MLB Trade Rumors 2020-01-24T01:34:50Z WordPress Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Padres Discussing Mookie Betts Trade With Red Sox]]> 2020-01-24T01:34:11Z 2020-01-24T01:34:50Z 7:34PM: The main stumbling block in trade talks is how much of Myers’ contract the Red Sox would be covering, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports, as the Padres want Boston’s obligation “to be much closer to the full value of the contract.”  The prospects reportedly being discussed in the trade aren’t any of San Diego’s “top five minor leaguers,” which would mean the likes of Gore or Patino aren’t involved.

6:29PM: The Padres and Red Sox have had talks about a deal that would send former AL MVP Mookie Betts to San Diego, The Athletic’s Dennis Lin reports (subscription required).  Boston’s side of the trade would consist of Wil Myers and “a significant amount of prospect talent,” as per the most recent discussion between the two clubs.

No trade seems close, as “multiple people familiar with the discussions characterized an agreement as unlikely….yet both sides appear to have legitimate interest.”  If nothing else, the news indicates that the Red Sox haven’t closed the door on moving Betts prior to Opening Day, despite chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom’s multiple statements about his belief that Betts will remain in Boston.  That said, trade talks doesn’t necessarily contradict Bloom’s comments; naturally he would be open to hearing what other teams have to say, even if he ultimately thinks Betts won’t be dealt since no club would meet the very high asking price he has put on Betts’ services.

That asking price doesn’t appear to be part of these talks with the Padres, which could be why Lin’s sources don’t think a trade will be finalized.  As per’s Buster Olney, the Red Sox were looking to acquire “two high-end prospects” for a trade package that included Betts and David Price, with the trade partner covering “most or all” of the $96MM owed to Price through the 2022 season.  Price’s name surfaced in talks with San Diego involving Myers earlier this offseason, though the Padres “seemingly have limited interest in such a scenario,” Lin writes.

Myers is owed $61MM over the next three seasons, and has been an inconsistent performer since signing that six-year, $83MM extension prior to the 2017 campaign.  Myers has hit .244/.323/.444 with 59 homers over 1482 PA the last three seasons, good for only a modest 103 wRC+ and 105 OPS+.  Myers has generated only 3.0 fWAR over that span due to this middling offensive performance and an increasing lack of defensive value — the Padres’ signing of first baseman Eric Hosmer left Myers bouncing around third base and all three outfield spots without much good glovework at any spot.

In Boston, Myers would probably at least get his old first base job back, as the Sox could deploy youngster Michael Chavis mostly as a second baseman.  (Myers could also take over Betts’ spot in right field on days when Chavis is at first base.)  There are some past ties between Bloom and Myers, as Bloom was in Tampa Bay’s front office when the Rays acquired Myers from the Royals prior to the 2013 season — and, it should be noted, also when the Rays dealt Myers to San Diego in the 2014-15 offseason.

Unless the Sox think a move to Fenway Park would unlock Myers’ bat in a major fashion, taking on Myers’ deal as part of a Betts trade would appear to be something of a curious move for a Boston club that seems to have made an offseason priority (despite the claims of owner John Henry) of reducing or altogether avoiding further luxury tax payments in 2020 after two years of overages.  Since a contract’s luxury tax hit is calculated by average annual value, Myers’ $13.833 AAV is far less than the $27MM Betts is owed in 2020, which is also Betts’ final year under contract before hitting free agency.

Despite Betts’ lack of remaining contractual control and his stated desire to test free agency rather than sign an extension, moving a superstar like Betts for, essentially salary relief, isn’t the type of move that would go over well with Boston fans.  One would figure the Sox are asking for the very best young talents from the Padres’ farm system, though reports from earlier this winter indicated that San Diego wasn’t willing to put the likes of Chris Paddack, MacKenzie Gore, and Luis Patino on the table in trade talks.

Other prospects could be under consideration in these Betts talks, as the Padres aren’t hurting for blue chip talent in their deep pipeline.  From the Padres’ perspective, even parting ways with a Gore or Patino might be seen as acceptable if it meant swapping Myers for one of the sport’s best players in Betts.  The Padres would be much better positioned to contend in 2020 with Betts in their lineup, and even if Betts did leave after the 2020 season, San Diego would stand to recoup a draft pick via the qualifying offer (thus partially replenishing their minor league ranks) and they’d still have the benefit of having Myers’ deal off of the books.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Brian Cashman: J.A. Happ To Open 2020 In Yankees’ Rotation]]> 2020-01-24T01:27:53Z 2020-01-24T01:27:53Z There has been no shortage of offseason trade speculation centering on Yankees left-hander J.A. Happ, especially in the wake of the team’s blockbuster Gerrit Cole signing. If we’re to believe general manager Brian Cashman, though, Happ isn’t going anywhere. Cashman told Meredith Marakovits of the YES Network (video link) that Happ will open 2020 as the Yankees’ fifth starter behind Cole, Luis Severino, James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka.

Whether you want to take Cashman’s statement at face value is up to you, but it does appear Happ would be a challenge to trade. The normally solid Happ is coming off a subpar season, set to enter his age-37 campaign, owed a significant salary, and has an unappealing vesting option baked into his contract.

Happ, who pitched to a 4.91 ERA/5.22 FIP with 7.81 K/9 (down from 9.78 the prior year) in 2019, will earn $17MM this season. Worsening matters, he’ll make another $17MM in 2021 if he racks up 165 innings or 27 starts this year – two figures he has typically approached or surpassed over the past several campaigns.

Getting Happ’s money (or at least some of it) off the books would help the Yankees from a luxury-tax standpoint, as they’re currently projected for a whopping $261MM-plus total. That said, there’s a case it would benefit them to keep Happ around and hope for a bounce-back showing.

Happ, despite an overall disappointing year, did end last season on a high note with a strong September. He’s also the most logical candidate to eat innings from the back of a Yankees rotation that will go awhile without righty Domingo German, whom MLB handed a suspension for domestic violence that will cost him the first 63 games of 2020. Meanwhile, southpaw Jordan Montgomery – the Yankees’ next most experienced starter – barely pitched over the previous two years after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Beyond German and Montgomery, New York’s looking at mostly unproven 40-man options, albeit some intriguing ones including Deivi Garcia, Jonathan Loaisiga, Albert Abreu and Mike King, as well as minor league signing Nick Tropeano. One or more of them could factor into the Yankees’ starting staff during the season, but for now, it appears they’ll take a backseat to Happ.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Seeking Writers For Pro Hockey Rumors]]> 2020-01-23T23:42:58Z 2020-01-23T23:42:58Z Pro Hockey Rumors, MLBTR’s sister site devoted to coverage of the hockey world, is looking to add multiple part-time writers to its staff. The positions pay on an hourly basis. Specifically, PHR is looking for people who have availability at these times of the week (plus some weekend availability may also be needed):

  • 8am – 9am CT, Monday-Friday
  • 8am – 3pm CT, one day per week
  • 3pm – 9pm CT, Monday-Friday

Applicants must meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • Exceptional knowledge of all 31 NHL teams, with no discernible bias.
  • Knowledge of the salary cap, CBA and transaction-related concepts.
  • At least some college education.
  • Extensive writing experience, with professional experience and a background in journalism both strongly preferred.
  • Keen understanding of journalistic principles, ethics and procedures. Completion of basic college-level journalism classes is strongly preferred.
  • Attention to detail — absolutely no spelling errors, especially for player and journalist names.
  • Ability to follow the site’s style and tone.
  • Ability to analyze articles and craft intelligent, well-written posts summing up the news in a few paragraphs. We need someone who can balance creating quick copy with thoughtful analysis. You must be able to add value to breaking news with your own insight, numbers or links to other relevant articles.
  • Ability to use Twitter, Tweetdeck, and an RSS feed reader such as Feedly. In general, you must be able to multi-task.
  • Flexibility. You must be available to work on short notice.

If you’re interested, email and take a couple of paragraphs to explain why you qualify and stand out. Be sure to attach your resume to the email.  If you have applied to PHR before, please feel free to submit again.  Many will apply, so unfortunately we cannot respond to every applicant.

Tim Dierkes <![CDATA[MLBTR Video: Mets Hire Luis Rojas, Royals Sign Alex Gordon]]> 2020-01-24T00:34:35Z 2020-01-23T23:30:10Z The Mets have their second manager of the offseason, Alex Gordon reaches a new deal with the Royals, and much more in Jeff Todd’s latest video.  If you enjoy the video, be sure to subscribe to our new YouTube channel!

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/23/20]]> 2020-01-23T22:54:06Z 2020-01-23T22:54:06Z The latest minor league transactions from around the game…

  • The Dodgers released their list of Spring Training non-roster invites, most of which have already been detailed on MLBTR’s pages.  One previously unreported name on the list is left-hander Kyle Lobstein, who is back with L.A. on a minor league contract.  This will be Lobstein’s second stint in the organization, as he pitched for the Dodgers’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates in 2018 before moving on to pitch for the Athletics’ Triple-A team in 2019.  Lobstein posted a 4.75 ERA, 2.06 K/BB rate, and 9.0 K/9 over 66 1/3 innings last season, with virtually identical numbers against both right-handed and left-handed batters.  The 30-year-old Lobstein posted a 5.06 ERA over his 128 career Major League innings, all with the Tigers and Pirates from 2014-16.
Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mets Hire Luis Rojas As Manager]]> 2020-01-23T21:43:23Z 2020-01-23T21:43:39Z TODAY: The Mets have officially announced the hiring.  Rojas will be introduced at a press conference on Friday.

JANUARY 22, 1:46pm: Rojas will receive a two year deal in addition to multiple club options, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

11:53am: The Mets have moved swiftly in the wake of the departure of manager Carlos Beltran. Their 2020 club will be helmed by Luis Rojas, according to multiple reporters including Mike Puma of the New York Post (via Twitter) and Tim Britton of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Rojas and the Mets are said to be finalizing a multi-year contract. The 38-year-old had interviewed for the open managerial position before it went to Beltran, leaving Rojas to reprise his role as quality control coach. But when Beltran stepped out the door due to his role in the Astros cheating scandal, the Mets turned back to Rojas.

Indications are that Rojas will oversee the same coaching staff that had expected to serve under Beltran. Obviously there’ll be at least one new hire as well, to account for the promotion.

It’s a bit opportunity for Rojas, who’ll take over for former manager Mickey Callaway after just one year on an MLB staff. Rojas came up through the Mets farm system as a coach and manager but had only overseen big leaguers during his time managing Dominican Winter League outfits.

Beyond his own experience, Rojas comes from a royal lineage. He’s the son of legendary skipper Felipe Alou and half-brother of MLB stalwart Moises Alou.’s Nathalie Alonso detailed Rojas’s rise and managerial future in an article last summer.

This is obviously not how anyone envisioned Rojas moving into the manager’s seat, but he’ll need to hit the ground running. Camp opens in just three weeks and Rojas inherits a roster that carries win-now expectations after two-straight disappointing campaigns. The stakes are lofty for all involved, including GM Brodie Van Wagenen and his front office, with an ownership change on the horizon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Red Sox Sign Juan Centeno To Minor League Deal]]> 2020-01-23T21:40:46Z 2020-01-23T21:30:49Z The Red Sox have re-signed catcher Juan Centeno, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  Centeno’s minor league contract contains an invitation to Boston’s Major League Spring Training camp.

Centeno chose to become a free agent in November after the Red Sox outrighted him off their 40-man roster.  The 30-year-old backstop originally joined the Sox on a minor league deal last offseason and ended up appearing in seven MLB games during the 2019 season.

Those appearances marked seven straight seasons of Major League action for Centeno, though he has only 118 games and 371 total plate appearances as a big leaguer.  The bulk of that experience came in 2016, when he hit a respectable .261/.312/.392 over 192 PA with the Twins, though Centeno has primarily been used as a depth option at the MLB level.  Centeno will again return to that role in 2020, joining Jett Bandy as spring competition for Kevin Plawecki for the backup catching job behind incumbent Red Sox starter Christian Vazquez.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mariners To Sign Alen Hanson To Minors Deal]]> 2020-01-23T21:26:56Z 2020-01-23T21:09:40Z The Mariners have agreed to sign utilityman Alen Hanson to a minor league contract, according to Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors (Twitter link).  The deal contains an invitation to Seattle’s Major League spring camp.

Most immediately, Hanson gives the M’s some experienced outfield depth in the wake of today’s news that Mitch Haniger recently underwent core surgery and will miss the start of the season.  Since Haniger is expected to be back before the end of April, however, Hanson’s versatility gives him a shot at remaining on Seattle’s roster even after Haniger returns.  Over 261 career games at the big league level, Hanson has started at every position on the diamond except pitcher and catcher.

Not much hitting pop has come along with that defensive flexibility, as Hanson has only a .232/.266/.368 slash line over 625 career plate appearances in the majors, and he also hasn’t hit much at the Triple-A or even Double-A levels.  The 27-year-old has bounced around between four different organizations over his pro career, seeing MLB action with the Pirates, White Sox, Giants, and Blue Jays.

With Haniger on the shelf, Jake Fraley and Braden Bishop stand out as Seattle’s top candidates for right field playing time.  Kyle Lewis could also see some time at the position if not in left field, while Dee Gordon is expected to be deployed at multiple positions.  Hanson will be battling for a utility role with such players as Tim Lopes, Patrick Wisdom, Dylan Moore, and Donnie Walton.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mitch Haniger To Miss 6-8 Weeks After Undergoing Core Surgery]]> 2020-01-23T19:51:46Z 2020-01-23T19:26:34Z Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger underwent core surgery earlier this week, GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters, including Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (Twitter links),’s Greg Johns, and The Athletic’s Corey Brock.  Haniger is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks, and the outfielder will miss some time at the start of the season after missing such a large chunk of Spring Training.

The procedure was necessitated by a setback while Haniger was already rehabbing from the surgery that ultimately cut short his 2019 season after just 63 games.  Haniger didn’t play after June 6 after suffering a ruptured testicle, and Divish noted he was at risk of suffering from a hernia or another core injury “if Haniger pushed too much in his recovery and rehab.”

While Dipoto said that he didn’t think Haniger would miss too many of the Mariners’ early games, today’s news obviously isn’t a welcome one given how Haniger’s career has already been interrupted by this particularly brutal injury.  The right fielder was becoming a breakout star in his first two seasons in Seattle, hitting .284/.361/.492 with 42 home runs over 1093 plate appearances in 2017-18.  While Haniger’s 2019 production was down a bit from that level prior to his injury, he was still providing above-average offense (106 wRC+, 109 OPS+) in his abbreviated season.

Haniger’s surgery also almost surely ends any possibility that he might be a late-offseason trade candidate.  The M’s received some significant trade interest in Haniger this past winter, with the Diamondbacks cited as one of the known suitors.  Dipoto reportedly set a high asking price in trade talks, and wasn’t willing to settle for any sort of buy-low offer in the wake of Haniger’s injury.

Assuming no further setbacks and Haniger is indeed able to return by late April, the 29-year-old will have plenty of time to re-establish himself as a quality offensive and defensive performer.  Haniger is set to earn $3.01MM in 2020, and with two more arbitration-eligible seasons to come, he’ll put himself in line for a nice raise if he returns to his 2017-18 form.  Such a performance could also make Haniger a name to watch for the July trade deadline, if Dipoto and the Mariners still have their eyes set towards the future.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Sign Dominic Leone, Anthony Gose]]> 2020-01-23T19:14:52Z 2020-01-23T19:04:32Z The Indians announced a series of non-roster invitations to Major League Spring Training on Thursday, including veteran right-handed reliever Dominic Leone and outfielder-turned-reliever Anthony Gose.

Leone, a client of Frye-McCann Sports, spent the past two seasons with the Cardinals and has also logged big league time with the Blue Jays, Diamondbacks and Mariners. The Cardinals picked him up in the trade that sent Randal Grichuk to Toronto, but things didn’t go as planned for Leone in St. Louis. After pitching to a 2.56 ERA (and 2.94 FIP) with 10.4 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 in his lone season as a Blue Jay, the now-28-year-old Leone stumbled to a 5.15 ERA/4.77 FIP in 64 2/3 innings as a Cardinal from 2018-19.

In 2018, Leone was plagued by a nerve issue in his arm that limited his time on the field, but he does carry a lifetime 3.92 ERA with better than a punchout per inning in 243 1/3 big league frames. He’ll now look to earn a fresh start in Cleveland — the fifth organization of his professional career.

Gose, now 29, was at one point ranked among the game’s best outfield prospects but simply never was able to put things together as a position player. The left-hander was a two-way star at the time he was drafted and tried his hand as a two-way player a couple seasons ago before committing fully to the mound in 2019.

Gose, who is represented by CAA, split the ’19 season between the Indians’ Class-A Advanced and Double-A affiliates, showing an ability to miss bats but also demonstrating substantial control problems that may not have been entirely unexpected for an outfielder who is converting to the mound. In 29 innings this past season, he posted a sterling 2.48 ERA with 35 strikeouts but also yielded an alarming 29 free passes with six hit batsmen. Clearly, there’s some potential within Gose, but he’ll need to hone in his control of the strike zone if he’s to emerge as a viable bullpen option at the MLB level.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Avila: Tigers Could Still Add An Outfielder]]> 2020-01-23T18:29:36Z 2020-01-23T18:29:36Z The Tigers haven’t exactly been aggressive in free agency this winter, but they’ve still added a handful of veterans, including C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Ivan Nova and Austin Romine. They’ve yet to make an addition in the outfield, but general manager Al Avila said Thursday on the Tigers Caravan that doing so is a possibility (Twitter link via Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press). Asked about Yasiel Puig, however, Avila indicated that the longtime Dodger is “not a priority” for the Detroit organization.

It stands to reason that after failing to come to terms on an extension with Nicholas Castellanos, who’s now seeking a lucrative multi-year deal in free agency, he won’t be a fit for the Tigers, either. That said, the market isn’t totally devoid of interesting options. Kevin Pillar, Steven Souza Jr. and Domingo Santana are among the yet-unsigned names who’ve had some recent success. Then again,’s Jason Beck suggests that the organization might prefer a left-handed bat for some lineup balance, and the market for lefty hitters is a bit more sparse. Jarrod Dyson is available, and if the Tigers want to dial up a reunion tour, familiar names like Curtis Granderson and Matthew Joyce are still free agents.

For the rebuilding Tigers, though, spending on an outfielder probably isn’t a priority in the way that Schoop and Cron were, as they do have a handful of somewhat intriguing options in house already. The team’s 2017 Rule 5 pick, Victor Reyes, brushed off a terrible rookie season (as many Rule 5ers endure) to deliver a .304/.336/.431 slash in 292 plate appearances. Much of that was BABIP-driven, but it’s understandable that they’re interested in getting a longer look at a player they selected with the No. 1 pick in the aforementioned Rule 5 Draft.

Detroit also picked up outfielder Travis Demeritte in the trade that sent Shane Greene to Atlanta. He struggled mightily in his first 186 MLB plate appearances, but he also posted a monster season in Triple-A and only turned 25 at the end of the season. Former No. 34 overall pick Christin Stewart struggled in his own look in the Majors this year but has a solid track record in Triple-A himself and was impressive in a 2018 cup of coffee. In center, JaCoby Jones shook off a terrible start to the season to hit .258/.335/.483 in his final 70 games. Detroit also has prospect Daz Cameron in the wings at Triple-A, although he’ll need to bounce back from an ugly 2019 effort to get a look in the big leagues.

Obviously, if the Tigers were aiming to contend in 2020, this group wouldn’t be close to sufficient, but that’s not the organization’s aim. There’s surely some merit to bringing in a more experienced option in the spirit of competitiveness, though, and the Tigers have shown a past willingness to do so (e.g. Cron, Schoop, Tyson Ross, Josh Harrison, Matt Moore) while some other rebuilding clubs more staunchly eschew adding any free agents of note. Whether that leads to a deal can’t be known, but Avila at the very least noted that the team is “talking to some agents” (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Cody Stavenhagen), suggesting that the open market is a likelier path to an addition than the trade market.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles Sign Brady Rodgers, Taylor Davis]]> 2020-01-23T15:57:43Z 2020-01-23T15:57:43Z The Orioles announced Thursday that they’ve signed right-hander Brady Rodgers and catcher Taylor Davis to minor league contracts. Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register first reported that Davis had landed a deal with the O’s (Twitter link).

That Rodgers would land in Baltimore isn’t a huge surprise, given that he was long ranked as one of the Astros’ more promising pitching prospects during now-Orioles GM Mike Elias’ stint in the Houston front office. Injuries, however, have significantly slowed the righty’s career. He appeared poised to step into the big leagues for a full-time audition in 2017 after pitching to a 2.86 ERA in 132 innings of Triple-A ball in 2016. Instead, he underwent Tommy John surgery that May and was sidelined for more than a year.

Since going under the knife nearly three years ago, Rodgers has been limited to 116 2/3 innings between the big leagues and the minors. He’s been clobbered for 23 runs in 13 2/3 innings in the Majors but does possess a career 3.67 ERA with 7.1 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and 0.8 HR/9 in 365 Triple-A frames. Rodgers generated strong ground-ball marks earlier in his career but has been more of a fly-ball pitcher since returning from surgery. The Astros selected Rodgers in the third round of the 2012 draft when Elias was a key figure in their scouting department — he ascended to scouting director the following year — and the Orioles have a clear need for pitching depth.

As for Davis, he’s a longtime Cubs farmhand with a bit of MLB experience. The 30-year-old backstop is signing on for his first season outside the Cubs organization after compiling a .277/.350/.385 clash through 1595 plate appearances at the Triple-A level. Davis has also logged 39 plate appearances in 20 MLB games, hitting at a .222/.256/.333 clip in that tiny sample.

In addition to his time as a catcher, Davis has logged more than 1000 innings at first base in his career and 292 frames across the diamond at the hot corner. He has a career 25 percent caught-stealing rate as a catcher and a track record of very strong framing numbers in the upper minors, per Baseball Prospectus. Beyond his solid play in Triple-A, Davis is perhaps best known for the myriad GIFs that were born of his penchant for locking eyes with the television cameras at any and all opportunities during Iowa Cubs games, dating back to the 2016 season.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Fernando Rodney Drawing Interest]]> 2020-01-23T15:05:43Z 2020-01-23T15:05:43Z If you ever troubled yourself with the question whether Fernando Rodney would seek to continue pitching — well, put those fears to rest. At least four teams have shown some level of interest in the veteran hurler, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter).

Rodney, 43 in March, still delivers a mid-nineties fastball and devastating changeup — sufficient to support an 11.0% swinging-strike rate, 9.3 K/9 strikeout rate, and 49.6% groundball rate in the just-completed campaign. Of course, he also permitted more than five free passes per nine and surrendered a good bit of hard contact. It’d be a stretch to call Rodney a Statcast darling, but he did fare better in the eyes of the fancy cameras than he did on paper (.308 xwOBA vs. .332 wOBA).

There’s reason, then, to believe Rodney is better than the 5.66 ERA he logged in 47 2/3 total frames last year. Perhaps Rodney’s 4.05 mark with the Nationals, accrued over his final 33 1/3 innings of the regular season, is a more accurate read on his true talent at this advanced age.

While we wait to see which tilted cap Rodney will don this spring, it’s worth pausing to appreciate just how remarkable he has been to this point. Once a forgettable pitcher who seemed destined to fade away, Rodney emerged as a late-inning monster in his mid-thirties, stole MLB’s heart with his arrow-launching celebrations, and then forgot that his body was supposed to break down. There’s no hope of a return to his silly-good 2012 form; even the 3.36 ERA performance of 2018 would be a stretch. But would anyone be all that surprised if Rodney throws 50+ mostly useful, always entertaining innings in 2020?

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Marcell Ozuna Reportedly Turned Down Multi-Year Offers]]> 2020-01-23T14:33:27Z 2020-01-23T14:33:27Z Before deciding to take a one-year deal with the Braves, outfielder Marcell Ozuna contemplated much lengthier arrangements with other teams, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter links).

On the one hand, this is mostly academic. Ozuna is headed to Atlanta and the prior offers are off the table. On the other, there are actually some interesting forward-looking elements to this report.

First and foremost, it’s notable that Ozuna drew not only three-year but four-year offers, per Heyman. The offered money evidently wasn’t enough to sway the veteran from the $18MM he got for one year with the Braves, but it’s still an indication that the market has some appetite for a longer pact on this sort of player.

That’s probably good news for Nicholas Castellanos and Yasiel Puig. We just ran a poll regarding the former, with nearly four in ten respondents predicting an Ozuna-esque signing and most of the remainder guessing he’d secure much less than had been anticipated in a multi-year pact. Expectations on Castellanos were always tough to set and have continued to waver. But it’s at least somewhat easier to fathom a bigger, lengthier contract given this recent report.

It’s also a generally promising sign for Ozuna himself, who is now slated to return to free agency at the end of the upcoming season. He only just reached his 29th birthday and can certainly anticipate long-term interest the next time around — if he makes good on the prove-it contract he just inked.

Most interesting of all, perhaps, is the involvement of the Reds in the bidding. Long rumored to be kicking around the market for these bat-first corner outfielders, the club’s recent signing of Shogo Akiyama further stuffed its outfield mix and made a further addition seem unlikely. But Heyman says that the Cincinnati outfit “made a spirited try” to land Ozuna with a multi-year deal.

If indeed the Reds had serious interest in Ozuna, it adds to the plausibility of Heyman’s prior reporting on the team’s pursuit of Castellanos. There are abundant options on hand, but perhaps the club simply isn’t satisfied — or has its eyes on adding another piece to help facilitate a trade involving one or more of its existing outfielders. The theoretical possibilities are endless, adding to the intrigue of the remaining corner outfield market.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Marlins, Rangers Reportedly Finalists To Sign Pedro Strop]]> 2020-01-23T12:07:58Z 2020-01-23T12:07:58Z The chase for Pedro Strop may not rate as national news, but it’s an important situation in the context of the remaining relief market. Perusing the slate of still-available pen pieces should convince you of that.

The group of pursuers was defined recently and seems now to have been culled again. The Marlins and Rangers are the two final clubs in the bidding, according to Hector Gomez of Deportivo Z 101 (Twitter link), with the Brewers and Cubs evidently exiting the picture.

For the Fish, Strop would represent something of a finishing flourish to an offseason full of bullpen movement. The Miami organization has dumped a whole lot of talented but unreliable younger hurlers and obviously has interest in plugging in a late-inning veteran.

Should he land instead in Texas, Strop would help buttress a unit that still has some uncertainty. Jose Leclerc and a resurgent Rafael Montero provide some potential fire at the back of the unit, but it’d be nice to pair Strop with Jesse Chavez to lock in some sturdy frames.

Strop has been a steady performer for years now, though he’s coming off of a down 2019. With injuries limiting his availability and effectiveness, the 34-year-old managed only a 4.97 ERA. More than anything, he (like many of his peers) was suddenly prone to the long ball, allowing about twice as many per nine innings as he had over the preceding five years. And a fairly significant velocity decline gave some cause for concern. But it’s not hard to envision a quick bounce back if Strop is at full health, as he still proved capable of inducing an enticing mix of swings and misses and groundballs.