MLB rumors: Marcus Semien open to long-term deal with A's; Rich Hill out until 2020 All-Star break
Here's what buzzing around MLB for Monday
The MLB offseason of 2019-20 is ongoing but hasn't yet hit full stride, which means most of the action has yet to transpire. That said, rumors regarding free-agent player and team pairings and potential trades are already circulating, and we're here to get you up to speed on all the latest scuttle. 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, and here's an explainer on the "luxury tax" and its implications for the winter.
Now here's what's buzzing for Monday.
Semien open to extension with A's
All-Star shortstop Marcus Semien with the Athletics. He is due to become a free agent after next season. Semien had a breakout 2019 season that saw him finish third in the AL MVP voting. His camp could push for a deal similar to the contract the Red Sox gave Xander Bogaerts earlier this year (six years and $120 million), though Bogaerts was three years younger than Semien is now when he signed that contract. Oakland won't be able to win a free-agent bidding war. Their best chance to keep Semien is likely signing him this offseason, before he hits the open market.
Hill out until All-Star break
Free agent southpaw Rich Hill . Hill underwent what is known as a Primary Revision, which is a Tommy John surgery alternative. The Primary Revision is less invasive than Tommy John and comes with a shorter rehab timetable. Not every elbow ligament tear is a candidate for the procedure, but Hill's was.
Hill, 40 in March, threw 58 2/3 innings with a 2.45 ERA around a flexor strain in 2019. He's had numerous arm injuries throughout his career, including Tommy John surgery in 2010, but he's been excellent whenever he's been able to take the mound the last four years or so. Teams could try to sign Hill over the winter, stash him on the injured list, then look forward to him joining their pitching staff down the stretch nest year.
Rays re-sign Zunino
The Rays had designs on bringing back catcher Travis d'Arnaud, but he wound up inking with the Braves. Instead, the Rays have turned back to Mike Zunino to fill the position. The two sides agreed to a new contract that will pay the catcher $4.5 million for the upcoming season, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The deal also reportedly includes an option for 2021 that could be worth as much as $5.25 million. The Rays have since announced the contract.
Zunino, who turns 29 in March, is a skilled pitch framer behind the plate, but he's coming off a 2019 season in which he batted .165/.232/.312 with nine home runs in 90 games. For his career, he owns an MLB seasons. His re-signing reflects both the Rays' faith in Zunino's defensive skills, the belief that he can't possibly get worse at the plate in 2020, and the paucity of catcher options on the market.of 83 across parts of seven
Mariners' catcher could be trade target
Teams hungry for help behind the plate may be running out of time, as former free agents Yasmani Grandal (White Sox) d'Arnaud are already off the board before Thanksgiving. With the free agent crop already thinned out, teams may look to the trade market to find catchers. On that front, Mariners catcher Omar Narvaez has been an early subject of trade talks, with the M's apparently willing to move him, ESPN's Jeff Passan reports.
Narvaez, who turns 28 in February, is coming off a 2018 season in which he put up an impressive 120with 22 home runs in 132 games and more than 800 defensive innings behind the plate. For his career, he owns a slash line of .276/.361/.411 across parts of four seasons. Narvaez certainly has OBP skills by positional standards, but he's not a strong defensive catcher. That said a backstop capable of producing at the plate will almost always have a market, so Seattle should be able to make a trade happen.
Pirates down to two manager finalists
The Pirates' search to replace Clint Hurdle in the dugout is down to two candidates, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman. Those two finalists are Rays bench coach bench coach Matt Quatraro and Twins bench coach Derek Shelton. A decision should be made in a matter of days. The Pirates have a new GM in Ben Cherington and are coming off a 93-loss season in 2019.
Dodgers eyeing big three
The Dodgers are coming off a 106-win season and have won the pennant in two of the last three seasons. Even so, they may still be looking to make a splash on the free-agent market. Here's what Heyman tweets:
Cole, Strasburg and Rendon are of course the top three free agents on the market, and they'll be paid accordingly. That, of course, is the rub for the Dodgers, who have been focused on keeping payroll down in recent seasons under Andrew Friedman..
Yanks, M's make minor trade
The Yankees on Monday traded lefty Nestor Cortes Jr. to the Mariners in exchange for international signing bonus pool money. Cortes, who turns 25 in December, has pitched to a 5.80 ERA and 2.25 K/BB ratio in nine relief appearances and one start spread across two big-league seasons.
Blue Jays sign Cole
No, not that Cole. Rather, Toronto agreed to terms right-hander A.J. Cole to a minor-league contract on Monday. Cole, who turns 28 in January, owns an ERA of 4.86 and a K/BB ratio of 2.51 in 19 starts and 60 relief appearances spread across five major-league seasons. He spent the 2019 season with the Indians.
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