Though the Braves already added R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon this winter, it seems they aren’t quite done shopping for starters. They have joined the division-rival Nationals, and probably a sizable portion of the rest of baseball, in reaching out to the White Sox about lefty Chris Sale, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag. Atlanta is among the organizations “trying hardest” to pry Sale loose from Chicago, per the report, with some around the league believing that he could change hands this winter. Of course, yesterday’s report regarding the Nats also suggested that the South Siders have yet to engage in serious chatter as of yet, and the Braves are looking at a variety of options, so it’s a bit soon to dwell heavily on the Sale/Braves connection. Atlanta has also inquired with the Rays on Chris Archer and the Athletics on Sonny Gray, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman notes.
A few more notes on some trade situations from around the league…
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told reporters today, including MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, that he still hopes to have one or two transactions completed before the Winter Meetings (video link). Luhnow said as much when leaving the GM Meetings last week, but the Houston GM offered indications today that the club has narrowed its focus. “I think instead of working on 12 things right now, we’re working on four, which gives us a little bit more focus,” said Luhnow. “…We’re in a position where we did all of our homework ahead of time, we know what resources we have, we know what needs we need to fill, and we can be a little bit more aggressive this year than we have in years past.” Asked about his potential areas of focus, Luhnow spoke generally about needing “some pitching help” and “a bat or two,” though he did say that his team is willing to act as quickly as a trade partner or agent will allow.
- Reds GM Dick Williams continues to downplay any notion that Joey Votto could be traded, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon writes. Speaking at last week’s GM Meetings, Williams said that he “certainly [hasn’t] had any discussions with [Votto]” about waiving his no-trade clause, per Sheldon. Williams said that the constant speculation is understandable for a player of Votto’s caliber but believes the first baseman will be at the center of the team’s lineup throughout the rebuild and beyond. As we’ve pointed out here at MLBTR many times, Votto also has a full no-trade clause and has gone on record as saying he has no desire to leave Cincinnati. Sheldon offers another quote from Votto, from 2015: “I just absolutely love playing here. I really like where I live. … I like the location of the ballpark and the fans and the clubhouse and the uniform and the number on my back — all the littlest things that people take for granted are very comfortable to me and something I look forward to. I don’t think of myself as anything other than a Cincinnati Red. It’s one of the really cool things about having a no-trade clause.”
- The Mariners may not feel comfortable spending enough to compete with the Blue Jays for the services of free-agent lefty Brett Cecil, which could lead them to the trade market, writes Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Per Dutton, Pirates left-hander Tony Watson is one name to monitor as Seattle looks for a late-inning lefty, noting that Watson is “believed to be available.” The 31-year-old stepped into Pittsburgh’s closer role last year following the trade of Mark Melancon and performed well, as he’s done in virtually every role he’s been used over the past several seasons. Dating back to 2012. Watson boasts a 2.40 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 45 percent ground-ball rate in 345 1/3 innings. He’s lefties to a downright pitiful .190/.253/.273 slash but also more than held his own against righties, yielding a collective .214/.280/.346 batting line in that time. Watson has one more year of club control and is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $5.9MM in his final trip through the arbitration process.
- Though the Marlins are exploring the trade market for rotation help, they’re not willing to part with either Christian Yelich or J.T. Realmuto, per MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. There have also been no indications that they’d consider moving Giancarlo Stanton, Frisaro continues, although with a full no-trade clause and the largest contract in history, that could potentially be a moot point anyhow. Marcell Ozuna and Adeiny Hechavarria are the most oft-mentioned names the Fish could look to move, though Hechavarria’s anemic bat offsets a great deal of his defensive talent.