For all intents and purposes, Wednesday is the final day of the 2018 winter meetings. Teams and executives usually head home following the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning. On Tuesday we had one major signing (Andrew McCutchen to the Phillies), one major release (Blue Jays cut Troy Tulowitzki), and some unfortunate ballpark news (Rays won’t be going to Ybor City).
Because this the last time this offseason all 30 front offices (and many agents) will be in the same place at the same time, there’s a good chance we’ll see some deals get done Wednesday. Everyone can meet face-to-face to help push those deals across the finish line before leaving Las Vegas and heading home for the rest of the winter. Wednesday could be quite busy.
Transactions or no transactions, there will inevitably be a swarm of trade and free-agent rumors Wednesday, and we’re going to keep track of them all for you right here in this handy post. Make sure you check back often for updates throughout the day. Here are the latest hot stove rumblings.
Kimbrel aiming high
Free agent closer Craig Kimbrel, late of the champion Red Sox, apparently has high ambitions this offseason …
It would be a huge surprise if Kimbrel, going into his age-31 season, approached $100 million with his next contract. He’s coming off a 2018 season in which he posted a career-worst FIP and battled control problems. Kimbrel can still be a very effective closer, but he hasn’t been peak Kimbrel across all levels since 2017. Nine figures would be assuming he’s capable of getting back to that level and sustaining it. The guess here is that teams aren’t going to pay those rates for the current version of Kimbrel.
Reds acquire Roark from Nats
The Reds on Wednesday acquired veteran right-hander Tanner Roark from the the Nationals in exchange for relief prospect Tanner Rainey. You can get the details of the swap here.
The Nationals had some rotation depth after signing Patrick Corbin, but they still may be looking to add an arm to the mix after dealing away Roark. On that front …
As for the Reds, even after acquiring Roark they’re still in the market for starters, so the Cincy rumors you see below still apply.
Bour lands with Halos
Free agent first baseman Justin Bour has reportedly agreed to terms with the Angels for 2019. Read more here.
Padres interested in Marwin Gonzalez
Some Padres buzz …
Gonzalez is indeed a coveted utility knife of a player. This past season, he put up a 103 OPS+ for the Astros while seeing time at seven different positions. Gonzalez turns 30 in March.
Reds in active talks for Gray, Stroman
The Reds remain in active trade talks with the Yankees about Sonny Gray and the Blue Jays about Marcus Stroman, reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com. They believe they have a better chance to acquire Gray or Stroman than they do Corey Kluber. Cincinnati is looking to upgrade its rotation this winter and, given their rumored targets, they’re aiming big. They’re not content with filling out the rotation with low-cost free agent stopgaps.
At the moment the Reds are slated to go into next season with Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, Tyler Mahle, Homer Bailey, and Robert Stephenson in their rotation. Aside from Bailey, there is definitely some potential in that unit, though there is also some room for an upgrade. The Reds have a strong position player core and, with a few shrewd pitching additions, they could quickly climb into the postseason race in 2019.
Mets shopping Lagares
The Mets are shopping center fielder Juan Lagares, reports MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. Lagares is slated to make $9 million in 2019, the final season of his contract, and the Mets are known to be looking at center field alternatives like A.J. Pollock. Right now Lagares is tentatively scheduled to man center with Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo flanking him.
Lagares, 29, has been limited to 203 games the last three years by various injuries. That includes only 30 games in 2018. He is a career .260/.300/.367 hitter overall and a career .269/.317/.394 hitter against lefties, so, if nothing else, Lagares can hold his only as a platoon bat who plays a mean center field.
Yankees, Indians discussing pitcher trades
The Yankees and Indians discussed various scenarios involving Cleveland’s starters, though there is no traction for a deal right now, reports Marc Carig of The Athletic. The two sides have been connected for a few weeks now as the Yankees look for rotation help and the Indians mull trade offers for Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. New York is said to be closing on a deal with J.A. Happ, which could end all trade talk completely.
Tigers agree to deal with Mercer
The rebuilding Tigers have agreed to a one-year contract with shortstop Jordy Mercer, according to multiple reports. Jon Heyman of Fancred reports it is a one-year contract worth $5.25 million with another $250,000 in incentives. Mercer, 32, hit .251/.315/.381 with six home runs for the Pirates in 2018. He’s a solid defender who is a good stopgap option for the Tigers as they wait for their prospects to develop.
A’s talking to Rangers about Profar
The Athletics are among the teams discussing a Jurickson Profar trade with the Rangers, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Jed Lowrie is a free agent this offseason and, rather than re-sign him to a sizable contract, the A’s could replace him with the younger and cheaper Profar. Going internal with longtime top prospect Franklin Barreto is another option.
Profar, 25, was once the top prospect in baseball. He missed the 2014 and 2015 seasons with shoulder surgery, however, and it wasn’t until 2018 that he began to show some of his former promise. Profar hit .254/.335/.458 with 35 doubles and 20 home runs this past season while playing five positions. He is under team control as an arbitration-eligible player for another two seasons before qualifying for free agency.
Reds have interest in Realmuto
The Reds have jumped into the mix for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, reports Craig Mish of SiriusXM. Cincinnati, despite losing 95 games in 2018, has been connected to all sorts of trade and free agent targets this winter. Among others, they’ve reportedly had interest in Dallas Keuchel, Yasiel Puig, and now Realmuto.
Realmuto is, of course, a very popular trade target at the moment, with the Mets the team most often connected to him. It is entirely possible the Reds rumor is a leak coming from the Marlins designed to put pressure on the Mets to get the deal done. The Reds do already have a solid catcher in Tucker Barnhart, though Realmuto would be an upgrade.
Indians talking Encarnacion, Diaz, Alonso in three-team deals
The Indians are discussing three-team trade scenarios involving Edwin Encarnacion, Yandy Diaz, and Yonder Alonso, reports Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com. It’s unclear which teams the Indians are discussing those scenarios with — the Rays were connected to Encarnacion and Diaz recently — or what they’d be looking for in return. Cleveland is trying to unload salary this offseason and Encarnacion ($25 million) and Alonso ($9 million) will make good money in 2019.
To date, much of the rumors involving the Indians have concerned their rotation, specifically Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber, and there is definitely still a chance one of those guys gets moved. Those figure to be talent trades. Unloading Encarnacion and Alonso may be more of the salary dump variety where the players received are less important than the payroll freed up. Already this winter the Indians have traded catcher Yan Gomes for a prospect in a salary-clearing move.
Mets had interest in McCutchen
According to Jon Heyman of Fancred, the Mets had interest in Andrew McCutchen before he signed with the division rival Phillies. They were not willing to offer him upwards of $50 million, however. New York has been connected to other free agent outfielders this offseason, most notably A.J. Pollock, who fits their roster better as a center fielder.
Including Jay Bruce in the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz trade means the Mets are currently slated to go into next season with Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo flanking Juan Lagares in the outfield. Yoenis Cespedes is currently recovering from surgery on both heels and is not expected back before midseason. McCutchen’s days as a center fielder are over, so signing him would meant moving Conforto back to center, where is a capable defender but nothing more.
Yankees closing in on deal with Happ
The Yankees and J.A. Happ are reportedly inching closer to a contract agreement. The deal is not done, however. Happ is said to be holding out for a three-year contract and it seems likely the first team to offer that guaranteed third year will get him. He finished this past season in pinstripes and went 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts after coming over from the Blue Jays at the trade deadline.
Dodgers interested in Martinez
Here’s an interesting rumor. The Dodgers and Cardinals are discussing slugger Jose Martinez, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Martinez can play first base and the corner outfield, but the Dodgers are pretty well set at those positions. Los Angeles could put Cody Bellinger in the outfield full-time and play Max Muncy at second base, where he dabbled this past season. They could also cash in some outfielders (Yasiel Puig? Joc Pederson?) as trade chips to clear room for Martinez.
Martinez, 30, has been an offensive force with St. Louis these last two seasons, hitting .306/.369/.478 with 43 doubles and 31 home runs in 258 games from 2017-18. He is a brutal defender though, both at first base and in the outfield, so getting his bat into the lineup comes at a defensive cost for an NL team. Martinez has one pre-arbitration year remaining and will only make something close to the league minimum in 2019. His salary (and production) is a great fit for a Dodgers team that is trying to again stay under the luxury tax threshold.
What would it take to trade Haniger?
The Mariners would have to be blown away to trade outfielder Mitch Haniger, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. “There have been a handful of teams that have taken a handful of passes at Mitch. We’re just not willing to go there. We’ve had a handful try, but they haven’t quite gotten to where we would even consider it,” said Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto to Divish.
Haniger, 27, put up a .285/.366/.493 batting line with 26 home runs in 2018. Add in very good defense and he had a 6.1 WAR season. The Mariners control Haniger as a pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible player through 2022 and would get a very good return in a trade this winter. Seattle has already unloaded Robinson Cano, Jean Segura, Edwin Diaz, Mike Zunino, James Paxton, and others this offseason. Despite Dipoto’s comments, don’t be surprised if Haniger is next to go.
Three teams in on Ottavino
Righty reliever Adam Ottavino is a popular free agent at the winter meetings. The Red Sox, Mets, and Yankees all have interest in the slider specialist, report Jon Morosi of MLB.com and Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Yankees GM Brian Cashman even met with Ottavino’s agent Tuesday night, though no offer was made. Ottavino, a native New Yorker, is high on the Yankees’ wish list.
Ottavino, 33, posted a 2.43 ERA with 112 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings with the Rockies this past season. That’s after a 5.06 ERA in 53 1/3 innings in 2017. As Travis Sawchik of FanGraphs wrote earlier this year, Ottavino rented out a vacant Manhattan storefront last offseason and went to work altering his mechanics and fine-tuning his pitches. It’s no surprise then that heavily analytical organizations like the Yankees and Red Sox have interest in him.
Several teams in on Kinsler
The Tigers, Brewers, Athletics, and Nationals are among the teams with free agent second baseman Ian Kinsler, reports Jon Morosi of Fox Sports. It’s possible Kinsler will be a fallback option for teams that lose out on free agents like DJ LeMahieu and Jed Lowrie. There is certainly no shortage of contending teams that could use help at second base this offseason. The Angels, Athletics, Brewers, Dodgers, Nationals, Rockies, and Yankees are all in the market for help at the position.
Kinsler, 36, had the worst season of his career in 2018, hitting .240/.301/.380 with 14 home runs and 16 steals. He can still play a slick second base, however, which is how he racked up 2.4 WAR despite below-average offensive production. Given his age, it’s unlikely Kinsler will rebound much offensively, if at all, but he can still contribute to a team with his defense and through hard-fought professional at-bats.
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