Veteran slugger Nelson Cruz seems likely to draw quite a few looks from American League clubs. Per Jon Heyman of Fancred, the White Sox “are a player” in that market, while the Astros also have some interest. Either club would have some open DH plate appearances for the 38-year-old Cruz, who turned in a .256/.342/.509 slash with 37 long balls this past season in Seattle. That homer total, remarkably, was Cruz’s lowest in the past five seasons. During that time, he’s averaged 41 big flies per season while generally producing 45 percent more offense than a league-average hitter (by measure of OPS+). Houston GM Jeff Luhnow recently discussed a desire to add to an already imposing lineup, and Cruz would certainly fit the bill in that regard.
Some more early notes on the free-agent market…
- The Yankees’ interest in Patrick Corbin is widely known, though general manager Brian Cashman made the fact a bit clearer at this week’s GM Meetings, writes Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. Asked if the Yankees were interested in retaining lefty J.A. Happ, Cashman acknowledged having spoken to Happ’s agent — though the agent he mentioned, John Courtright, actually represents Corbin. Both players were already locks to be on the Yankees’ radar this winter, so the slip hardly reveals any new information. That said, Davidoff suggests that the Yankees haven’t been deterred by anything they’ve heard from Corbin’s camp yet, adding that Yankees bullpen coach Mike Harkey was Corbin’s pitching coach in Arizona from 2014-15. Harkey, Davidoff continues, has already offered a positive endorsement in Corbin’s favor.
- Former Astros utility man Marwin Gonzalez is the most versatile defender in free agency this season, and Fancred’s Jon Heyman tweets that he’s garnered at least some level of interest from nearly every club in the game. As a switch-hitter with at least a league average bat and the capability to play as many as six positions (all four infield slots and both outfield corners), “Swiss G” is indeed easy to imagine fitting onto virtually any team’s roster. Meanwhile, former Pirate Josh Harrison, a quality defender at second base with experience at third base and in the outfield corners, has generated some interest from the likes of the Yankees, Reds and Nationals, among others, per Heyman. Both players’ versatility should serve them well this winter.
- Free agent catcher Robinson Chirinos has drawn some early interest from the Twins and the Braves, tweets MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. The 34-year-old Chirinos hit the market after the Rangers declined his $4.5MM option. Chirinos’ .222/.338/.419 slash was a departure from his career year in 2017, but he did slug a personal best 18 home runs in 2018. Over the past four seasons in Texas, he’s hit .233/.337/.456 with 54 home runs in 336 games played. Chirinos’ strikeout rate at the plate and caught-stealing rate behind the plate both went in the wrong direction this year (in fairly significant fashion), but his track record at the plate is strong for a catcher, even if he’s never been regarded as a great defensive option.