Outfielder A.J. Pollock may be looking for six years on the open market, Jon Heyman of Fancred reported among many other recent notes. That seems an optimistic target, though certainly it doesn’t hurt to aim high, at least initially. Still, finding the perfect fit to pony up even four years for Pollock isn’t easy, despite his lofty position in an otherwise barren center field market. The teams linked to Pollock so far this offseason – the Reds, Mets, Astros and Braves – have by and large augmented their lineups through alternative means. The Reds just added two fairly notable outfielders in a trade with the Dodgers, the Mets filled their need for a righty bat with Wilson Ramos, and the Astros signed Michael Brantley. While none of these necessarily precludes these teams from bringing on Pollock, they certainly lessen the urgency for the Reds, Mets and Astros, respectively. Speculatively speaking, the White Sox, Giants or Indians are teams that could be fits for Pollock moving forward.
Meanwhile in the free agent market…
- Speaking of top free agents, backstop Yasmani Grandal is believed to “have four years somewhere if he wants it,” per Heyman, which seems to indicate that the veteran is sitting on some strong offers already. The Reds are among the clubs with interest, though the long-term presence of Tucker Barnhart means Cincinnati can be patient.
- Elsewhere on the catching market, there was a bit of drama yesterday involving Pirates receiver Francisco Cervelli. Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic tweeted that the team was “very, very close” to sending the veteran to the Dodgers, querying whether medical problems scuttled the deal. GM Neal Huntington offered a rare public rebuke of that rumor, however, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (Twitter links). Huntington says the Bucs never “discussed any name with the Dodgers” regarding a possible Cervelli swap. He says that “the implication that a trade was nullified due to a failed medical review is completely wrong.”
- Heyman writes that the Athletics sought to bring back veteran receiver Jonathan Lucroy, offering him $4MM for the 2019 season, but he seems to be holding out in hopes of getting more elsewhere. Lucroy signed late last offseason, inking his deal with Oakland in March, so both sides have shown a willingness to take the patient approach in waiting out the market.
- A number of trade possibilities still seem to be swirling, though it’s tough to say at this point what likely will or will not get done. Yankees infielder Miguel Andujar “appears to be on the block, for the right price,” says Heyman. Of course, the Yanks are likely looking for high-end MLB assets in any swap involving the young third baseman, who had an impressive debut season in 2018. Despite concerns about his defensive handle at third, the 129 wRC+ and 27 bombs Andujar posted as a 23-year-old ought to have no trouble returning major league talent for New York.
- Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca examines the situations of Blue Jays hurlers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, noting that president Mark Shapiro made clear recently that the organization does not feel compelled to reduce its asking price on either pitcher. The Reds have been the most eager in pursing Stroman, but their recent acquisitions of Tanner Roark and Alex Wood may lessen the likelihood of a deal. Given that both pitchers still have multiple years of team control, it might behoove Shapiro and the Blue Jays to start the season with the pair of righties in their rotation. A strong start to the 2019 season might be enough to generate the type of return Shapiro desires.
- The Mets have some new potential schemes in the oven, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. It seems the club is getting hits on backstops Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. A backup outfielder was the intended target in a deal for either backstop, but a spare infielder who could back up Amed Rosario at short might be a better fit. They were eyeing Rangers southpaw Mike Minor, but that push has “stalled” as the Mets aren’t eager to put together the type of package that fits the Rangers’ ask. If anything, GM Brodie Van Wagenen has proven an action-oriented approach, so it’s safe to assume the Mets aren’t done dealing yet this offseason.