MLB Trade Rumors » » Baltimore Orioles 2017-12-14T05:49:15Z Steve Adams <![CDATA[Several Teams Have Reportedly Made Offers For Manny Machado]]> 2017-12-14T01:53:29Z 2017-12-14T01:53:43Z WEDNESDAY, 7:53pm: It doesn’t appear that a Machado trade will come together during the Winter Meetings, Encina writes.

6:30pm: Several teams have made formal trade offers for Machado, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. The Yankees’ chances of landing him are near zero, a source told Joel Sherman of the New York Post. It seems the Yankees would want to include Jacoby Ellsbury in a a Machado deal to help them stay under the competitive-balance tax threshold, but Sherman doubts he’d waive his no-trade clause to go to Baltimore (Twitter link).

4:33pm: The Orioles are “making good progress” toward a Machado trade, Duquette told Brittany Ghiroli of and other reporters, though Dan Connolly of writes that a deal doesn’t appear imminent. There are more than five teams in the running for Machado, Ghiroli adds. The Orioles met with a “couple” of those teams Wednesday, per Encina. Notably, Duquette hasn’t dismissed trading Machado to another AL East team, Roch Kubatko of relays (all Twitter links here).

TUESDAY, 6:27pm: The Yankees and White Sox are also interested in Machado, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter link).  As mentioned below, Peter Angelos doesn’t want to deal Machado to New York, while the Sox are an interesting suitor that could be looking at Machado as the centerpiece of a return to contention.  Cardinals GM Michael Girsch told Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that giving up significant assets for a star player with just one year of control remaining is “not a path we are likely to go down.”  Interestingly, this description applies to both Machado and to another oft-mentioned Cards trade target in Josh Donaldson.

4:29pm: “Several clubs” asked the Orioles about Machado today, Dan Duquette told’s Brittany Ghiroli (Twitter links), Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links) and other media.  There’s at least a possibility a trade happens, and the Orioles have apparently not discussed an extension with Machado in years, though new negotiations are “under consideration.”  The O’s haven’t talked about giving any potential Machado trade partner a 72-hour window to try and negotiate their own extension with the infielder.

1:43pm: The Cardinals have interest in Machado, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. The Phillies are said to be enamored of Machado, too, and there are no doubt a wide variety of other teams lining up to check on in the asking price. Baltimore is receiving a “ton” of interest in Machado, Rob Bradford of tweets.

10:57am: While it’s been reported that the Orioles are at least willing to listen to offers on Manny Machado, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic takes things a step further, reporting that the O’s have asked interested parties to make them offers for the star infielder (subscription required and highly recommended). The term “infielder” is of particular note, as Rosenthal also writes that Machado’s desire is to return to shortstop in 2018 whether he’s in Baltimore or with a new club.

Machado, 25, has long stood out as an on-paper trade candidate given his proximity to free agency and the Orioles’ lack of starting pitching. The O’s, who have been looking to add as many as three starters to their rotation this winter, will be hard-pressed to contend for an AL East title in 2018 (even more so in the wake of the Bronx Bombers’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton). With Machado set to hit the open market next winter in position to land a record-setting contract — assuming a healthy year, anything south of Stanton’s $325MM guarantee would seem to be a nonstarter — it’s difficult to envision him remaining in Baltimore. For the time being, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $17.3MM salary for Machado next year after his final trip through the arbitration process.

The Orioles, per Rosenthal, are aiming to acquire two controllable young starters in any trade for Machado. That’s a lofty ask for a lot of teams, but a win-now club with an ample supply of touted but unproven pitching could look at that as an acceptable price to pay for a player that has been worth better than five wins per season, on average, over the past half decade (despite missing 80 games due to injury in 2014). Notably, Rosenthal adds that owner Peter Angelos does not want to trade with the division-rival Yankees.

Machado didn’t have his best season in 2017, as he got off to a shockingly pedestrian start to the year. Through the season’s first three months, Machado was batting just .216/.289/.423 with an elevated (by his standards) 20.6 percent strikeout rate. Over the final three months, though, the Machado of old resurfaced, as he mashed at a .295/.329/.513 pace with a vastly improved 13.1 percent punchout rate.

Machado has two Gold Gloves and a Platinum Glove to his name at third base and has long graded out as an elite defender there, but there’s little doubt that he could still handle shortstop at an above-average level as well. He logged nearly 400 innings there in 2016, for instance, and drew generally positive marks from Ultimate Zone Rating (+1.9) and Defensive Runs Saved (+3).

From a broader perspective, Machado is one of several players entering his final year of team control in Baltimore. Zach Britton, Adam Jones and Brad Brach are all free agents following the 2018 season, while Jonathan Schoop is controlled for just one year beyond that. Depending on how aggressively the O’s are willing to sell off parts, they could quickly restock their farm with an ample supply of talent by marketing more than one of their soon-to-be free agents, though doing so would also mean largely punting on the 2018 campaign at the very least.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles Have Made Offers To Several FA Pitchers]]> 2017-12-14T01:46:20Z 2017-12-14T01:46:20Z
  • The Orioles have made offers to several free agent pitchers, per Brittany Ghiroli of It’s unclear whether longtime Oriole Chris Tillman is among that group, but the team did make an unsuccessful bid to re-sign him toward the end of last season, Ghiroli reports (Twitter link).
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pitching Rumblings: Twins, Darvish, Cishek, Cole, Mariners, Liriano, Watson]]> 2017-12-13T22:14:17Z 2017-12-13T19:21:28Z While the market for starters is still fairly slow to develop, relievers have been flying off the board at the Winter Meetings. Here’s the latest chatter on some hurlers from around the game:

    • The Twins are sending signals that they’re serious about their pursuit of free agent righty Yu Darvish. As LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star-Tribune writes, skipper Paul Molitor says the organization has “targeted [Darvish] as somebody we have tremendous interest in.” That follows prior public indications of interest from GM Thad Levine, who, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press examines, has a longstanding relationship with Darvish. That piece is well worth a full read, if only for Berardino’s enjoyable chat with catcher Chris Gimenez, who worked closely with Darvish with the Rangers and has played most recently with the Twins.
    • Meanwhile, the Twins are also among the teams looking into righty Steve Cishek, according to Berardino (via Twitter). The sidearmer has been left as one of the top remaining free-agent setup men after a spate of signings at the Winter Meetings. He finished the 2017 season on a strong run with the Rays.
    • The Orioles have at least checked in on Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, according to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Certainly, Baltimore isn’t the only organization that would love to add Cole, whose name has arisen in chatter a few times in recent days. Whether the Bucs are really ready to deal him isn’t entirely clear; neither is it certain just what the club would seek in return. Yesterday, though, Buster Olney of gave perhaps the clearest indication yet that Pittsburgh may be prepared to strike an agreement, tweeting that there’s a belief from some around the game that Pittsburgh would pull the trigger if the right deal came across its desk.
    • Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto says his team is in the “red zone” on a deal, likely for a reliever, in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link). Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio tweets that Juan Nicasio is a “strongly rumored possibility,” though clearly that’s not a firm connection at this point. And it’s certainly worth noting that the M’s have, in fact, struck agreement on a trade since Dipoto went on the air — though it’s not clear whether the minor acquisition was the one he was referring to. Perhaps Dipoto was giving a nod to that swap, but it’s also possible there’s a more significant move still in store. Regardless, the M’s are clearly focused on pitching, as Dipoto has made clear and TJ Cotterill of the Tacoma News Tribune reports.
    • The Astros are weighing a reunion with lefty Francisco Liriano, according to Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Long a starter, the 34-year-old was added by the ’Stros at the 2017 trade deadline and moved into a relief role. He did not exactly thrive in that job initially, allowing seven earned runs and posting an ugly 11:10 K/BB ratio in his 14 1/3 frames over twenty appearances. Liriano will presumably also draw some looks from organizations that would propose to give him a shot at rediscovering his form as a starter.
    • Another lefty, Tony Watson, is a possible target for the Athletics, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The 32-year-old has plenty of late-inning experience and finished strong after a mid-season swap to the Dodgers. In twenty innings with L.A., Watson posted a 2.70 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Red Sox, Phillies Have Interest In Machado]]> 2017-12-13T16:38:40Z 2017-12-13T16:38:40Z
  • The Red Sox called the Orioles about Manny Machado yesterday, per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter link), and they’re also considering Todd Frazier as an option according to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald (also via Twitter). Frazier is willing to play first base, according to Silverman, though an acquisition of Machado would presumably slide Rafael Devers across the diamond to first base or necessitate a more extreme move on the left side of the infield. Whether the O’s actually move Machado remains to be seen, but they’re reportedly shopping him and asking interested parties to make offers.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Orioles Getting Interest In Outfield Prospects]]> 2017-12-13T03:56:54Z 2017-12-13T03:56:54Z
  • The Orioles are getting interest in outfield prospects Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and DJ Stewart, executive VP Dan Duquette told’s Steve Melewski.  It isn’t known if the O’s are open to dealing any of these youngsters, though Duquette did say that “in our quest for pitching we have found that clubs like our outfielders,” which at least seems to hint that other clubs could be offering the Orioles some much-needed arms for the prospects.  Of the trio, it would surprising to see Hays dealt for anything less than a big return, as he is considered the top prospect in Baltimore’s system and would become a contributor at the MLB level as early as next season.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Orioles Getting Lots Of Interest In Mychal Givens]]> 2017-12-13T03:12:03Z 2017-12-13T03:12:03Z
  • The Orioles are receiving lots of calls on Mychal Givens, Dan Duquette tells Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun and other reporters.  The hard-throwing Givens has posted strong numbers in his first three big league seasons and is still a year away from arbitration eligibility, so it isn’t any surprise that he is a popular target.  Of course, he also has great value to an O’s team that likely prefers to unload costlier relievers like Zach Britton or Brad Brach if they do choose to make a bullpen trade.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Orioles Interested In Gerrit Cole]]> 2017-12-13T00:18:46Z 2017-12-13T00:13:56Z
  • The Orioles are another team that has expressed in interest in Cole, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets.  It still isn’t clear whether the Pirates are actually seriously considering moving Cole, though ESPN’s Buster Olney hears from industry evaluators that the Bucs are prepared to move Cole for the right offer.  Teams like the Yankees, Rangers, and Twins have all checked in to gauge Pittsburgh’s intentions.  Cole would be a sorely-needed upgrade to Baltimore’s struggling rotation, though the O’s don’t have a particularly deep minor league system from which to deal.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cubs Notes: Machado, Pitching, Chatwood]]> 2017-12-12T23:45:09Z 2017-12-12T23:45:09Z Some items from Wrigleyville…

    • The Cubs aren’t one of the teams that have shown early interest in trading for Manny Machado,’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter).  Kris Bryant is obviously locked in at third base, though with Machado reportedly looking to return to shortstop, there’s at least some room to imagine Machado playing at the Friendly Confines if the Cubs were willing to move Addison Russell.  Trading significant assets for just one year of Machado (who is a free agent after 2018) doesn’t seem to fit the Cubs’ long-term plans, however, especially since the team has already moved several other young prospects in other trades over the last two years.
    • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer believes his team will add at least one more pitcher before the Winter Meetings are over,’s Jesse Rogers reports.  Chicago has been linked to a wide array of starters and relievers this offseason, with Tyler Chatwood and Brandon Morrow already joining the roster.
    • Speaking of Chatwood, the Baseball Writers Association Of America is considering making him ineligible for NL Cy Young Award voting due to a clause in his contract, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.  If Chatwood receive even one vote for the Cy Young Award in either 2018 or 2019, his 2020 salary will rise from $13MM to $15MM; a single Cy Young vote in both seasons will boost Chatwood’s 2020 figure to $17MM.  This creates a conflict of interest for writers covering Chatwood, and the BBWAA, the league and the players’ union had an unspoken agreement that such clauses would no longer be used in player contracts.  The last such contract to include such a clause was Curt Schilling’s deal with the Red Sox in 2007, which was overseen by then-Red Sox GM and now Cubs president of baseball ops Theo Epstein.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Trading Manny Machado]]> 2017-12-12T22:37:15Z 2017-12-12T22:02:02Z Entering the offseason, it was often suggested that the Orioles should listen to offers on Manny Machado with one year remaining until he reaches the open market, but most reports suggested that the O’s hoped to take one more shot at contending in 2018 before Machado, Zach Britton, Adam Jones and Brad Brach reach free agency. To that end, GM Dan Duquette spoke openly about his hope of adding as many as three starters to round out the rotation behind Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman in an effort to remain competitive.

    Over the past week, reports have tilted in the other direction, as suggestions that the O’s would listen on Machado have now evolved to the point where The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that Baltimore is shopping Machado and asking interested parties to make offers on the three-time All-Star. Baltimore is eyeing a pair of controllable young starters in talks for Machado, per Rosenthal. It’s a steep ask for a one-year rental of a player projected by MLBTR to earn $17.3MM in his final offseason of arbitration eligibility — even if Machado has been among the game’s truly elite talents over the past five seasons.

    Manny Machado | Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

    Baltimore’s preferences aside, it’s probably fair to assume that a trade package for Machado doesn’t expressly need to be built around two starters. Teams can offer any combination of Major League position players and prospects with some upper-level pitching as they attempt to pique Baltimore’s interest, and if the Orioles are truly open to the idea of moving Machado, it’s doubtful that they’d turn down a strong offer simply because the best player involved happened to be a position player.

    It’s also worth noting that while many have suggested that a theoretical Machado trade could come with a “window” to negotiate an extension with his reps at MVP Sports, that scenario is uncommon. Nor, for that matter, should it be considered especially likely that Machado is particularly amenable to an extension with a new organization when he’s less than 12 months removed from hitting the open market as a 26-year-old free agent with a legitimate chance at a record-setting extension.

    The Best Fit

    From my vantage point, the Cardinals represent the best fit in terms of need and available prospects. The Cards are flush with young pitching, boasting names ranging from Alex Reyes to Luke Weaver to Jack Flaherty to Sandy Alcantara. They’ve also got a sizable crop of upper-level outfielders — another potential area of need for an Orioles with Adam Jones set to hit free agency next winter and no established presence in right field (with no disrespect to Austin Hays, who could well cement himself there in 2018).

    The Cards may be reluctant to part with someone of Reyes’ upside or a pitcher like Weaver who shined so brightly down the stretch, but they have plenty of pieces to entice the Orioles. And, they could easily accommodate Machado’s desire to play shortstop by moving Paul DeJong to third base and/or dealing from the infield surplus that a Machado acquisition would create. For a team that just missed out on adding Giancarlo Stanton, acquiring Machado would be a strong fallback option, even if he comes as a short-term rental.

    Plausible Landing Spots

    Rosenthal noted in his report that Orioles owner Peter Angelos didn’t want to move Machado to the division-rival Yankees, but they have the farm system to make a Godfather offer and a newly vacated hole in their infield with today’s trade of Chase Headley to the Padres. Were it not for the reported reluctance on Angelos’ behalf, they’d merit mention alongside the Cards as one of the clearest fits for Machado.

    It’s abundantly clear that the Angels have their sights set on returning to prominence in the AL West sooner rather than later. While they can’t offer Marte time at shortstop with Andrelton Simmons in tow, adding Machado would give the Halos one of the best defensive shortstop/third base combos of this generation. The Angels have an improving but still-not-elite farm, but they have some arms on the big league roster that could at least intrigue the Orioles. Andrew Heaney is coming back from Tommy John surgery but has four years of remaining control. Tyler Skaggs has had his own injury issues but has three years of control.

    Weird Dark Horse Suggestions

    The Rockies’ roster is stacked with controllable arms on the cusp of the big league roster and the team could view a Machado acquisition as a means of elevating them to the next level while they still have Nolan Arenado in the organization. Adding Machado at shortstop would likely push Trevor Story into a utility role, but having a versatile piece with that type of power would only seem to be a boon for the Rox.

    The O’s and Nationals are hardly on the best of terms thanks to their ongoing MASN dispute, and in fact, the two teams have never brokered a trade since the Nats moved to D.C. However, Washington is committed to an aggressive bid at contending in their final guaranteed year of team control over Bryce Harper. The Nats are largely set in the outfield, but they could still shift Trea Turner back to center field and bump Michael Taylor to a fourth outfielder for one year in order to add a player of Machado’s caliber.

    No Clear Need

    It’s borderline insane to suggest that any team “doesn’t need” Machado; a player of his caliber would improve virtually any team, and he could be deployed at either third base or shortstop next season, so there’d be a variety of ways for him to slot into a new team’s lineup.

    Still, teams such as the Cubs, Dodgers, Astros, Indians and Mariners lack a pressing need on the left side of the infield and/or already have long-term commitments already in place there. (Cleveland may also have some financial trepidation.) Any team could reasonably look at a Machado rental as a unique opportunity to acquire one of the game’s elite talents, but there’d be enough moving parts involved in talks with any of these teams to make each of them seem unlikely.

    Long Shots That Merit Mention

    The Giants are another club that missed out on Stanton and have an obvious spot at which they can work Machado into the infield. The hot corner was a black hole in San Francisco last year, as Giants third basemen combined to post a putrid .216/.268/.300 batting line on the season as a whole. Much as the Giants might love the notion of installing Machado at third base though, their best offer could almost certainly topped by an interested party with a better system.

    Machado is an upgrade over Jorge Polanco at short for the Twins, who could push Polanco to third base and Miguel Sano to DH. But, the Twins are in dire need of arms themselves. It’d be a surprise to see them part with near-MLB ready arms in a trade to rent Machado for one year. The Brewers are in a similar spot in the sense that while Machado would upgrade over Orlando Arcia, adding pitching is a priority in Milwaukee. Taking a one-year shot on Machado for either Midwest club seems unlikely.

    The Mets have plenty of uncertainty in their infield as David Wright and T.J. Rivera both try to return from injuries and Amed Rosario looks to establish himself as a big leaguer. But, New York’s pitching staff was in shambles last season due to injuries, and the depth they once had in the upper levels of the minors has thinned out. It’s tough to see them depleting their supply for a short-term add.

    Up in Boston, the Red Sox are known to be looking to add some power to the lineup, but they’re currently penciling Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts in at third and short. Outside of moving Devers across the diamond to first base or a trade of Bogaerts (which some have speculated about but has yet to emerge as a serious possibility), it’s tough to envision that fit. Elsewhere in the AL East, the Blue Jays have their own superstar third baseman in Josh Donaldson with Troy Tulowitzki and Aledmys Diaz in the mix at shortstop.

    Everth Cabrera and Khalil Greene are the only two Padres shortstops to post seasons of 3+ fWAR in the past two decades. San Diego has a glaring need at shortstop and a stacked farm system, but it’s still tough to see A.J. Preller depleting the farm he’s built up for a one-year addition of Machado in a year the team has little hope of contending.

    Oakland has a steady shortstop in the form of Marcus Semien and will struggle to contend in a stacked AL West division as they wait on their young core to further cement itself in the Majors. The A’s have made some surprise veteran additions in the past and made a serious push for Edwin Encarnacion last offseason, but they’re a substantial reach in this regard.

    The Phillies and Braves, too, figure to be oft-mentioned candidates to make a play for Machado. Philadelphia has widely been considered to be a likely pursuer of Machado in free agency, and new Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos has a vacancy at third base and a reputation for making big splashes. But neither team was competitive in 2017, neither seems likely to push past the Nationals atop the division and both would be changing course somewhat from rebuilds by flipping long-term talent for short-term gain.

    Out of the Picture

    Teams that are just embarking on lengthy rebuilds and/or face significant payroll restrictions can more or less be ruled out entirely. The Tigers, Royals, Marlins, Rays and Pirates don’t seem possible by almost any stretch of the imagination. (And, clearly, there’s been some imagination stretching in some of the above-portrayed scenarios.) The Reds and White Sox are further along in the rebuilding process than Detroit, Kansas City or Miami, but neither club makes sense as an ultimate landing spot. The Diamondbacks have a weak farm with several infield options on the left side already, and they’re up against a rather substantial payroll crunch that could make Machado’s $17MM+ salary difficult to stomach.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Carlos Gonzalez]]> 2017-12-12T20:52:51Z 2017-12-12T20:47:22Z 2:47pm: Other clubs with some level of interest include the Astros, Orioles, and Rockies, per’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). Colorado GM Jeff Bridich has previously indicated a desire to “continue conversations” with CarGo, as Nick Groke of the Denver Post tweeted yesterday, though he did not commit to anything beyond that.

    12:46pm: Though Carlos Gonzalez hasn’t drawn a huge amount of headlines coming off a down season in the final campaign of his seven-year deal with the Rockies, he’s generating a fair bit of interest from clubs looking to take a flyer on the former MVP candidate, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Gonzalez is likely to sign a short-term deal to rebuild his value, and Crasnick notes that the A’s, Blue Jays, Rays, Giants and Royals are among the clubs that are “believed” to be keeping tabs on him.

    Gonzalez, 32, struggled to a ghastly .221/.299/.338 slash in the season’s first half before erupting with a .314/.390/.531 slash, 21 doubles and eight homers in the second half. That surge was fueled largely by a mammoth spike in CarGo’s BABIP (.390 following the All-Star break). While that level isn’t sustainable over a full season, the fact that Gonzalez’s hard-contact rate spiked by nearly eight percent from the first half to the second half suggests that there was more than mere good fortune at play in his late rebound.

    Defensively, Gonzalez hasn’t graded out as an elite right fielder by any means in recent years, but he’s been a bit above average per Defensive Runs Saved and a bit below average in the estimation of Ultimate Zone Rating. Statcast rated him one out above average in the outfield this past season.

    Of the teams listed, the A’s are a bit of a surprise, given their desire to add a controllable right-handed-hitting corner bat. However, they do have outfield space to spare, and Gonzalez could be a nice value play for them on a short-term deal. From a hitter’s standpoint, the Coliseum isn’t necessarily a great place to go try to put up big numbers, though Gonzalez is plenty familiar with the setting from his days in Oakland early in his career.

    The Rays are an even more curious fit given their payroll crunch, though if the team sheds a significant amount of salary and looks to rebuild, they could reallocate some resources to a one-year pact for Gonzalez with the intent to flip him at the nonwaiver deadline. It’s a similar story in Kansas City, where they have space in the outfield but are reportedly on the path to a rebuild.

    The Jays have been eyeing left-handed bats and some outfield help, so there’s certainly a reasonable match there. San Francisco, of course, just missed out on Giancarlo Stanton and will be looking to bolster its offense in other manners now. Depending on the price point at which Gonzalez and agent Scott Boras ultimately settle, other teams could well jump into the mix and hope to sign the Gonzalez that hit 65 homers from 2015-16 as opposed to the one that struggled in 2017 and 2014.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[NL East Links: Anthopoulos, Marlins, Yelich, Kendrick, Lind, Harvey]]> 2017-12-12T13:15:36Z 2017-12-12T13:15:36Z New Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos spoke to reporters (including’s Mark Bowman and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien) about his team’s offseason shopping list, which includes a third baseman, bullpen help, and a controllable starting pitcher.  The “backdrop of everything” with the Braves’ plans, Anthopoulos stressed, is an improved defense.  “If we can improve in just one area defensively, we’re going to make 12 or 13 guys on that [pitching staff] a lot better,” the GM said.  As Bowman points out, this would seem to hint that Matt Kemp or Nick Markakis could be moved, as both outfielders posted subpar fielding numbers last season.  It may still be a while before we see one of Anthopoulos’ signature major trades, however, as he said he is still familiarizing himself with Atlanta’s baseball operations department after only a few weeks on the job.  While he wouldn’t rule out some notable moves, “I would say my thought for Year 1 would be a more cautious approach,” Anthopoulos said.  He also believed that the Braves’ payroll would likely remain around the $130MM mark.

    Some more rumblings from around the NL East…

    • With the Braves looking for third base help,’s Joe Frisaro believes they could at least be open to a trade for the MarlinsMartin Prado.  One would think Miami would have to eat a big chunk of the $28.5MM owed to Prado through 2019 to make any trade involving the veteran work, as Prado was limited to just 37 games last season due to hamstring injuries and knee surgery.  The well-respected Prado would be a good leader within a young Atlanta clubhouse, however, and Prado has a long relationship with the Braves after spending his first 10 pro seasons in the organization.
    • In two other tweets, Frisaro notes that the Marlins may be better served by trading Christian Yelich, even though the team’s “sentiment…is to retain” the young outfielder.  Getting a big haul of talent in an “overpay situation” for Yelich would greatly help Miami restock its farm system, plus Frisaro cites the factor that Yelich may simply be tired of playing for losing teams.  While Yelich’s name has surfaced in trade speculation, the Marlins are in no particular rush to deal him; the outfielder is locked up on a contract that runs through at least the 2021 season.
    • The Nationals got a lot of production off the bench from Howie Kendrick and Adam Lind last year, and GM Mike Rizzo told’s Pete Kerzel and other reporters that he is open to a reunion with either player.  Playing time could be an issue, as while both Kendrick and Lind saw significant action in 2017, they theoretically wouldn’t be used as much next year since the Nats expect better health throughout their lineup.  The two veterans could therefore try to sign for teams that could promise them more regular at-bats.
    • The Mets and Orioles have had some talks about Matt Harvey, and while Dan Connolly of is “all for [the O’s] taking a flier on Harvey,” doing so in a trade for Brad Brach would be ill-advised from the Orioles’ perspective.  Dealing a proven quality reliever like Brach is too much of a risk, since Harvey is a question mark after two injury-plagued down years.  Fortunately for Connolly’s concerns, a Brach-for-Harvey trade doesn’t seem to be a likely possibility.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Orioles Notes: Machado, Rule 5 Draft, Relievers, Catching, Pena]]> 2017-12-12T12:04:48Z 2017-12-12T12:04:48Z It remains unlikely that the Orioles will trade Manny Machado at all, and while the Phillies certainly have interest in the star third baseman, they know they’re probably not an ideal fit if the O’s did shop Machado, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.  With Machado only under contract through the 2018 season, it doesn’t make sense for the rebuilding Phillies to make a move for him right now.  As NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury notes, the Phils could just wait until next winter to pursue Machado in free agency.  That way, he costs just money, whereas trying to trade for him now would cost both money (if a contract extension can be worked out) and several prospects.

    Some more rumblings out of Camden Yards…

    • Speaking of a link between the Orioles and Phillies,’s Roch Kubatko writes that Baltimore could consider Phillies left-handed pitching prospect Austin Davis in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft.  A 12th-round pick in the 2014 amateur draft, Davis has a 3.07 ERA, 8.7 K/9 and 2.71 K/BB rate over 228 2/3 minor league innings, none above the Double-A level.  The O’s have frequently mined the Rule 5 Draft for young talent, including taking both Anthony Santander and Aneury Tavarez last year.
    • Davis could fit the Orioles’ desire for another southpaw option in the bullpen.  Team executive VP Dan Duquette told Kubatko and other reporters that a hard-throwing lefty reliever is “on our radar” as an offseason need.  With Zach Britton closing, the Orioles’ other left-handed pen options include Richard Bleier and Donnie Hart, both of whom “are more finesse from the left side,” Duquette said.  Kubatko figures Bleier is a good bet for a bullpen job in 2018, so Hart could be Triple-A depth if the Orioles did get another southpaw.
    • The O’s want to add a veteran to their catching mix of Caleb Joseph, Chance Sisco and Austin Wynns.  Duquette said the team had interest in re-signing catcher Francisco Pena but revealed that “he’s going to sign with somebody else.”  Pena only appeared in 19 MLB games for Baltimore over the last two seasons, though was held in high regard as a depth option due to his strong defense.  Pena was designated for assignment and outrighted off the Orioles’ roster three times in 2017, and he became a free agent after the season.
    • Minor league left-handers Keegan Akin and Alex Wells have both received trade interest from other teams, Duquette said (hat tip to’s Rich Dubroff).  Akin and Wells respectively ranked 8th and 16th on’s list of the top 30 Orioles prospects; Baseball America recently cited Wells as owning the best control of any pitcher in the farm system, though neither he or Akin made BA’s list of top 10 Baltimore minor leaguers.  The O’s aren’t considered to be particularly deep in young talent, particularly on the pitching side, so it would be a little surprising to see them part with Akin or Wells unless they can get very good value for either southpaw.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Rockies Could Add Multiple Relievers]]> 2017-12-12T05:00:15Z 2017-12-12T04:59:15Z DEC. 11: The Rockies’ interest in Davis continues, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (on Twitter). Davis is one of “numerous” possibilities for the Rockies, who are trying to add multiple relievers, per Rosenthal. They were interested in re-signing Pat Neshek before he agreed to join the Phillies on Monday, Rosenthal adds.

    DEC. 2: With Greg Holland currently on the open market, the closer-needy Rockies have shown interest in fellow free agent Wade Davis and spoken with the Orioles about Zach Britton, Jon Morosi of reported earlier this week (Twitter link).

    Colorado’s interest in both players isn’t particularly surprising when you consider that Holland and two other key members of its 2017 bullpen – Jake McGee and Pat Neshek – are unsigned. Thanks in part to those three, the Rockies’ bullpen enjoyed a seismic turnaround from 2016 to ’17, thus helping the club to its first playoff season since 2009. With Holland, McGee and Neshek on the market, the Rockies’ relief corps looks decidedly less imposing than it did late in the season, leading general manager Jeff Bridich to acknowledge last month that it’s going to be a key area of focus this winter.

    Between Davis and Britton, the former would require a much bigger commitment from a financial standpoint. The 32-year-old Davis was among the game’s best relievers with the Rays, Royals and Cubs from 2012-17 and now stands as arguably the premier bullpen piece in free agency. MLBTR projects a four-year, $60MM payday for the right-handed Davis, who rejected the Cubs’ qualifying offer at the outset of the offseason. The Rockies would only lose their third-highest 2018 draft pick if they were to sign Davis, though, as the team’s a revenue-sharing recipient that did not exceed the competitive balance tax last season.

    Britton, a southpaw, is only under control for another year – at a projected $12.2MM – and should be popular in trade rumors this offseason as a result. GM Dan Duquette suggested this week that the Orioles are inclined to keep Britton as they seek a bounce-back year in 2018, but he also noted that “there’s a lot of interest” in the soon-to-be 30-year-old. Britton is coming off a somewhat disappointing season, however, despite a 2.89 ERA and a 72.6 percent groundball rate across 37 1/3 innings. Britton dealt with forearm issues, leading to a drop in velocity, and posted 6.99 K/9 against 4.34 BB/9. He was at 9.94 and 2.42 in those categories during a 2016 campaign that saw him record a jaw-dropping .54 ERA over 67 frames and garner American League Cy Young consideration.

    With Baseball America’s 15th-ranked farm system, the Rockies likely have enough in the pipeline to put together a package for Britton if the Orioles are willing to move him. But there are plenty of viable late-game options available in free agency if a trade doesn’t come together. In addition to Davis, the Rockies have thus far shown reported interest in Holland – although, as a qualifying recipient, his departure would net them a high draft pick – as well as Brandon Kintzler.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[FA Rumors: LoMo, Rox, Hunter, Mets, Kintzler, Brewers, O’s, Tigers, Jays]]> 2017-12-11T23:41:02Z 2017-12-11T23:41:02Z The latest free agent rumors…

    • Contrary to a report from Sunday, the Rockies haven’t had any discussions about signing first baseman Logan Morrison, per Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (Twitter link).
    • Reliever Tommy Hunter has emerged as a “prime target” for the Mets in their search for bullpen help, according to Marc Carig of Newsday (on Twitter). The 31-year-old right-hander was quietly excellent over 58 2/3 innings with the Rays in 2017, recording a 2.61 ERA and putting up 9.82 K/9 against 2.15 BB/9.
    • Count the Diamondbacks among those interested in reliever Brandon Kintzler, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, who expects the former Twins closer to land a two-year deal. Kintzler suggested last month that his wife is rooting for him to sign with Arizona. The Twins continue to monitor him, and they’ve also checked in on almost every other available pitcher, chief baseball officer Derek Falvey revealed (Twitter link via Rhett Bollinger of
    • Brewers GM David Stearns said Monday that he’s likely to “cross paths” at the Winter Meetings with the agents for second baseman Neil Walker and reliever Anthony Swarzak, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. Walker and Swarzak ended last season with the Brewers after coming over in trades and performed quite well during their short stints in Milwaukee.
    • Although the Orioles badly need starters, they’re not inclined to dole out long deals. GM Dan Duquette suggested to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun and other reporters Monday that four- to five-year pacts for pitchers generally don’t work out well (Twitter link). On the other hand, Duquette hasn’t closed the door on re-signing righty Chris Tillman, who figures to be an affordable, short-term pickup after enduring a dreadful 2017 (Twitter link via Roch Kubatko of
    • As is the case with Baltimore, the Tigers are in the market for a starter who won’t require a long commitment, GM Al Avila informed reporters (via Evan Woodbery of, on Twitter). Detroit is open to reeling in another starter on a one-year deal to join the just-signed Mike Fiers.
    • The Blue Jays are engaging with multiple starters and relievers, GM Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet and other reporters Monday. They “will most likely add an infielder,” too, and are looking at outfielders, Atkins said (Twitter link).
    • The Rangers are considering signing catcher Rene Rivera, per Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link). The righty-hitting Rivera, who was with the Mets and Cubs last year, batted .252/.305/.431 in 237 plate appearances. Behind the plate, he caught an excellent 38 percent of would-be base stealers (10 percent above the league average) and, as has been the case for most of his career, held his own as a framer.
    • Right-hander Jesse Chavez appears likely to sign this week, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets. The 34-year-old Chavez spent last season with the Angels and posted an ugly 5.35 ERA across 138 innings and 38 appearances (21 starts), though he did log acceptable strikeout and walk rates (7.76 K/9, 2.93 BB/9).
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Trade Chatter: Machado, Phils, Yanks, Bucs, Cole, Ellsbury, Tigers, Brewers]]> 2017-12-12T21:23:43Z 2017-12-11T22:59:07Z Should the Orioles decide to trade superstar third baseman Manny Machado prior to 2018, his contract year, they could find a taker in Philadelphia. The Phillies are among “the more interested parties” in Machado, Roch Kubatko of reports. The Orioles have studied the Phillies’ farm system in the event of a deal, and they now “covet” right-hander Sixto Sanchez (Baseball America’s 61st-best prospect), per Kubatko. Second base prospect Scott Kingery and major league shortstop Freddy Galvis could also be involved in a potential trade, Kubatko writes. But a swap would require a 72-hour window for the Phillies to extend the 25-year-old Machado, according to Kubatko, and hammering out an agreement could be a tall order given that he’s so close to hitting the open market.

    More of the latest trade chatter:

    • The Yankees reportedly came away from talks with the Pirates with the impression that they won’t move righty Gerrit Cole. However, the Pirates are at least willing to listen to offers for Cole, per Buster Olney of ESPN (Twitter link). The Yankees and Bucs match up well for a potential Cole trade, sources tell Olney, who notes that Bombers general manager Brian Cashman and the Pirates’ Neal Huntington have swung plenty of deals in the past.
    • In the wake of the Giancarlo Stanton acquisition, the Yankees are loaded with outfielders. Although that seems to be bad news for Jacoby Ellsbury, who’s toward the bottom of the Yankees’ current outfield depth chart, he’s still “unlikely” to waive his no-trade clause, Mark Feinsand of tweets. The belief is that the Yankees would eat roughly half of the $68MM to jettison Ellsbury, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag, but it could be a moot point if he’s unwilling to go anywhere. And Cashman said Monday that Ellsbury “has a spot on the roster” and “will compete to take his job back,” Alex Speier of the Boston Globe relays (Twitter link). On the other hand, if the Yankees make 23-year-old outfielder Clint Frazier available, the Athletics would unquestionably have interest, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (via Twitter). However, the price to acquire Frazier would likely be too high, Slusser adds.
    • The Tigers expect to deal second baseman Ian Kinsler, GM Al Avila told Evan Woodbery of and other reporters (Twitter link). Meanwhile, they’ve gotten “mild inquiries” on arguably their most valuable trade chip – righty Michael Fulmer – but they’re not actively shopping him (via Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, on Twitter). “There are a handful of teams out there that have the players to do it, but we have not come close to those conversations,” Avila said of a potential Fulmer trade (Twitter link via Jason Beck of
    • While the Brewers are listening to offers for outfielder Domingo Santana, there’s not a lot of traction in trade talks, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN tweets. The Brewers want “an affordable impact starter” for Santana, Crasnick suggests. GM David Stearns told reporters Monday that “if we’re going to even consider trading someone who is such an important part of our team, we are going to expect a sizable return” (via Adam McCalvy of, on Twitter).
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest Chatter On Manny Machado As A Trade Target]]> 2017-12-11T17:26:06Z 2017-12-11T17:02:25Z
  • Having missed out on Giancarlo Stanton, the Cardinals are now scanning the rest of the market for offensive upgrades. Jon Heyman of Fan Rag looks at the team’s possible options, including free agents Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez. He notes that several upper-echelon third basemen might hold appeal on the trade market — which will come as little surprise to those that have followed the Cards’ trade rumblings for the last several months. Of course, it’s still unclear whether the Blue Jays (Josh Donaldson), Rays (Evan Longoria), or Orioles (Manny Machado) will make their stars available.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Pitching Plans For Rangers, Orioles Entering Winter Meetings]]> 2017-12-11T17:26:43Z 2017-12-11T15:37:37Z Every team in baseball is still looking for pitching, so in that regard the Rangers and Orioles don’t stand out. But these two organizations are similarly situated in some regards; notably, each came into the offseason with rosters that appear to be capable but not certain of contention along with clear needs for significant improvement in their starting rotations.

    For Texas, the Winter Meetings offer an opportunity and a challenge to chart a course that won’t involve Shohei Ohtani. While the pursuit of the two-way Japanese star is over, the team is still considering some novel approaches to its rotation usage. As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes, that might involve a six or even four-man rotation setup, depending in no small part upon the team’s eventual moves. Of course, Mike Minor and Doug Fister were already brought aboard, but that doesn’t mean the club is done adding.

    Notably, the Rangers aren’t just looking at budget arms. According to Grant, the club has not only checked in on quality veterans like Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, but has “maintained some contact” with former star Yu Darvish and hasn’t yet ruled out a surprise reunion. While he was dealt away at the trade deadline after the sides failed to line up on an extension, Darvish’s roots in Texas obviously trace back to his initial entry to the majors. Grant cautions that the team isn’t planning to lead the charge after Darvish or another top hurler, but it’s notable nonetheless that there seems to be serious consideration.

    It’s less pressing in some regards, but the Rangers will also be looking to improve their relief corps. Late-inning pieces, in particular, would clearly be on the wish list. One player to keep an eye on, per’s TR Sullivan (via Twitter), is righty Brandon Kintzler. Of course, he has also been linked to quite a few other organizations. The sinkerballer has obviously boosted his stock quite a bit with a hefty groundball rate and steady work in high-leverage situations over the past two seasons. Japanese reliever Kazuhisa Makita could also represent a potential target for Texas, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News writes.

    The situation is somewhat different for the Orioles, whose need for rotation pieces is even greater than that of the Rangers. With multiple pieces needed and relatively little available payroll space, Baltimore isn’t going to dabble at the top of the market, Dan Connolly of writes. That’s essentially the same conclusion reached by Roch Kubatko of, who says the Orioles “really like” Cobb but don’t expect to be able to afford him.

    Wary of the risks of a long-term pitching contract, the O’s plan instead to look further down the pecking order of rotation pieces. As Connolly explains, though, several of those pitchers have already gone off the market with early deals. Veteran righty Andrew Cashner is perhaps the most logical remaining mid-tier target for the team, he notes, while a variety of less costly pitchers also figure to be strongly considered. Both reports suggest southpaw Jason Vargas as a plausible name to bolster the back end of the rotation, so he’s certainly a player to watch.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[AL East Notes: Yankees, Orioles, Red Sox]]> 2017-12-12T21:21:07Z 2017-12-11T11:11:49Z Later today, the Yankees will announce the hire of Phil Nevin as their third base coach, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports. Nightengale also mentioned an additional fun fact: Nevin and new Yankees manager Aaron Boone were high school teammates. Nevin was a lifetime .270/.343/.472 hitter across 4,703 plate appearances spanning twelve major league seasons. The former number one overall draft pick played with seven different major league teams during his career, but spent most of his time with the Tigers and Padres. Nevin was considered to be a strong candidate for the Tigers’ managerial opening before the club selected Ron Gardenhire to be their next skipper. Instead, he’ll become the latest member of rookie manager Boone’s coaching staff.

    Other items from around the American League’s Eastern division…

    • Any path back to contention for the Orioles in 2018 must begin with a retooling of a rotation that posted baseball’s highest ERA, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun opines. At present, Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy are the only locks in the rotation, and although the Orioles have been in the mix for some pitchers so far, they haven’t signed anyone yet. While it has already been mentioned that the Orioles were in on Tyler Chatwood before he signed with the Cubs, Encina reports that Baltimore was also in on Miles Mikolas, who ultimately ended up choosing the Cardinals. He quotes Dan Duquette saying that retooling the rotation this offseason will be a “bigger challenge” than in previous years, in part due to “significant demand” for pitchers in the free agent class. The Orioles’ rotation posted a 5.70 ERA in 2017.
    • Despite the aforementioned need for rotation improvements, the Orioles did not make a presentation to Shohei Ohtani. Duquette’s reasoning (explained in a segment on MLB Network Radio) was that the Orioles “philosophically don’t participate on the posting part of it.” While the Orioles are known for not utilizing their international bonus pool money, one would think that Ohtani would have presented somewhat of an exception to Baltimore’s “philosophy,” particularly considering his upside and the fact that he’s now ranked as the number one prospect in all of baseball. Of course, Ohtani eliminated all east coast teams before he even scheduled any in-person meetings, so this is largely a moot point.
    • Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald lists five ways the Red Sox can “get down to business” now that the offseason’s two biggest holdups (Giancarlo Stanton and Ohtani) have found their new destinations. While he details Boston’s obvious need for a power bat his more interesting suggestion is that the Sox ought to pony up for a utility man who can be a legitimate hitter. If the team can’t re-sign Eduardo Nunez, Mastrodonato postulates, they ought to turn to the trade market for such an asset.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cubs Among Teams Pursuing Alex Cobb]]> 2017-12-10T17:17:29Z 2017-12-10T17:17:42Z SUNDAY: Along with the Cubs, count the Rangers, Yankees, Blue Jays and Orioles among teams interested in Cobb, according to FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link).

    SATURDAY: The Cubs added right-hander Tyler Chatwood on a three-year, $38MM guarantee this week, but another sizable investment for their rotation could be on the way. With the Winter Meetings nearing, they’re making a “strong push” to sign free agent righty Alex Cobb, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. Their hope is to reach a deal with Cobb prior to Monday, which would enable them to turn their focus elsewhere during the meetings and prevent other suitors from aggressively pursuing the 30-year-old.

    Cobb going to the North Side of Chicago has frequently come up as a possibility since last season ended, in part because of his connection to multiple members of the Cubs’ coaching staff. He played under manager Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay from 2011-14 and was under the tutelage of pitching coach Jim Hickey with the Rays through last season. Hickey, whom the Cubs hired in October, has been Cobb’s sole pitching coach since he debuted in 2011. Cobb spoke glowingly of those two last month and said he’d be “very honored” to sign with the Cubs.

    While Cobb would be a risky signing, having undergone two serious procedures (thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in 2011 and Tommy John surgery in 2015) during his career, he’s still poised to land one of the richest contracts on the open market this winter. Across 700 major league innings, including a career-high 179 1/3 last season, Cobb has pitched to a 3.50 ERA with 7.33 K/9, 2.62 BB/9 and a 54 percent groundball rate. Some of his numbers took a dip in 2017 (6.42 K/9, 47.8 percent grounder rate) – his first full year back from Tommy John surgery – though his velocity looked normal and he managed a quality 3.66 ERA/4.16 FIP, also recording a career-best walk rate (2.21 per nine).

    Along with guaranteeing a notable sum to Cobb, who rejected the Rays’ $17.4MM qualifying offer, the Cubs would have to surrender their second-highest draft pick in 2018 (No. 63 overall) and $500K in international bonus pool space to sign him. But that prospect clearly isn’t scaring off the Cubs, who will collect compensation if their own qualified free agents (starter Jake Arrieta and closer Wade Davis) depart. The Cubs are still interested in retaining those two, per Levine, but picking up Cobb would give them five capable starters (Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana and Chatwood are the others) and seemingly lessen the chances for an Arrieta re-up.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cafardo: Mychal Givens Will Be In "Great Demand" ]]> 2017-12-10T16:35:24Z 2017-12-10T16:35:24Z
  • Orioles reliever Mychal Givens will be in “great demand” at the meetings, Cafardo writes. The 27-year-old is coming off his second terrific full season in a row and is under control for the next four years, including a pre-arb season in 2018. For those reasons, the Orioles may decide to keep the right-hander.

  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Sign Mike Fiers]]> 2017-12-08T18:55:06Z 2017-12-08T18:47:47Z The Tigers have filled the fifth spot in their 2018 rotation, announcing on Friday a one-year deal with free agent right-hander Mike Fiers. He’ll reportedly earn $6MM on the contract and will remain under Tigers control through 2019 as an arbitration-eligible player. Detroit’s 40-man roster is now full.

    Mike Fiers | Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Detroit has long seemed to make sense as a landing spot for a bounceback starter or two, and Fiers clearly fits that description. The 32-year-old was recently non-tendered by the Astros, who were unwilling to commit to what MLBTR projected as a $5.7MM salary.

    That no other teams stepped in to trade for Fiers seemingly suggested that the rest of the market was equally unwilling to pay that price. Yet Fiers has evidently secured a guarantee that’s greater than the projection. Of course, it’s possible that the market moved a bit more than anyone anticipated. And it’s at least arguably preferable to have him at a fixed price rather than risking an arb hearing.

    It’s worth noting that Detroit will also pick up what’s essentially a team option at a floating price. Since Fiers is eligible for arbitration one more time, the organization will get to decide whether to tender him at the end of the 2018 season.

    [RELATED: Updated Tigers Depth Chart]

    Of course, that assumes that Fiers is not traded in the interim. If all goes as hoped, and he delivers strong results, perhaps he’ll end up being pursued by contending teams over the summer. (While the Tigers certainly could, in theory, be competitive themselves, that seems quite unlikely given the organization’s direction.)

    The 2017 season wasn’t kind to Fiers, who ran a 5.22 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 over 153 1/3 innings. While many of his peripheral numbers fell in their normal ranges, Fiers coughed up a hefty 1.88 dingers per nine.

    But he has shown more in the past, including a steady showing in 2015, when he put up 180 1/3 innings of 3.69 ERA ball and memorably threw a no-hitter. Fiers has also been healthy of late, taking the ball for at least 28 starts in each of the past three seasons, even if he doesn’t always work deep.

    Taking a chance on some kind of turnaround is easy enough for an organization that is entering a rebuilding phase and needs innings. As currently composed, the rotation would likely feature Fiers along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and lefties Matthew Boyd and Daniel Norris. It’s still possible to imagine the Tigers adding another arm to that mix, even if that just means bringing in some veterans on minor-league pacts to provide depth and spring competition.

    Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press first reported the two sides were close to a deal (via Twitter).’s Jerry Crasnick reported the agreement and terms (via Twitter).

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mike Fiers Turned Down Two-Year Offer From Orioles]]> 2017-12-08T17:48:53Z 2017-12-08T17:48:53Z
  • Right-hander Mike Fiers reportedly agreed to a one-year, $6MM deal with the Tigers last night, and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that Fiers actually turned down a two-year offer from the Orioles. Baltimore was comfortable committing $10-11MM to Fiers in total, but the righty is betting on himself in taking the one-year deal. As Crasnick notes, Fiers is still eligible for arbitration once more next offseason, so if he can remain healthy and hang onto a rotation spot throughout the season, he’d top that $10-11MM guarantee with another arbitration raise next winter.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles Rumors: Machado, Britton]]> 2017-12-08T04:38:33Z 2017-12-08T01:00:50Z
  • The Orioles have been receiving calls on third baseman Manny Machadowrites Heyman. While the O’s aren’t shopping Machado and don’t wish to move him, Heyman notes that Baltimore is also willing to at least entertain offers on any of its players, even Machado. Presumably, it’d take a staggeringly high offer to convince the O’s to part with Machado even in spite of the fact that he’s just a year removed from free agency. The Orioles have reportedly been pursuing upgrades in their rotation all winter as they seek to bolster their club for one more run with Machado, closer Zach Britton and center fielder Adam Jones at the forefront of their roster. Heyman notes that the O’s are also having internal discussions about whether to try for a Machado extension, though doing so would likely require a precedent-setting deal for the 25-year-old superstar, as Machado currently projects to hit free agency at the abnormally young age of 26.
  • Sticking with the Orioles, Heyman says in his weekly notes post that the Rockies (previously reported) and Cardinals are among the teams that have shown some interest in Britton. It seems reasonable to suspect that Britton is more readily available than is Machado, given that Baltimore went well down the line on a possible deadline deal for the lefty. But that doesn’t mean the team will simply accept the top bid; in all likelihood, prying him loose will mean meeting the O’s asking price.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Orioles Notes: Machado, Rebuild, Pitching]]> 2017-12-04T02:33:13Z 2017-12-04T02:33:13Z
  • A poor season could lead to the Orioles dealing some veterans at the trade deadline and a possible rebuild, though’s Dan Connolly doubts that the team would embark on a total scorched-earth rebuild a la the Astros or Cubs.  It’s also probably unlikely that a struggling O’s team would even deal impending free agent Manny Machado (barring an impossible-to-refuse offer) at the deadline due to Peter Angelos’ philosophy that “the season-ticket holders paid to see a certain team and weakening that promised product in-season is disingenuous.”
  • Also from Connolly’s mailbag piece, he doesn’t see the Orioles landing any of the top arms in the free agent market, so the club could check into acquiring a highly-paid pitcher coming off a down season.  The O’s likely wouldn’t have to give up much minor league talent in return, plus the other team would probably be covering at least some of the pitcher’s contract.  A bad contract swap could also be a consideration, as the O’s could help make up the salaries by dealing one of their own expensive players that might no longer be a fit — Connolly cites Mark Trumbo as a prime candidate in this scenario.  This wouldn’t be a perfect fit to solve Baltimore’s pitching woes, though it would at least re-direct some funds towards the Orioles’ pressing need in the rotation.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles Sign Asher Wojciechowski, Four Others To Minors Deals]]> 2017-12-01T21:34:14Z 2017-12-01T21:34:14Z The Orioles have signed righty Asher Wojciechowski and four other hurlers to minor-league pacts, according to a club announcement. Wojciechowski’s signing was first reported by Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun, via Twitter. Also joining the Baltimore organization are lefties Jason Gurka and Luis Lugo and righties Christian Binford and Perci Garner.

    Wojciechowski, who’s nearing his 29th birthday, got his first full shot at the majors last year with the Reds. But he scuffled to a 6.50 ERA in 62 1/3 innings while coughing up 14 long balls. On the positive side, Wojciechowski did manage to record 64 strikeouts against 19 walks, and was much more effective in limited minor-league action. Needless to say, getting the dingers under control will be a key if Wojciechowski is to have any success pitching in Camden Yards, though he’ll have to earn his way there first.

    As for the others, Lugo topped out at Double-A with the Indians, where he pitched to a 4.35 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 over 134 1/3 innings in 2017. Binford, a former Royals prospect, has failed to succeed at the highest level of the minors despite making it there in each of the past four seasons. Most recently, he allowed 7.24 earned per nine over 115 2/3 frames. We covered Garner’s addition yesterday.

    Then there’s Gurka, who is now 29 and broke into the professional ranks as a 15th round pick by the Orioles back in 2008. He has seen minimal MLB time but has mostly thrown at Triple-A of late. In 2017, he compiled 50 2/3 innings of 3.20 ERA ball, with 9.9 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9, with the Angels’ and Yankees’ top affiliates.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Dan Duquette Discusses Orioles’ Offseason Plans]]> 2017-12-01T05:11:04Z 2017-12-01T05:11:04Z Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette held an interesting discussion on 105.7 The Fan today, as Roch Kubatko of documents. Pitching is, of course, still the key to the winter. Duquette talked about his desire to add at least one lefty to the rotation. He also indicated a need to be “resourceful” in adding arms. There’s plenty more to unpack from the interview and it’s well worth reading through the full story. Here are a few of the highlights:

    • Broadly, Duquette suggested there isn’t much appetite in the organization to embark upon a rebuild. “We still have a pretty good core group,” he said. “And I’ve got to tell you, that rebuilding, that’s not very much fun.” Duquette did credit other organizations for making good choices when they did undergo a full teardown, but said he’d rather deal with the challenges of remaining competitive year-in, year-out. “[F]rankly, I’d just as soon draft late and have a good ballclub and do as good as we can with the players that we have,” said Duquette. Many outside observers have suggested it’s time for the Orioles to think about prioritizing the future, particularly with a few key players entering their walk years. But the club is heavily invested in a few big names for the future — Chris Davis, in particular — and understandably is hesitant to give up a chance at putting together a competitive roster now even if it means foregoing an opportunity to gather up significant prospects. And it’s fair to note that a mid-season pivot is always a fallback possibility.
    • One major element of the team’s long-term plans, of course, is star third baseman Manny Machado, who’s set to reach the open market at the end of the 2018 season. Duquette says that the O’s have to decide “this offseason” whether Machado is “going to be a long-term fixture in [the team’s] lineup.” Of course, even if the team decides to make a real effort at striking a big new contract, they’ll face an uphill battle to convince Machado to sign on for a palatable rate. The 25-year-old was not at his best in 2017, but still managed to hit more than thirty home runs for the third-straight season and is widely viewed as one of the game’s most talented overall players. Machado certainly does not need to give up his shot at the open market to secure significant earnings; he played for $11.5MM last year and MLBTR projects that he’ll cost $17.3MM through arbitration for the season to come.
    • Closer Zach Britton was understandably a key topic of conversation, as his trade availability has arisen early in the offseason after the O’s explored talks over the summer. Duquette says he thinks it’s likely that Britton will remain with the organization to open the 2018 campaign, though he said “there’s a lot of interest in him” and acknowledged that the organization “was looking at some options around the trade deadline” involving Britton. All said, the take-away seems to be that Baltimore remains willing to discuss its star reliever but also isn’t exactly aching to move him. The central issues for the Orioles, with regard to Britton, seems to be resource allocation and risk. If he can return to his 2016 levels of dominance, he’d be a screaming bargain at his projected arb salary of $12.2MM. But his contract rights could be turned into other useful assets and his payroll space allocated to other areas of need. And it’s at least arguable that other organizations are better equipped to take on the uncertainty that arose during Britton’s injury-limited, less-than-stellar 2017 campaign.
    • There was some chatter yesterday that the Orioles could be looking into a long-term deal with second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who had a big 2017 campaign. But even as he cited one source that indicated contract talks had begun,’s Jon Morosi shortly thereafter cited another to deny that “anything of substance” had yet occurred (Twitter links). Duquette further downplayed that idea, at least in the near term. While he credited Schoop and said the team would “love to have him for the best part of his career,” Duquette also said that a long-term deal is “a conversation for another day.” Of course, many extension talks occur during Spring Training, and this could still be a matter to be revisited, but it certainly sounds as if there are no immediate plans for a push. Schoop is yet another player who is about to receive a big arb payout — we project him at $9.1MM — which reduces the team’s leverage with two seasons to go until Schoop qualifies for free agency.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles To Sign Perci Garner]]> 2017-12-01T06:32:23Z 2017-12-01T04:30:02Z
  • Joining the Orioles on a minors deal is righty Perci Garner, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Soon to turn 29, Garner struggled in limited action in an injury-limited 2017 season. But he did show a 95 mph heater and 14.4% swinging-strike rate in his brief foray into the majors in 2016, and worked to a 1.83 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 78 2/3 frames in the upper minors that year. Notably, too, Garner’s innings tally came in just 41 relief appearances, suggesting that the former starter could have some multi-inning potential.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles Sign Jhan Marinez, Joely Rodriguez, Ruben Tejada]]> 2017-11-29T02:38:03Z 2017-11-28T18:51:44Z The Orioles have announced a slew of minor-league signings, among them right-hander Jhan Marinez, southpaw Joely Rodriguez and infielder Ruben Tejada. Baltimore also announced the previously reported additions of infielder Luis Sardinas and lefties Josh Edgin and Ryan O’Rourke, with 14 total additions being made official.

    Right-hander Jeff Ferrell was the only of the remaining players to sign who has reached the majors. Also joining the Baltimore organization on minors deals are righty Ralston Cash, catchers Armando Araiza and Yojhan Quevedo, and infielders Angelo Mora, Garabez Rosa, Ryan Ripken and Erick Salcedo. Araiza, Rosa, Ripken and Salcedo were all in the Orioles organization in 2017 as well.

    With these additions, the O’s are likely hoping to spur some competition in camp at the fringes of the active roster. Marinez, 29, pitched to a 3.70 ERA in 58 1/3 MLB innings in 2017 with three organizations and could certainly be a middle relief option. Rodriguez struggled to a 6.33 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 5.0 BB/9 in 27 innings on the season with the Phillies, but he could join Edgin and O’Rourke in pushing the O’s existing southpaws.

    Meanwhile, it seems that Tejada and Sardinas could duke it out in Spring Training for a utility job. Both spent time in the Orioles organization last year. Tejada received a run at short before the team added Tim Beckham, but managed only a .230/.293/.283 slash. The 24-year-old Sardinas hit .319/.348/.419 over 331 plate appearances at Triple-A Norfolk after he was cut loose by the Padres.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles To Sign Josh Edgin]]> 2017-11-27T23:56:00Z 2017-11-27T23:56:00Z The Orioles have struck a deal with southpaw Josh Edgin, according to Roch Kubatko of (via Twitter). It’s a minor-league contract, per the report.

    Edgin, who’ll soon turn 31, had spent five seasons working out of the Mets’ bullpen. But he lost his 40-man roster spot late in the 2017 season and also underwent knee surgery at season’s end, so he’ll certainly come into camp with something to prove.

    Though he produced 37 innings of 3.65 ERA pitching for New York, there was a reason Edgin was designated by a struggling Mets team. He had managed only 27 strikeouts against 18 walks, had allowed a .280/.374/.400 slash to opposing lefties, and was operating with about 1.5 mph less on his average fastball than he had before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015.

    Still, Edgin has had a fair bit of success in the past, particularly in a strong 2014 campaign in which he allowed just 1.32 earned runs per nine, carried 9.2 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9, and sported a 50.7% groundball rate through 27 1/3 innings over 47 appearances. And there’s some real opportunity in the Orioles’ pen. Baltimore’s top two southpaws at present are Richard Bleier and Donnie Hart. The club also recently added Ryan O’Rourke on a minors pact to join the competition in Spring Training.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles Likely To Pursue Veteran Depth At Catcher]]> 2017-11-27T18:48:01Z 2017-11-27T17:10:56Z The Orioles figure to give top prospect Chance Sisco the opportunity to prove himself ready for regular MLB work next season, but Roch Kubatko of reports that they’re still likely to add at least one veteran alternative on a minor league pact this winter. Caleb Joseph is in line to share the catching duties following a bounceback season, and the O’s also added 27-year-old Austin Wynns to the 40-man roster last week, though he’s yet to suit up for a big league game. Speculatively speaking, names like Jose Lobaton, Hector Sanchez and Chris Stewart could all be available on minor league deals this winter after lackluster showings in limited big league time in 2017.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles To Acquire Konner Wade From Rockies For International Bonus Money]]> 2017-11-24T13:22:34Z 2017-11-24T13:22:37Z Nov. 24: The Rockies are receiving $500K worth of international bonus money from the Orioles in the trade, tweets Rich Dubroff of

    As Matt Eddy of Baseball America points out, the O’s have now made eight trades sending away their international bonus pool funds since the signing period opened on July 2. The other 29 teams in the league have combined to make 13 trades involving international money in that time.

    Nov. 21: The Orioles have added an arm in a swap with the Rockies, picking up righty Konner Wade in exchange for an unknown amount of international bonus pool money. Roch Kubatako of first reported the prospective swap, with Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweeting that it has in fact gone though.

    Wade, who’ll soon turn 26, repeated Double-A last year and showed strides against his 2016 performance. Over 109 1/3 innings, split nearly evenly between starting and relieving, Wade pitched to a 4.28 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9.

    It seems reasonable to expect that the O’s might ultimately consider Wade as a swingman option, though there’s also not much cause to believe he’ll factor in the team’s plans to open the 2018 season. Wade is eligible for the Rule 5 draft, and can no longer be protected, but that fact doesn’t seem to have dissuaded the Orioles from pursuing him — suggesting that the O’s don’t expect he’ll be taken.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles Acquire Jaycob Brugman]]> 2017-11-22T19:28:28Z 2017-11-22T19:11:25Z The Orioles have acquired outfielder Jaycob Brugman from the Athletics, per a club announcement. A player to be named or cash will go to Oakland in return.

    Brugman, 25, was just designated for assignment by the A’s. He reached the majors for the first time last year, posting a .266/.346/.343 slash over 162 plate appearances. A generally solid on-base threat in the minors, the left-handed hitter has shown a bit of pop at times but has not always sustained it in the upper minors. Metrics did not view his work in center field favorably in 2017, though that was a short sample and scouting reports have generally suggested he’s a solid overall defender.

    [RELATED: Orioles Depth Chart]

    It’s certainly possible that the Orioles could allow Brugman to compete for a reserve/platoon outfield role in camp. He’ll play at or near the league minimum and might help the team save funds to dedicate to the rotation, which is clearly a more pressing area of need. The O’s have a variety of right-handed bats to work with already. Adam Jones and Trey Mancini are certainties to see regular time. Mark Trumbo will likely mostly function as a DH but could factor in the mix, while top prospect Austin Hays will receive consideration despite a tepid late-season debut. Reserve options on hand include switch-hitting Anthony Santander and right-handed-hitting Joey Rickard.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles, Rockies Nearly Completed Minor Trade]]> 2017-11-21T15:55:47Z 2017-11-21T14:33:00Z
  • The Orioles nearly swung a trade last night with the Rockies, Roch Kubatko of reports. The organizations were discussing a deal in which Baltimore would pick up righty Konner Wade in exchange for international pool funds. Though nothing ended up getting done, Kubatko suggests it could still be a possibility. He also goes on to discuss the O’s decisions on protecting players from the Rule 5 draft, including a few names that could be targeted by other organizations.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Added To The 40-Man Roster]]> 2017-11-21T01:48:28Z 2017-11-21T00:47:42Z As detailed earlier this morning at MLBTR, the deadline for Major League clubs to add players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from next month’s Rule 5 Draft is tonight. Because of that, there will be literally dozens of moves between now and 8pm ET as teams make final determinations on who to protect and who to risk losing in next month’s Rule 5 draft. This process will lead to smaller-scale trades, waiver claims and DFAs, but for some clubs the only necessary moves will simply be to select the contracts of the prospects they wish to place on the 40-man roster. We’ll track those such moves in this post…

    Click to check in on other teams that have selected players to their 40-man rosters …

    Read more

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Orioles Weighing Moving Manny Machado To Shortstop]]> 2017-11-20T01:38:14Z 2017-11-20T01:38:14Z According to “industry consensus,” Alex Cobb’s free agent market will come down to a battle between the Cubs and Yankees, Peter Gammons writes in his newest entry at  Chicago’s interest in Cobb (which is apparently mutual) is already known, and such other teams as the Phillies, Orioles, and Blue Jays have also been linked to Cobb on the rumor mill, though New York would seem like something of a surprise candidate.  Since Cobb is expected to land a pricey multi-year deal, it would be difficult for the Yankees to sign the right-hander and stay under the luxury tax threshold, unless the team was able to unload another big contract or two off its books.  Starting pitching also doesn’t appear to be a critical need for the Yankees, as while a variety of young arms are battling for the fifth starter’s role, signing a more inexpensive veteran (or bringing back C.C. Sabathia) would seem like a likelier move than making a big splash to sign Cobb.


    • Orioles officials are debating whether or not to move Manny Machado to shortstop next season.  While Machado is a free agent next winter, incumbent shortstop Tim Beckham may also not be the long-term answer at the position, as his scorching-hot first month with the O’s doesn’t erase other concerns about his overall offensive and defensive capability.  Given that Machado himself would reportedly prefer to move from third base to his original minor league position, it doesn’t seem like the O’s would meet with any resistance from the star infielder if they decided on the move.  Machado has been one of baseball’s best defensive third basemen but he has also displayed an above-average glove (5.4 UZR/150, +2 Defensive Runs Saved) over 433 career innings at short.  A position shift would greatly alter Baltimore’s offseason plans and put them in line to seek out third base help, perhaps even a top free agent like Mike Moustakas or Todd Frazier.  The O’s could also aim lower and simply look for a platoon partner to join Beckham at the hot corner.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Orioles Rumors: Machado, Jones, Relievers]]> 2017-11-21T20:54:06Z 2017-11-19T17:27:28Z
  • The Orioles will wait until later in the offseason to discuss extensions with third baseman Manny Machado and center fielder Adam Jones, Roch Kubatko of relays. Kubatko doesn’t expect an extension for Machado to come to fruition, which isn’t surprising given that he’s primed sign a mega-deal on the open market a year from now. Interestingly, though, Kubatko hears that Machado would prefer to play shortstop instead of third base, which could make a potential trip to free agency all the more intriguing. Machado logged 52 appearances at short between 2015-16 but has otherwise played the hot corner since debuting in 2012.
  • Closer Zach Britton, another high-profile Oriole entering a contract year, likely wouldn’t bring back a great return via trade this offseason, Buster Olney of observes. While the Orioles are open to trading Britton, his lack of team control, high salary (a projected $12.2MM in arbitration) and recent arm problems figure to tamp down his value, Olney writes. Still, whether it’s Britton, Darren O’Day or Brad Brach, Baltimore seems poised to move one of its most established relievers and use the money it saves on much-needed starting pitching help, per Olney.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Orioles Interested In Lance Lynn]]> 2017-11-19T00:48:36Z 2017-11-19T00:47:05Z The Orioles are interested in free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports (Twitter link). Morosi adds that the Orioles slightly prefer fellow righty Alex Cobb, however, thanks to his vast experience in the American League East. Morosi first linked Cobb to the Orioles on Friday.

    Either Lynn or Cobb is the third-best established starter on the market behind Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, and signing one of the two second-tier arms would ostensibly be a boon to a Baltimore rotation in dire need of help. Orioles starters placed 27th in the majors in fWAR (5.5) and dead last in ERA (5.70) during the regular season, and with 2017 rotation members Chris Tillman, Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez now on the open market, the team is on the hunt for multiple starters.

    Lynn debuted as a regular in the Cardinals’ rotation in 2012 and has quietly been among the majors’ most consistent workhorses since then. With the exception of 2016, which he missed after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Lynn hasn’t finished with fewer than 29 starts or 175 1/3 innings in any full season. The fastball specialist has also thrived at keeping opposing offenses at bay, evidenced by a 3.37 ERA that ranks tied for 22nd among big league starters since 2012.

    The 30-year-old Lynn spun 186 1/3 innings of 3.43 ERA ball in 2017, though his terrific run prevention came in spite of underwhelming rates in the strikeout (7.39 K/9; down from 8.46 lifetime) and walk (3.77; up from 3.4) departments. A fair amount of Lynn’s success last season was on account of a .244 batting average on balls in play, way down from his .297 career mark, but it wasn’t solely a product of good fortune. Lynn tied with a handful of starters – including National League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer – for 25th out of 94 qualifiers in average exit velocity allowed (85.7 mph). Thanks in part to that, his expected weighted on-base average allowed (.310) was right in line with the .309 wOBA he surrendered.

    Considering both Lynn’s track record and the dearth of big-time starters available in free agency, he’s in line to land one of the offseason’s richest contracts. With Lynn having rejected the Cardinals’ $17.4MM qualifying offer, signing him would cost Baltimore its third-highest pick in next summer’s draft, which isn’t much of a deterrent in and of itself. But, as much as Lynn could help the O’s rotation in 2018, it’s debatable whether they’d be wise to hand a lucrative long-term deal to him, Cobb or anyone else this winter with core players Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Adam Jones and Brad Brach scheduled to hit free agency next year.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[East Notes: O’s/Cobb, Mets, Nats, Jays, Rays]]> 2017-11-18T05:19:33Z 2017-11-18T05:19:33Z The Orioles seem to be casting a wide net in their hunt for starting pitching, as they have been cited as having interest in quite a few arms already. While the organization has become known for doing a good portion of its business later in the offseason, perhaps it’ll be more aggressive on some pitchers this time around. In any event, the latest name connected to the O’s is righty Alex Cobb, with Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweeting that the team has interest in a hurler who long tormented them in the division. Cobb won’t come cheap, but could be an option if Baltimore decides it’s able to add a more significant contract. The primary goal, though, will be to ensure there’s enough depth on hand in the rotation.

    More from the eastern divisions:

    • The Mets are the current poster child for the concept that you can never have enough pitching depth. Even on the heels of a tough season in which the club’s vaunted rotation collapsed, though, GM Sandy Alderson says he’ll consider dealing arms, as Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. While there’s still a need to “be careful” not to thin the staff out too far, Alderson is obviously also looking for ways to improve with a limited amount of payroll flexibility. Odds are that the team’s most prominent pitchers won’t be dangled, but Puma suggests Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, or Rafael Montero might conceivably be discussed.
    • While there’s nothing the Nationals can do to get out from under their 2018 commitment to Matt Wieters, the team will look for ways to improve behind the plate. Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post writes that the plan is to reduce the veteran’s role. Of course, that would mean relying more heavily on another player, and the team’s top internal alternatives (Pedro Severino and Raudy Read) are hardly sure things. An external acquisition will surely at least be considered; I ran through some other possibilities after the Nats were bounced from the postseason.
    • The Blue Jays are aiming for depth in their pitching staff, Ben Nicholson-Smith of writes. Lefty Robbie Ross is among the arms they are interested in, he reports. Certainly, Toronto has had a chance to see Ross up close over the past several years, which he has spent with the Red Sox. He was limited by injury in 2017 but turned in 55 1/3 innings of 3.25 ERA pitching in the prior campaign. Toronto isn’t limiting itself to lefty relievers, though; Nicholson-Smith says the club is looking at basically every type of hurler out there.
    • Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times has the latest on the Rays’ efforts to land a new ballpark. Owner Stuart Sternberg expressed optimism about a prospective site in Hillsborough County, but there are plenty of challenges still to be dealt with. Among them: the club “might only cover $150 million of the projected $800 million cost,” Topkin writes. Those interested in learning more about where things stand will want to give the link a full read.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Heyman’s Latest: Moore, Cain, Rangers, Vargas/O’s, Rodney/D-Backs]]> 2017-11-17T05:17:25Z 2017-11-17T05:17:25Z In his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag looks into the Royals front office. Owner David Glass is “considering a possible two-year extension” for GM Dayton Moore, writes Heyman, even though Moore has “no leverage” given that he’s already under contract for three more seasons. This all arises after Glass declined to allow the Braves to speak with Moore about changing squads. While Moore has expressed gratitude to ownership, his recent comments were interesting, if difficult to interpret with any precision. All told, it seems there could still be some unresolved matters in the Kansas City front office.

    Let’s look at a few more items from Heyman of particular relevance to the still-developing hot stove season:

    • Top free agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain has drawn some early interest from the Mets and Giants, according to Heyman. As regards the New York organization, this information seems to conflict with recent statements from Mets GM Sandy Alderson — though as ever it’s worth taking things with a grain of salt and acknowledging fluidity this time of year. As for the Giants, we at MLBTR pegged San Francisco as the likeliest landing spot for Cain, though some doubt whether the organization will go over the luxury tax line and sacrifice draft choices to land him. At a minimum, though, the organization would seem to be wise to do some diligence on the possibility.
    • The Rangers have “looked into” free agent righties Lance Lynn and Tyler Chatwood, says Heyman. While it’s not clear just how serious the interest is, the link isn’t surprising. Texas clearly needs arms; indeed, MLBTR guessed they’d land Lynn. While Chatwood doesn’t have nearly the track record of results that Lynn does, he is an intriguing option in his own right and shares some of the characteristics of Andrew Cashner — the former Ranger free agent signee who is himself back on the open market.
    • Another team with a desire to add several starters (and with reputed interest in Chatwood) is the Orioles. The Baltimore front office met with agents for lefty Jason Vargas during the GM Meetings, Heyman reports. The 34-year-old veteran seems to be a good match for the O’s, as we predicted, since the team needs to find so many rotation innings and can’t afford to make major long-term commitments to multiple starters.
    • The Diamondbacks are “open” to bringing back Fernando Rodney, GM Mike Hazen tells Heyman. Arizona is facing a difficult payroll situation but obviously will be looking to maintain and improve upon a Wild Card-winning roster. Though Rodney didn’t dominate last year, he’s still throwing mid-nineties heat and generating quite a few swings and misses — and obviously met with the approval of the D-Backs’ brass in the closer’s role. Beyond improving the pen, the Arizona priority is to improve in the outfield, per the report. That could mean pursuing under-the-radar additions; though Hazen says he’s not ruling out a return for J.D. Martinez, that’d almost certainly require the kind of payroll increase that does not appear to be under consideration.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 11/16/17]]> 2017-11-17T01:28:42Z 2017-11-17T01:28:42Z Here are the day’s minor moves:

    • The Orioles have added former Twins lefty Ryan O’Rourke, according’s Buster Olney (via Twitter). While the report doesn’t specify, it seems reasonable to presume that it’s a minors pact given that O’Rourke missed all of 2017 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The 27-year-old struggled with free passes in his first taste of the majors in 2015, but settled down upon returning in the following season. In 25 frames in the 2016 campaign, O’Rourke posted a 3.96 ERA with 24 strikeouts and six walks. It’s still a fairly minimal sample, but he has been pretty stingy against lefty hitters in the majors, holding them to a .134/.244/.239 slash through eighty total plate appearances.
    • Fellow former Minnesota southpaw Jason Wheeler is joining Korea’s Hanwha Eagles, as Yonhap News reports.  He’ll earn $575K to head to the KBO for the coming season. Wheeler, 27, has scant MLB time, with just two outings in the 2017 season. He spent most of the year in the upper minors, working to a 4.37 ERA over 94 2/3 innings with 6.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Cubs’ Bullpen Targets]]> 2017-11-16T16:49:16Z 2017-11-16T16:49:16Z The Cubs’ bullpen search figures to be expansive this offseason, but Patrick Mooney of NBC Sports Chicago provides some insight into the team’s thinking. Per Mooney, while the Cubs performed their due diligence on Zach Britton at this week’s GM Meetings, they found the asking price to be too high this past summer and aren’t likely to rekindle those talks. Rather, they’ve landed on free-agent righty Brandon Morrow as one potential ninth-inning option and will also monitor the market for former White Sox/D-backs/Mets closer Addison Reed in free agency, according to Mooney.

    Chicago got an up-close look at Morrow in the National League Championship Series as he made four practically unblemished appearances against them (4 2/3 innings, one hit, one walk, no runs, seven strikeouts). The resurgent Morrow, whom the Dodgers signed on a minor league contract last offseason, burst back onto the scene midway through the 2017 campaign and emerged as the Dodgers’ best non-Kenley Jansen reliever late in the year. The 33-year-old Morrow turned in a 2.06 ERA with 10.3 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and a 45 percent ground-ball rate in 43 2/3 regular-season innings before dominating for much of the postseason.

    The Dodgers rode Morrow incredibly hard in the playoffs, though, and by the end of the World Series some fatigue was clear. Morrow became just the second pitcher in MLB history to pitch in all seven games of the World Series, and he appeared in a staggering 14 of the Dodgers’ 15 postseason contests. Though he was excellent in most of those games, he was shelled for four runs without recording an out in Game 5 of the World Series — the lone game in 2017 in which he was asked to pitch on three consecutive days.

    That extreme postseason workload and Morrow’s greater injury history could give some teams pause in the free-agent market, but interest in Morrow figures to be robust all the same. We pegged him for a three-year deal on our top 50 free agent list, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see half the league express some level of interest.

    As for Reed, he’s been as durable as relievers come. The 28-year-old (29 next month) has never been on the disabled list in the Majors and has averaged 67 appearances and 66 innings per season over the life of his big league career. Reed has plenty of ninth-inning experience, having 15 or more games in four separate seasons.

    Control was an issue for the Chicago bullpen for much of the season — their 4.25 BB/9 rate tied for second-worst among big league bullpens — and it’s one area in which Reed excels. He’s averaged just 2.3 walks per nine innings pitched in his seven-year career, and that includes an even more minuscule 1.6 BB/9 mark over the past two years. (It’s perhaps telling that the Cubs are interested in two free-agent relievers that ranked among the top of the free-agent class in terms of best control.) Reed’s age, durability and track record make him one of the more appealing arms on the market — to the point that we pegged him as one of just four relievers to secure a four-year deal on this year’s free agent market.

    It stands to reason that Morrow and Reed are just two of many names that the Cubs are intrigued by in the early stages of the offseason. In addition to free agency, there will be no shortage of relievers discussed in trades this offseason. President of baseball ops Theo Epstein, however, implied to Mooney that the Cubs may not continue to operate as they have in recent years when it comes to targeting bullpen talent, stating that he has no desire to “make a it a habit” to trade players with five or six years of control (e.g. Jorge Soler, Gleyber Torres) for one-year rentals.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Free Agent Rumblings: Walker, Cobb, Chatwood, Minor, Lucroy, Bautista]]> 2017-11-15T20:19:46Z 2017-11-15T20:19:46Z As major league organizations compete to bring home the shiniest new cars in Playoffville (Copyright Scott Boras), let’s check in on the latest rumored connections:

    • The Pirates have at least “some interest” in old friend Neil Walker, Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweets. Morosi cites uncertainty surrounding Jung Ho Kang as driving the possibility of a reunion, though as’s Adam Berry writes, there’s another perspective on that subject, too. GM Neal Huntington says there’s still some hope that Kang will be able to return and finish his contract. If not, though, he feels the team is in good shape in the infield without him, due in part to the acquisition of Sean Rodriguez over the summer.
    • It seems there’s some mutual interest between the Cubs and righty Alex Cobb, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. That’s not a surprising connection, given the common roots with the Rays of Cobb and several key Cubs figures. The sides have engaged in preliminary discussions, though Wittenmyer’s sources tell him that contract particulars haven’t yet been broached.
    • Another starter getting a bite is Tyler Chatwood, in whom the Orioles have shown interest, per Morosi (via Twitter). That’s a connection that comes as little surprise. Baltimore is going to have to take some chances to fill out its staff, and Chatwood looks to be one of the market’s more interesting possibilities to provide value. He won’t turn 28 until December and has posted solid results outside of Coors Field, prompting MLBTR to predict a three-year deal (albeit at a relatively modest annual value). While Camden Yards and the AL East are an intimidating prospect for many pitchers, Chatwood at least has plenty of experience dealing with similar challenges.
    • The Mets are among the teams with interest in free agent southpaw Mike Minor, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. We’ve heard recently about New York’s desire to pursue impact relief pitching, and Minor certainly fits that mold. Given his past history as a starter and dominance against southpaws last year, the 29-year-old would provide quite a bit of functionality.
    • The Astros are showing some interest in free agent catcher Jonathan Lucroy, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). Lucroy could make for an interesting fit in Houston, though adding a backstop of that quality no doubt would represent a luxury for the team that already has most everything. Presumably, the ’Stros could plan to split time between Lucroy and fellow veteran Brian McCann, with the other spending quite a lot of time at DH (if not also some first base). Signing Lucroy could mean non-tendering Evan Gattis, though he might also be retained and also utilized in the same rotation. There are certainly some intriguing possibilities here, though Lucroy should also be pursued by others that might offer him significant time as a primary catcher.
    • It seems the Rays could again be a suitor for veteran slugger Jose Bautista, per Morosi (Twitter links). Talks haven’t really progressed to this point, but that’s hardly surprising — particularly since Tampa Bay’s entire offseason approach remains largely unclear. For his part, Bautista is said to be willing to spend time at DH or the corner infield, per agent Jay Alou.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles Have Shown Interest In Cardinals' Outfielders]]> 2017-11-15T05:33:12Z 2017-11-15T05:33:12Z
  • The Cardinals are looking to trade multiple outfielders given their logjam of upper-level talent, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The PhilliesOrioles and Giants have had interest in some of the Cards’ outfielders in the past, Goold notes, adding that Randal Grichuk is the outfielder that “comes up the most often.” Goold also reports that the Dodgers tried to pry Tommy Pham away from the Cardinals prior to the non-waiver trade deadline but were unsuccessful in doing so. In addition to Grichuk and Pham, the Cards have Stephen Piscotty, Dexter Fowler and Jose Martinez at the big league level. Beyond that, younger options include Harrison Bader, Magneuris Sierra, Randy Arozarena (who Goold profiles at the beginning of his column) and Tyler O’Neill.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Braves, Orioles Have Interest In Peter Moylan]]> 2017-11-14T21:53:26Z 2017-11-14T20:51:52Z
  • The Orioles and Braves are interested in righty Peter Moylan, per’s Mark Bowman (via Twitter). Moylan, a 38-year-old Aussie, has befuddled hitters for three years running, compiling a 3.46 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 over his past 114 1/3 innings since beginning an unlikely comeback. Moylan had signed with the Braves as a minor-league player/coach in 2015; he has excelled all the more since going to the Royals for the ensuing season and led the American League in appearances in 2017. While clubhouse presence is a factor that’s difficult to assess from the outside, Moylan also promises to make a tangible off-field contribution to whatever team lands him.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles To Canvas International Market]]> 2017-11-14T15:43:51Z 2017-11-14T14:54:24Z
  • The Orioles, of course, face a variety of needs that will be tough to fill with somewhat limited payroll availability. Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun provides a look at some veteran international targets that could be on the O’s radar. Signing foreign players to smaller, MLB deals has certainly been a notable Baltimore strategy in the past, and Meoli says the organization is “looking strongly” at doing so yet again.
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