Prior to this morning’s agreement with the Twins, slugger Nelson Cruz received “competitive” offers from both the Rays and Astros, according to Juan Toribio of The Athletic (Twitter link) and Fancred’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link). Specifics aren’t known, but it seems likely that the Twins would’ve had to outbid either by a fairly notable margin, given that the Rays won 90 games last season while the Astros won the 2017 World Series and appeared in a second consecutive American League Championship Series this past season. Minnesota ultimately secured Cruz with a $14.3MM bid that includes a $14MM salary for the 2019 season and a $12MM club option ($300K buyout) for the 2020 campaign. If Houston or Tampa Bay is still keen on adding a notable right-handed bat, there should be numerous options in play. The rebuilding Tigers, for instance, would likely be willing to move Nicholas Castellanos as he enters his final season of club control. The Cardinals, meanwhile, could move Jose Martinez to an American League club that’d be better suited to mask his defensive shortcomings at the DH spot.
Some more notes on the both the trade and free-agent markets…
- The Cardinals have been an oft-speculated landing spot for Bryce Harper but have not been rumored to have any meaningful interest in the market’s top free agent. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explored the situation in his latest Q&A with readers, explaining the numerous reasons that the Cardinals feel a pursuit of Harper would differ from their prior pursuits of huge contracts for David Price, Jason Heyward and Giancarlo Stanton. Above all else, it seems that the sizable discrepancy between Harper’s asking price and even those other substantial contracts is a roadblock for the St. Louis front office. The Cards also don’t have the personal connection with Harper that they had after a year of having Heyward in the clubhouse, and they’re generally averse to the leverage that opt-out clauses provide players on lengthy free-agent deals.
- In an appearance on MLB Network’s Hot Stove this morning, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com downplayed the possibility of the Indians trading a top starter (video link). “I don’t think it’s particularly likely they move either Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer at this moment,” said Castrovince, citing sources with the Indians. While he cautioned that things can change with a single call or text, the roughly $21MM saved in trades of Yan Gomes, Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso has alleviated pressure to pare back payroll from its record levels in a 2018 season that saw the total attendance decline. That, of course, doesn’t mean rumors or conversations surrounding Kluber will cease — they assuredly will not — but it’s worth keeping in mind when parsing the inevitable continuation of Kluber rumblings. More than 18,000 readers voted in last night’s MLBTR poll asking whether Cleveland would actually trade Kluber, and the response was a near-even split (52-48 in favor of Kluber being moved).
- The White Sox, Red Sox and Rockies are all maintaining some level of interest in free-agent reliever Adam Ottavino, tweets Jon Morosi of MLB.com. As one of the top relievers on the market, the 33-year-old Ottavino should have no shortage of clubs inquiring about his services, though the asking price on top-end bullpen arms could prove prohibitive for some clubs. To this point, Jeurys Familia (three years, $30MM), Joe Kelly (three years, $25MM) and Andrew Miller (two years, $25MM) are among the relievers MLBTR ranked in Ottavino’s tier of free agency to have cashed in quite nicely. Given his 2.43 ERA, 2.74 FIP, 2.82 SIERA and 13.0 K/9 mark, Ottavino figures to have a fairly high ask, as well. The interest from each of the three teams listed by Morosi has been previously reported, and there are some issues with some of the fits. Adding Ottavino, for instance, could push the Red Sox back into the top tier of the luxury tax bracket. And the Rockies spent more than $100MM on their ’pen last winter, which could make them reluctant to add a fourth reliever on the type of multi-year contract Ottavino should ultimately command.
- Heyman tweets that infielder/outfielder Josh Harrison has current interest from the Nationals, Reds, Rangers, Giants and Brewers, and he could ultimately generate interest from teams like the Yankees, Phillies and Dodgers — depending on how their pursuits of the market’s top free agents pans out. (Presumably, the Phillies or Yankees would have interest in the event that either failed to land Manny Machado.) Harrison would give the Nats a potential regular option at second base, while the Rangers are in need of a third baseman following the trade of Jurickson Profar. Joe Panik’s stock is down in San Francisco, and the Brewers, too, are in need of an everyday option at either second or third (depending on where they play Travis Shaw in 2019). The fit for the Reds is a bit more muddied, as Harrison would appear to be more of a bench option there, though it’s worth noting that he is a Cincinnati native.