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FEBRUARY 6: At least twelve teams have inquired with the Nationals about Espinosa's availability, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. However, the team remains unlikely at present to deal Espinosa, Ladson says.
Though Anthony Rendon has the inside track at the starting gig at second, Espinosa will have a shot at taking his job back. Alternative outcomes include Espinosa making the club as a reserve or starting out in Triple-A on optional assignment. But Espinosa represents important middle infield depth and still has tantalizing upside at age 26, leaving the Nats uninterested in selling low.
DECEMBER 10: The Nats are balking at moving Espinosa despite interest from the Yankees, among other clubs, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
DECEMBER 9, 6:29pm: One Nationals executive told Kilgore that the Nats aren't shopping Espinosa. Beyond that, GM Mike Rizzo plainly stated that he expects Espinosa to be his team's utility infielder in 2014, noting that despite a lack of experience at the hot corner, Espinosa has the tools to play third base. Kilgore writes that Espinosa has a big proponent in Rizzo, and the Nationals are determined not to sell low on the switch-hitter.
4:25pm: The Nationals are shopping Danny Espinosa in trade talks, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). Passan adds that if the Nats are unable to find a deal they like for Espinosa, the infielder could fill the utility role vacated by Steve Lombardozzi.
After a couple solid seasons in Washington, Espinosa saw his production fall off a cliff in 2013 due in part to injuries. In 2011 and 2012, he was an everyday player for the Nats, hitting 38 homers with a .727 OPS in over 1300 plate appearances.
GM Mike Rizzo told reporters today, including Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com (Twitter link), that the Nats will be "open-minded" and won't be afraid to make a trade. However, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post says (via Twitter) that he'd be surprised if the team moves Espinosa, having already rebuffed teams like the Rays and Cardinals, who have tried to buy low.
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THURSDAY: The Tigers have "serious" interest in Chamberlain, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter).
WEDNESDAY, 1:46pm: The Tigers are a possible destination for Chamberlain as well, tweets Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports.
1:32am: The Astros are interested in Joba Chamberlain as a buy-low option, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports (via Twitter). Chamberlain is the latest free agent to be linked to the Astros, who also reportedly have some interest in Michael Morse, Jesse Crain, and Chad Gaudin, among others.
Chamberlain, 28, had arguably the worst year of his big league career in 2013, posting a 4.93 ERA in 45 appearances for the Yankees. However, his 3.54 ERA on the road was significantly better than his 6.23 mark at home, and his velocity and strikeout rates remained solid. Assuming he can reduce his control issues going forward, he looks like a solid bounceback candidate.
On Tuesday, we heard that Chamberlain had received a one-year, $3MM proposal from an interested team. It initially appeared as if the Diamondbacks had put that offer on the table, but at least one report suggested Arizona hadn't offered the right-hander a contract. The Cubs and Royals were also mentioned as potential suitors for Chamberlain over the weekend.
Let's round up a few morning updates from around the NL Central….
- Charlie Morton and the Pirates reached an agreement on a three-year extension yesterday, but the team has yet to discuss long-term deals with Neil Walker or Pedro Alvarez this offseason, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The Cardinals have discussed Brian Roberts as a potential target, but his injury history limits the team's enthusiasm, says Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- The last open spot on the Brewers' 40-man roster had originally been ticketed for Corey Hart, but now that Hart is headed to Seattle instead, Milwaukee is considering using that opening to pick a player in this morning's Rule 5 draft. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the details.
- The Cubs may end up selecting a player in the Rule 5 draft, but it sounds like the team is preparing to lose more players than it adds, according to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat (via Twitter).
Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans expressed optimism yesterday that the Giants would add a left fielder by day's end, and for a time it seemed the team was closing in on a trade, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). However, with no agreements in place yet, San Francisco is still seeking a right-handed outfielder capable of hitting for some power, reports Rosenthal.
Many of the names linked to the Giants this week have been free agents, including Michael Morse, Jeff Baker, and Franklin Gutierrez. As for trade candidates, the club is said to have some interest in Brett Gardner and Alejandro De Aza, but the Yankees sound reluctant to part with Gardner, while San Francisco reportedly isn't willing to give up much for De Aza. Additionally, for what it's worth, neither Gardner nor De Aza hits right-handed.
Most agents and executives will be flying out of Orlando today, but that doesn't mean there's not still time for teams and players to strike a few deals. Here are the latest American League updates from the 2013 Winter Meetings:
- The Twins are making progress in talks with free agent starter Mike Pelfrey, reports La Velle Neal III of the Star Tribune. The Twins and agent Scott Boras have met since the team offered a two-year, $10MM deal, and appear to closing the gap, though GM Terry Ryan is in no rush to finalize an agreement today.
- Dan Duquette and the Orioles have done "a lot of work" to prepare for the Rule 5 draft, and are very likely to select a player later this morning, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports details.
- The Yankees have several needs on their roster that Brian Cashman is ready to address, but he's dealing with a thin pitching market and still determining which of the team's targets are attainable, writes Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. "I'd rather go the easier route, and pull something down and everybody's like 'That's a good move!'" Cashman said. "I don't know if that's going to happen. I might have to go the harder, longer route. But we'll see."
- As various reports continue to link the Royals to Omar Infante, the team continues to sing Emilio Bonifacio's praises. GM Dayton Moore indicated Wednesday that the club is "very pleased" with Bonifacio at second base, according to MLB.com's Dick Kaegel.
Joaquin Benoit and his agent are believed to be seeking an annual salary of between $7MM and $10MM per year, reports ESPN.com's Buster Olney (via Twitter). That would make Benoit slightly more affordable than fellow free agent reliever Fernando Rodney, who is reportedly looking for $10MM+ annually.
Coming off a season in which he recorded a 2.01 ERA and 9.8 K/9 in 67 innings, Benoit represents one of the more appealing options on the relief market, which should give him some leverage in negotations. Back in October, MLBTR's Steve Adams predicted that the righty would land a two-year deal worth $16MM, so an annual salary of $7-10MM isn't an unreasonable request for Benoit and his reps at ACES.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported late last night that teams believe Benoit's likeliest potential destinations are the Indians, Padres, Mariners, Cubs, and Yankees.
After a pair of notable trades were agreed upon on Day 2 of this year's Winter Meetings, Day 3 featured a couple more trades and also saw a few free agents come off the board. Here's a recap of Wednesday's major headlines:
- The Mariners added a couple bats to their lineup, agreeing to sign Corey Hart and acquiring Logan Morrison from the Marlins. Seattle sent Carter Capps to Miami in exchange for Morrison, and committed a base salary of $6MM to Hart, who could earn up to $13MM with incentives.
- Bartolo Colon landed the two-year contract he was seeking, agreeing to a $20MM deal with the Mets.
- The Pirates agreed to sign Edinson Volquez to a one-year, $5MM contract, and extended a pitcher already under team control, inking Charlie Morton to a three-year, $21MM deal that could be worth up to $30MM.
- Jerry Hairston Jr. has retired from baseball and accepted a position with the Dodgers' broadcast team.
- Jerry Blevins is headed from the Athletics to the Nationals for outfield prospect Billy Burns.
- Jordan Walden and the Braves avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.49MM.
- The Astros acquired Anthony Bass from the Padres as part of a deal that will see the clubs swap spots in Thursday's Rule 5 draft.
- The Yankees acquired Kyle Haynes from the Pirates to complete last week's Chris Stewart trade.
- Players signed to minor league contracts on Wednesday included Tomo Ohka (Blue Jays), Angel Castro (Cardinals), Yunesky Maya (Braves), and Tommy Hottovy (Cubs).
- The Tigers designated Luis Marte for assignment.
- Thad Weber was granted his release by the Blue Jays and signed with the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization.
- J.D. Martin has also signed in Korea, with the Samsung Lions.
- The Yankees turned down an offer from the Reds that would have seen the teams swap Brandon Phillips for Brett Gardner. Had the talks become more serious, Phillips would have had to waive his no-trade clause, and may have asked for more money to do so.
- There's a belief that Shin-Soo Choo has a seven-year offer in hand, though it's not clear whether it's from the Rangers or another team. Scott Boras confirmed that his client has received multiple offers, both from rebuilding teams and clubs planning to contend in 2014.
- The Dodgers told Matt Kemp's agent that the team doesn't intend to trade the outfielder.
- Matt Garza, Mike Pelfrey, and Bronson Arroyo are among the Twins' starting pitching targets, and there's a sense that Arroyo could sign soon, perhaps for something in the three-year, $36MM range.
- Although a report on Wednesday morning suggested Garza could sign within 48 hours, his agent appears to have left Orlando without an agreement in place. Besides the Twins, the Angels and Diamondbacks are among the teams involved.
- Justin Masterson continues to be involved in trade rumors, including one that named the Yankees as a potential suitor. However, Terry Francona says he called Masterson this week to tell him he's not going anywhere.
- As the Diamondbacks continue to pursue pitching help, Masahiro Tanaka has emerged as the club's top priority.
- The Orioles have reportedly made offers to both Grant Balfour and John Axford. The offer to Balfour is said to be for two years, while the Indians are also believed to have extended a proposal to Axford.
- One report suggested Max Scherzer was unlikely to be extended or traded this winter. However, a second report indicated that a trade isn't out of the question, and Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said he hasn't ruled out an extension either.
- The Pirates, Brewers, and Rays are still in the mix for James Loney.
- A couple free agents are very much on the Astros' radar, as the team is said to be in serious discussions with Michael Morse and pushing to sign Jose Veras.
- The Royals and Yankees remain in the hunt for Omar Infante, who is reportedly seeking a four-year deal.
- Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs met to discuss their options today, and Theo Epstein called it a "great meeting." Nonetheless, an extension doesn't appear likely at this point.
- Eight teams have expressed interest in Johan Santana.
- Fernando Rodney is said to be looking for $10MM annually on a multiyear contract.
- The Phillies continue to aggressively shop Jonathan Papelbon.
- After adding Hart and Morrison earlier in the day, the Mariners allegedly let teams know that Jesus Montero and Justin Smoak are available in trade talks.
- At one point on Wednesday, Raul Ibanez appeared headed for the Angels, but he's still weighing offers from multiple contenders.
- The Rays are casting a wide net as they search for a first baseman, and have some interest in Mark Reynolds and Kevin Youkilis.
- The Red Sox and Mets still look to be the likeliest destinations for Stephen Drew.
- Adam Kennedy is making a comeback bid.
- Jamey Carroll is drawing interest from the Rays, Rangers, and Indians.
It sounds as if Ike Davis will remain a member of the Mets beyond the Winter Meetings, but will likely be dealt this month, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Rubin hears that the Mets are being reasonable in their demands for the first baseman, and with the Rays and Brewers both in on James Loney, the loser may wind up with Davis. Speaking of Loney, Rubin adds that Loney is still asking for three years, but is unlikely to get more than two (Twitter links).
As the Mets continue to seek out the best possible return for Davis, let's check in on a few more items from around the NL East….
- The Marlins are still weighing trade options for a third baseman, president of baseball operations Michael Hill confirmed on Wednesday, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. The team hopes to add a player who is ready to contribute in 2014 and has the flexibility to switch positions when 2013 draftee Colin Moran is ready for the bigs.
- Ruben Amaro Jr. suggests the Phillies have "left no stone unturned" in their search for starting pitching. However, while the team has laid plenty of groundwork, Amaro and the Phils may leave Orlando without having added a starter, as Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes.
- The Nationals sorted through as many as four trade options before deciding to acquire Jerry Blevins, according to GM Mike Rizzo (link via James Wagner of the Washington Post). Washington liked Blevins because he represents a "younger, controllable type of guy" at an affordable rate, says Rizzo.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
MLBTR's 24/7 coverage of the 2013 Winter Meetings rolls on, with a few late night (or is it early morning?) links….
- When the Astros and Padres both included players to be named later in Wednesday's Anthony Bass trade, our Steve Adams suggested the move was related to Thursday's Rule 5 draft, and Jim Callis of Baseball America confirms as much. According to Callis (Twitter links), the Astros and Padres have switched spots in the draft, with San Diego likely to select a pitcher first overall.
- Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweets that the Yankees expect to lose players in Thursday's Rule 5 draft, naming Tommy Kahnle and Danny Burawa as two pitchers who could be selected.
- The Rockies are looking to add a left-handed reliever and have the money to be flexible, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
- While they've been linked to major trade candidates like David Price and have one of their own in Matt Kemp, the Dodgers expect to leave Orlando without having completed a major deal, GM Ned Coletti said Wednesday, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.
- A number of scouts are going directly from the winter meetings to Mexico to watch a showcase for Cuban right-hander Raicel Iglesias, tweets Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports. The workout is scheduled for Friday.
- The Rangers can afford to approach the free agent and trade markets with patience, says Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, writing that Texas isn't necessarily under any pressure to make another big move.