- Regardless of how things turn out elsewhere in the division, the Blue Jays plan to enter 2018 with designs on competition, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick writes. That likely means the team isn’t going to seriously consider dealing star third baseman Josh Donaldson, despite persistent chatter about outside interest. GM Ross Atkins tells Crasnick both that the Jays are “trying to win” and that he “can’t imagine our team being better without Josh Donaldson.”
- While the Blue Jays have been quiet thus far, Heyman says they could be lurking on a few interesting names. In the outfield, J.D. Martinez is a legitimate target, he says, as are Carlos Gonzalez and Lorenzo Cain. The club is also considering quality utility options such as Eduardo Nunez and Howie Kendrick. Meanwhile, Toronto has reached out to the Padres on Brad Hand, who’s a highly valuable relief asset. It remains to be seen whether the Jays will be willing to pony up a lot of cash or prospect assets to make a significant win-now move, but it’s notable that the team is at least exploring some notable possibilities.
- Meanwhile, the Cardinals perhaps have some cause to believe the Blue Jays are willing to consider moving star third baseman Josh Donaldson, per Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He suggests there’s some indication from the Jays side that the team isn’t dead-set against a move if it brought back MLB pieces as well as prospect value. To an extent, the Toronto organization has something of the opposite problem that the Cards do: the former needs multiple assets while the latter is loaded with solid players but would like a few premium pieces. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs had posited this sort of scenario a few weeks back.
Signing Mitch Moreland doesn’t take the Red Sox out of the market for hitting, president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski told reporters including Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. And adding another stick wouldn’t necessarily mean trading away from the current roster to create space, the club’s top baseball decisionmaker added. But it surely does not seem that Boston will sign another first baseman; rather, a DH/corner outfield bat seems the likeliest possibility.
- Boston’s decision seems to take it out of the market for Eric Hosmer, which has raised some eyebrows in Royals country. As Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star writes, there are still many barriers remaining to a return to Kansas City for Hosmer, including the possibility that agent Scott Boras will find a way to bring some new suitors into the picture. But keeping Hosmer in Royals blue for the future now seems more plausible than might have been expected when the organization began giving indication it would rebuild. Of course, even if that comes to pass, the general rebuilding plan will remain, the Star’s Rustin Dodd notes on Twitter.
- The Cardinals appear to be showing more interest in veteran Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson than in Manny Machado of the Orioles, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Nightengale posits that the club may believe it’s better situated to pursue a long-term deal with Donaldson — who’s much older than Machado, though both will hit the open market at the same time — which would increase his appeal. Of course, it’s important to bear in mind there’s still no real indication that Toronto will move Donaldson and the St. Louis front office has suggested recently that it’s not all that keen on giving up significant assets for a rental.
- While there has been some chatter recently connecting the Mets to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post says that possibility is not as likely as it has come to seem. Especially with Carlos Santana moving on, says Davidoff, the Indians are not particularly inclined to part with Kipnis’s contract for a marginal return. New York is trying to thread the needle in finding an upgrade at the position, with the organization concerned with giving up too much in salary or prospect value to make a deal. As the Post’s Joel Sherman writes, the Mets’ lack of top-end, marketable pre-MLB talent has posed an under-appreciated barrier to its winter activity.
- The Mets, of course, are also eyeing the addition of another option at the first base position. New York had some interest in Moreland, per the above-cited Cafardo piece. And as James Wagner of the New York Times tweets, the Mets intend at least to take a look at the newest entrant onto the open market: Adrian Gonzalez. The veteran will be looking to bounce back after a rough, injury-plagued 2017 season, though he could conceivably bring some upside at a very appealing price.
The Phillies have been aggressively shopping for controllable pitching this winter, as the team has “inquired on just about every young starter that could be traded this winter,” Matt Gelb and Matt Breen of Philly.com report. This list of targets include their previously-reported interest in Chris Archer, and the Phillies also checked in with the Blue Jays about Marcus Stroman and the Royals about Danny Duffy.
It’s clear that Philadelphia is looking to take its rebuild to the next level, after signing Carlos Santana and even adding veteran relievers Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek on multi-year contracts. The rotation remains a major need for the club — Aaron Nola is the only member of a young projected starting five that looks like a solid bet for 2018. It has been expected that the Phillies would try to land at least one veteran innings-eater this winter, though they’re apparently also setting their sights higher for a pitcher that could contribute when the team returns to contention.
Of the two new names mentioned in the Phillies’ search, Stroman is by far the less likely to be available. The Jays are planning to contend in 2018, and moving Stroman would be an even bigger indicator of a total rebuild than even a trade of Josh Donaldson, given that Donaldson is only under contract for one more season. Stroman, by contrast, still has three years of arbitration eligibility remaining. MLBTR projects him to earn $7.2MM this winter through the arb process, and while Stroman’s price tag will continue to grow through his arbitration years, Toronto will happily shoulder that cost if Stroman keeps producing as he did in 2017. Stroman posted a 3.09 ERA, 7.3 K/9, 2.65 K/BB rate and a league-best 62.1% grounder rate over 201 innings, cracking the 200-inning threshold for the second consecutive season.
Duffy, on the other hand, has already drawn a lot of trade attention this winter, with the Cubs, Yankees, and Orioles reportedly among the teams interested. The Royals seem to be on the verge of a rebuild given all of their expected free agent losses, though they aren’t yet “aggressively shopping” Duffy’s services. It was just 11 months ago that K.C. locked Duffy up on a five-year, $65MM extension with the hope that he would be one of the cornerstone pieces of the next era of Royals baseball, though it remains to be seen just how extensive a rebuild the Royals may have in mind. If the team hopes to reload over a year or two, Duffy will still be an asset for when Kansas City aims to once again open a contention window.
If a longer rebuild is necessary, the $60MM remaining on Duffy’s contract makes him a logical trade chip. The Phillies certainly have the open payroll space to accommodate his salary; Santana, Neshek, Hunter, and Odubel Herrera are the only players beyond the 2018 season. Philadelphia has widely been expected to target the top stars of next year’s free agent class, though the team has gotten a jump-start on that plan now by landing Santana. Given the Phillies’ payroll flexibility, they could try to land their desired pitching help by offering to take another big and/or undesirable contract off the the other team’s hands with little prospect capital going back in return. (In the Royals’ case, for instance, the Phillies could offer to take on Ian Kennedy’s deal in order to land Duffy.)
- The Cardinals typically prefer to acquire controllable players, notes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis-Post Dispatch, though “it remains possible” the win-now club will swing a deal for one year of Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson or the Orioles’ Manny Machado. The Redbirds and Blue Jays continue to discuss Donaldson, according to Goold, but he’s the latest to point out that the Jays don’t seem motivated to move him.
- The Blue Jays are one of the teams who have spoken to the White Sox about outfielder Avisail Garcia, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link). Chicago doesn’t seem to be close to a deal, however. Garcia would be a solid answer for the Jays’ hole in right field, as the 26-year-old is coming off an All-Star season that saw him hit .330/.380/.506 with 18 homers over 561 PA. This success has led the Sox to put a high asking price on his services, though the Jays and other clubs will have to weigh that against Garcia’s .392 BABIP and lack of production prior to 2017.
- It was a pretty quiet Winter Meetings for the Blue Jays, though GM Ross Atkins tells Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith and other reporters that “it just feels like there’s momentum” towards some significant moves after some productive talks with other teams. Nicholson-Smith wonders if the rising prices in the free agent relief market could help Toronto, as the Jays have several much less-expensive middle relievers that could be available in trades. Joe Biagini figures to have received some interest from other teams, Nicholson-Smith speculates, though there hasn’t been any indication that the Jays would be looking to move the right-hander.
The Red Sox have designs on adding the two top position players on the free agent market, according to the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman, with ongoing pursuit of both J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer. Interestingly, Silverman notes that Boston would likely look to shed some of its obligations to Hanley Ramirez by dealing him away in the event it can acquire both players.
That scenario seems to be one of several possibilities still remaining for the Red Sox, who are one of the many teams with plenty of work yet to do in settling their regular lineups. Here’s a look in at the latest notes on bats from around the game:
- Orioles VP of baseball ops Dan Duquette made clear today that he does not foresee striking a deal involving third baseman Manny Machado that is contingent upon extension negotiations, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post was among those to report on Twitter. In other words, it seems any acquiring team would be gaining just one year of control over over Machado. Sherman also hears that the odds are in favor of a deal at this point, tweeting that the White Sox and Cardinals are the “most aggressive” teams in pursuit of the young superstar.
- For the White Sox, the interest in Machado does not include an intention to flip him in a later swap, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). While Chicago has made an “impressive” bid for Machado, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Nightengale also says that the belief on the South Side is that others have offered more. Meanwhile, GM Rick Hahn said that the team’s “focus remains on the long term” and says he won’t “make any sort of move that’s aimed at jumping up” into immediate contention. Despite that cold water, he did say the organization is willing to “take some calculated risks along the way.” Just what the team has in mind with this reported pursuit remains a bit of a mystery, but we’ll have to wait and see how things shake out.
- While evidently maintaining interest in Machado and pursuing other fronts, the Cardinals are also still “pushing” the Blue Jays to offer up their own star third baseman, Josh Donaldson, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). At this point, though, there’s no reason to believe that Toronto will budge from its stance on Donaldson — namely, that it’s not interested in moving him for anything approaching a reasonable return.
- Far from dangling Donaldson, it seems the Blue Jays are at least weighing a major addition. The club has interest in free agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). In theory, Cain could coexist with current center fielder Kevin Pillar, though Cain is also most valuable up the middle. The Jays are interested in committing up to four years, says Heyman, but it seems there are indications Cain will have an opportunity to secure a better deal elsewhere. MLBTR predicted that Cain would land four years in free agency; to this point, we haven’t heard much public discussion of his market, but he’s rather clearly the top available center fielder.
- While the Mets were able to come away from the Winter Meetings with a relief arm, they have yet to fill their opening at second base. Per Marc Carig of Newsday, Ian Kinsler was not willing to waive his no-trade rights to go to New York. (All links to Twitter.) The club has a variety of other options still in play, Carig explains, adding that the organization was discussing righty Rafael Montero in talks regarding Kinsler.
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.
- In addition to a host of other teams, the Astros have some interest in outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, according to Heyman (Twitter links). The Blue Jays, meanwhile, have checked in not only on Gonzalez but also fellow free agent oufielder Carlos Gomez.