MLB rumors: Cubs could shop Wilson Contreras; Rangers interested in Josh Donaldson, others
Here are the day's latest hot stove rumblings
Major League Baseball is in its offseason and we've already seen the list of players who have been extended qualifying offers. Don't expect much movement in the immediate future, but there are plenty of rumors worth monitoring before the substantial deals happen. We also have a rundown of all of the key dates in this year's offseason, and our ranking of the top 50 free agents on the market.
As for what else is out there on this Friday ...
Contreras could be available?
Contreras, 27, has three more seasons of team control remaining. For his career, he's posted a 113 OPS+ -- though he does give some of that value back on the defensive end due to substandard catching.
The Cubs would presumably trade Contreras for a package, then sign one of the available free-agent catchers. The class includes Yasmani Grandal, Robinson Chirinos, Alex Avila and Travis d'Arnaud, among others.
Rangers after Donaldson
Donaldson is the second-best third baseman available, behind Anthony Rendon, but his advanced age will likely limit his contractual demands. The Rangers have the need and the means -- they're opening a new ballpark in 2020 and intend to improve their roster ahead of that occasion.
The Rangers are also expected to shop around for a mid-rotation starter and perhaps a new first baseman.
Reds interested in Didi
The Reds are looking for an upgrade at shortstop -- and that could mean reuniting with a former player, per MLB Network's Jon Heyman.
Didi Gregorius, originally a member of the Reds franchise, appeared in just eight big-league games with Cincy before being dealt as part of a three-team trade. (The Reds netted Shin-Soo Choo.) Gregorius has since become a quality shortstop with 20-plus homer potential. Over the last three seasons he has a 108 OPS+.
The Reds' incumbent shortstop, Jose Iglesias, is a free agent.
Phillies will look to improve run prevention
The Phillies averaged 4.78 runs per game in 2019, exactly the National League average, but they have a solid position player core in place with J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura, and the returning Andrew McCutchen. Philadelphia allowed 4.90 runs per game this year though, third worst in the league. Only the Marlins (4.99), Pirates (5.62), Rockies (5.91) were worse.
Not surprisingly, GM Matt Klentak said improving the run prevention is the team's priority this winter, specifically the starting rotation. Here's what Klentak told Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie on the 94 WIP Midday Show on Thursday (video link):
"We've built a pretty solid core, we think, on the position-player front. So I think it makes sense for us to look to pour some more resources -- and our time and attention -- into improving our run prevention. That starts in the starting rotation."
Jake Arrieta is expected to be ready for spring training following his August elbow surgery. He'll join Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin in the rotation. Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta are the two frontrunners for the final two rotation spots, but those are the spots Klentak and his staff will try to upgrade this winter.
Orioles expect to keep Mancini; want pitching and veteran infielder
During an appearance on 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore, Orioles GM Mike Elias said the team is looking for pitching as well as a defensively minded veteran middle infielder this offseason, according to Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. Kubatko adds Elias said he would listen to trade offers for any player, but he does not expect to move Trey Mancini. "We expect him to stay here," the GM said.
Mancini, 27, had a bounce-back season following a disappointing 2018. He set new career highs in doubles (38), homers (35), on-base percentage (.364), and slugging percentage (.535). Mancini is under team control through 2022 and could conceivable be part of the next contending Orioles team. His trade value may never be higher than it right now, however.
The Orioles allowed an MLB record 305 home runs this past season and their 981 runs allowed were the most since the 1999 Rockies allowed 1,028 runs. Rookie lefty John Means had a very good season (3.60 ERA). I'm not sure any other pitcher on the roster is part of the solution going forward though, especially since Dylan Bundy and Mychal Givens are trade candidates.
As for the infield, the O's let Rule 5 Draft pick Richie Martin sink or swim (mostly sink) at shortstop this year, but they can now send him to the minors to develop properly. Jonathan Villar is a trade candidate and capable of playing second or short. Baltimore is likely looking at veteran glovemen like Jose Iglesias or Adeiny Hechavarria rather than a big name infielder.
Japanese infielder Kikuchi to be posted
Kikuchi, 29, is a light-hitting second baseman with Gold Glove defense. He hit .261/.313/.406 with 13 home runs in 2019 and is a human highlight reel in the field. Kikuchi is also regarded as a strong leader and clubhouse presence. No MLB teams have been connected to him yet. It's still a little too early for that. Soon enough.
Padres hire Rothschild
Yankees as their pitching coach before being fired three weeks ago. San Diego named Jayce Tingler their new manager last month and Tingler, like Aaron Boone in New York, figures to lean on the veteran coach Rothschild in his first year as a big league skipper.. Rothschild spent the last nine years with the
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