Spring training is less than five weeks away and there is a whole bunch of hot stove activity that needs to happen between now and then. Only 13 of our top 60 free agents have signed, including only one of the top 14.
Here's the latest hot stove buzz.
Both AL, NL teams in on Ozuna
Free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna has garnered interest from both American and National League clubs despite the lingering uncertainty regarding universal designated hitter for the 2021 MLB season, according to MLB Network's Jon Morosi.
Ozuna, 30, hit .338/.431/.636 with 18 home runs in 60 games in 2020. He also finished atop the NL leaderboard for home runs and RBI, and was just 13 batting average points short of winning the NL Triple Crown this past season. In CBS Sports' top 60 free agent rankings, Ozuna is No. 6.
Some teams are comfortable with Ozuna as an everyday left fielder, Morosi adds. Ozuna is a subpar defensive outfielder but won't have to play out there often once the universal DH becomes permanent. Ozuna spent most of the 2020 season at the DH spot for the Atlanta Braves, and played in the outfield in 21 games. He was not eligible for the qualifying offer this winter after receiving it last year.
The hesitation in Ozuna's market is almost certainly tied to teams not having a firm answer about whether or not the NL will adopt the designated hitter in 2021.
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The Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and the incumbent Oakland Athletics have all been involved in discussions with free agent shortstop Marcus Semien, CBS Sports HQ's Jim Bowden reports. Boston is focusing on using Semien for second base since they already have Xander Bogaerts at third, Bowden adds.
Semien, 30, has spent the last six seasons with the Athletics. CBS Sports ranked Semien as the 11th-best free agent available this winter. Here's what our R.J. Anderson had to say about the shortstop:
Semien failed to repeat or build upon his 2019, when he finished third in the American League in Most Valuable Player Award voting. Instead his OPS+, like many millennials this year, regressed into the 90s; a familiar place for it, as it has resided there in six of the past seven seasons. That isn't to suggest Semien is the same player he was back in 2014. He walks more frequently, punches out less frequently, and has worked hard to improve his defense. It's worth noting that his batting average on balls in play was well below his norm, suggesting his production ought to improve even if everything else remains the same. Semien turned 30 in September, so the length of his contract could eventually necessitate a position change.
Semien slashed a pedestrian .223/.305/.374 during the abbreviated 2020 regular season, but he came alive in the postseason with a .407/.484/.667 slash line to go along with one double, two home runs, four RBI, four walks and six runs across seven games.
Once top free agent second baseman DJ LeMahieu is signed, there should be a domino effect to help speed up the markets for Semien, along with fellow free agent infielders Justin Turner, Andrelton Simmons, and Didi Gregorius.
Mets add Martinez
The New York Mets signed veteran slugger Jose Martinez, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports. The club will pay Martinez $1 million with $500,000 in potential incentives if he makes their MLB team. It's a low-risk investment for the Mets.
Martinez, 32, played for the Tampa Bay Rays (24 games) and the Chicago Cubs (10 games) in 2020. During the abbreviated 2020 season, Martinez posted a .182/.265/.295 slash line in 98 plate appearances for the Rays and Cubs. He was non-tendered by the Cubs last month following a disappointing campaign.
Even if Martinez -- who can play first base, the corner outfield spots or DH -- does make the Mets big-league club, it's hard to imagine he'll managing to earn significant playing time in New York. Pete Alonso is the Mets' everyday first baseman, while Dominic Smith is expected to cover the designated hitter next year if it's used in the National League. Still, it's a low-risk move that gives the Mets more depth.