As the postseason concludes, Hot Stove season begins. MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest free agent and trade rumors right here.
• Complete list of free agents this offseason
How does Escobar's contract impact third-base market?
Oct. 22: Eduardo Escobar was expected to be one of the top third basemen available this offseason, but he won't be hitting the open market after agreeing to a three-year deal with the D-backs on Monday.
With Escobar signed, Manny Machado potentially looking to stay at shortstop long term and Adrian Beltre likely to return to the Rangers if he opts to continue his career, Josh Donaldson and Mike Moustakas (if his $15 million mutual option isn't picked up) are shaping up to be the most attractive free-agent options at third base, by far. Another factor working in their favor? Neither player is eligible to receive a qualifying offer.
Beyond Beltre, Donaldson and Moustakas, the third-base market will include players such as Pablo Sandoval, Chase Headley, Danny Valencia, Jose Reyes and Luis Valbuena.
Of those five, Sandoval led the way with 0.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), per Fangraphs. The other four produced negative WAR totals, and Headley and Valencia were released before the season concluded.
Donaldson played just 52 games in 2018 due to injury problems, but he is one year removed from recording 33 homers with a .944 OPS in 113 games, and he has an American League MVP Award under his belt.
As for Moustakas, he has belted 66 home runs over the past two years, which ranks fourth in that span among those who have played at least 50 percent of their games at third base, behind Nolan Arenado, Machado and Jose Ramirez.
Even if Machado is willing to move back to third base, not every team can afford him, and only one can sign him, which means Donaldson and Moustakas could be in high demand as fallback options or lower-cost alternatives to the big prize.
World Series presents last chance for impending free agents to shine
Oct. 22: The World Series gets underway tonight, with the Red Sox hosting the Dodgers in Game 1 at Fenway Park. The bicoastal showdown features plenty of interesting subplots, including the looming free agency for a number of key free agents.
Manny Machado is the biggest name among them, though his free-agent case is already cemented. Regardless of how he does in the World Series, he's going to break the bank this offseason. The same goes for Clayton Kershaw, if he decides to opt out of his deal.
But several players have a lot riding on how they perform on baseball's biggest stage.
Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi has already boosted his stock over the first two rounds. If he can thrive against the Dodgers, it may only increase the number of teams willing to give him a lucrative multi-year offer.
On the other end of the spectrum are Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel and Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal, with both players looking to put their struggles over the first two rounds in the rearview mirror.
The Red Sox think they pinpointed the root of Kimbrel's woes -- with an assist from Eric Gagne, who reportedly texted manager Alex Cora during the ALCS to let him know that Kimbrel was tipping his pitches. A dominant World Series from Kimbrel would go a long way toward convincing clubs he is worth a deal similar to those given to big-name closers such as Wade Davis (three years, $52 million), Aroldis Chapman (five years, $82 million), Kenley Jansen (five years, $80 million) and Mark Melancon (four years, $62 million) in the past few offseasons.
Grandal, meanwhile, has notably struggled on offense and defense this postseason. Given the dearth of quality catching options in the game, there shouldn't be a shortage of suitors for the backstop. But Grandal's performance in the World Series -- especially against the Red Sox, who might be in the market for a catcher -- may be a factor when it comes to the size and length of his contract offers. Of course, it's fair to wonder how much Grandal will actually play in the Fall Classic after Austin Barnes started the final four games of the NLCS behind the plate.
And then there's David Price, who can opt out of the final four years and $127 million remaining on his deal. When asked by masslive.com in September if he planned to take that route, Price replied, "Why would I leave here to go to a team that's not as good as this team? I came here to win. I don't worry about all the other stuff. Just come here to win. We're going to have a really good chance to do that."
But if Price follows up his stellar showing in ALCS Game 5 with another gem or two in the World Series, emphatically closing the book on the narrative that he can't pitch in playoffs, it would increase his chances of opting out in search of a longer deal.
Video: ALCS Gm5: Price leads Sox to pennant with 6 scoreless
Report: Seibu Lions will post Kikuchi if left-hander wants to pursue MLB opportunity
Oct. 22: Yusei Kikuchi wasn't ready to discuss his future after the Seibu Lions' season came to an end with a loss in Game 5 of the Pacific League Climax Series on Sunday, but many expect the Japanese left-hander to make a move for Major League Baseball this offseason.
According to a report from the Japan Times, the Lions said Sunday that they would make Kikuchi available to MLB clubs via the posting system if that is the route the southpaw wants to take.
As MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi noted in August, multiple MLB scouts believe Kikuchi has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter in the big leagues.
The 27-year-old has recorded a 2.77 ERA with 903 strikeouts over 1,010 2/3 innings during his career in Japan. He spent some time on the disabled list with left shoulder stiffness in 2018, but still finished with a 3.08 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP over 163 2/3 frames.
After Sunday's loss, Kikuchi said there were no plans yet to sit down with the Lions to discuss his future, and he declined to speculate on his next step.
"The season just ended," Kikuchi said. "I'll spend some time with my family. That's all I'm thinking about."
Pollock shaping up to be best option among available center fielders
Oct. 22: While the corner-outfield market is flush with free-agent options, including Bryce Harper, Michael Brantley, Andrew McCutchen, Nick Markakis and Carlos Gonzalez, A.J. Pollock will likely be the most attractive center fielder available this offseason.
As a result, there should be heavy competition for Pollock's services, even though the veteran is set to turn 31 years old this December and has played fewer than 115 games in each of the past three years due to injuries.
Pollock is eligible to receive a $17.9 million qualifying offer from the D-backs, though it's not a foregone conclusion that the club will extend one his way. If he receives a qualifying offer from Arizona and subsequently rejects it, other clubs would need to forfeit one or more Draft picks to sign him, which could give some teams pause.
But Pollock ultimately shouldn't have a problem finding a home, with the Indians, Mariners, Giants, Mets and Rangers among those in obvious need of a center fielder. The Rockies could also be in that mix if they opt to move Charlie Blackmon to a corner-outfield spot and aren't comfortable with David Dahl as the everyday center fielder.
Is Girardi waiting for managerial position to open up in Chicago?
Oct. 22: Joe Girardi was believed to be a frontrunner for the Reds' managerial job before removing his name from consideration Friday. The industry speculation, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, is that Girardi, an Illinois native, is waiting for a manager job to open up with one of the two Chicago clubs.
Girardi last managed in 2017, taking the Yankees to Game 7 of the ALCS before losing to the eventual World Series-champion Astros. During an 11-year career as a manager with the Marlins and Yankees, Girardi has gone 988-794 (.554) with one World Series title (2009).
Cubs manager Joe Maddon has one year remaining on his contract, and there was some chatter that the club would look to go in a different direction this offseason after it lost to the Rockies at home in the National League Wild Card Game, but president of baseball operations Theo Epstein confirmed that Maddon would be back in 2019.
Rick Renteria will also return next season as the manager of the White Sox, but his future beyond 2019 is uncertain. Another uncertainty is whether the club would even want Girardi at the helm, as the Yankees reportedly moved on from the skipper because he had trouble connecting with young players. The White Sox are in the midst of a rebuild that will see many top prospects reach the Majors within the next one to two years to join those who have already debuted, such as 23-year-old Yoan Moncada, making Girardi a questionable fit.
Free agent market for starting pitchers headlined by Corbin, Eovaldi
Oct. 20: In a relatively thin starting pitcher market this year, the field will be headlined by left-hander Patrick Corbin and right-hander Nathan Eovaldi. Corbin, 29, is coming off a breakout season for the D-backs, going 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA over 33 starts, earning his second career All-Star selection. According to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, Corbin will be sought after by the Yankees, Dodgers, Giants and Braves. Cafardo also posits Corbin could be offered a deal in the neighborhood of at least five years and $20 million to $25 million.
Eovaldi, 28, has boosted his stock ahead of free agency this winter with two stellar postseason starts for the Red Sox, Cafardo notes. The right-hander has a 1.88 ERA over two starts between the AL Division Series against the Yankees and the AL Championship Series against the Astros. Cafardo compares Eovaldi to Alex Cobb, who also returned following Tommy John surgery and landed a four-year, $57 million deal with the Orioles last offseason.
Cafardo also mentions J.A. Happ, the veteran left-hander who may garner interest from the Yankees and Astros. Happ posted a 2.69 ERA in seven starts for New York after being acquired in a trade with the Blue Jays. Two other notable free-agents-to-be are Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton. Keuchel, 30, posted a 3.74 ERA in 34 starts for the Astros. Morton, 34, had another solid season (3.13 ERA over 30 starts), and could draw interest from the Yankees and Red Sox, according to Cafardo.
Machado's controversial week not expected to impact value to free agent suitors
Oct. 20: Milwaukee fans at Miller Park weren't all too happy to see impending free agent Manny Machado in Games 6 and 7 of the National League Championship Series after his controversial week, and they made their displeasure known with a hearty round of boos as Machado stepped to the plate, which turned to cheers when Wade Miley struck Machado out swinging during Game 6. Machado was seen gesturing to the crowd as if to egg them on as he walked into the dugout following the strikeout.
After hitting a solo homer and two-run single in Game 1 and following that up with a 2-for-3 showing in Game 3, Machado cooled down over the course of the week, going 1-for-12 with two walks (one intentional) in Games 4, 5 and 6. But he had a 2-for-4 showing with a pair of singles in Game 7, which the Dodgers won to advance to their second straight World Series. The first hit was particularly significant, a bunt single ahead of Cody Bellinger in the second inning. Bellinger proceeded to launch a two-run homer to give Los Angeles the lead.
The week, of course, also included the incident in which Machado clipped Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar's foot while running through first base, prompting Christian Yelich to call Machado a "dirty player," and his interview with MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in which Machado called hustling not his "cup of tea."
But through all of the controversy, Machado is still one of the most tantalizing talents in baseball entering free agency at the young age of 26, and as MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi points out, Machado's 175 homers through his age-25 season ranked fifth all-time among infielders, behind only Alex Rodriguez, Eddie Mathews, Jimmie Foxx and Orlando Cepeda.
Video: NLCS Gm6: Machado on Game 6 loss, handling the boos
Those accomplishments, as well as Machado's bounceback defense with the Dodgers, his positional flexibility and his contact rate, make it difficult for the controversy to move the needle on his free agency significantly -- a high-ranking club executive told Morosi that the impact to Machado should be "minimal," with agreement from others around baseball.
The market as a whole -- not individual front offices -- will ultimately dictate Machado's overall value come free agency, meaning that as long as interest from other clubs holds steady, his ultimate contract shouldn't be too highly affected by all the recent news.
As MLB Network insider Jon Heyman noted in an article for Fancred Sports, the Yankees should be firmly in play for Machado, especially with Didi Gregorius' recent Tommy John surgery. New York has tried to land Machado before, and Machado's interest in joining the Yankees was documented back in August, when Heyman reported that people close to the slugger were suggesting that the club was his first choice in free agency.
Heyman also said in an appearance on "The Rundown" on Thursday that the Phillies are prepared to pursue Machado and fellow uber-free agent Bryce Harper, and many expect them to come away with at least one.
"People around baseball are going to be surprised if [the Phillies] don't get at least one of these two players, and maybe both," Heyman said.
Miley continues surprising 2018 with solid Game 6 start
Oct. 20: Wade Miley might not be one of the premier names on the free agent market this offseason, but he's made a big splash this postseason due to both his solid work on the mound and his unorthodox usage in manager Craig Counsell's unique pitching plan. Couple that with his strong regular season, and he could be a solid option in free agency for teams looking for rotation depth and a veteran presence.
The left-hander hadn't allowed a run in three postseason "starts" prior to his NLCS Game 6 start on Friday, when he went 4 1/3 innings and allowed two runs -- a leadoff homer and RBI double by David Freese -- while striking out four and walking two.
Video: NLCS Game 6: Wade Miley discusses forcing a Game 7
Earlier in October, he pitched 4 2/3 shutout innings at Coors Field to clinch the NLDS for the Brewers and followed that up with 5 2/3 shutout innings of two-hit ball in NLCS Game 2 at Miller Park. Though he faced a first-and-second, two-out jam in the second inning, he induced a foul pop from Freese before retiring the next seven batters in order.
The Brewers might not have been in the postseason at all had it not been for Miley, who helped stabilize the flux in Milwaukee's starting rotation by going 5-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 16 starts, mostly from July on, after he was signed to a Minor League contract in the offseason. Gio Gonzalez will also hit free agency for the Brewers whenever their 2018 season comes to an end.