MLB Winter Meetings rumors: Mets have inquired about Astros' Correa; Angels after Indians' Kluber
As the Winter Meetings continue in San Diego, we have the latest updates
Late Tuesday night Gerrit Cole, , . That comes one day after Stephen Strasburg Nationals. The 2019 Winter Meetings have been fun. As they continue Wednesday, here are the latest rumors from San Diego.
Mets interested in Correa
For reasons sufficient unto themselves, the Astros are listening to offers for shortstop Carlos Correa. They have loads of revenues at their disposal and are very much in win-now mode, but owner Jim Crane by all accounts wants to stay under the Competitive Balance Tax threshold, and that likely means clearing payroll via trade. That brings us back to their 25-year-old star shortstop. He's a highly productive hitter as middle infielders go (129 career OPS+ with 102 home runs in 546 games), but injury concerns have sapped his value in recent seasons. That said, Correa will no doubt have appeal on the trade market.
Speaking of which, Andy Martino of SNY reports that the Mets and Astros have had discussions regarding Correa but that nothing is close. The Mets have 24-year-old Amed Rosario at shortstop, and last season he showed signs of realizing his offensive potential. Correa, though, would be an upgrade. It's also possible the Mets could have Correa in mind for another position or even shift Rosario to make room.
As for the Houston side of things:
Angels after Kluber
The Angels missed out on Gerrit Cole, which means their search for rotation help continues. They've added Dylan Bundy to the fold via trade, but that doesn't fully address the needs of a rotation that was one of the AL's worst in 2019. On that front, Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic reports that the Angels, while still mostly focused on their pursuit of third baseman Anthony Rendon, have shown some interest in swinging a deal for Indians right-hander Corey Kluber.
Kluber, 33, is a two-time AL Cy Young winner. He's coming off a disappointing 2019, which partly due to the fact that he missed significant time with a forearm fracture. From 2014-18, though, Kluber was one of the best pitchers in baseball, and he's a strong rebound candidate in 2020. He's under contract for $17.5 million next season, and his deal includes an $18 million club option/$1 million buyout for 2021. While the Indians should be trying to improve their roster in the winnable AL Central, it appears they're instead going to look to move some veterans. The Angels could benefit from that decision.
Padres interested in Marte
The Pirates are widely expected to trade outfielder Starling Marte this offseason, and a number of teams have at least cursory interest. One of those teams is the Padres, MLB Network's Jon Heyman reports.
Marte, 31, still adds value on the bases, and this past season at the plate he produced right in line with career norms (120 OPS+). He's under contract for $11.5 million in 2020, and his pact includes a $12.5 million club option/$1 million buyout for 2021. That's control with some flexibility from the team standpoint, and it adds to Marte's trade value. While he's a bit stretched in center these days, he's still able to get by at the position. The Padres have a fairly crowded outfield right now, but any kind of Marte trade would likely be preceded or followed by other moves by Padres GM A.J. Preller, who may be battling to save his job in 2020.
Cubs not working on Rizzo extension
Do not expect an Anthony Rizzo extension this offseason. Rizzo's agent, Marc Pollack, confirmed the team has not approached him or his client about a new contract, reports ESPN's Jesse Rogers. "The Cubs have informed us that they will not be offering Anthony an extension at this time. Anthony has let his desire to be a Cub for life known to the organization," Pollack said.
Rizzo, 30, signed a seven-year deal worth $41 million in 2013. The club exercised their $16.5 million option for 2020 earlier this offseason, and there's another $16.5 million club option for 2021, so Rizzo is two years from free agency. He is the team's unofficial captain and is climbing the list of all-time Cubs greats, but there's no real urgency to work out an extension right now. The Cubs have more pressing matters.
Brewers ink Lindblom
The Brewers have had success over the years in signing players returning from overseas -- including Eric Thames and, more recently, Jay Jackson. Milwaukee is trying its hand on that front again, having agreed to a three-year deal and a $9 million guarantee with Josh Lindblom, per ESPN's Jeff Passan.
Lindblom, 32, has thrown 147 big-league innings to date, tallying a 97 ERA+ and a 2.15 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has spent the past three seasons in Korea, most recently pitching well with the Doosan Bears. Lindblom sat in the low-90s during his time stateside. It's unclear if Milwaukee intends for him to start or relieve.
Rockies sign Oberg to extension
The Rockies on Wednesday announced that they've signed right-hander Scott Oberg to a three-year contract extension that includes an option for 2023. According to multiple reports, the deal is for $13 million guaranteed.
Oberg, 29, has made 259 relief appearances across parts of five seasons, and over that span he's pitched to a 3.85 ERA/128 ERA+ with a K/BB ratio of 2.32. Over the last two seasons, however, he's leveled up: 211 ERA+ with a K/BB ratio of 3/29.
Marlins, Twins talking Rosario
The Marlins and Twins have discussed an Eddie Rosario trade, reports radio host Craig Mish. James Rowson, Miami's new bench coach, was Minnesota's hitting coach last year and has a relationship with Rosario. The Twins are said to have a very high asking price. The 28-year-old Rosario hit 32 homers this past season and is under team control through 2021.
Even though they're in a rebuild, the Marlins did bring in Jonathan Villar and Jesus Aguilar last month in an effort to be respectable. Rosario would give them another power bat and a building block beyond 2020. The Twins are seeking rotation help and lefty Caleb Smith has been mentioned as a trade candidate (more on that below). Perhaps there's a Rosario for Smith trade to be made.
Nats casting a wide net for infield help
With an Anthony Rendon reunion seemingly unlikely, the Nationals have cast a wide net for infield help, reports MLB Network's Jon Heyman. They've spoken to Asdrubal Cabrera and Ryan Zimmerman about reunions, and have also reached out to free agents Starlin Castro, Josh Donaldson, and Maikel Franco.
Earlier this week the Nationals gave Strasburg a then-record $245 million contract, which presumably closed the door on a Rendon return. They can still build their offense around Trea Turner and Juan Soto going forward, plus Howie Kendrick has re-signed, and top prospect Carter Kieboom could step in at third base sometime soon.
Reds interested in Ozuna
The Reds are showing continued interest in free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna, reports MLB Network's Jon Heyman. Cincinnati added Mike Moustakas to their infield earlier this month but the club still needs another bat after averaging 4.33 runs per game in 2019, the sixth fewest in baseball. They currently have Aristides Aquino, Nick Senzel, and Jesse Winker penciled into the outfield.
Ozuna, 29, swatted 29 home runs in 130 games this past season and he's been a steady source of power throughout his career. He is not a high on-base player, nor a standout defender, but the Reds signed Moustakas to play second base, so it seems they're willing to trade some on-base percentage and defense for pop. The Reds have a sneaky good rotation and are maybe another bat and another reliever away from contending for a postseason spot.
Yankees, Gardner reunion coming soon?
Not surprisingly, the Yankees and Brett Gardner are likely to make a reunion official soon, according to SNY's Andy Martino. New York was said to be laser-focused on the Cole sweepstakes the last few weeks, , they can move on to other business. Gardner smashed 28 home runs this past season and is a career Yankee. A reunion has felt inevitable.
The Yankees need a center fielder to replace Aaron Hicks, who had Tommy John surgery in October and will be sidelined until the middle of next season. Gardner was the team's regular center fielder this past season when Hicks battled through injuries, and he would presumably play center field again next season while Hicks is out. At age 36, a one-year contract is in the cards.
Marlins getting calls about Smith
The Marlins are getting calls about left-hander Caleb Smith, reports MLB Network's Jon Heyman. The hard-throwing 28-year-old has been a pleasant surprise the last two seasons, posting a 4.41 ERA with 256 strikeouts in 230 2/3 innings. Smith has been dominant at times and is under team control through 2023. Teams surely view him as a breakout candidate.
Smith represents a lower-cost alternative to free agents Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel, and Hyun-Jin Ryu, and he comes with more team control than trade candidate and impending free agent Robbie Ray. The Marlins added Jonathan Villar and Jesus Aguilar last month in an effort to be respectable, and they have enough young pitchers to make Smith expendable in a deal for multiple young players.
A's Pinder drawing interest
Athletics super utility man Chad Pinder is drawing significant trade interest, reports MLB Network's Jon Heyman. The Indians are among the teams to inquire and the A's are hesitant to trade him. A year ago Pinder authored a .258/.332/.436 batting line with 13 home runs in 333 plate appearances while playing every position except pitcher and catcher.
This past season though, Pinder, 27, slipped to .240/.290/.416 while still playing all over the field. He is projected to make just under $2 million through arbitration next year. The A's could hang on to Pinder and hope he rebuilds value -- the 26th roster spot will make carrying him on the roster much easier -- but, if a team is willing to pay for the 2018 version of Pinder, he could be on the move.
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