Spring training is less than three weeks away and still, including 10 of the top 20. The hot stove has finally started to heat up in January after a dormant December, but there are still a lot of players who need to be signed before spring training. Here are the latest rumors.
Cubs won't trade Bryant unless it's a 'sweetheart' deal
Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant has been frequently mentioned in trade talks throughout this offseason. However, it appears that the Cubs have informed Bryant they won't be trading him unless the club gets a "sweetheart-type" offer from another club, according to Jim Duquette of MLB Network.
Bryant, who is a year away from free agency, hit just .206/.293/.351 (70 OPS+) in 34 games during the abbreviated 2020 season, well below the .284/.385/.516 line he managed over his first five seasons in Chicago. Overall, Bryant owns a career OPS+ of 134 across parts of six major-league seasons with three All-Star appearances and the NL MVP award in 2016. If another team wants to trade for Bryant on his 2021 salary, they'd be doing so in hopes of a bounce-back season in his final year of arbitration.
The Cubs recently avoided arbitration with Bryant, settling for a one-year, $19.5 million deal. Bryant's been a stalwart for the Cubs throughout his six-year MLB career, but the Cubs have been attempting a rebuild this winter (they non-tendered Kyle Schwarber and traded Yu Darvish) and continued to explore what they can get for Bryant before the 2021 season begins.
It still remains unclear which direction the Cubs will go -- will it be a full-rebuild or attempt at contention in 2021? Either way, the Cubs will be led by new general manager Jed Hoyer. Hoyer was promoted after Theo Epstein's resignation and subsequent hiring at the MLB commissioner's office.
Yankees add O'Day to bullpen
O'Day, 38, will receive $1.75 million in 2021, and there is is a $1.4 million player option for 2022 or a $700,000 buyout, Joel Sherman of the NY Post reports. O'Day is a more affordable relief pitcher option for New York after the club's recent trade of Adam Ottavino to the Red Sox. The Yankees ultimately decided to move Ottavino because of his contract, which counted for $9 million in luxury-tax calculations.
The Atlanta Braves declined O'Day's $3.5 million club option for 2021 and paid him a $500,000 buyout. O'Day missed most of the 2019 season with a forearm injury, but when healthy, managed to pitch effectively over his last two seasons in Atlanta. In the abbreviated 2020 campaign, O'Day recorded a 1.10 ERA with eight hits, five walks and 22 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings. With the Yankees, O'Day will likely fill in as a middle reliever.
Mets add lefty Loup
Left-handed relief pitcher Aaron Loup has signed a one-year deal with the New York Mets, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Loup, who turned 33 last month, will be the lefty to join New York this winter following Brad Hand's signing with the division rival Washington Nationals. Prior to the Loup signing, the Mets had just two southpaws (Stephen Tarpley, Daniel Zamora) on their 40-man roster. The deal is pending the completion of a physical.
Loup will join fellow new addition Trevor May in New York's bullpen. The Mets added May on a two-year deal last month. The new duo will join Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo (if he doesn't win a spot in the rotation this spring), Jeurys Familia, Miguel Castro, Dellin Betances and Brad Brach.
Loup suffered a forearm strain that kept him off the mound for most of the 2019 season with the San Diego Padres, but in 2020 with the Tampa Bay Rays, he recorded a 2.52 ERA, (169 ERA+), 0.84 WHIP, 4.2 percent walk rate and 22.9 percent strikeout rate in 25 innings of relief. During Tampa's run to the World Series, Loup threw 5 1/3 postseason innings, allowing just two runs with seven strikeouts and two walks.
Tigers add Ramos
The Detroit Tigers have signed catcher Wilson Ramos to a one-year, $2 million deal, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman. Ramos, 33, had his $10 million club option declined by the New York Mets last October.
The abbreviated 2020 campaign was a down year for Ramos, who finished with a lower-than-normal OPS. He had a .684 OPS in 45 games, but he's had a .808 OPS over the previous four MLB seasons. The two-time All-Star backstop also struggled with some defensive shortcomings, such as his pitch framing and opposing base stealers' attempt success.
However, with the rebuilding Tigers, Ramos figures to still be a solid veteran addition to the team's young group of catchers in Jake Rogers and Grayson Greiner. Detroit also added 33-year-old catcher Dustin Garneau this offseason on a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Rogers made his MLB debut in 2019, hitting .125 in 35 games. He hasn't returned to the big leagues. Greiner is a .194 hitter in 106 games across three seasons. The Tigers will be led by a new manager in 2021. AJ Hinch, who played for the club, was hired shortly after the conclusion of his season-long suspension stemming from the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal.