chicago's radar as infield reinforcements.

Russell will be ineligible to play until May 3, while finishing out a 40-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. While he is inactive, the Cubs plan on using Javier Baez at short, creating a temporary vacancy at second base.

Hot Stove Tracker

Chicago could lean on Ben Zobrist, Ian Happ or David Bote as internal options for second, but the team also wants to add more depth this offseason. The Cubs are also searching for some added veteran leadership for their clubhouse. Both Tulowitzki and Descalso fit the positional need, and each has plenty of MLB and postseason experience.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the Cubs are one of six teams believed to be in on Tulowitzki, who was released by the Blue Jays on Tuesday in a surprise move at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. The 34-year-old Tulowitzki is owed $38 million over the next two years, but Toronto will be on the hook for the remaining salary. Any team that signs Tulowitzki would only be required to pay him the league minimum.

Video: Tulo released by Blue Jays, enters free agency

The big question surrounding Tulowitzki is his health, given that the shortstop has not played a Major League game since July 28, 2017, due to foot and ankle injuries. He missed all of 2018 while dealing with bone spurs in each heel. Following Tulowitzki's release, the Cubs began looking into the latest on his health status. Per reports, the veteran has been working out and progressing well in California.

During the Winter Meetings, Cubs manager Joe Maddon was asked for his opinion of Tulowitzki.

"I knew, obviously, him and Longo were buds," said Maddon, referring to Evan Longoria, whom the manager knows from their years with the Rays. "I don't know health-wise where he's at. He was fabulous. When he was in Denver, I loved what I saw. That's been a while ago. I know the health has been an issue lately. I know Longo likes him a lot, which is good enough for me."

A 12-year veteran of the big leagues, Tulowitzki has played in 35 career playoff games, including during the 2007 World Series with the Rockies against the Red Sox.

Video: Daniel Descalso to become free agent ahead of 2019

The Cubs are also in "strong pursuit" of Descalso, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal. The 32-year-old infielder has hit .240 (.694 OPS) over nine years between stops with the Cardinals, Rockies and D-backs. St. Louis is also reportedly interested in the utility infielder, who manned second base (52 games), third (37), first (11) and the outfield (five) with Arizona last season.

Descalso, who won a World Series with the Cardinals in 2011, hit .238 with a career-high 13 home runs, along with 57 RBIs and a .789 OPS in 138 games in 2018. He posted an 111 wRC+, indicating that he was 11 percent above league average offensively. Descalso -- a left-handed hitter -- had a 134 wRC+ against lefties (74 plate appearances) and a 107 wRC+ off righties (349 PAs) last season.

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Chicago Cubs, Daniel Descalso, Troy Tulowitzki

The latest Keuchel free-agent rumors

MLB.com

After a seven-season tenure with the Astros that included a trio of 200-inning seasons, an American League Cy Young Award in 2015 and an overall 3.66 ERA, Dallas Keuchel is now a free agent.

Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the left-hander.

After a seven-season tenure with the Astros that included a trio of 200-inning seasons, an American League Cy Young Award in 2015 and an overall 3.66 ERA, Dallas Keuchel is now a free agent.

Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the left-hander.

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.

Tweet from @dennistlin: The Padres have interest in Dallas Keuchel, according to sources, though the asking price is currently prohibitive (likely so for most teams). Keuchel, a Scott Boras client and the top free-agent starter left, isn���t expected to sign until late in the offseason.

Amid 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.

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.

Phillies eyeing Keuchel, Happ
Dec. 11: The Phillies reportedly turned their attention, in part, to Dallas Keuchel after losing Patrick Corbin to the division-rival Nationals earlier this month, and they still appear to be considering the 30-year-old free agent.

According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, Philadelphia remains in on Keuchel and reliever Zach Britton, and the club continues to eye a "mega free agent" (presumably Bryce Harper or Manny Machado) as well.

Tweet from @BNightengale: The #Phillies in on Dallas Keuchel and Zach Britton while also hoping to lure a certain mega free agent

Beyond the Phillies, the market for Keuchel is still a bit hazy on the second full day of the Winter Meetings.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported Monday that the Braves, Phillies and Reds are the top three teams in on the left-hander, but MLB.com's Mark Bowman has heard something different. Per Bowman, the Braves have not had discussions regarding Keuchel. And MLB.com's Mark Sheldon has previously reported that the Reds' interest in Keuchel was being overblown.

It's possible the connection between Keuchel and the Braves was floated by Keuchel's representatives to get the Phillies to up their offer.

Meanwhile, the Phillies are also eyeing J.A. Happ and have had "ongoing dialogue" with the left-hander in recent days, according to Jayson Stark of The Athletic.

Tweet from @jaysonst: The #Phillies have had ongoing dialogue with LHP J.A. Happ over the last several days, according to sources. The Phillies have a long shopping list. But Happ appears to be their best fit, as a LH with experience in Philadelphia who won't require a long deal. Still seeking 3 years

Happ has a number of two-year offers in hand, but he is reportedly seeking three years, and no team has been willing to go there yet. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the left-hander has indicated he'll sign with the first club that does.

Tweet from @JeffPassan: Sources: Where J.A. Happ winds up could come down to the team that guarantees him a third year. Right now, none has, and he has indicated he���ll sign with the first one that does. If none steps up, he���s got a number of two-year offers to consider, most from contending teams.

The Phillies have a long shopping list, as Stark notes, but a left-handed starter is believed to be high on that list. Philadelphia's rotation skews right-handed, and only two southpaws -- Adam Morgan and Ranger Suarez -- have started a game for the club since Cole Hamels was traded to the Rangers in 2015.

Angels could pursue Keuchel
Dec. 10: The Angels are seeking rotation upgrades and have been more engaged than anticipated on the top free agents, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required).

Major League sources told Rosenthal that the club made "quiet runs" at Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi before they signed with the Nationals and Red Sox, respectively.

The Angels could now turn their attention to Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, J.A. Happ and Yusei Kikuchi, among others, according to Rosenthal.

Keuchel's reliability could be especially enticing for the team, given the injury histories of its current rotation options, which include Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs, Nick Tropeano and JC Ramirez, but not Shohei Ohtani, who won't pitch in 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October.

Is Keuchel now the top free-agent starter?
Dec. 6: The Red Sox worked fast to reunite with Nathan Eovaldi, landing the righty with a four-year deal only two days after the Nationals gave a reported $140 million over six years to lefty Patrick Corbin. Those two represented arguably the top free-agent starting pitchers this offseason.

Does that make Dallas Keuchel -- a reliable, durable, in-his prime southpaw -- the clear No. 1 name among starters on the open market?

The 30-year-old does have an impressive resume, starting with his 2015 AL Cy Young Award. Keuchel also sports a 3.28 ERA over his past five seasons, which is 16th best in baseball over that span (minimum 500 innings pitched). His 950 1/3 frames since '14 also represent the 13th most in MLB.

While Keuchel's repertoire isn't overwhelming -- he's more of a command pitcher who relies on his sinker to get grounders and keep the ball in the park -- his age, performance and experience, including a 3.31 ERA over 51 2/3 postseason innings in his career, suggest he's now ranked No. 1 in the free-agent market for starters.

There's a difference, however, between being considered the top name and being the top target. Other intriguing names in the mix include fellow vets J.A. Happ and Charlie Morton, who have pitched extremely well the past couple of seasons and -- here's the key factor -- should cost less in terms of dollars and years than Keuchel. Same goes for Japanese lefty Yusei Kikuchi, who was posted by the Seibu Lions earlier this week and is considered an intriguing arm with mid-rotation potential.

Dallas Keuchel

Chapman (shoulder surgery) to swing in 6 weeks

MLB.com

A's third baseman Matt Chapman underwent left shoulder surgery on Friday and is expected to begin swinging a bat in six weeks. He first experienced pain in the shoulder during a recent offseason workout.

The distal clavicle resection procedure was performed by Dr. William Workman at the Bass Surgical Center in Walnut Creek, Calif. The surgery was Chapman's second this offseason. He had a right thumb procedure Oct. 16.

A's third baseman Matt Chapman underwent left shoulder surgery on Friday and is expected to begin swinging a bat in six weeks. He first experienced pain in the shoulder during a recent offseason workout.

The distal clavicle resection procedure was performed by Dr. William Workman at the Bass Surgical Center in Walnut Creek, Calif. The surgery was Chapman's second this offseason. He had a right thumb procedure Oct. 16.

Chapman, 25, had a breakout season in 2018, slashing .278/.356/.508 with 24 home runs in 145 games for Oakland. He finished seventh in American League Most Valuable Player Award voting, and won a Gold Glove Award at third base and the American League's Platinum Glove Award as the league's best defensive player.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Oakland Athletics, Matt Chapman

The latest Realmuto trade rumors

MLB.com

The Marlins reportedly are shopping J.T. Realmuto, who is arguably MLB's best catcher at a time when productive all-around backstops are in short supply.

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

The Marlins reportedly are shopping J.T. Realmuto, who is arguably MLB's best catcher at a time when productive all-around backstops are in short supply.

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

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?

Tweet from @jcrasnick: One MLB personnel man thinks the #Brewers could be a legit player for Realmuto. "I haven't read much about them, but I know they've inquired,'' he said. "They were interested at the trade deadline. I think they'll quietly creep into this.'' https://t.co/2NfxH6D66l

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."

Tweet from @jcrasnick: The same exec likes the #Dodgers and #Padres as Realmuto fits because they both have catching prospects to send to Miami: Keibert Ruiz in LA, and Francisco Mejia in SD. The #Marlins currently have Bryan Holaday and Chad Wallach behind Realmuto, so they're thin at the position.

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. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video: Michael Hill on Winter Meetings, market for Realmuto

Reds enter mix for Realmuto; Braves, Mets involved, too
Dec. 12: The Reds have jumped into the J.T. Realmuto sweepstakes, according to Craig Mish of SiriusXM, though Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald has heard Cincinnati has been interested in the catcher for "a while."

Tweet from @CraigMish: Sources indicate the Cincinnati Reds have jumped into the Realmuto talks. Could be moving up into the candidates to acquire him.

Tweet from @clarkspencer: Reds have been in on Realmuto for ���a while��� I���m told. Not like they suddenly became interested. At least a half-dozen teams still in play, perhaps diminishing chance a deal gets done here in Vegas. https://t.co/y1Fck0VG55

Per Mish, catcher Tucker Barnhart and outfield prospect Taylor Trammell (Cincinnati's No. 2 prospect, No. 17 overall, per MLB Pipeline) are among the names that could highlight a potential package from the Reds. But MLB Network insider Jon Heyman has heard the Reds are refusing to include No. 1 prospect Nick Senzel (No. 6 overall).

Tweet from @CraigMish: Sources indicate the names possibly in a potential deal would be hilighted by top prospect Taylor Trammell and a catcher. Possibly Barnhart.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Reds and Marlins continue to engage on Realmuto, though Cincy has so far held the line and not agreed to include Nick Senzel

MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Braves and Mets remain involved as well.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: J.T. Realmuto trade is possible in the coming days. #Reds, #Mets, #Braves among the teams involved as of this morning. @MLBNetwork @MLB

Realmuto represents a significant upgrade over Barnhart, especially on the offseason end. Barnhart makes sense for Miami, though, as he is just a couple months older than the 27-year-old Realmuto and is signed for the next three years for a base salary of only $9.75 million. Barnhart also has a $7.5 million team option with a $500,000 buyout for 2022. Realmuto, meanwhile, can become a free agent in two years, and his agent has indicated the catcher won't be signing an extension with the Marlins.

Mets' pursuit of Realmuto may be fizzling, but NY not completely out
Dec. 12: The Mets have been the most aggressive suitor for catcher J.T. Realmuto during the Winter Meetings, but their talks with the Marlins may be stalling.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the club hasn't made progress in Realmuto discussions over the last 24 hours and may look at alternatives. One possibility could be signing Martin Maldonado, with whom the club met Tuesday, and putting more resources into the bullpen. The Mets have also met with Wilson Ramos, per Heyman, and Andy Martino of SNY reported Tuesday that Yasmani Grandal is still in play for New York if the club is unable to acquire Realmuto. That said, signing Ramos or Grandal would leave the Mets with less money to add a reliever and an outfielder.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Mets are to lose a bit of confidence in realmuto talks, and are starting to think about the value of acquiring a defensive catcher ��� they met on Maldonado Tuesday ��� and bulking up the bullpen instead.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Mets haven���t given up on Realmuto but haven���t made progress on that front last 24 hours and are looking into alternative plans at the moment. Preference at catcher is to get a strong defender.

The Marlins covet Amed Rosario, as well as outfielders Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto, but the Mets have been hesitant to part with those players.

Granted, all this doesn't mean the club is out of the running. According to MLB Network insider Joel Sherman, the Mets still view Realmuto as a possibility for them.

Tweet from @Joelsherman1: #Mets feel Realmuto is still a possibility for them. This is what I SENSE: Syndergaard off table. #Marlins want Conforto. NYM perhaps willing to mull Rosario/Nimmo/Peterson. Miami has multiple suitors so price will be big.

Realmuto, 27, has been one of the most talked-about trade candidates in recent days, with a potential three-team deal featuring the Marlins and both New York teams drawing significant buzz on Day 1 of the Winter Meetings before petering out. In the discussed trade, Realmuto would have gone to the Mets, with Noah Syndergaard joining the Yankees and prospects presumably heading to the Marlins.

Per Sherman, the Marlins also tried to float the idea that the Yanks were independently trying to acquire Realmuto, but Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the club is pursuing no primary catchers and confirmed that Gary Sanchez is the team's starting backstop.

Tweet from @Joelsherman1: #Marlins have tried to create perception that #Yankees are independently in to try to obtain Realmuto. Cashman said they are pursuing ���no��� primary catchers. Sanchez is the starter, he said.