- Fernando Rodney’s name has been increasingly mentioned in recent days, with the Mets and Tigers the latest teams to express interest in the veteran reliever, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. New York and Detroit join the previously-reported Twins, Diamondbacks and Rangers as candidates for Rodney’s services. Rodney posted solid numbers as Arizona’s closer last season, and likely wouldn’t require a multi-year commitment given that he turns 41 in March. Detroit could install him at closer with Shane Greene moving back to a setup role, and Rodney could also become a trade chip for the rebuilding Tigers at the deadline. Rodney might not close with the Mets, but he would further augment a back-of-the-pen mix that includes Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins.
- Speaking of Mets relief targets, the team is still in on Addison Reed, Newsday’s Marc Carig tweets.
New Mets skipper Mickey Callaway indicated in his comments to reporters that he’s disinclined to utilize a traditional closer, as Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets. While Jeurys Familia has thrived in that role at times in the past, it seems the Mets may at least consider dabbling in more of a late-inning matchup approach, though surely the team’s approach will also depend upon its ensuing transactions. GM Sandy Alderson suggested to reporters, including Marc Carig of Newsday (Twitter link), that bullpen usage plans are still open for consideration.
More from the New York organizations:
- Meanwhile, recent chatter surrounding Matt Harvey does not seem likely to go anywhere. Alderson indicated (also via Carig, on Twitter) that Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland have recommended the organization retain the former ace. While it’s not clear that anything has changed since the rumors emerged yesterday, that viewpoint seems at least to be informing the Mets’ valuation of a pitcher that has a massive ceiling but who has struggled quite notably of late.
- While the Mets held at least some conversations with the Athletics regarding second baseman Jed Lowrie, per Puma (via Twitter), the clubs “don’t appear to match up.” That seems to remove at least one possibility from the Mets’ seemingly wide-open search for options up the middle. At this stage, it’s anyone’s guess how the open job will be filled.
- The Yankees have reached out to the Royals to express interest in lefty Danny Duffy, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. Kansas City seems to be in the early stages of exploring trade scenarios for Duffy and others, but we’ve heard some news trickle out on various possibilities in recent days. The Yanks, meanwhile, have been connected to a variety of names; Sherman also discusses some of the other avenues for building out the Yanks’ rotation.
- Sherman also looks at the Yankees’ situation from a higher level. Without further salary-shedding maneuvers, he tweets, the team may have something on the order of $20MM to $25MM to work with before reaching luxury tax territory. Given that the organization has possibilities for moving yet more cash off the books, it seems there’s still ample flexibility.
The Padres could play a major role in the market over the next few days, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes on Twitter. Indeed, the organization has already made one interesting move today. San Diego is looking around for a controllable shortstop and could conceivably match up with the Cubs, Passan suggests. (From an outside perspective, it seems ace reliever Brad Hand would be the most likely Padres piece to pique Chicago’s interest, but that’s just speculation.) Also, the team’s interest in free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer is seemingly increasingly serious. Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets that the Friars are “strongly in [the] mix” for Hosmer, while Passan says the sides have gained “traction” in discussions.
Here’s more from the position-player side of the market:
- At this point, at least, the Braves are not engaged on the market for third baseman Mike Moustakas, according to Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio (via Twitter). Atlanta does have interest in improving at the hot corner, but it seems that new GM Alex Anthopoulos is not all that intrigued by the powerful but OBP-challenged Moustakas. Of course, there’s still time for the market to develop.
- Free agent second baseman Neil Walker is still looking for a four-year deal, according to Heyman (via Twitter). That seems like a lofty ask, though, for a 32-year-old player on a market full of possibilities at second. Walker has been a steady producer, to be sure, and finished with a strong .267/.409/.433 run with the Brewers, but with so many other options out there it seems more likely he’ll end up settling for a two or three-year guarantee.
- The Mets have some interest in free agent Mike Napoli, per the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Indeed, the club’s new skipper, Mickey Callaway, has reached out to Napoli to discuss the possibility. (The two share a connection from the Indians.) Presumably, Napoli would share time with Dominic Smith at first base, with the organization arranging a natural platoon pairing and then allowing things to play out based upon performance.
- As the Cardinals continue to seek ways to upgrade after missing on Giancarlo Stanton, they have been scanning the market for alternatives. The team’s preference, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, is to “turn two of their excess outfielders into one newcomer.” That would seemingly represent a fairly clean way to improve the roster, though of course it will likely also require a rather particular trade partner. It is not difficult to imagine such a team also wishing to receive a sweetener in exchange for giving up a premium asset for volume. There are plenty more details and quotes from the Cards front office in the post.
- The Diamondbacks have been contacted by other organizations about the availability of their middle infielders, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Arizona certainly has quite some volume of MLB-level options up the middle, though it’s also not entirely clear at this point just which players (if any) have firmly secured places in the club’s long-term plans. It’s possible that market demand could help dictate the decisonmaking process, too, as the organization seeks ways to navigate a tricky payroll situation. Though none of the team’s top middle infielders are very costly, that very feature might allow the D-Backs to bring back equally affordable pieces that meet needs or perhaps structure a package deal to shed other salary. Chris Owings ($3.8MM arb projection) has only two years of control left, while Nick Ahmed ($1.1MM) has three and Daniel Descalso will hit the open market after earning $2MM in 2018. Ketel Marte and Brandon Drury are still shy of arbitration.
Starting pitching is in the news this morning, with several notable names being discussed. But there are a whole lot of other moving pieces out there. Let’s run down the latest chatter on the pitching market:
- The Brewers have chatted with the Rays about their potential rotation trade pieces, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter), who cautions that there’s no indication to this point that “any traction was made.” It’s not immediately clear which Tampa Bay hurlers have piqued the interest of the Milwaukee front office, though surely they’d have the trade pieces necessary to swing a deal for just about anyone. Chris Archer remains the big name to watch, though we don’t yet know whether he’s truly available. The Brewers could conceivably have interest in other pitchers, too, including veteran Jake Odorizzi, but it’s all speculation at this stage.
- Meanwhile, the Brewers are said to have interest in righty Jesse Chavez, Haudricourt also tweets. We heard yesterday the veteran swingman was likely to find a new home this week.
- Veteran closer Fernando Rodney has met with the Rangers and Twins, per MLB.com’s TR Sullivan (via Twitter) and Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter). It’s not clear at this point how serious the interest is, though Rodney might conceivably be an option for either club, both of which have largely unsettled ninth-inning plans.
- Another interesting possibility on the rotation market is Royals lefty Danny Duffy. He has drawn interest from the Cubs, per Robert Murray of Fan Rag. Indeed, K.C. has been contacted by rivals on Duffy and a few other notably interesting assets, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets. It’s entirely unclear at this point what kinds of scenarios might be pondered on Duffy, but the Royals will surely want a significant return for a player they only recently extended. His contract runs through 2021 and promises him $60MM. While a DUI arrest and elbow surgery introduce some uncertainty into the situation, from a pure on-field perspective Duffy remains a valuable asset as he nears his 29th birthday.
- The Mets are among the organizations with interest in free agent righty Juan Nicasio, according to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times (via Twitter). The 31-year-old pitched quite well throughout 2017, both before and after an odd series of August transactions. He ended the year with a 2.61 ERA over 72 1/3 innings, with 9.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.
- We’ve heard some possibility that the Nationals could have interest in free agent righty Jake Arrieta, and ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that agent Scott Boras is working to sell that potential fit to the team’s ownership. Then again, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post characterizes the Nationals’ interest as “tepid” in a tweet. The division-rival Phillies are reportedly also a possibility, along with several other teams, as we covered this morning. Given that the Nats have an opening in their rotation, it isn’t at all surprising to hear that Boras is pushing for it to be filled by Arrieta; after all, his connection to the organization’s ownership is quite well-established by this point. Of course, adding yet another high-priced starter would carry some pretty notable risk for the organization, so it stands to reason that the club will explore other possibilities before deciding whether to join the pursuit of the 31-year-old Arrieta. Crasnick also takes a broader look at Arrieta’s still-developing market, including an extensive examination of Boras’s marketing strategy.
- While there is action at the top of the pitching market, the Blue Jays seem to be taking a patient approach, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes. While GM Ross Atkins says there’s a lack of depth in the rotation market, he also has indicated no interest in pushing hard to strike a deal. It seems the organization’s inclination remains to seek value in bolstering the rotation depth.
- For the Diamondbacks, meanwhile, the team may at least be preparing to consider deals involving some fairly surprising players. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic runs down the team’s options for trade candidates who might free up some payroll space and enable the team to achieve future value. At the top of the list are center fielder A.J. Pollock and lefty Patrick Corbin. Meanwhile, the D-Backs are certainly still looking to field a competitor in the near term as well. They are one team with some level of interest in reliever Seung-Hwan Oh, according to Murray. Oh was not able to match his compelling MLB debut season in 2017, but still posted 8.2 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9 while carrying a 4.10 ERA over 59 1/3 innings.
New Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos spoke to reporters (including MLB.com’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, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro believes they could at least be open to a trade for the Marlins’ Martin 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 MASNsports.com’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 BaltimoreBaseball.com 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.
Dec. 11: The Blue Jays are also interested in Bruce, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. Of course, the Jays nearly traded for Bruce when he was a member of the Reds in February 2016, and they went on to show interest in him again last offseason.
While the Mariners are reportedly in on Bruce, Greg Johns of MLB.com doesn’t see a match in the wake of their acquisition of newly minted outfielder Dee Gordon (Twitter link). Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times is similarly skeptical, noting that the Mariners would have to trade away a corner outfielder to make it possible. He doesn’t completely rule that out, though, considering GM Jerry Dipoto’s affinity for making deals (via Twitter).
Dec. 1: The Mets are interested in Bruce on a three-year contract, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. Bruce is still seeking a five-year deal according to Puma, indicating that despite a stagnant free-agent market, he hasn’t gotten anxious and lowered his early-November asking price (at least in terms of years).
Nov. 30, 6:46pm: Other organizations with some level of interest in Bruce include the Rockies and Mariners, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).
It’s not known just how the Rockies view Bruce, but it’s conceivable they’d consider him as a first base target. Colorado was willing to roll the dice on utilizing Ian Desmond at first last year, but ended up using him mostly in the outfield and will likely keep him on the grass in 2017. That leaves first as the team’s most evident need in the field, though perhaps the club could instead view Bruce as a direct replacement for outgoing free agent corner outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.
Seattle evidently has its eye on a lefty outfield bat, as it has also been linked with Jon Jay (who is, of course, otherwise quite a different hitter than is Bruce). The M’s current outfield mix is more proficient in the defensive and baserunning departments, so Bruce could add a different skillset that might allow for greater situational flexibility.
5:28pm: The Mets share mutual interest with free agent slugger Jay Bruce, according to a report from Marc Carig of Newsday. Bruce, of course, opened the 2017 season in New York but was dealt in the middle of the year to the Indians.
It’s far from clear at this point whether the sides match up, but obviously they are plenty familiar after Bruce played 153 games with the Mets between his mid-2016 acquisition and the subsequent trade. Though he struggled initially, Bruce gave the Mets 448 plate appearancs of .256/.321/.520 hitting and 29 home runs in the most recent season — numbers that he largely maintained (.248/.331/.477) upon heading to Cleveland.
The time that Bruce spent with the Indians may actually have helped link him back to the Mets. Carig’s source notes that Bruce has a positive relationship with new Mets skipper Mickey Callaway, who just came over from the Cleveland organization.
It’ll be interesting to see how serious the Mets are about adding a player like Bruce, who only is even under contemplation owing to problems with two youngsters the organization had hoped to rely upon. Outfielder Michael Conforto is recovering from major shoulder surgery while first baseman Dominic Smith is coming off of a poor initial showing in the majors while facing some front office scrutiny for his conditioning. There are some generally positive signs for Conforto. And Smith at least seems to be taking the concerns to heart with a stepped-up effort to trim up, as Mike Puma of the New York Post was among those to report (Twitter links).
Bruce has not spent much time at first, but was used there briefly by the Mets in 2017. Evidently, the team is comfortable with the idea of giving him significant time there. Unlike another rumored possibility, free agent Carlos Santana, Bruce would also provide an option in the corner outfield, where he has spent the bulk of his career.
Of course, what Bruce cannot do is offer any kind of solution to some of the Mets’ other pressing needs. Signing him, naturally, would draw resources that otherwise might be dedicated elsewhere, which is particularly notable given that Bruce is expected to command a long-term contract. (MLBTR predicts he’ll net $39MM over three years, but it’s certainly possible he could garner more.)
Notably, per Carig, the Mets are having some difficulty finding traction with potential second base targets. New York’s middling slate of upper-level prospects is “a barrier” in dialogue with the Tigers regarding Ian Kinsler, Carig reports, while the Mets have yet to engage in earnest with the Marlins on Dee Gordon.
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 MLB.com).
- 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 MASNsports.com).
- 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 MLive.com, 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).
5:00pm: A Brach-Harvey swap is unlikely to occur, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets.
3:28pm: The Rangers aren’t willing to trade Profar for a year of control, Grant tweets.
2:59pm: The Orioles are also discussing Harvey with the Mets, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). The possible structure isn’t at all clear at this point.
Heyman, meanwhile, throws some doubt on the entire idea of Texas and New York linking up in a follow-up tweet. Profar’s control rights may be too valuable for Harvey from the Rangers’ perspective, he suggests. The Rangers were also looking into other Mets pitchers, Marc Carig of Newsday tweets.
2:50pm: The Rangers and Mets have engaged in some discussions on a possible deal that would involve Texas infielder Jurickson Profar and New York righty Matt Harvey. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News first broached the possibility while Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweeted that the sides have engaged in some chatter.
It’s tough to know just what to make of the news at this point. We heard recently that New York will consider moving Harvey, a former ace who has been a shell of himself of late. He’s projected to earn $5.9MM in arbitration before reaching the open market at the end of the season. While the Mets still need the rotation depth and would no doubt prefer to see for themselves whether Harvey can return to form, there’s also a long and checkered history to consider along with the team’s many other roster needs — including a second baseman.
On the Rangers’ side, Profar has become a forgotten man. He did not receive a late-season call-up after an early demotion to the minors, a decision that also left the Rangers with three more seasons of arb control. That enhances Profar’s trade value, though certainly his marginal overall big league showing — a .229/.309/.329 slash over 718 plate appearances — makes it questionable whether he’ll draw a significant return. Profar has shown more in the minors, though. Indeed, he batted a strong .287/.383/.428 in his 383 trips to the plate at Triple-A in 2017, drawing 43 walks while going down on strikes just 33 times.
The assumption long has been that the Rangers would look to deal Profar this winter, as he’s out of options and does not have an obvious place on the roster. And the team certainly still needs starting pitching even after two early moves to bolster the rotation. Whether Harvey is the right risk to take, though, is anyone’s guess. He has shown that he can still bring a mid-nineties fastball, but the velo is still down against his pre- and early-post-Tommy John numbers and Harvey also showed a rising walk rate (10.9%) and plummeting swinging-strike rate (7.5%) in 2017.
Similarly, the Mets will have some questions as to whether it’s worth taking a shot on Profar. All told, it’s a trade scenario that would have been quite a bit more exciting a few years ago but which could still make some sense for both organizations. It’s certainly possible, too, that other pieces could become involved in discussions.
- Despite some cautionary comments from GM Sandy Alderson yesterday, the Mets are giving indications that they will land at least one reliever over the Winter Meetings, Sherman reports on Twitter. But it’s more likely the team will secure a shorter-term asset than one of the premium setup men they’ve been connected to in the past, he adds. Righty Steve Cishek is one pitcher that has drawn New York’s attention, per Marc Carig of Newsday (via Twitter). The veteran sidearmer finished 2017 with a strong run for the Rays, posting a 1.09 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in his final 24 2/3 innings after coming over from the Mariners over the summer.
9:49am: The Mets and possibly also the Cubs are engaged on Colome, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports on Twitter. Unsurprisingly, it seems most teams with clear late-inning needs appear to have shown at least some level of interest in the youthful, controllable hurler.
Though the Cardinals signed Luke Gregerson to a one-year pact only yesterday, it seems they’re not done adding to a bullpen that saw former closer Trevor Rosenthal tear the UCL in his throwing elbow this past season and then watched Zach Duke, Juan Nicasio and Seung-Hwan Oh depart in free agency. Earlier this offseason, Jeff Todd mentioned Alex Colome as a potential trade target when he examined the Cardinals’ search for a closer. Notably, the Rays have room for improvement in left field, whereas the Cardinals have an abundance of young outfield talent.
The Rockies have plenty of young players to offer as well, though their strength comes mostly in the form of starters. They are, of course, looking to replace closer Greg Holland. Holland signed a one-year pact with Colorado last offseason and had a strong bounce back season, saving 41 games for the Rockies. Ultimately, he rejected both his player option and a qualifying offer, leaving Colorado with a hole to fill in the back end of their bullpen.
Colome will enter the 2018 season at the age of 29. He’s spent his entire career with the Rays, and though he came up as a starter, he transitioned to a relief role during the 2015 season. Early in the 2016 season, Colome took over as Tampa Bay’s closer and has been solid for them ever since. The right-hander led all of baseball with 47 saves last season, and sports a 2.64 ERA to go with a 48.4% ground ball rate and 9.43 K/9 since taking over the closer role. Colome projects to earn $5.5MM in arbitration this year, and comes with two more years of team control beyond that.