MLB rumors: Padres not out on Bryce Harper after Manny Machado signing; Phillies have eyes on Keuchel, Kimbrel

As we close in on games in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues, Manny Machado is finally off the board, but Bryce Harper remains unsigned at this late hour. That means we've got a healthy supply of buzz even as we head toward March. To give you an idea of what's out there on Thursday, we're here to round up all the notable trade and free agency rumors. As always, our Free Agent Tracker is a great way to catch up on what's already happened on that front. Now let's jump in ...

Padres still could grab Harper

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Bryce Harper PHI • LF • 3
BA.249
R103
HR34
RBI100
SB13

The San Diego Padres aren't ruling out adding Bryce Harper despite reaching an agreement with Manny Machado, according to Fancred's Jon Heyman. Heyman reported that Padres ownership will meet tomorrow to "see if they can make it two-for-two on this winter's mega stars." The possibility of this offseason's two biggest free agents both heading to San Diego is unlikely, but not entirely out of the question.

Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, are aiming for a deal which exceeds the 10-year, $300 million contract the Padres gave to Machado. And while Machado set the record for a free agent deal at $300 million, there's still a bigger number and that's Giancarlo Stanton's 13-year, $325 million deal. So the question is whether or not San Diego wants to commit to that large of a sum to two players for the next decade. The report could also be Boras utilizing a negotiation tactic. We'll have to wait, er, keep waiting and see...

Phillies have eyes on Keuchel, Kimbrel

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Dallas Keuchel HOU • SP • 60
ERA3.74
WHIP1.31
IP204.2
BB58
K153
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Craig Kimbrel BOS • RP • 46
ERA2.74
K/913.9
WHIP.99
S42
BS5

The Phillies of course still have strong designs on signing Bryce Harper, and they're probably the front-runners to land him. Regardless of whether or not they're able to sign Harper, however, GM Matt Klentak is making additional plans at the same time ... 

Keuchel and Kimbrel are of course free agents still on the market. The lefty Keuchel promises some innings, lots of ground balls, and better than average run prevention. The Phillies could certainly use that behind Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta in the rotation. As Heyman notes, they're probably less desperate for Kimbrel, but he'd certainly make a welcome addition to the Philly pen. His addition would allow David Robertson to slide back to a setup role. 

The Phils this winter have already added Andrew McCutchen and Robertson via free agency and Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto via trade. That's an offseason's work, especially by current standards. However, the SportsLine Projection Model (@SportsLine on Twitter) remains somewhat bearish on the Phils. Right now, SportsLine forecasts the Phillies for 80 wins and gives them a 19.4 percent chance of making the postseason. In other words, they still have work to do, especially in what figures to be a hotly competitive NL East. Fortunately for Phils rooters, the front office seems to grasp that more needs to be done. 

And speaking of Harper and the Phillies ... 

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Bryce Harper PHI • LF • 3
BA.249
R103
HR34
RBI100
SB13


Regarding the Phillies' front-runner status when it comes to the Bryce Harper derby, there's this from Philly.com's Matt Breen

Scott Boras, Harper's agent, is set on getting his client a bigger deal than the one Machado got. The Phillies are well aware, and they will be much more reluctant this time to walk away, knowing what the public perception will be if they end the offseason without either free agent.

More specifically, Boras is likely set on getting Harper the largest contract in MLB history -- i.e., something in excess of the $325 million extension that Giancarlo Stanton signed with the Marlins a few years ago. As for the Phillies, Breen writes the team has "ramped up" its negotiations and adds that the growing sense is that the Giants, the Phillies' biggest competition at the moment, aren't willing to pay those rates. 

On that point, CBS Sports HQ analyst Jim Bowden says it appears the Padres, Nationals, and White Sox are out of the running, at least for now. Bowden goes on to say that Harper's agent, Scott Boras, isn't left with much leverage at this point. If that's the case, then perhaps Harper's price will fall. On the other hand, if Harper's price seems to fall, then Boras will no doubt attempt to re-engage his former suitors in an attempt to restart his market. As is the case with any major signing, it's a fluid situation until ink is on paper. 

Twins in talks with Gonzalez

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Marwin Gonzalez MIN • SS • 9
BA.247
R61
HR16
RBI68
SB2

The Twins have been reported to have interest in free agent utility man Marwin Gonzalez for some time, and now Dan Hayes of The Athletic reports that things may be getting more serious

Multiple baseball sources confirmed the Twins have discussed the parameters of a three-year deal for Gonzalez, who played for the Houston Astros from 2012-18. But the Twins also believe they have strong competition to sign Gonzalez, who Fangraphs valued at 1.6 Wins Above Replacement last season.

Gonzalez, who turns 30 in March, put up an OPS+ of 103 in 145 games last season. That solid bat in tandem with his ability to switch-hit and man seven different positions make Gonzalez a highly useful addition to any roster. It's not surprising the Twins would have interest, just as it's not surprising that the competition would be stiff.

Thor not thinking extension

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Noah Syndergaard NYM • SP • 34
ERA3.03
WHIP1.21
IP154.1
BB39
K155

 Mets flame-throwing right-hander Noah Syndergaard isn't eligible until after the 2021 season, has managed only one qualifying season thanks to injuries, and is of course aware of what seems to be a down market for free agents. Given all that, you might think he's especially open to signing an extension with the Mets and getting that guaranteed payday. By the sounds of things, however, that's not the case. Here's the money-quote via Tim Britton of The Athletic

"I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I'm going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did," Syndergaard said Wednesday. "But if it's fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk."

"They" would be Aaron Nola of the Phillies and Luis Severino of the Yankees, who both recently signed extensions. Such contracts, of course, tend to be team-friendly. Syndergaard leaves the door open for talks, but he certainly doesn't sound inclined to sell away any free agent years in exchange for life-changing money. 

As for the Mets, they're probably more focused at the moment on getting Jacob deGrom locked up

Padres to introduce Machado on Friday

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Manny Machado SD • 3B • 13
BA.297
R84
HR37
RBI107
SB14

The Padres have officially finalized a 10-year, $300 million contract with infielder Manny Machado. Now, the Padres announced that they will introduce Machado at a Friday press conference. 

Machado's signing will of course energize the Padres' fan base, which has proved in the past that it will turn out to see a winning team. The winning may not come in 2019, but Machado in tandem with the best crop of prospects in the game today mean that the future is uncommonly bright for the Padres. Expect palpable enthusiasm on Friday.

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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