We are less than two weeks away from spring training and 24 of our top 60 free agents remain unsigned, including three of the top seven. Here are the day's hot stove rumblings.
Bauer down to two finalists; Mets appear the favorite
The Mets have been connected to top free-agent starting pitcher Trevor Bauer all offseason and it's possible things are coming to a head very soon. There is, of course, the virtual clock ticking before spring training starts in less than two weeks. There's also reporting around the situation that suggests this should be resolved soon. Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Mets and Bauer are "engaged" in talks and on the Mets side they expect to hear an answer "in the next 24 hours or so."
Ed Coleman of WFAN in New York reports the Mets' offer is for three years and $93 million with an opt out after one year and $37 million.
Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Mets are indeed in on Bauer, but that the Dodgers are also involved in the bidding process. And then, at 4:12 p.m. ET, Bauer's agent, Rachel Luba, tweeted "down to 2" with no further information.
Down to 2️⃣— Rachel Luba (@AgentRachelLuba) February 4, 2021
Bauer, 30, won the NL Cy Young last season after going 5-4 with a 1.73 ERA (a ridiculous 276 ERA+), 0.795 WHIP, 100 strikeouts, two complete games, two shutouts and only 16 unintentional walks in 73 innings. He was also an All-Star and finished sixth in AL Cy Young voting in 2018.
Landing Bauer would give the Mets quite a formidable rotation, as he'd pair along with two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom at the top with the likes of Marcus Stroman, Carlos Carrasco and eventually Noah Syndergaard (Tommy John surgery last spring) filling things out.
The Dodgers already have a loaded rotation with Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, Dustin May and David Price any way you'd wish to sort them. That group isn't without question marks, however, and the Dodgers love to load positions up with depth. Plus, adding Bauer means no one else can have him and even further solidifies their hold on the title of best team in baseball.
A bit later, Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported that the Mets are "increasingly confident" they will land Bauer.
As things creep later into Thursday night, the expectation seems to be that Bauer will be signing with the Mets very soon, but things are fluid and Bauer's agent stressed on Thursday night that a deal had not yet been finalized.
Cardinals, Phillies actively seeking rotation help
The Cardinals and Phillies are actively seeking free-agent starting pitchers, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. St. Louis recently re-signed Adam Wainwright, but Carlos Martinez and Miles Mikolas carry injury concerns. As for Philadelphia, even with Chase Anderson and Matt Moore recently signed, they could use another starter to push Vince Velasquez into the bullpen.
Our top 60 free agents list includes four unsigned starters: Trevor Bauer (No. 3), James Paxton (No. 18), Jake Odorizzi (No. 27), and Taijuan Walker (No. 28). It seems unlikely the Cardinals or Phillies will commit significant dollars to a free agent at this point, which could steer them toward unranked free agent starters like Cole Hamels, Rick Porcello, or Matt Shoemaker.
Blue Jays considering Paxton, Walker
The Blue Jays are still searching for rotation help and are considering free agents James Paxton and Taijuan Walker, report Shi Davidi and Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. They add Toronto appears to be focused on short-term additions, presumably taking them out of the running for guys like Trevor Bauer and Jake Odorizzi.
Our R.J. Anderson ranked Paxton and Walker the No. 18 and No. 28 available free agents, respectively. Paxton is coming off an injury-marred year, including a flexor strain that ended his season in August. Walker finished 2020 with the Blue Jays and pitched well for them. A reunion makes sense given the uncertainty behind Hyun-Jin Ryu in Toronto's rotation.
Bradley seeking significant contract
Free-agent center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is seeking a significant contract, perhaps as long as four years, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Puma adds it's hard to pinpoint where the Mets are in negotiations with Bradley. The two sides have been connected on and off throughout the season, and especially since George Springer signed with the Blue Jays.
Our R.J. Anderson ranked Bradley the No. 12 available free agent. Bradley, 31 in April, remains an elite defender, though he's been a below league average hitter the majority of his career, and ideally he would be paired with a platoon partner given his struggles against southpaws. The Mets do not have a natural center fielder, though their lineup already projects to be lefty heavy.
Three teams interested in Hill
The Brewers, Mets, and Rays have shown significant interest in free agent lefty Rich Hill, reports WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. The Red Sox had interest in Hill earlier this winter, but have seemingly backed away since signing Martin Perez and Garrett Richards. .
Hill, 41 in March, spent 2020 with the Twins and pitched on a one-year contract with a low base salary and a ton of incentives. A similar deal is in the cards this offseason given his age and long injury history. Hill won't give you many innings, but the innings he gives you will be very good. A smart team that limits his workload stands to benefit a great deal in 2021.