We are fast approaching the start of spring training, and almost all of the big-name free agents are spoken for. That said, it's still the offseason, and that means rumors can be found. We have found them and rounded them up for Wednesday. Here they are, those rumors that we spoke of just now...
Yankees yet to offer Gardner a deal
When the Yankees traded Adam Ottavino to the Red Sox, the assumption was that they were going to turn around and sign veteran outfielder Brett Gardner to a new deal. That hasn't proven to be the case just yet, and it might not be anytime soon. According to Randy Miller of NJ.com, the Yankees haven't even started negotiations with Gardner.
Gardner, 37, hit .223/.353/.392 (108 OPS+) last season and has played his entire professional career with the Yankees. It's worth noting that the Yankees have about $10 million sparing them from the luxury-tax line, seemingly a self-imposed limit. Gardner made exactly $10 million last season.
Mets looking at Arrieta, Paxton
The Mets of course narrowly lost out on Trevor Bauer, the top starting pitcher on the market who recently inked with the Dodgers, and that means New York is still looking to fortify the rotation. To be sure, they're not particularly desperate, as they've already got Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Carlos Carrasco lined up, and Noah Syndergaard should return from Tommy John surgery in time to pitch the majority of the 2021 season. As well, Jordan Yamamoto and Joey Lucchesi are around for depth. The Mets, though, appear to still be eye-balling rotation help on what's left of the market. To wit:
Discussions continue with Mets and Jake Arrieta. No indication deal is close. Some interest in James Paxton, too.— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) February 10, 2021
Arrieta, who won the NL Cy Young award as a member of the Cubs in 2015, is coming off a disappointing three-season stint with the Phillies (4.36 ERA in 64 starts). As well, Arrieta soon will turn 35, and he's dealt with velocity loss in recent years. Barring some sort of surprise renaissance, he could eat innings, but that's about it.
As for Paxton, coming into the offseason we ranked him No. 18 on our list of the top 60 free agents. Here's what R.J. Anderson wrote about the veteran lefty:
There's an alternate reality out there where Paxton is in a better place after staying healthy and having his normal season. (Heck, we'd all be in a better place under those conditions.) Unfortunately, this aspect of his existence saw him lose three miles off his fastball and pitch just 20 innings before being shut down because of a flexor strain. There's no telling where the injury leaves him heading forward, meaning the range of potential outcomes here stretches from someone who is an above-average starter to someone who has a Tommy John surgery scar.
Paxton would certainly cost more than Arrieta, but he'd also likely be a much more valuable addition.
Phillies add Brandon Kintzler
According to multiple reports, the Phillies have agreed to terms with veteran reliever Brandon Kintzler on a minor-league contract for 2021. As well, it seems the Phillies beat out the incumbent Marlins for Kintzler's services:
Free-agent RHP Brandon Kintzler has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Phillies. Says he turned down major-league deal from the Marlins for the chance to make more money in Philadelphia.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 10, 2021
Kintzler, 36, has pitched to a 3.31 ERA and 2.59 K/BB ratio across parts of 11 major-league seasons. Over that span, he's registered 61 saves, and he made the All-Star team in 2017. If he's able to crack the Philly roster, then Kintzler should provide setup depth in front of tandem closers Hector Neris and Archie Bradley.
Jed Lowrie returns to A's
According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, veteran infielder Jed Lowrie is returning to the A's on a minor-league contract. Lowrie, 36, missed almost all of the last two seasons with the Mets because of knee injuries, but he's not that far removed from a productive run with Oakland. He's not guaranteed a spot on the active roster, but he'll be given the opportunity to compete for one during spring training. Across parts of 12 major-league seasons, Lowrie owns a 105 OPS+ and a WAR of 17.0.