MLB winter meetings rumors, updates: J.T. Realmuto trade talks heating up; Yankees end bid for Bryce Harper
Here are all the rumors from the first day of the 2018 winter meetings in Las Vegas
The 2018 winter meetings have arrived. The four busiest days of the offseason begin Monday at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Representatives from all 30 teams are in one place, as are most agents, and that means deals are inevitable.
To help get you ready for the winter meetings we covered all 30 teams with division-by-division previews that explain their needs and approaches. Here are our previews by division: AL East, NL East, AL Central, NL Central, AL West and NL West.
We're going to keep you updated on the latest hot stove rumors and rumblings with this continuously updated daily roundup. Make sure you check back throughout the date for updates. There will surely be plenty of them.
Yanks, Mets, Marlins talking three-way blockbuster
Harper to meet with Phillies
Brewers thinking infield
Right now, the Brewers are poised to open the season with Hernan Perez or Tyler Saladino as their starting second baseman. That's obviously not optimal for a team that wants to return to the postseason, so instead consider this:
Daniel Murphy can still hit, especially in platoon-advantaged situations, but he's a downright terrible defender at second base these days. His bat makes him roster-worthy, but he's simply not an everyday middle infielder anymore. As for Mike Moustakas, his return to Milwaukee would likely mean that Travis Shaw sees significant time at second base. As Murray notes, the Brewers also have some level of interest in many of the free-agent second basemen on the market.
Rays, Indians talking trade
The Rays are interested in adding payroll, the Indians are interested in shedding some. It seemed like it was only a matter of time before the two sides got together to talk swaps. Sure enough, it does appear the Rays and Indians have discussed deals that would involve designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and/or utilityman Yandy Diaz heading to St. Pete potentially in exchange for some relief pitching, per Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Either Encarnacion or Diaz would give the Rays another right-handed bat. The former's situation is a bit more complicated, seeing as how he is owed at least $25 million more -- including a $5 million buyout on his 2020 club option. There's no telling if the Rays would be willing to absorb all of that, or if they would require Cleveland to take responsibility.
Dodgers talks for Kluber intensifying
Yankees rumors galore
Phillies, Braves targeting Happ
The Phillies have lots of money and plenty of room in the budget. That's why they're expected to be among the biggest spenders this offseason. First, though, they must convince someone to take their money. On that front, there's the latest on their efforts to address the rotation, post-Corbin:
The incumbent Yankees of course also have designs on Happ, and they may be considered the frontrunners to ink the 36-year-old, but now it seems the Phillies are in, too. No doubt, they wanted Patrick Corbin to slot in with Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta at the front of the rotation, but Happ is easily the best lefty starter remaining on the market (at present, the Phillies have an all-right-handed rotation).
Philly, though, may have some intra-divisional competition for Happ ...
LeMahieu on Oakland shopping list?
During their surprise playoff run last season, the A's got strong production from second base, thanks mostly to veteran Jed Lowrie. Lowrie, however, is now a free agent, and the A's at the moment have Franklin Barreto penciled in as his replacement at the keystone. Maybe, though, there's room in the budget for a potential upgrade.
DJ LeMahieu, 30, has a 92 for his career, which is adequate for a middle infielder, and the three-time Gold Glove winner also grades out as a defensive asset at the position. Going from Coors Field to Oakland would surely be an adjustment, but the glove will play anywhere.
Twins, Astros, Rays in on Cruz
The Twins have entered the mix for free-agent DH Nelson Cruz, reports Jon Heyman of Fancred. The Astros and Rays are also looking at Cruz and the White Sox could be in the mix as well. The 38-year-old Cruz just completed a four-year deal with the Mariners, during which he hit .284/.362/.546 with an MLB leading 163 home runs. Even at his age, that performance could very well net him a two-year contract this winter.
At the moment the Twins are expected to use C.J. Cron and Tyler Austin at first base and DH, though others could cycle in at the DH spot as well. Cruz would be an obvious boost to the lineup and, with the Indians trimming payroll, Minnesota could sneak into the AL Central race with some smart pickups. Cruz would also be a big upgrade for the Astros and Rays at DH. Tampa reportedly has some money to spend big on a short-term addition this winter and Cruz would qualify.
Mariners remain open for business
According to Jayson Stark of The Athletic, the Mariners remain open for business, specifically moving righty Mike Leake and first baseman Carlos Santana. They are not especially motivated to move third baseman Kyle Seager, however. Leake ($27 million) and Santana ($35 million) are both signed for another two years and could make sense as complementary pieces for contending teams, though Seattle may have to eat money to facilitate trades.
Seager, 31, is owed $57.5 million from 2019-21 and his $15 million club option for 2022 becomes a player option if he's traded, so it's effectively four years and $72.5 million remaining on his contract. His offense has been trending down for a few years now and he bottomed out at .221/.273/.400 (86 OPS+) with 22 homers in 2018. Rather than sell low now, the Mariners could hang on to Seager and see whether he rebuild trade value next season.
Yankees wanted Trammell for Gray
The Yankees are shooting for the moon in Sonny Gray trade talks and asked the Reds for top prospect Taylor Trammell, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. New York has made it no secret that Gray is available this offseason and reportedly as many as 11 teams have shown interest in the right-hander. That suggests the Yankees will get a pretty decent return even though Gray just threw 130 1/3 innings with a 4.90 ERA in 2018.
MLB.com currently ranks Trammell as the 17th best prospect in baseball. It would take a minor miracle for the Yankees to land a prospect of that caliber for Gray, who, in addition to having a poor season, is one year away from free agency. The Reds and other rebuilding teams have checked in on Gray because he's a potential high-upside buy-low candidate who could be flipped for prospects at the deadline or even signed to an extension and kept long-term.
Giants have made Belt available
The Giants have made first baseman Brandon Belt available in trade talks and multiple teams are interested, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Buster Posey underwent season-ending hip surgery in August and it stands to reason he'll see more time at first base going forward. Belt is owed $17.2 million in each of the next three seasons and keeping him and an aging Posey on the roster simultaneously in the non-DH league may not work.
The 30-year-old Belt was again limited by injuries this past season -- he's appeared in only 570 of 810 possible games since 2014 -- during which he hit .253/.342/.414 (108 OPS+) with 14 home runs. An expensive first baseman with injury issues on the wrong side of 30 might not fetch much in a trade, but if San Francisco eats some money and turns Belt into, say, a $12 million a year player, a team could offer up some decent prospects.
Braves, Dodgers have interest in Castellanos
Tigers right fielder Nicholas Castellanos is drawing trade interest and the Braves are among the teams to check in, reports MLB.com's Jon Morosi. Atlanta is seeking a corner outfielder to pair with Ronald Acuna Jr. and center fielder Ender Inciarte, and they have a ton of pitching prospects to offer the rebuilding Tigers. Castellanos will be a free agent next offseason.
The soon-to-be 27-year-old Castellanos has quietly emerged as one of the best hitters in the game, authoring a .298/.354/.500 (130 OPS+) batting line with 46 doubles and 23 home runs in 2018. He's hit .285/.336/.495 (121 OPS+) the last three years. The downside here is Castellanos is a brutal defender -- his minus-5.2 Defensive WAR from 2016-18 is among the worst in baseball -- who will give back runs in the field. Boy can he hit though.
Also, the Dodgers may be eyeballing Castellanos:
The Dodgers love their roster depth, so they may not be considering Castellanos for an every-day role. They also might need to clear some space in the outfield, which is a distinct possibility.
Red Sox in on Ottavino, Robertson
Free-agent righties Adam Ottavino and David Robertson are believed to be high on the Red Sox's wish list, reports Jon Heyman of Fancred. Boston could lose both Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly to free agency and they need to bolster their bullpen. Ottavino and Robertson are both strikeout heavy righties with late-game experience for contending teams.
This past season the 33-year-old Ottavino posted a 2.43 ERA with 112 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings for the Rockies. Robertson, also 33, had a 3.23 ERA with 91 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings for the rival Yankees. Both righties are in line for multiyear contracts worth north of $10 million per season. It's not a stretch to suggest both could secure three-year deals worth $36 million or more.
Yankees want Happ at two years
According to George King of the New York Post, there is "industry buzz" the Yankees would like to re-sign lefty J.A. Happ to a two-year contract. Happ is exploring the market for a three-year contract, however. This past season the veteran southpaw went 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts for the Yankees after coming over in a trade-deadline deal with the Blue Jays. Happ had a 3.65 ERA with 193 strikeouts in 177 2/3 innings overall in 2018.
The Yankees have been quite cautious on the free-agent market this offseason. They reportedly bid five years for Patrick Corbin, who received a six-year deal. They're said to have not wanted to go beyond a three-year contract with Nathan Eovaldi, who took a four-year deal to return to the Red Sox. Now the Yankees want Happ back on a two-year contract while he's looking for a three-year deal. So far this offseason New York has been unwilling to give that one extra year to get their man.
Giants may be Kikuchi's first choice
Japanese lefty Yusei Kikuchi, Giants could be his first choice, reports Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Kikuchi's 30-day negotiating period ends shortly after the New Year. Whichever team signs him will pay the Seibu Lions, his former club in Japan, a percentage of his contract as a release fee., is said to like San Francisco and joining the
Kikuchi, 27, pitched to a 3.08 ERA with 153 strikeouts in 163 2/3 innings this past season. He's been one of the top starters in Japan in recent years, though he's missed time with shoulder problems in at least three separate seasons in his career. Because of his solid fastball and wipeout slider, Kikuchi has been compared to Patrick Corbin, who just signed a six-year contract in $140 million. It is very unlikely Kikuchi will get a deal that size given his shoulder woes and lack of MLB track record.
Reds want to trade Gennett
. Needless to say, contending clubs with openings at second base are the most likely destinations. Gennett is due to become a free agent next offseason.
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