We're approaching Full Hot Stove mode of the MLB offseason, and that means notable trades and free agent signings can happen at any moment. So to prime the pump for these days and weeks of high winter intrigue, let's quickly round up some of the rumors that are out there on this fine Friday. Onward into the muck.
Nats considering Bryant trade
Among the infielders the Nationals are considering this offseason is Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, reports MLB.com's Jon Morosi. Bryant, 29, is coming off a poor 2020 season and there has been speculation Chicago could non-tender him next month rather than pay him a projected $19 million or so salary in 2021. Despite his name value, the prospect cost to acquire Bryant in a trade could be relatively small given his projected salary and rough season. If tendered, Bryant will become a free agent next offseason.
Washington third basemen hit .204/.325/.250 with two home runs in Year 1 of the post-Anthony Rendon era in 2020. Top prospect Carter Kieboom struggled in 33 games and could move to second base to accommodate Bryant anyway. Bryant has batted various injuries in recent years and it's not unreasonable to think he could return to above-average production following an offseason of rest and a normal spring training. For a Nationals team that is built to win now and looking to rebound after a down 2021, Bryant would be a smart pickup at the right price.
Dodgers interested in Arenado trade
Justin Turner is a free agent, and that means the champion Dodgers may be in need of a new third baseman. The division-rival Rockies of course have an elite third baseman in Nolan Arenado, and trade rumors have swirled about him for some time. To tie it all together, a source tells MLB.com's Jon Morosi that the Dodgers have interest in trading for Arenado.
Arenado's coming off a disappointing 2020 season, in which he put up an OPS+ of 84 in 48 games for Colorado. However, those relative struggles are dismissed easily enough -- it was, after all, a greatly abbreviated season played in the middle of a pandemic. As well, Arenado boasts a career OPS+ of 120, and even amid his 2020 struggles at the plate he remained an elite fielder at the hot corner. In related matters, the 29-year-old Arenado has finished in the top 10 of the NL MVP balloting on five occasions.
Arenado can opt out of his current contract after next season, and if he doesn't opt out then he'll be owed an additional $164 million through 2026. That explains Colorado's motivation for shopping him. As well, Arenado's relationship with the front office appeared to sour leading into the 2020 season. The Rockies' willingness to trade him within their division is a potential x-factor, but if they want to move Arenado's contract at a time when many teams aren't willing to take on salary, then they may not be able to be so picky about potential trading partners.
It of course remains quite possible that Turner returns to the Dodgers, but if that doesn't come to pass then L.A. may have designs on another offseason blockbuster.
Yanks prioritizing LeMahieu; Nats also in mix
The Yankees' most reliable hitter over the last two seasons, DJ LeMahieu, is a free agent, and by the sounds of things the Yankees don't want him to get away. Here's the scoop from our own Jim Bowden:
Since joining the Yankees as a free agent prior to the 2019 season, LeMahieu has .336/.386/.536 in 195 games with 36 home runs and 43 doubles. He's backed up the strong production with excellent batted-ball metrics and also spent time at three different infield positions. Even though he's 32, he's going to be a coveted free agent who, even in a depressed market, figures to fetch nine figures.
Bringing LeMahieu back, as Bowden notes, is a priority item for the Yankees. Throw in the mutual interest, and it seems highly likely that they'll reunite. The wild card may be the crosstown Mets, who recently lost second baseman Robinson Cano to suspension. LeMahieu would be an ideal replacement, and new owner Steve Cohen has indicated he's willing to spend to win.
Also in the mix for LeMahieu are the Nationals:
Second base is LeMahieu's primary position, and last season Washington second basemen -- Luis Garcia, mostly -- combined to hit just .272/.303/.384, so that's a position of need for the 2019 champs. Of course, any number of teams can use a player like LeMahieu, so this is hardly an exhaustive run-down of his market.