Welcome to Day 2 of the 2018 winter meetings. Monday brought some minor free-agent signings (, ) , including a potential blockbuster. . Wowza.
As always, a trade of that magnitude is unlikely to be completed and that goes double when there’s a Yankees-Mets element involved. The two New York teams have not made a player-for-player trade since the Mike Stanton for Felix Heredia lefty reliever swap in 2004. That said, new Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen has indicated a willingness to be bold, and this would certainly qualify.
With the 2018 winter meetings now underway at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, we will again keep you apprised of the latest hot stove news and rumblings right here in this handy roundup post. Make sure you check back often throughout the day for updates.
Dodgers talking deals with Reds, others
The Dodgers continue to discuss trades involving Yasiel Puig and others in an effort to clear up money for other pursuits, per Ken Rosenthal. One of the teams they’re talking to? The upstart Reds, who could use help in their rotation and perhaps in the outfield.
It’s worth noting the Reds hired former Dodgers hitting coach Turner Ward this winter. He’s known to have a healthy rapport with Puig.
The Dodgers, for their part, are presumably gearing up to make a run at Bryce Harper — provided, that is, they can free up enough money.
Rays, Twins in on Cruz
Nelson Cruz is the best DH type on the open market. Unfortunately for him, there aren’t many AL teams who are both aspiring contenders and willing shoppers.
Phillies sign McCutchen
The Phillies have made their first big free-agent splash of the offseason. . The signing does not take the club out of the running for Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, but it does free up a younger player like Nick Williams or Aaron Altherr to be used as trade bait. .
White Sox interested in Grandal
The White Sox have been making noise about trying to contend in 2019, and of Ivan Nova certainly backs up that notion. Now Buster Olney reports that the Sox have some interest in free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal.
Grandal, 30, is coming off perhaps his best season at the plate, as he hit 24 home runs in 140 games and put up an Welington Castillo penciled in as their primary catcher.of 120 for the Dodgers. For his career, he owns an OPS+ of 115 across parts of seven big-league seasons. Grandal is also a skilled pitch-framer behind the plate. Right now, the White Sox have
Red Sox out on Kimbrel; open to moving Porcello, Bogaerts, Bradley
With little payroll flexibility remaining, the Red Sox are all but out on Craig Kimbrel, and in fact they are willing to listen to trade offers for Rick Porcello, Jackie Bradley Jr., and even Xander Bogaerts according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic and Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Red Sox players are reportedly lobbying for a reunion with free-agent reliever Joe Kelly.
At the moment the Red Sox have $240 million on the books next season in terms of luxury tax payroll, well above the $206 million threshold and above the $226 million tier that triggers additional penalties. They’re approaching the $246 million tier that triggers the toughest penalties. As a repeat offender, Boston would pay a 75 percent tax on every dollar over the luxury tax threshold and have their first round pick moved back 10 spots if they go over $246 million in 2019.
Porcello ($21.1 million) and Bogaerts ($11.9 million projected) will both become free agents after next season. Bradley ($7.9 million projected in 2019) won’t become a free agent for another two seasons. The Red Sox have already spent big to re-sign Nathan Eovaldi, and it appears that if they want to bring back Kelly (nevermind Kimbrel), they’ll have to shed salary elsewhere.
Astros interested in Brantley
The Astros have interest in free-agent outfielder Michael Brantley, reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com. The team is somewhat wary of blocking top outfield prospect Kyle Tucker, who made his MLB debut in 2018 and could be ready to take on a larger role in 2019. That said, the Astros do have openings in left field and DH, so it is possible for Brantley and Tucker to coexist on the roster.
Brantley, 31, rebounded from injury-filled 2016-17 seasons with a .309/.364/.468 (123 OPS+) batting line with 36 doubles and 17 home runs in 2018. Andrew McCutchen’s three-year, $50 million contract with the Phillies serves as potential framework for Brantley’s contract, though McCutchen has been far more durable over the years, averaging 155 games per season from 2010-18. Houston has been connected to mostly pitchers this winter.
Blue Jays release Tulowitzki
The Troy Tulowitzki era in Toronto has come to an end. . Toronto still owed him $38 million the next two years. Tulowitzki did not play at all in 2018 due to surgery on both heels. He is recovering and working out this winter, and now any team can sign him for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum.
Reds interested in Kluber, Bauer
A surprising suitor has emerged for Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports the Reds continue to pursue the two Indians hurlers as well as other rotation options. Cincinnati desperately needs pitching help this offseason and they’ve touched base with pretty much everyone, including trade candidate Sonny Gray and free agent Dallas Keuchel. The Reds have cast a wide net this winter.
The Indians are expected to move Kluber or Bauer in the coming weeks — Carlos Carrasco just signed a team-friendly extension and figures to stay put — and the question is whether the Reds can meet Cleveland’s asking price. They have some prospects to deal but are still in something of a rebuild, and may not want to thin out their talent base. This is just my speculation, but the Reds could make outfielder Jesse Winker available in trade talks. The Indians need outfield help and the 25-year-old posted a .405 on-base percentage as a rookie in 2018.
Blue Jays more open to trading Stroman, Sanchez
With the trade market heating up, Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins indicated a willingness to listen to offers for Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Atkins had previously indicated it would be tough to part with the two young right-handers. Here’s what Atkins told Davidi:
“It doesn’t by any means suggest that they’re going to be traded. Far from that,” he added. “As you start to understand in terms of the discussions you’re having, and offers that are made, or even in just talking about comparable trades, then it starts to make more sense to have continued discussions. The likelihood of those guys being moved is not high. It’s just we have to entertain if there’s a way to make the organization better.”
Stroman, 27, and Sanchez, 26, combined to throw 207 2/3 innings with a 5.20 ERA in 2018. Stroman managed a 3.09 ERA in 201 innings as recently as 2017, and, back in 2016, Sanchez had a 3.00 ERA in 192 innings. He’s dealt with finger and hand injuries since. Both Stroman and Sanchez have two years of team control remaining and could be affordable alternatives to trade candidates like Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Noah Syndergaard.
Marlins look to add hitters
The Marlins are not just sellers this offseason. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Marlins are “actively exploring” additions, particularly mid-range free agent position players. They also discussed first baseman Carlos Santana with the Mariners at some point recently. Seattle is expected to flip Santana at some point, though he has two years and $35 million remaining on his contract, and that could be an obstacle.
Looking over their roster, the Marlins are set at four positions: catcher (J.T. Realmuto), second base (Starlin Castro), third base (Martin Prado), and right field (Brian Anderson). Realmuto is of course a trade candidate, so we shouldn’t consider Miami completely set behind the plate. Point is, they have needs all over the roster, and picking up some low-cost free agents on short-term contracts will help the club at least appear interested in contending.
Phillies interested in Keuchel, Britton
The Phillies are interested in free agents Dallas Keuchel and Zach Britton, and they’re still in play for Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Philadelphia wants another starting pitcher but came up empty in its pursuit of Patrick Corbin, and they’ve been said to want a closer all winter. As for Machado and Harper, they’re been connected to those two really since last offseason.
A few weeks ago Phillies owner John Middleton said the team is prepared to “” with their free-agent spending this offseason. The club only has $72.7 million on the books for 2019 at the moment, not including projected arbitration salaries, and that drops to $44.7 million in 2020 and $29.45 million in 2021. The Phillies are not tied down by bad contracts and are, in theory, poised for a massive spending spree this winter. It just hasn’t materialized yet.
Dodgers open to OF and SP trades to ‘re-shape’ payroll
In an effort to “re-shape” their payroll, the Dodgers have spoken to other clubs about moving two of Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, and Cody Bellinger, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney. They’re also prepared to move starting pitchers Rich Hill and Alex Wood. Los Angeles got under the $197 million luxury tax this past season and .
At the moment the Dodgers have $195.4 million on the books for next season, including arbitration projections, so they don’t have much breathing room under the $206 million luxury tax threshold. Kemp ($20 million) and Hill ($16 million) are among their priciest players while MLB Trade Rumors projects Puig and Wood to make something in the $10 million range each next year. Pederson is projected at $4 million and Bellinger is still making close to the league minimum as a pre-arbitration player.
Yankees could keep Realmuto
Although they’re discussing a three-team trade with the Mets and Marlins, there is a scenario in which the Yankees keep catcher J.T. Realmuto for themselves, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Yankees would have Realmuto and Gary Sanchez split time at catcher and DH, and move Giancarlo Stanton into left field on a regular basis. This past season Stanton played mostly DH because the Yankees had the defensively superior Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner in the outfield corners.
While adding Realmuto would undoubtedly make the Yankees better — Realmuto would effectively replace backup catcher Austin Romine on the roster — adding another premium catcher would be a luxury item. New York has more pressing needs to address with their pitching staff and on the middle infield, and they figure to direct their resources (trade chips, payroll space) to that rather than another catcher. It could be they’re trying to push the three-team talks with the Mets along by threatening to keep Realmuto for themselves.
Happ still looking for a third year
Free-agent left-hander J.A. Happ has several two-year contract offers on the table, but he is still looking for a third year, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. Happ has indicated he will sign with the first team to offer a guaranteed third year. The Yankees, Phillies, Astros, and Braves are among the teams connected to the veteran left-hander this offseason, though the Yankees and Phillies are seen as the front-runners.
Happ, 36, went 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts for the Yankees this past season. He came over from the Blue Jays at the trade deadline and threw 177 2/3 innings with a 3.65 ERA overall in 2018. Happ started his career with the Phillies (2007-10) and finished this past season in New York. With Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi now off the board, a case can be made Happ is the best free-agent starter still on the market, even over Dallas Keuchel.
Yankees willing to trade Andujar
The Yankees are open to trading Rookie of the Year runner-up Miguel Andujar, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It’s unclear whether he would be included in but it makes sense. The Marlins are said to want young MLB ready talent in return for Realmuto and Andujar certainly qualifies.
Andujar, 23, put up a .297/.328/.527 batting line with 27 home runs this past season. His 47 doubles tied Fred Lynn’s AL rookie record. Andujar is a punishing hitter but a poor defender at third base, so much so that there are rumblings he could be moved to first as soon as 2019. There’s been speculation all offseason that the Yankees could trade Andujar for pitching and replace him by signing Manny Machado.
Brewers open to reunion with Miley
According to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, the Brewers are “keeping in touch” with free-agent lefty Wade Miley. GM David Stearns said they’re opening to bringing him back, though he’s going to gauge his value on the free-agent market first. Miley, 32, posted a 2.57 ERA in 80 2/3 innings with Milwaukee around an oblique injury this past season.
The Brewers, despite having an obvious need in their rotation, do not seem to be in any rush to add a starter and that’s been the case since last offseason. They’re currently slated to go into next season with Jhoulys Chacin, Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Brandon Woodruff, and Jimmy Nelson as their starting five, though Nelson is rehabbing from shoulder surgery and there is still a lot of offseason to go.
Nats looking at free agents, talking Roark trade
The Nationals are in trade discussions involving right-hander Tanner Roark with several teams, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, and they continue to monitor the market for free-agent pitching help as well. Roark will become a free agent next offseason and MLB Trade Rumors projects him to make $9.8 million in 2019. Washington would presumably trade the righty and redirect his salary — or at least part of his salary — elsewhere on the roster.
Roark, 32, has been a solid league average workhorse the last few years, throwing 361 2/3 innings with a 4.50 ERA (97 ERA+) the last two seasons. He averaged 176 innings per season from 2014-17 and that includes 2015, when he made 12 starts and 28 relief appearances and was limited to 111 innings. The Nationals have a pricey rotation top three in Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, and Stephen Strasburg. There may be a more economical way to fill Roark’s rotation spot through free agency.
A’s have checked in on Ramos
The Athletics have checked in on free-agent catcher Wilson Ramos, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Oakland is talking to Jonathan Lucroy about a reunion, but the two sides are far apart on money. The A’s reportedly want to limit their catcher investment to one year because top catching prospect Sean Murphy is due to arrive soon.
Ramos, 31, authored a .306/.358/.487 batting line with 15 home runs in 111 games around a hamstring injury this past season. In addition to his offense, he’s long been regarded as a strong clubhouse presence. It stands to reason Ramos will be Plan B for teams that fail to trade for J.T. Realmuto or sign free agent Yasmani Grandal. Getting him on a one-year contract may not be possible.
Rockies, Phillies talked Santana trade
Before he was shipped to the Mariners in the Jean Segura trade, the Rockies had discussions with the Phillies about first baseman Carlos Santana, reports Nick Groke of The Athletic. Rockies GM Jeff Bridich said trading for Santana is still on the table, but the calculus has changed now that he’s with Seattle rather than Philadelphia.
Santana, 32, authored a .229/.352/.414 batting line with 24 home runs and more walks (110) than strikeouts (93) for the Phillies in 2018. That’s good, not great, but it is far better than the aggregate .232/.314/.405 batting line and 20 home runs Colorado’s first basemen put up this year while playing half their games in Coors Field. The Rockies could put Santana at first base and shift the incumbent Ian Desmond into the outfield or a part-time role.
Gonzalez plans to attempt comeback in 2019
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez has improved his conditioning this offseason and is ready to meet with any team to discuss a comeback attempt in 2019. , after he hit .237/.299/.373 with six home runs in 54 games. Injuries limited him to only 71 games in 2017. Declining first basemen with injury issues who are on the wrong side of 35 are not exactly a hot free-agent commodity. Gonzalez did not sign after being released by the Mets this summer and chances are teams won’t show much interest this winter either.
White Sox acquire Nova
Mitch Keller to receive MLB playing time in 2019.. Chicago gets an affordable innings eater to help bridge the gap to their prospects while Pittsburgh clears some salary and clears a path for top prospect