Royals general manager Dayton Moore said Monday that they have held “international discussions” in regards to an extension for slugging outfielder Jorge Soler, Alec Lewis of The Athletic tweets. To this point, though, the Royals have not talked with Soler’s representation about a possible extension, but as Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports, they are keeping some of their limited payroll space available in the event a new deal does come together. The 27-year-old Soler, fresh off a breakthrough season in which he slammed 48 home runs and then hired new representation, is slated to earn $11.2MM in 2020 – his penultimate arbitration-eligible campaign. He’ll first have to opt out of his $4MM salary for 2020 in order to reach arbitration, though that seems like a given.
Along with a possible Soler contract, the Royals are keeping some ink dry for fellow outfielder Alex Gordon. It’s unknown whether the career-long Royal, 35, will continue his career in 2020. But the team’s prioritizing a Gordon re-signing, according to Moore (Twitter links here via Lewis and Flanagan). Meanwhile, although the likes of Soler, Whit Merrifield, Danny Duffy and Tim Hill have garnered trade interest this offseason, Moore indicated he’s not looking to move any of them. In the case of Hill, a reliever, Moore said that the Royals want to “add to the bullpen, not detract from it.”
More from the game’s Central divisions…
- The Pirates have gotten calls on second baseman/outfielder Adam Frazier, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette relays. It’s unclear how open the Pirates, led by new general manager Ben Cherington, are to trading the soon-to-be 28-year-old Frazier. He’s under control via arbitration for the next three seasons, and is projected to make an affordable $3.2MM in 2020. Frazier, roughly a league-average hitter since he debuted in 2016, is coming off a year in which he recorded a career-high 2.2 fWAR and batted .278/.336/.417 with 10 home runs across 608 trips to the plate.
- Southpaw Brady Aiken is taking time off from baseball, and the Indians are unsure whether he’ll resume his career when the spring rolls around, per Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Aiken’s a two-time former first-round pick, but his career hasn’t gotten off the ground to this point, in part because of injuries. He wound up with the Indians in 2015, when he went 17th overall, a year after the Astros made him the first selection in the draft. However, Aiken elected against signing with Houston, which chose now-superstar third baseman Alex Bregman at No. 2 in 2015 with the compensatory pick it landed for failing to reel in Aiken. Meanwhile, the 23-year-old Aiken hasn’t advanced past the Single-A level thus far.
- Sticking with the Indians, president Chris Antonetti indicated Monday the team’s preference is for Jose Ramirez to remain at third base – not move to second – in 2020, Mandy Bell of MLB.com reports. If that proves true, the club could “maybe add at second,” Antonetti stated. The Indians don’t look primed to spend a lot this winter, but there are plenty of satisfactory free-agent second basemen whom they should be able to afford.