- The Mets were heavily involved in trade talks for J.T. Realmuto, though ultimately didn’t want to surrender “significant talent off the Major League roster” in a deal, Martino tweets. Names like Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto had all been mentioned as possible targets for the Marlins, though Miami’s desire to land more than one of these players seems to have ultimately been the Mets’ breaking point in talks. Martino also mentions that the Mets, Marlins, and Padres had some talks about a three-team deal that would’ve involved both Realmuto and Noah Syndergaard, with those negotiations lasting “up until the end of winter meetings and perhaps beyond.”
DEC. 15: Atlanta hasn’t discussed Realmuto with the Marlins in the past five days, and the Braves don’t plan on picking up talks again, Mark Bowman of MLB.com tweets. That runs counter to a prior report suggesting the Braves are at the head of the race for Realmuto.
DEC. 13: The Marlins have made some progress in winnowing the field for backstop J.T. Realmuto, per Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (via Twitter). Still, though, six teams remain involved, per the report: the Reds, Mets, Rays, Braves, Dodgers, and Padres.
Certainly, the Mets have been the most visibly aggressive organization to this stage. The New York club has created quite a few off-the-wall possibilities along the way, some of which involve other teams. That makes it relatively unsurprising to hear that they’ve cycled back to prior talks with the Padres regarding Noah Syndergaard in a possible three-team deal, per SNY.tv’s Andy Martino (Twitter link).
Previously, the Mets reportedly danced around possible deals along these same lines with the Yankees. Also, earlier in the winter, the Mets and Pads were unable to line up on a two-team arrangement that would have sent Syndergaard out west, with the San Diego organization unwilling to part with top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. It seems quite unlikely that Tatis is now available, so presumably other pieces from a loaded Padres farm would be utilized.
While the Mets are obviously pushing to win in the near-term, the Marlins would certainly have the ability to be a bit more patient with pre-MLB assets. For the Padres, meanwhile, Syndergaard would obviously represent a much-sought-after staff ace. Importantly, too, he’d be under team control for three seasons at an affordable rate of pay.
It’s hard to gauge the likelihood of a deal coming together between this trio of teams, though, particularly with so many other previous scenarios falling apart and other organizations still involved. Presumably, the Marlins remain emboldened to continue holding Realmuto while waiting for a rival to jump at their reportedly high asking prices.
For now, the stalemate continues, though there’s obviously still quite a bit of movement afoot. As Marlins president of baseball ops Michael Hill puts it to Wells Dusenbury of the Sun-Sentinel (via Twitter), “anything can gain traction at any moment.” For the Mets, meanwhile, there continue to be ongoing reports that the team has interest in quite a few other backstops, and it’s at least questionable whether it’d be sensible to prioritize Realmuto if it means losing Syndergaard.
- Once the Padres’ signing of Ian Kinsler becomes official, they’re “likely” to designate infielder/outfielder Jose Pirela for assignment, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com reports. Even if the Padres don’t designate Pirela, he’s not long for their roster, Cassavell suggests. The 29-year-old Pirela, a member of the San Diego organization since it acquired him from the Yankees in 2015, racked up 817 PAs at the major league level from 2017-18 and managed a respectable .265/.320/.405 line with 15 home runs and 10 stolen bases.
The Padres are interested in veteran lefty Dallas Keuchel, according to Dennis Lin of The Athletic (via Twitter). That said, in a subsequent report, MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell characterizes the level of interest as “pretty low.” (Twitter link.)
The San Diego organization has reportedly been searching for a higher-end starter all winter, but has yet to find a match. Keuchel, who’s closing in on his 31st birthday, is said to be looking for serious coin in free agency. It’s not yet known precisely what kind of average salary Keuchel is seeking — it seems reasonable to guess it’s in the range of $20MM — but he’s reportedly hoping for a five or even six -year term.
The Friars aren’t interested at the current price tag, says Lin. That’s not surprising to hear, as it’s frankly hard to imagine any team going well north of $100MM to land Keuchel. While he was outstanding in 2017 and (especially) 2015, Keuchel struggled in 2016 and was more good than great last year. With drops in his rates of swinging strikes (8.3%) and groundballs (53.7%) in 2018, there’s at least some cause for trepidation.
That being said, Keuchel still looks to be a high-quality rotation piece who’d improve any team. It helps that he nudged back over 200 frames last season, seemingly putting some prior shoulder and neck issues in the rearview mirror.
Still, it’s good for Keuchel to have another participant in his market. The Nats are reportedly involved to some extent, as are the Reds, Phillies, Blue Jays, and perhaps the Braves. While the Pads may not seem to be a likely landing spot at first glance, they did land Eric Hosmer (another Scott Boras client) last winter and have made clear they’re interested in beginning to make tangible progress at the MLB level.
The Padres are in agreement with free-agent second baseman Ian Kinsler on a two-year contract, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). The agreement, which is pending a physical, will guarantee Kinsler a total of $8MM. There’s also a club option for a third season on the deal. Kinsler is represented by the BBI Sports Group.
Kinsler, 36, is a known commodity for Padres GM A.J. Preller, who was an assistant GM with the Rangers during Kinsler’s tenure in Texas. Kinsler will bring to the San Diego organization one of the game’s premier defensive players, though his once-potent offense has tailed off in recent seasons. Since Kinsler’s debut in 2006, only six players in all of Major League Baseball have topped his mark of +118 Defensive Runs Saved. That’s not just a case of longevity, either, as Kinsler ranks fourth in DRS even over the past half decade and turned in a strong +10 DRS in 2018 alone. Ultimate Zone Rating has been similarly bullish on his defensive aptitude.
The 2018 campaign, however, saw Kinsler post a career-worst .240/.301/.380 batting line through 534 plate appearances between the Angels and Red Sox. His bat was only a bit below the league average with the Halos prior to the swap, though his production diminished greatly in 137 PAs with the Red Sox (.242/.294/.311). Overall, however, Kinsler’s premium defense and quality baserunning still led both Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs to peg him at a bit more than two wins above replacement. A move to the spacious Petco Park probably won’t help Kinsler’s offense, but his glove and speed give him a fairly high floor at what looks to be a palatable price point.
Kinsler steps onto a Padres roster that, since season’s end, has jettisoned both Cory Spangenberg and Carlos Asuaje. He could get the early bulk of the work at second base in the event that Luis Urias heads to Triple-A for further development or, as MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell suggests (via Twitter) should Urias open the year at shortstop. In somewhat contradictory fashion, though, Rosenthal tweets that the Friars still consider Urias their primary second baseman, adding that Kinsler could work at third base early in the year.
Suffice it to say, the organization may not yet have a defined role in mind for Kinsler, whose ultimate position is likely somewhat dependent on the moves that San Diego makes between now and Opening Day. The Padres do have one of the game’s best overall prospects in shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., though once Tatis and Urias are both in the Majors, Kinsler could slide over to third base on a full-time basis or assume a utility role off the bench. In any event, it seems clear that Kinsler will be counted upon to appear at multiple positions over the life of his Padres tenure.
Kinsler’s addition further calls into question Jose Pirela’s role with the team, though it’s worth noting that the Friars have a full 40-man roster and will need to subtract someone in order to make the contract official. From a payroll standpoint, Kinsler should push the Padres to somewhere in the $83-84MM range for the coming season. The fact that there’s an option year on the deal suggests there’ll be a buyout, and therefore the annual salaries will both likely check in a bit south of $4MM. And the Padres only had about $60.5MM on the books for the 2020 season prior to adding Kinsler.
- In another trade involving the minor league phase of yesterday’s Rule 5 Draft, the Pirates acquired righty Cristofer Melendez from the Padres, who had selected him out of the White Sox organization. The 21-year-old Melendez spun a terrific 1.54 ERA through 70 1/3 innings last season, though he did so as a 20-year-old pitching against vastly younger and less-experienced competition in the Dominican Summer League. He averaged 11.9 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 to go along with a 50.3 percent grounder rate.
- The Padres have re-signed outfielder Alex Dickerson to a minor league contract, the team announced. The 28-year-old Dickerson accrued 293 plate appearances with the Padres from 2015-16 and hit a solid .257/.331/.448 with 10 home runs and five stolen bases, but injuries have derailed his career since then. He missed all of the 2017 season while dealing with back issues and then sat out last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left (throwing) elbow in March. A third-round pick of the Pirates in 2011, the Padres originally acquired Dickerson for Miles Mikolas and Jaff Decker in November 2011.
- Whether via trade or free agency, the Padres will “absolutely” acquire a third baseman this offseason, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com relays. Picking up hot corner help is the club’s No. 1 priority, Cassavell offers, as corner infielder/outfielder Wil Myers isn’t an ideal fit there, main 2018 starter Christian Villanueva immigrated to Japan and the Padres released Cory Spangenberg. But if Myers isn’t going to play third, it further calls into question what the Padres will do with him this offseason. San Diego is committed to Eric Hosmer at first base and has a host of of other outfielders, after all, and Myers has come up in recent trade speculation. However, despite Myers’ so-so production from 2017-18 and the remaining $64MM on his contract, it seems the Padres remain bullish on him. Indeed, they’re not going to trade Myers for anything but “the right offer,” Cassavell notes. His presence may make one or more of his fellow Padres outfielders expendable, though Cassavell suggests it’s no sure thing they’ll trade anyone from the group.
- The Padres are discussing a contract with shortstop Freddy Galvis, but it appears “unlikely” the two sides will reach an agreement, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com reports. Now a free agent, Galvis spent last season in San Diego after the team acquired him from Philadelphia last December for young right-hander Enyel De Los Santos, who’s now the Phillies’ ninth-ranked prospect at MLB.com. The 29-year-old Galvis posted below-average offensive numbers (.248/.299/.380, good for an 85 wRC+, in 656 plate appearances) and earned mixed reviews at short (seven DRS, minus-4.4 UZR).
- Continuing with the Padres, they’ve reached out to the Rangers regarding infielder Jurickson Profar, but the chances of a deal happening are “faint,” Dennis Lin of The Athletic relays (subscription required). Padres general manager A.J. Preller is a fan of Profar from his days as an executive with the Rangers. However, he’s not having much luck prying the 25-year-old Profar and his two remaining seasons of team control from Texas.
- With the Padres hunting for a utility infielder, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link) suggests a few options with ties to the organization. The Rangers’ Jurickson Profar or the Diamondbacks’ Nick Ahmed would make sense as trade targets, as GM A.J. Preller is very familiar with Profar from their time together with the Rangers, and Ahmed was a “favorite” of manager Andy Green when Green was on Arizona’s coaching staff. Veteran free agent Daniel Descalso could also be a fit.