The 2019 Winter Meetings are a week away and that should really fire up the hot stove, though eight of our top 50 free agents have already signed, so this has hardly been a quiet offseason. The very best free agents (Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, etc.) and trade chips (Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, etc.) are still available though.
Here are Sunday's hot stove rumors.
Lots of interest in Garcia
There is quite a bit of interest in free agent outfielder Avisail Garcia, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, including interest from the Rays, his 2019 team. Tampa brought him in on a bargain one-year contract worth only $3.5 million. The Rays have a very good starting outfield (Tommy Pham, Kevin Kiermaier, Austin Meadows) but they crave depth. The more good options, the better.
Garcia, 28, is a stathead fave because he consistently posts strong hard-hit rates, sprint speeds, and defensive numbers, but his ground ball tendencies and lack of plate discipline have limited him to good rather than great offensively. He figures to be a popular free agent target among teams not willing to spend big on Marcell Ozuna, or even spend on a mid-range free agent like Yasiel Puig or Corey Dickerson. Garcia ranks 49th on our top 50 free agents list.
Yankees interested in Treinen
The Yankees are among the teams with interest in Athletics reliever Blake Treinen, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Treinen is projected to make close to $8 million through arbitration next year, his final season before free agency, and the A's could non-tender him prior to Monday's deadline should a trade not materialize. They're said to be listening on several players.
Treinen, 31, had a difficult 2019 season, but was an All-Star and arguably the game's top reliever in 2018. The Yankees have a stacked bullpen even if they lose Dellin Betances to free agency, so they could take on Treinen almost as a reclamation project, and see whether he can slot in somewhere as the bridge to Aroldis Chapman. New York always seems to be in high-end bullpen arms.
Cubs prioritizing bullpen help
The Cubs are prioritizing the bullpen this offseason, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told reporters, including The Athletic's Patrick Mooney, recently. "The bullpen's a priority either way. We need to hit on a number of relievers this winter and rebuild a good portion of that bullpen," Epstein said. Chicago's relief crew ranked 20th in baseball with 1.3 WAR in 2019.
After signing this past June, the Cubs will have a full season of Craig Kimbrel in 2019 -- and Kimbrel will have a normal spring training to prepare -- though the rest of the bullpen is up in the air. Rowan Wick and Kyle Ryan are likely assured spots, but Tyler Chatwood could wind up in the rotation, and others like Danny Hultzen and Brad Wieck are short on track record. Betances and Will Harris are the only unsigned relievers on our top 50 free agents list.
Blue Jays expect to 'add significantly' to rotation
Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins said the team plans to "add significantly" to its rotation this offseason, reports Gregor Chisholm of the Toronto Star. Toronto is more likely to target mid-range free agents rather than chase Cole or Stephen Strasburg at the top of the market. The Blue Jays have not seriously pursued an elite free agent since the 1990s.
At the moment only Chase Anderson, who came over in a trade with the Brewers last month, and Trent Thornton seem assured of rotation spots next season. Matt Shoemaker and Ryan Borucki could work their way into the mix after missing much of 2019 with injuries. Tanner Roark, Julio Teheran, and Alex Wood are among the unsigned mid-range free agent starters on our top 50 free agents list the Blue Jays could pursue.