MLB rumors, free agency and trade updates: Mets trade talks lose steam; Cubs won't trade Schwarber
We'll keep you in the know for everything happening on the eve of winter meetings
We're hours away from the official beginning of the 2018 winter meetings and the rumor mill is churning. While you wait for everything to get underway, check outfor baseball's big week in Las Vegas.
And if you need a refresher on what teams are looking to shop for this week, we've got you covered with our division by division previews. We broke down all 30 teams, their needs and the approach they should take for this week: AL East, NL East, AL Central, , and .
On Sunday, the Today's Game Era Committee will cast their votes for 10 candidates for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This year's ballot features six former players, three managers and one executive: Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, Lou Piniella, Lee Smith and George Steinbrenner.
As for the rest, we'll be rounding up all the best rumors, transactions, news and notes from the day.
Mets talks for Realmuto, Syndergaard losing steam
Mets trade talks involving right-hander Noah Syndergaard and Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto have lost steam, reports SNY's Andy Martino. The Mets had been trying to acquire Realmuto and were said to be open to moving Syndergaard in separate trades. Trades are still possible, of course, but are now seen as unlikely.
Although talks for Realmuto are not progressing, the Mets clearly need help behind the plate, and they're said to be in the market for bullpen help as well. Since taking over GM Brodie Van Wagenen seems to have dipped his toe in pretty much every market. The Mets are aggressively looking for upgrades after landing Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz.
Nationals have checked in on LeMahieu
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo confirmed to Jesse Doughtery of the Washington Post that he has checked in on free agent second baseman DJ LeMahieu. Rizzo also cautioned that he's checked in on many players this offseason. .
LeMahieu, 30, hit .276/.321/.428 (88 OPS+) with a career-high 15 home runs in 2018. Like most Rockies hitters, he has an extreme home/road split. LeMahieu has hit .345/.411/.479 at Coors Field and .277/.330/.405 on the road the last three seasons. If nothing else, LeMahieu provides a ton of contact and a very good glove at second base.
Pirates will listen to offers for Cervelli
The Pirates are willing to listen to trade offers for catcher Francisco Cervelli, reports ESPN's Buster Olney. Pittsburgh does not have much payroll flexibility this winter and shedding Cervelli's $11.5 million salary in 2019 is a consideration. The Astros, Dodgers and Mets are among the teams known to be seeking catching help this winter.
Cervelli, 33, hit .259/.378/.431 (123 OPS+) with 12 home runs in 2018 and he grades out as a strong defensive catcher. The Pirates could install 28-year-old Elias Diaz, who hit .286/.339/.452 (116 OPS+) in part-time duty this past season, as their primary backstop should they trade Cervelli. Clubs could see Cervelli as a more affordable catching option than free agents Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos.
Yankees still in pursuit of JA Happ
After losing out on Patrick Corbin and watching Nathan Eovaldi return to the Red Sox, the Yankees are in pursuit of left-hander J.A. Happ, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred. Happ finished this past season in New York and went 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts with the Yankees. Several teams are in the mix for the veteran southpaw at this point.
The Yankees reportedly bid five years for Corbin, who received a six-year contract, and three years for Eovaldi, who received a four-year contract. Happ turned 36 in October and could be in line for a three-year contract, though it'll be interesting to see whether the Yankees are willing to sign him through his age 38 season after balking at paying Corbin and Eovaldi into their mid-30s.
Cubs won't make Schwarber available in trade talks
Kyle Schwarber is not available. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Cubs are telling interested teams they will not trade Schwarber this offseason. That could be posturing, of course, but it's worth nothing Schwarber is a Theo Epstein favorite and Epstein has resisted trade overtures for years, most notably refusing to trade Schwarber for Andrew Miller at the 2016 deadline.
Schwarber, 25, hit .238/.356/.467 (115 OPS+) with 26 home runs in 2018. He graded out well defensively in left field, mostly because of his arm -- his 11 outfield assists tied for fourth most in baseball -- and not so much because of his range. Corner outfielders are always plentiful in free agency and Cubs could, in theory, trade Schwarber for help elsewhere on the roster and sign a free agent to replace him.
Many teams have checked in on Leclerc
According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, most MLB teams have checked in on the availability of righty reliever Jose Leclerc. Leclerc is one of the best relievers no one's heard of. The 24-year-old threw 57 2/3 innings with a 1.56 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 2018. He also went 12 for 12 in save chances after taking over as closer at midseason.
The Rangers are early in their rebuild and, generally speaking, relievers are the first ones traded as part of a rebuild. Leclerc is only 24, however, and he won't be a free agent until after the 2022 season. Texas could keep him and build around him, though that is quite risky given the high attrition rates associated with even the best relievers. Trade offers could be too good to refuse.
Braves have Keuchel atop wish list
. Atlanta wants a starter, a corner outfielder and at least one reliever heading into the Winter Meetings this week. The Braves are loaded with young pitching, and signing Keuchel or another free-agent starter would free up some of those youngsters for bullpen work or even to be used as trade bait.
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