On the cusp of the 2019 Winter Meetings in San Diego, it seems likely that Saturday will be quiet, but we've seen signings just before the annual event before. Jose Reyes signing with the Marlins right before the 2011 Winter Meetings comes to mind. Things have also moved a lot more quickly this offseason than the last two, so it's a good sign things will be lively in San Diego.
Let's hit the latest on the hot stove.
Mets pursuing Porcello
The Mets are talking to free agent right-hander Rick Porcello, reports MLB Network's Jon Heyman. Even after losing Zack Wheeler to the NL East rival Phillies, the Mets still have a strong rotation front four in Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, and Steven Matz. Porcello, a semi-local guy from New Jersey, would give them a competent innings-eating No. 5 starter.
Porcello turns only 31 later this month, and he's thrown at least 170 innings every season since 2011. Jon Lester and Max Scherzer are the only other pitchers who can make that claim. Signing with the Mets would allow Porcello to move from Fenway Park and the pitcher unfriendly AL East into spacious Citi Field and the non-DH league. A few good years with the Mets would rebuild his value, and he's young enough to get another free agent contract down the line.
Rangers 'focus squarely' on Rendon
The Rangers have already signed Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles to fill out their rotation behind Mike Minor and Lance Lynn. It's possible they could add someone like Dallas Keuchel or Hyun-Jin Ryu to give them five veterans, but there's enough depth to head to the season with their rotation as is.
The focus for Texas is "squarely on [Anthony] Rendon for the time being," according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
The Rangers move into a new ballpark next season and have a hole at third base. They also have the resources to land a huge free agent, as we've seen them do from time to time.
Also, it might not matter but it's worth mention that Rendon is a Texas product. Granted, it's Houston -- he went to both high school and college (Rice) there -- not the Dallas area, but it might make a difference if the money is right. We know it did with Zack Wheeler signing with the Phillies over the White Sox.
Offers coming to Cole soon
One of the two ace free agents is Gerrit Cole, and Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that "teams will be making initial offers in the coming days." Passan names the Yankees, Angels and Dodgers as the favorites in the bidding.
Cole, 29, was 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 326 strikeouts against 48 walks in 212 1/3 innings last season for the AL champion Astros. He was also 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 36 2/3 postseason innings. He led the majors in strikeouts, ERA+ and strikeout rate, and led the AL in ERA.
We've heard in recent weeks the Yankees are going to go all out in their pursuit of Cole and throughout the offseason that the Angels are all over him as well.
Rockies won't go big on pitching
The Rockies could certainly use some starting pitching help, but Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post outlines why they won't be going after a big arm in free agency. The basic summary: Most pitchers don't want to pitch half their starts in Coors Field and, as such, the Rockies would have to blow all other offers out of the water in order to land a big-time free agent. When they did so in the past, it failed. The best example is the Mike Hampton signing.
White Sox out on Ozuna?
Though it's unclear exactly what this means, Bruce Levine of 670 The Score in Chicago reports that "Marcell Ozuna has not signed with the White Sox." It might mean Ozuna has agreed elsewhere (though that's unlikely given that we haven't heard anything of the sort), Ozuna has declined a White Sox offer or that this is simply a rebuttal of rumors that Ozuna had signed with the White Sox.
Ozuna would be a nice fit as a designated hitter for the Sox and would slot somewhere in the middle of the order among Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, Yasmani Grandal and Yoan Moncada. Throw Eloy Jimenez behind that group and it's a formidable offense.
As noted above, the Rangers landed Lyles on a two-year, $16 million deal. Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports the White Sox, Blue Jays, Brewers and Twins were in on the bidding. That's interesting only to the extent that it tells us those teams were looking for back-end rotation help and are likely to continue to be in on similar free agents.
Royals sign Rosenthal
Rosenthal, 29, put together a nice six-year run with the Cardinals until he injured his UCL and needed Tommy John surgery. After missing the 2018 season while rehabbing, his 2019 season was a disaster. In 12 outings with the Nationals, he pitched to a 22.74 ERA and 3.63 WHIP. Unsurprisingly, he was released. The Tigers picked him up and he posted a 7.00 ERA and 1.56 WHIP in nine innings.
Given that it's a minor-league deal, it's a fine upside play.