- Free agent catcher Nick Hundley told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle he’s “optimistic” that he’ll re-sign with the Giants (Twitter link). Hundley, 34, inked a $2MM deal to serve as Buster Posey’s backup last winter and proceeded to hit .244/.272/.418 in 303 in plate appearances. He was a mixed bag defensively, throwing 29 percent of would-be base stealers but earning minus marks as a pitch framer.
Looking to improve an already enviable rotation, the Nationals have Rays right-handers Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi on their radar, Jon Heyman of FanRag reports (via Twitter). Either would cost far less in terms of salary than free agent Jake Arrieta will, and Heyman notes that the Nats are unsure if they’d be able to afford Arrieta. Heyman also points to Diamondbacks righty Zack Greinke as a possibility for the Nats; however, he’s not exactly cheap, with $138.5MM coming his way through 2021.
More on the trade front:
- The Tigers “will only entertain lopsided offers” for righty Michael Fulmer, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). A trade involving the highly coveted 24-year-old doesn’t look likely, then.
- The Blue Jays are interested in Reds outfielders Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall, per reports from Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (via Twitter) and Jays Journal. The Braves also have interest in the 29-year-old Duvall, tweets Heyman. Duvall, a 30-home run hitter in each of the previous two seasons, is controllable for the next four years. He won’t be arbitration eligible until next winter.
- The Giants’ own interest in Hamilton continues, but Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that the chatter with the Reds has “faded significantly” of late. Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer adds on Twitter that the Giants are the most serious suitors for Hamilton, but they’re “at a bit of a standoff” with the Reds. San Francisco still has interest in free agent Jay Bruce, per Rosenthal, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that Bruce is the top name on San Francisco’s “wish list.” Still, the club has not made him an offer to this point.
- It’s up in the air whether the Marlins will trade center fielder Christian Yelich. Either way, the Phillies will continue to monitor his availability, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia relays. Meanwhile, they’ve “been aggressive” in shopping shortstop Freddy Galvis, according to Salisbury, who adds (via Twitter) that the Angels “really liked” second baseman Cesar Hernandez before they acquired Ian Kinsler. The Halos didn’t want to meet the Phillies’ asking price for Hernandez, however.
- The Red Sox asked about Marcell Ozuna before the Cardinals acquired him, but they did not have the sort of pitching assets the Marlins were for, Dombrowski told reporters including the Globe’s Peter Abraham (Twitter link.) The Indians also inquired about Ozuna, Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com writes.
- In addition to Chase Headley, the Padres are dangling infielder Yangervis Solarte in chatter with rival organizations, Heyman reports on Twitter. Solarte, 30, is controllable for the next three years at affordable costs (a guaranteed $4MM in 2018 and then club options totaling $13.5MM for 2019-20).
- The Blue Jays were another team with interest in Kinsler before Wednesday’s trade, Nicholson-Smith tweets. Toronto was on Kinsler’s 10-team no-trade list, so it’s unclear how open he’d have been to going there.
- A variety of organizations are still looking at versatile infielder Eduardo Nunez. Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets that the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and “possibly” the Yankees are among the suitors. Boston president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski acknowledged the interest, as Alex Speier of the Boston Globe was among those to tweet. The Giants have some ongoing involvement, too, but Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that San Francisco is “a longshot” to make a deal.
As many as 10 teams have reached out to Todd Frazier’s camp, including the Angels, Giants and Mets, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (all links to Sherman on Twitter). Frazier isn’t a top priority for the Yankees at present, though they could circle back around to him depending on how the rest of their moves play out. He was linked to the Red Sox earlier today as well.
The 31-year-old Frazier (32 in February), split the 2017 season between the White Sox and Yankees, hitting a combined .213/.344/.428 with 27 homers in 576 plate appearances. Though Frazier’s played just 78 innings at first base since Opening Day 2016, he does come with 740 career innings at the position and is drawing interest at both corner infield spots, per Sherman. More notably, it seems that his frequent re-positioning in defensive shifts created a belief among some teams that Frazier could even play an adequate second base if needed, per the report.
Frazier’s batting average has plummeted in recent years, though that’s due largely to a massive uptick in infield flies than any sort of erosion in contact skills. Frazier whiffed at a 21.7 percent rate last season, which is hardly outlandish in today’s offensive climate. However, he also popped out 31 times — fifth most in baseball — and his 109 infield flies dating back to the 2015 season are far and away the most in baseball.
That said, Frazier’s overall approach at the plate also came with some positive indicators. His 25 percent chase rate (swings outside the strike zone), far and away the lowest of his career, tied him for the 26th-best mark among big league hitters. He also made contact at a career-high 76.9 percent clip and walked in a career-best 14.4 percent of his plate appearances. Those gains in plate discipline helped to offset his lack of contact and left his overall offensive output at healthy levels (105 OPS+, 108 wRC+).
Moving Frazier around the diamond certainly enhances his appeal, though it also should be emphasized that he still draws strong marks as a defender at third base. Though he had an abnormally poor year in that regard in 2016, Defensive Runs Saved (+10) and Ultimate Zone Rating (+6.7) both felt his defense was among the best in the game. Only Nolan Arenado ranked above Frazier in both DRS and UZR this past season.
The Giants have no clear answer at third base, with Pablo Sandoval and prospects Christian Arroyo and Ryder Jones representing the top internal options at the moment. San Francisco third basemen combined to post a putrid .216/.268/.300 batting line in 2017, so it wouldn’t take much to raise the bar from an offensive standpoint. The Angels, meanwhile, have Luis Valbuena as an option at the hot corner, but Frazier would seem to represent a more palatable option there and could help out around the infield as needed.
As for the Mets, David Wright’s longstanding health concerns and T.J. Rivera’s Tommy John surgery have combined with the inexperience of Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith to create a sizable amount of uncertainty. The team does have Asdrubal Cabrera as an option to bounce around the infield, and bringing in Frazier as a more regular option at third base could free him up to take some reps at second base.
- Rosenthal also notes within that piece that the Giants, Blue Jays, Rangers and Twins are all looking for backup catchers as well. Any from that bunch could stand out as a reasonable landing spot for Avila, though he’s stated that his preference is to play for a contender even if it comes at the expense of some playing time. Jonathan Lucroy is the biggest name on the catching market but probably doesn’t wish to serve as a backup option; Rene Rivera, Nick Hundley and Chris Stewart are among the other available catchers.
We haven’t heard an immense amount of chatter to this point on J.D. Martinez, the top free agent slugger, but that could well change today. The power-hitting outfielder is set to appear at the Winter Meetings to sit down with a few possible suitors, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported (via Twitter) yesterday. Here’s the latest chatter:
- We learned yesterday that the Red Sox will get face-to-face time with Martinez and agent Scott Boras, as Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweeted. Indeed, it seems that Martinez is a top priority for Boston, though adding him would presumably mean finding a deal for center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
- The Diamondbacks are also slated to meet with Martinez, who starred there after a midseason trade, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). Whether the Arizona organization can find the cash to make that happen remains to be seen, but it does seem the club’s discussion of Zack Greinke in trades is likely related.
- While the Giants are also a rumored suitor, though GM Bobby Evans would say only that the team will “maybe” be among those meeting with Martinez, as Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic tweeted yesterday. As Baggarly further explains, though, in a subscription piece, there are ongoing concerns internally that blowing past the luxury line would not be wise. Certainly, there’s no clear path to adding Martinez (or any other high-priced free agents) without doing so.
- The Giants are believed to have offered Denard Span as one of the three players going to the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Span would have helped fill the hole in Miami’s outfield and his $11MM salary would’ve helped the Giants offset a small portion of Stanton’s enormous contract. The Giants continue to be linked to the Marlins in talks for Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, though Span wouldn’t be part of those potential trades given the far different salary parameters involved. It is fair to wonder whether Span will be wearing a different uniform in 2018, given how the Giants are looking to thoroughly upgrade their outfield both offensively and defensively. Also in the piece, Giants GM Bobby Evans said that teams have been asking about San Francisco’s top prospects and younger players, including right-hander Chris Stratton.
- Giants prospect Heliot Ramos is being asked about in almost every trade proposal, The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly writes. Ramos, 17 ,was the 19th overall pick of the 2017 amateur draft and he has already turned a lot of heads in his brief pro career.
- Also from Baggarly, Bobby Evans said that teams have approached the Giants about trades that would see the Giants send a large-salaried player (and some prospects) elsewhere in what would essentially be a case of the other club buying minor league talent. Evans said he isn’t considering those types of deals at this time, though Baggarly also writes that the Giants may be increasingly keen on getting under the luxury tax threshold this winter in order to position themselves for larger spending in the future.
2:47pm: Other clubs with some level of interest include the Astros, Orioles, and Rockies, per MLB.com’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.
There’s significant enough interest in Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton that it’s possible a deal could come together during the Winter Meetings, according to a report from Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer. In particular, the Giants are holding “serious discussions” with Cincinnati.
The Giants have long been connected to Hamilton, with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweeting earlier today they are the strongest contender while noting the Reds are interested in clearing room for Jesse Winker in the outfield. But Buchanan stresses they are not the only team still involved in talks. Hamilton is said to be the Reds player generating the most trade interest, with numerous other teams — including the Rangers — also still showing real interest.
Hamilton, of course, is a burner on the bases and top-quality up-the-middle defender. He also has not yet established himself at the plate at the game’s highest level, though. MLBTR recently broke down Hamilton’s trade candidacy in full at this link.