So, are the Nationals really out of the picture for Bryce Harper, as owner Mark Lerner strongly suggested recently? Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post writes that he’s not yet sold that the incumbent Nats have completely bid adieu to their franchise-defining star. It’s an interesting read for fans to contemplate as Harper’s still-uncertain market continues to evolve … particularly now that president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo nudged the door back open to a return in an interview today on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link).
Here are the latest free agent notes emanating from the Winter Meetings:
- Free agent lefty Andrew Miller is among the relievers drawing wide interest, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link). Nine teams, in fact, are knocking down the doors of Miller’s reps. It’s hardly surprising to hear that the veteran has interested about a third of the league. After all, there are indications he may be returning to full health, and he’s among the game’s best relievers when he’s at full speed.
- Right-handed reliever Joe Kelly is also among those hurlers who is getting plenty of calls, as Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes. Kelly’s physical tools — especially, a blistering heater — have never been in doubt, and he showed some promise of turning them into sustainable productivity late in 2018 with some notable pitch usage tweaks and a strong postseason run. Entering the winter, MLBTR predicted that Kelly would match Miller with a three-year, $27MM deal.
- It’s still difficult to get a sense of the precise teams to watch on most relievers. The same is largely true, it seems, of lefty starter Dallas Keuchel. He’s the most accomplished hurler on the market, but there’s also clearly some cause for trepidation as to how he’ll age. There are also conflicting signals now as to his top suitors. Jon Heyman of Fancred (Twitter links) recently said that Keuchel topped the Braves’ “wish list,” with the Reds and Phillies the other two “primary teams” involved in his market. But MLB.com’s Mark Bowman strongly contests that characterization, tweeting that the Atlanta organization has not even “had any discussions regarding Keuchel” to this point. And Heyman now tweets that the Atlanta organization is “not currently engaged” with Keuchel. The bottom line seems to be that, even if the Braves would like to add Keuchl (or another particular hurler), they are not interested in chasing the market on any specific starter.
- To this point, it has been hard to gauge the Angels’ stance on the market this winter. While the organization no doubt hopes to add pieces in a bid to build a winner around Mike Trout, financial restraints, rotation questions, and a challenging division pose barriers. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes (subscription link) that the Halos were in on both Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi before they signed elsewhere, perhaps indicating that the club will knock on some other notable doors over the coming weeks. MLBTR’s in-depth recent assessment of the Angels’ payroll situation reveals that there could be some real money to work with, though precisely how much and how it’ll be deployed remains to be seen.