Welcome to 2021. The New Year has arrived and we're still waiting for the one of this offseason's top free agents to sign. Only 10 of our top 60 free agents have signed, including only one of the top 14 and none of the top four. Here are the latest hot stove rumors on the first day of the year.
Bauer met with Blue Jays
In his latest social media video, Trevor Bauer confirmed he had a (virtual) meeting with the Blue Jays scheduled for Thursday. "I've got a call with the Blue Jays. I'm going to check in with them and talk to their pitching coach (Pete Walker) and high performance coach (Angus Mugford) and see what they have to offer," Bauer said. Our R.J. Anderson ranked Bauer the No. 3 free agent.
The Blue Jays have been connected to every big free agent (Bauer, DJ LeMahieu, J.T. Realmuto, George Springer) in recent weeks and they're one of the few teams expected to spend big this winter. Their current projected rotation includes Hyun-Jin Ryu, Robbie Ray, Tanner Roark, Nate Pearson, and Ross Stripling. Stripling could move back to the bullpen or Pearson could go to Triple-A to accommodate a Bauer signing.
Tanaka could return to Japan
A source close to Masahiro Tanaka told NJ.com's Randy Miller there's a "good chance" the right-hander will return to the Rakuten Golden Eagles, his former team in Japan, if he cannot work out a new deal with the Yankees. Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times notes Tanaka said the chances he returns to Japan are "not zero" during a recent television appearance.
Our R.J. Anderson ranked Tanaka the No. 10 free agent this offseason. Tanaka played seven years with the Golden Eagles before joining the Yankees, including going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 27 starts in 2013, his last year in Japan. The Yankees need another starting pitcher, and a reunion makes sense. In any event, it sounds like Tanaka doesn't want to spend the next few years bouncing from MLB team to MLB team.
Padres talking with Profar, Yates
After adding Yu Darvish and Blake Snell (and Ha-Seong Kim), the Padres are now in talks with righty Kirby Yates and super utility man Jurickson Profar about possible reunions, reports Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Yates missed most of 2020 with a bone spur in his elbow and is looking at a one-year deal. Acee says San Diego is talking to other closer types as well.
The Padres don't have much remaining on their offseason to-do list, though they could use another reliever and another bench player, so Yates and Profar are obvious fits. At age 28, it would make sense for Profar to look for a starting job elsewhere rather than accept a bench or part-time role with the Padres. San Diego has a full infield and their current outfield includes Trent Grisham, Wil Myers, and Tommy Pham.
Astros, Cubs interested in Castro
The Astros and Cubs have interest in free-agent catcher Jason Castro, according to MLB reporter Robert Murray and The Athletic's Patrick Mooney. A return to Houston, where Castro started his career, looks less likely than it did a few weeks ago, Murray notes. Our R.J. Anderson did not rank Castro among his top 60 free agents. The lefty swinger stands out more for his glove than his bat.
The Cubs sent Victor Caratini to the Padres in the Darvish trade, so at a minimum they need to bring in a backup behind Willson Contreras. Contreras, of course, is on the trade block himself, so Chicago might be seeking two new catchers before it's all said and done. The Astros are committed to defensive stalwart Martin Maldonado behind the plate, though they need a backup as well.