Major League Baseball tends to go quiet around the Christmas holiday. With still more than a week to go, however, we should expect the typical amount of free agent, trade, and rumor mill activity. With that in mind, here are Wednesday's latest rumblings.
Arenado, 30 come April, is on the market for a second consecutive winter. Over the last three seasons, he's hit .299/.367/.554 (125 OPS+) with 87 home runs. He's also won Gold Glove Awards in each of those years.
In other words, it's not a matter of talent with Arenado -- it's a matter of money. His contract will pay him $35 million in 2021, after which he'll have the ability to opt out. If Arenado picks against hitting the open market, he'll be owed another $164 million through the 2026 season. The Rockies are hoping to get from underneath Arenado's salary -- and potential long-term commitment -- so that they can use that money elsewhere.
As for the Mets, they make sense to target in trade talks. The franchise's new owner, Steven Cohen, is the wealthiest in the league. Add in how the Mets are known to be in the market for star-level contributors -- they're rumored to be a potential landing spot for free agent George Springer and Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor, among others -- and it seems reasonable to describe them as one of the teams that would be most open-minded about absorbing Arenado's contract.
It's unclear at this point if the Mets have any actual interest in Arenado.
Nationals interested in Molina
Veteran catcher Yadier Molina, a likely future Hall of Famer and a Cardinals lifer to date, is a free agent, and he's garnering interest in the free agent. Already he's been linked to both New York teams (of course the Mets may be out after signing James McCann), and now here's one more squad to add to the list:
The Nationals are a possibility for free-agent catcher Yadier Molina. The 38-year-old is drawing interest from multiple teams and Washington is among the teams with a need at catcher.— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) December 16, 2020
Molina, 38, these days is a below-average hitter by positional standards, but he's still a defensive asset behind the plate. As well, his intangibles have long been praised. The Cardinals remain candidates to re-sign him, but the Nationals are apparently looking for a Kurt Suzuki replacement to share time with Yan Gomes.
Blue Jays reach out to Ha-Seong Kim
25-year-old shortstop Ha-Seong Kim, who's spent his entire career to date playing professionally in Korea, was recently posted, which means he's available for hire by MLB teams. Consider the Blue Jays to be among the interested parties:
The Jays have been in touch with star KBO SS Ha-Seong Kim and he’s someone they like. He also recently had dinner with Jays ace Hyun-Jin Ryu. Kim hit a career best 30 HR for the Kiwoom Heroes this past year. Just turned 25.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 16, 2020
Our own Mike Axisa recently wrote a breakdown of Kim's free agency, and in it he examines why Kim could be one of the most promising of free agent middle infielders on the market this offseason. Executive summary: He can play short, he's young for a free agent, and he profiles as an asset with the bat (particularly by the standards of shortstops).
Rays bring back Zunino
The AL champion Rays made their first notable addition of the winter, signing free-agent catcher Mike Zunino to a one-year deal with an option for a second, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal notes that the deal is worth $3 million in 2021, with an option that can be worth up to $7 million depending on games played.
Zunino, 30 come March, has spent the past two seasons with the Rays. He's hit .161/.233/.323 (49 OPS+) with 13 home runs while providing above-average defense behind the dish.
The Rays figure to remain in the market for a starting catcher, or at least someone who can join a timeshare with Zunino. Free agent Jason Castro would make sense, though Tampa Bay could instead pursue a downmarket option like Tyler Flowers or Tony Wolters.
Giants agree to terms with Anthony DeSclafani
The Giants have agreed with free agent right-hander Anthony DeSclafani on a one-year contract worth around $6 million, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle was first to report that the two sides were close.
DeSclafani, 30, is coming off a down season for the Reds; however, he was quite valuable across 31 starts in 2019. Our own R.J. Anderson recently highlighted him as an under-the-radar free agent. He wrote:
"We know, we know: Anthony DeSclafani's topline numbers make him a tough sell (a 7.22 ERA in 33 2/3 frames; 11 hits and nearly two homers per nine innings; and so on). He's here because he altered his slider in a way that generated more drop and depth. In turn, he was able to use the slider as his primary pitch to good effect: opponents whiffed on roughly 36 percent of their swings against it, and accumulated just a .190 batting average against it. Both of DeSclafani's fastballs were smoked all over the place, so he'll need to fix that moving forward if he's to remain a viable back-end starter. A savvy, beachcombing team might instead deploy him in a relief role with the instruction to chuck his slider more frequently than 32 percent of the time."
More is expected from the Giants this offseason, but consider this one to be a potentially strong value signing.