MLB rumors: Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez staying sharp; Jose Berrios declines extension offer

Opening Day is exactly two weeks away, and yet four of our top 50 free agents remain unsigned, including two of the top 12. It seems possible, if not likely, all-world closer Craig Kimbrel will go into the 2019 regular season unsigned. Hard to believe in this age of extreme bullpen usage.

Here are the latest hot stove rumblings as Opening Day inches closer and closer.

Keuchel, Gonzalez throwing simulated games

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Dallas Keuchel HOU • SP • 60
ERA3.74
WHIP1.31
IP204.2
BB58
K153
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Gio Gonzalez NYY • SP •
ERA4.21
WHIP1.44
IP171.0
BB80
K148

Both Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez are throwing simulated games while they await contract agreements, report MLB.com's Jon Morosi and MLB Network's Jon Heyman. Keuchel threw 80 pitches at Scott Boras' facility on Wednesday. "He's going through a full Spring Training," Boras told Morosi. Gonzalez, meanwhile, threw a 107 pitches in a seven-inning simulated game recently. Both guys will ostensibly be ready to join the rotation soon after signing.

It's worth noting Kyle Lohse, a former Boras client, threw on his own when his free agency extended into spring training in 2013. He signed a three-year, $33 million deal with the Brewers near the end of March and made his first start 11 days later. Lohse pitched to a 3.35 ERA in 198 2/3 innings during his first season in Milwaukee, so, if nothing else, having to throw on his own rather that go through a proper spring training didn't hurt his performance. 

Berrios turned down extension offer

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Jose Berrios MIN • RP • 17
ERA3.84
WHIP1.14
IP192.1
BB61
K202

Right-hander Jose Berrios turned down a contract extension offer from the Twins over the winter, reports Phil Miller of the Star Tribune. Terms of the team's offer are unknown. Berrios is in his final pre-arbitration year and will make something close to the $555,000 league minimum in 2019. The Twins signed shortstop Jorge Polanco (five years, $25.8 million) and Max Kepler (five years, $35 million) to long-term extensions last month. Minnesota recently named Berrios their Opening Day starter.

Luis Severino (four years, $40 million) and Aaron Nola (four years, $45 million) recently signed extensions, though both were in their first year of arbitration-eligibility, giving them more leverage than Berrios has now. The most recent starting pitcher to sign an extension at Berrios' service time level was Corey Kluber back April 2015. He received a five-year, $38.5 million deal immediately after winning his first Cy Young. A fair Berrios extension would presumably come in under that.

Phillies gauged the market for outfield surplus

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Nick Williams PHI • RF • 5
BA.256
R53
HR17
RBI50
SB3
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Aaron Altherr PHI • LF • 23
BA.181
R28
HR8
RBI38
SB3

According to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, the Phillies got an early start on gauging the market for their outfield depth this offseason. Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, and Odubel Herrera are all signed to multiyear contracts, leaving Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr as depth pieces. Altherr is out of options and can not be sent to the minors without passing through waivers. He's unlikely to clear, so either he'll make the Opening Day roster or be traded.

The Indians, moreso than any other contender, need outfield help right now and are an obvious potential trade partner for Philadelphia's outfielders. The Yankees could be a trade match as well with center fielder Aaron Hicks slowed by a back issue this spring. Also, because Williams (25) and Altherr (28) are young and under team control multiple years, they could appeal to rebuilding teams as well. The Marlins and Orioles stand out as possible trade suitors.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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