Officially, the 2020 Winter Meetings begin Sunday. They were scheduled to be held at the Omni Hotel and Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, but will instead be held virtually because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With any luck, we'll still get the usual allotment of trades and signings and rumors. Now here are Sunday's hot stove rumblings.
Phillies not listening to offers for Wheeler
Despite reports to the contrary, the Phillies are not listening to trade offers for right-hander Zack Wheeler, owner John Middleton told Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Here's what Middleton told Salisbury:
"There's zero truth to this," said managing partner John Middleton, deliberately enunciating every word.
"There's no validity to it," (team president Andy MacPhail) said, anticipating the question. "Zack is very much in our plans going forward."
Of course, every team listens to offers for all players at all times, so I doubt the Phillies would hang up should another team inquire about Wheeler's availability. It never hurts to listen. It doesn't sound like they are eager to move him, however.
Wheeler, 30, had an excellent first season with the Phillies in 2020. He is one year into a five-year contract that will pay him $96.5 million through 2024. The free agent pitching market lacks impact starters beyond Trevor Bauer, so conditions may be ripe for the Phillies to receive a haul for Wheeler.
Reds working to trade Gray
The Reds are "working hard" to trade right-hander Sonny Gray, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman says they are doing that while scouring the market for starting pitchers. The strategy may be to trade Gray for multiple pieces, they replace him via free agency or trade at a lower cost. Gray is owed $10 million in 2021 and 2022, with a $12 million club option for 2023.
Cincinnati is expected to lose Trevor Bauer to free agency and trading Gray, who has 3.07 ERA in two seasons with the Reds, would deplete the club's rotation even more. That said, Bauer is the only ace-caliber starter in free agency, so another team may be willing to give up a significant package to get Gray. His trade value may never be higher and the Reds may believe their pitching development folks can capably replace his production with others.
Semien drawing interest at non-shortstop positions
Marcus Semien is one of the top free-agent shortstops available, but that isn't preventing teams from asking if he'd have interest playing another position. According to Robert Murray of Fansided, a "few" clubs have asked if he'd be up for playing second or third base.
Semien, 30, has played shortstop exclusively since 2015. He's improved at the position in recent years, though the main draw with him remains his offensive potency. Over the last three seasons, he's hit .263/.339/.445 (114 OPS+) with 55 home runs and 28 stolen bases. Given the paucity of starting-caliber shortstops available at any given time, it would be a minor surprise if Semien signs with a team intent on playing him elsewhere.
Twins interested in Hernandez, Soria
The Twins are interested in utility man Enrique Hernandez and setup man Joakim Soria, reports SKOR North's Darren Wolfson. and may also lose Ehire Adrianza, Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, Eddie Rosario, and Matt Wisler, among others. .
Hernandez, 29, can play pretty much anywhere, and would give the Twins another righty bat to help balance a lineup that leans a little left-handed at the moment. He'd come in handy in a division that features Matthew Boyd, Danny Duffy, Dallas Keuchel, Mike Minor, Tarik Skubal, and other notable southpaw starters. The 36-year-old Soria is as wily as ever and remains an effective late-inning option.