MLB rumors: Cubs considering Jacoby Ellsbury; Nationals and Ryan Zimmerman still discussing reunion
Here's the latest baseball news that doesn't involve stealing signs
In less than four weeks, spring training camps will open across Arizona and Florida, and the grind that is the 2020 Major League Baseball season will begin., though three of the six sit in the top 15, so there are still a few big names out there. Here are Saturday's hot stove rumors and notes.
Cubs considering Ellsbury
In an effort to answer their center field and leadoff questions, the Cubs are considering free agent Jacoby Ellsbury, reports MLB Network's Jon Heyman. Ellsbury, now 36, has not played since 2017 due to a variety of injuries, most notably August 2018 hip surgery, and the Yankees released him earlier this offseason. Any team can sign sign Ellsbury for the pro-rated league minimum. He, of course, has ties to Theo Epstein dating back to their Red Sox days.
Albert Almora played his way out of the center field job last season and Chicago is likely to use Ian Happ and Jason Heyward in center this coming season. Given his age, his injuries, and the long layoff, it's unclear whether Ellsbury could even play the position at this point. As for the leadoff spot, Anthony Rizzo is likely to get the job right now. Unconventional? Sure, but he's a high on-base hitter, and that's what you want from your leadoff man.
Nats, Zimmerman still discussing reunion
The World Series champion Nationals and free-agent first baseman Ryan Zimmerman are still discussing a potential reunion, reports The Athletic's Brittany Ghiroli. "We've talked. We are continuing to talk. I've made my intentions pretty clear, they know where I stand and we know where they stand. We've been going back and forth the last couple weeks. I'm sure something will happen, it's just a matter of time," he said.
Washington lost Anthony Rendon to free agency and did not sign Josh Donaldson, leaving third base to Asdrubal Cabrera, Howie Kendrick, and top prospect Carter Kieboom. Kendrick at third base would open up first base at-bats for Zimmerman. The Nationals have aggressively added depth in recent weeks (Cabrera, Starlin Castro, Eric Thames, etc.), which is the best thing you can do if you don't land a premium free agent, and re-signing Zimmerman would fit that plan.
Blue Jays sign Panik to minor league deal
Free agent Joe Panik has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, according to MLB Network's Jon Morosi. With the deal, Panik will receive an invitation to Toronto's spring training next month. Panik, 29, was the second baseman of the San Francisco Giants before the club released him on unconditional waivers last August. The New York Mets later after second baseman Robinson Cano was placed on the injured list.
Overall, Panik hit .244/.315/.336 with five home runs, 39 RBI and 21 doubles over 142 games spilt between the Giants and Mets. He saw bounce back numbers during his time in New York, where he hit .277/.333/.404 in 39 games. But over the last two seasons, Panik's offensive numbers have seen a dip -- he's hit just .249/.311/.334 in that timespan.
He'll get the chance to compete for a spot on the Blue Jays' roster, but it's unclear if he'll return to the majors in 2020. Currently, the Blue Jays starting second baseman is youngster Cavan Biggio.
Reds interested in Holt
The Reds are among the teams with interest in free-agent utility man Brock Holt, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Bobby Nightengale. Cincinnati is set all around the infield, but Holt can play pretty much anywhere, and the addition of the 26th roster spot means every team can carry an additional bench player. Holt's a wonderful depth piece for a National League club.
Throughout his career Holt, now 31, has been a solid on-base player without much power. He's a pesky left-handed hitter, through and through. Holt has spent the most time at second base but he has played at least six positions each of the past two seasons. The Reds still have some uncertainty in their outfield and he could fit in that mix as well, assuming to the two sides reach a deal.
Braves bring back Hechavarria
The Braves have re-signed infielder Adeiny Hechavarria to a one-year contract, the team announced. The deal is worth $1 million. Hechavarria did fine work as the club's utility infielder late last season and he figures to back up Dansby Swanson at shortstop and Ozzie Albies at second base, primarily. He's known for his glove more than bat.
Atlanta lost Josh Donaldson to free agency earlier this week and they're likely to go with Johan Camargo and Austin Riley at third base, though a trade for Nolan Arenado or Kris Bryant can't be ruled out. Given the current uncertainty at the position, Hechavarria could play his way into third base at-bats, though it seems unlikely.
Gomez planning to retire
Longtime big-league outfielder Carlos Gomez plans to retire following the Dominican Winter League season, reports La Neuva 106.9 FM's Rolando Fermin. Gomez hopes to formally announce his retirement with the Brewers at some point before the 2020 season. The Dominican Winter League season ends in late January each year.
Gomez, 34, has played in parts of 13 big-league seasons with six different teams, including six years with Milwaukee. He's a career .252/.313/.411 hitter with 145 home runs who amassed 25 WAR thanks to his defensive excellence. Gomez was also involved in several notable trades throughout his career. He went from the Mets to the Twins in the Johan Santana trade, and from the Brewers to the Astros with for a package that included Josh Hader.
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