As we count down the days until the CBA expires on Dec. 1, we've got some action on the MLB rumor front. So now let's have a quick stroll though those sun-dappled meadows of scuttlebutt...
Verlander stays with Astros
There was a lot of chatter about Justin Verlander on Wednesday. The Braves, Yankees and Dodgers were among the teams linked to the two-time Cy Young Award winner. However, Verlander is not going anywhere.
Verlander has pitched in one game in the last two seasons because of Tommy John surgery, and he's not exactly a known quantity as a 39-year-old coming off a lengthy rehab process. All of that is why Verlander signed a short-term deal. Of note is that when Verlander last pitched a full season, in 2019, he won the AL Cy Young award.
Sixth year sticking point with Freeman, Braves
Freddie Freeman, first baseman and warrior-poet of the world champion Atlanta Braves, is a free agent. While it's widely expected that the Braves lifer will re-up there, it's not a given, and there's reportedly still a significant gap in talks between the two sides. More from MLB Network's Jon Heyman:
Last heard 6th year was still at issue in Freeman/Braves talks but situation is fluid and they’ve still got to be considered the favorite. Meanwhile, other teams are showing interest in the great Brave.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 16, 2021
A six-year pact would lock up Freeman through his age-37 campaign. That would likely extend well into his decline phase, but that's how these things go for current superstars on the free agent market -- you get big production at the front end and pay for it on the back end. Freeman's still at or near the peak of his skills at the plate and figures to be a difference-maker at the plate for at least the next handful of seasons. Given that the Braves are quite obviously in win-now mode, Freeman is a vital piece to them. And that's to say nothing of his immense popularity with the fan base. Other teams are no doubt interested -- including the Yankees -- but the guess remains that the Braves and Freeman get something done. For now, though, nothing's certain.
Twins wary of trading Buxton
After a disappointing 2021 season, the Twins, who won the AL Central title in 2019 and 2020, may be looking to pivot. As part of any kind of such shift, trading away center fielder Byron Buxton, who's going into his walk year in 2022, could be appealing to the team. However, that may not happen, largely because Twins fans might not stand for it. Here's this from Dan Hayes and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic:
"Chairman Jim Pohlad, according to major-league sources, is reluctant to move Buxton, knowing such a decision potentially would upset a fan base tired of seeing the team part with homegrown stars. But the Twins have failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension with Buxton, their dynamic, yet oft-injured center fielder who is eligible for free agency after the 2022 season. And the chances of the team returning to contention in Buxton's final year under club control appear slim without a single veteran starting pitcher returning to the club's rotation."
Buxton is one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball, and he's an excellent base-runner. As well, he's cultivated a potent power swing at the plate over the last few seasons. The issue with Buxton, however, is health. Just once, in 2017, has he managed to play at least 100 games in a major-league season. The upside remains real and tantalizing for the soon to be 28-year-old, but his inability to stay healthy is just as undeniable.