MLB rumors: Padres meet with Bryce Harper in Las Vegas; Mets among teams interested in Gio Gonzalez
Here's the latest on the Padres, Bryce Harper, Gio Gonzalez, and others
We are now in February and that means we are in a month that will feature real live baseball. Spring training camps open across Arizona and Florida in about a week and a half, and in three weeks Cactus League and Grapefruit Leagues will begin. Hooray for that. This offseason has been a bore.
, including the top two, three of the top seven, and six of the top 20. We're going to keep track of the day's hot stove rumblings right here in this handy post. Make sure you check back often for updates throughout the day.
Padres meet with Harper
As expected, the Padres did indeed meet face-to-face with Bryce Harper on Thursday night. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune says general partner Peter Seidler, GM A.J. Preller and manager Andy Green met with Harper in his native Las Vegas. Here's more from Acee:
Sources earlier in the day characterized the foray as something of extended due diligence. But a source familiar with what happened Thursday night said the Padres were extremely prepared and seemed sincere about wooing the 26-year-old Harper.
The Padres are said to be seeking a meeting with Manny Machado as well. Even if a deal with Harper or Machado is unlikely, it makes sense for San Diego to at least kick the tires. They have money to spend and an excellent farm system that could have them in contention soon. Adding a prime-aged star like Harper or Machado would advance the rebuild considerably. Of course, it could be that Harper (and Machado?) are just using the Padres as leverage against other clubs.
Mets, Padres pursuing Gio
The Mets and Padres are among the teams pursuing free agent left-hander Gio Gonzalez, report Mike Puma of the New York Post and Jon Morosi of MLB.com. New York is looking for a depth starter to stash behind their already established five-man rotation. The Padres are much better positioned to offer Gonzalez an Opening Day rotation spot, which figures to give them an advantage in a bidding war. .
Gonzalez, 33, pitched to a 4.21 ERA in 32 starts and 171 innings with the Nationals and Brewers last season. If nothing else, you can count on him for innings. Gonzalez has made at least 27 starts every year since 2010 and he's thrown at least 170 innings in eight of the last nine years. He hasn't thrown fewer than 150 innings since his partial rookie season in 2009. presumably sets the market for Gio.
Rockies interested in CarGo reunion
The Rockies have some interest in re-signing veteran outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, reports MLB Network's Jon Heyman. There are other unidentified teams in the mix as well. Colorado has an opening in right field at the moment, though prospect Raimel Tapia could take over the position, plus there's been speculation Charlie Blackmon could move to a corner outfield spot with Ian Desmond taking over in center field.
Gonzalez, 33, authored a .276/.329/.467 batting line with 32 doubles and 16 home runs for the Rockies last season. He was a free agent last winter as well, and it wasn't until March 12 that he returned to Colorado on a one-year contract worth $5 million. CarGo is likely looking at a similar contract this offseason. Curtis Granderson and Adam Jones stand out as potential likely one-year contract free-agent outfield alternatives.
Twins looking at Madson, other relievers
According to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, the Twins are looking to add bullpen help, with veteran righty Ryan Madson among their targets. Madson, even at age 38, sat in the mid-to-upper-90s last season and paired it with his trademark knockout changeup. Minnesota added Blake Parker on a cheap one-year contract earlier this winter and they still have room for another reliever in the bullpen, including a true closer. Right now Parker or Trevor May are likely to get save chances.
Madson threw 52 2/3 innings with a 5.47 ERA for the Nationals and Dodgers last season, and he was historically awful in the World Series. That said, he is one year removed from a 1.83 ERA in 59 innings, and his stuff is still plenty good. The cost will not be exorbitant -- Shawn Kelley's one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Rangers is probably Madson's contract upside -- and there's a decent chance he rebounds in 2019. .
A's considering Wieters
With Jonathan Lucroy having signed with the Angels, the Athletics are now considering free-agent backstop Matt Wieters, reports MLB Network's Jon Heyman. Oakland did try to re-sign Lucroy, though the two sides were said to be far apart on money. At the moment the A's are tentatively scheduled to go into the season with Josh Phegley and Chris Herrmann behind the plate as they wait for catching prospect Sean Murphy to arrive.
Wieters, 32, hit .238/.330/.374 with eight home runs in 76 games for the Nationals last season. He never lived up to the hype that came with being baseball's top prospect a few years ago, but Wieters did have a little run as a solid everyday catcher before injuries set in. Martin Maldonado stands out at the best available free-agent catcher at the moment. Devin Mesoraco and Nick Hundley are available as well.
Reds sign Duke
The Reds have signed free-agent southpaw Zach Duke, reports MLB Network's Jon Heyman. Cincinnati has been very active this winter but all their moves have been trades. This is their first major-league free agent signing. The Reds added Sonny Gray, Tanner Roark, Alex Wood, Yasiel Puig, and Matt Kemp by dipping into their farm system and trading prospects. . Not many teams are doing that these days.
Duke, 35, is one of the few true left-on-left specialists still in baseball. He had a 4.15 ERA in 52 innings for the Twins and Mariners last season, and held lefties to a .220/.283/.319 batting line. The Reds were expected to have at least two lefties (Amir Garrett and Wandy Peralta) and possibly a third (Cody Reed) in their Opening Day bullpen before adding Duke. A fourth lefty might be overkill, but there's no such thing as too much bullpen depth.
Reds shopping India
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Reds have been "quietly shopping" infield prospect Jonathan India all winter. Rival executives told Rosenthal that during trade talks, Cincinnati keeps steering the conversation toward India and away from top prospects Nick Senzel and Taylor Trammell. That is something of a red flag because India was the fifth overall pick in last year's draft. Teams usually aren't eager to trade high draft picks so soon.
India, 22, played his college ball at the University of Florida and hit .250/.497/.717 with 21 home runs in 68 games as a junior last spring. He didn't have quite as much success in pro ball -- India hit .240/.380/.433 with six homers in 44 games after signing -- and there are some indications the Reds were disappointed. I doubt Cincinnati would give India away, but, if they are willing to trade him, I have to think all 29 other teams will come calling at some point.
Rangers add Hammel
The Rangers continue to add veteran pitchers to their collection. On Friday, they agreed to terms on a minor-league deal with right-hander Jason Hammel.
Hammel, formerly of the Royals, is coming off a miserable season that saw him post a 71 ERA+ in 127 innings split between the rotation and bullpen. To Hammel's credit, his underlying measures were comparatively better: he had a 2.36 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
It's unclear how good of a chance Hammel has at cracking Texas's Opening Day pitching staff. He'll turn 37 come September, however, so this could be his final chance at making a team.
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