January is winding down, which means we're getting closer to spring training., including three of the top seven. There is still some time to go in the offseason, for sure, but usually all the top free agents are signed by now. We're going to keep track of the day's hot stove rumblings right here in this roundup post. Make sure you check back often for updates.
San Diego eyeing Machado
The Padres are making a run at free-agent slugger Manny Machado, Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Acee notes that San Diego was not one of the original mystery teams previously reported in the Machado sweepstakes, but it became a player once it became apparent the cost would not be astronomical.
If the Padres were to land Machado, they envision playing him at third base, per Acee's report. Machado has said to prefer playing shortstop, but he figures to wind up to whoever has the best offer. If Machado were to go to San Diego, he'd be joining a team loaded with youth talent, such as prospects Fernanado Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias. Tatis and Urias are expected to have the opportunity to become regulars at some point during the 2019 season.
Realmuto talks heating up
Trade talk regarding Marlins All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto are "said to be gaining momentum," according to Jon Heyman. Heyman mentions the Dodgers and Padres as the "most prominent" suitors involved in talks at present while noting the Astros, Braves and Reds remain interested.
Realmuto missed some time last season (he played in 125 games), but was stellar. He hit .277/.340/.484 (131 OPS+) with 30 doubles, 21 home runs, 74 RBI, 74 runs and 4.3 WAR. Until we see how Buster Posey bounce back from his hip surgery, it's pretty fair to call Realmuto the best hitting catcher in baseball, so anyone landing him gets a great player.
Phillies, Nola may be heading to arbitration
The Phillies have not had any substantive discussions with Aaron Nola regarding a long-term contract extension, according to Matt Gelb of The Athletic. The two sides are facing a $2.5 million gap between the $4.5 million at which the Phillies filed and the $6.75 million at which Nola filed. Here's more from Gelb on Nola's contractual status and pending arbitration case:
In this instance, there does not appear to be animosity between the two sides. Nola, earlier in the week, told reporters he was not aware of any long-term contract negotiations. Two sources familiar with the situation corroborated Nola's view — there have not been substantive discussions about an extension. It is odd, as this would have been the winter to pursue such an agreement because the closer and closer Nola inches toward free agency, the less incentive there is to forgo that process and the higher his price tag becomes. As of now, Nola would reach free agency after the 2021 season.
An arbitration hearing is set for Feb. 14, and while the two sides may end up finding some kind of agreement to avoid it, it's still very much possible for the 25-year-old's case to be resolved in front of an arbitration panel.
Nola and Yankees right-hander Luis Severino are in similar situations. The Yankees filed at $4.4 million for Severino. No starting pitcher in his first year of arbitration-eligibility has topped the $4.35 million that Dontrelle Willis made in 2006. That is, until Willis' record was shattered by Dallas Keuchel -- who entreated arbitration fresh off his CY Young win -- .
Braves not willing to spend big on Kimbrel
It's been fairly quiet for the Braves since they kicked off their offseason, signing Nick Markakis to fill . However, for those thinking the Braves were going after free-agent reliever Craig Kimbrel for another big signing this offseason, general manager Alex Anthopoulos downplayed his team's pursuit, if not almost entirely ruled out the possibility of signing him. Here's what Anthopoulos told MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM:and The team did re-sign
"He makes everybody a lot better ... He's one of the best closers of all time. I did come out early in the offseason and, not speaking specifically about him, but our payroll, our model, I don't know that us spending big, elite dollars on a reliever -- length, the term and all that -- I don't know that that model works for us."
Anthopoulos' comments echoes the same sentiment we've heard from Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who continues to claim that Boston won't spend big on a closer. So where does all this leave Kimbrel? Well, … at best. The Phillies seem ready to open up the coffers, but their focus has been on top free agents Bryce Harper and Machado so they're unlikely to make a move for Kimbrel until those two sign.
A's sign Estrada
Free agent starter Marco Estrada and the Oakland A's are in agreement on a one-year, $4 million contract, a source familiar with the contract tells ESPN. @JaneMLB was first with the agreement, as were @Ken_Rosenthal and @JonHeyman with Justin Wilson specifics.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 25, 2019
Estrada, 35, is coming off a dreadful season. He was 7-14 with a 5.64 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 103 strikeouts against 50 walks in 143 2/3 innings. He finished 10th in AL Cy Young voting in 2015 and followed it up with an All-Star season in 2016, when he pitched to a 3.48 ERA. In each of those seasons, Estrada posted the lowest hit rate (6.7 and 6.8 hits per nine innings, respectively) in the American League.
Perhaps the A's can salvage a good season out of him the way they did Edwin Jackson and Trevor Cahill last season.
Estrada figures to join Mike Fiers, Daniel Mengden, Frankie Montas and Chris Bassitt in the A's rotation, but there are lots of viable options a few players who might be returning from major injury, such as Sean Manaea and Andrew Triggs.
Three relievers sign
Three relievers have agreed to terms on contracts.
Lefty Oliver Perez returns to the Indians on a one-year, $2.5 million deal, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Perez was outstanding last season for the Indians, posting a 1.39 ERA, 0.74 WHIP and 43 strikeouts against four unintentional walks in 32 1/3 innings. If he does that again, this is an amazingly cost-effective deal.
The Cubs add George Kontos on a minor-league deal, per Bruce Levine of 670 The Score. Kostos, 33, spent time with four different teams last season, pitching to a 4.39 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. Multiple reports noted Kontos has been working with Driveline (which has greatly helped Trevor Bauer, among others) this offseason and has added three miles per hour of velocity on his fastball.
Lefty Justin Wilson has agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal with the Mets, Jon Heyman reports. Wilson, 31, had a 3.46 ERA and 1.43 WHIP last season with the Cubs. He struck out 69 in 54 2/3 innings, but the walks were a major issue in Chicago. He walked 19 in 17 2/3 innings in 2017 and 33 last year, which was still 5.4 BB/9. He was very good for the Tigers before the 2017 trade to the Cubs, though, so maybe a change of scenery helps.
Reyes wants to keep playing
Infielder Jose Reyes doesn't want to be forced into retirement and instead wants to keep playing, apparently.
A source who may be David Wright told me today Jose Reyes is not planning to retire and hopes to catch on with a team before spring training— Anthony Rieber (@therealarieber) January 25, 2019
Surely it's true that Reyes wants to keep playing, but it might not be his choice.
Point blank: It's hard to see why any team would even want Reyes. He carries off-field baggage, which is an understatement, and he hit .189/.260/.320 (63 OPS+) last season. He'll be 36 last season and hasn't been a good player in years.