Tag: MLB Rumors

Jurickson Profar Trade Rumors: Latest News, Speculation on Rangers 3B

The Los Angeles Dodgers are in search of an answer at second base, and a report Friday revealed they have held discussions involving Texas Rangers utility man Jurickson Profar.

Continue for updates.

Dodgers Exploring Profar Among Second Base Options

Friday, Jan. 20

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, L.A. is attempting to pry Brian Dozier away from the Minnesota Twins, but it has also looked into Profar as a fallback option.

Rosenthal characterized a Profar trade as unlikely, but he has yet to land a defined role with the Rangers.

The Curacao native was among the hottest prospects in baseball a few years ago as a second baseman, but injuries forced him to miss the 2014 and 2015 campaigns before he return to the majors in 2016.

Profar appeared in 90 games for Texas last season, hitting .239 with five home runs and 20 RBI.

The 23-year-old switch-hitter was utilized all over the field, as he appeared in at least 11 games each at third base, second base, first base, left field and shortstop.

While Profar is a useful commodity for the Rangers due to his flexibility, there doesn’t appear to be a regular spot available for him in the lineup for 2017.

He also becomes arbitration eligible starting in 2018, per Spotrac, which could increase Texas’ interest in trading him.

Injuries have held Profar back, and he has yet to come anywhere close to reaching his potential, but he is oozing with talent.

Trading him now may not be the smartest move from Texas’ perspective since his value is likely lower than ever, but that makes him an ideal target for a team in need of infield help, such as the Dodgers.


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2017 MLB Free Agents: Rumors and Predictions for Top Sluggers on Market

Rumors, rumors and more rumors. They are the fuel for baseball fanatics in the coldest months and the fodder for discussion when baseball is generally overshadowed by football, basketball and hockey.

Below, we’ll break down some of the rumors surrounding the biggest sluggers on the market and predict their most likely destinations. 


Jose Bautista

If any Toronto Blue Jays fans were holding out hope that the team might reunite with slugger Jose Bautista, well, Jon Morosi of MLB Network likely splashed a big old bucket of cold water on those wishes:


Toronto’s price may go up at some point and Bautista‘s down, of course. It’s hard to say given how loaded the market remains with power hitters. Toronto likely took itself out of the Edwin Encarnacion market (more on him below), however, when it signed Kendrys Morales to be the team’s designated hitter.

Encarnacion served as the team’s designated hitter 86 times last season, more than any other player, per Nick Ashbourne of Sportsnet.

But there may yet be room for Bautista in Toronto’s outfield, depending on how his cost settles in the market. It seems unlikely that Bautista will be back—if there was general interest from both sides, it’s hard to imagine the Blue Jays wouldn’t have made him a better offer—but it’s probably not completely out of the realm of possibility just yet.

The Blue Jays, by signing Morales over Encarnacion, gave themselves financial flexibility, even if it was at the expense of lineup flexibility (Morales is not a position player at this point). That leaves a glimmer of possibility that Bautista might return. But it’s just a glimmer.

I still believe Bautista could land with the Boston Red Sox if he’s willing to sign a shorter deal and take less money than he might get elsewhere. After clearing some salary by trading Clay Buchholz to the Philadelphia Phillies, per Scott Lauber of ESPN.com, Boston has financial wiggle room. But that’s wiggle room it would probably be wise to carry into the season, in case it needs to add a player via trade for a postseason run.

Prediction: Blue Jays


Edwin Encarnacion

The aforementioned Encarnacion remains the top hitter on the market, and several teams are still in the running, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Among them, somewhat surprisingly, is the Oakland Athletics:

It isn’t known whether the A’s are just one of the likely bargain hunters at this point, but they’ve occasionally stepped out of character, like when they made a bold run at Adrian Beltre, offering him $65 million before he went to the rival Rangers for $80 million plus an option that took him to $96 million.

The A’s would not lose a first-round draft choice should they signed a top free agent like Encarnacion since they finished with one of the bottom 10 records last year.

The Blue Jays also remain in the running, per Heyman, though they seem likely to be long shots at this point. Cleveland remains a possibility, per Heyman, but it is trying to get a bargain price for a player like Encarnacion, Mike Napoli or Chris Carter, so it’s hard to say how serious their interest is in Encarnacion.

Morosi adds the Rangers to the list of possible suitors:


Joel Sherman of the New York Post took the Red Sox out of the running, however:


Encarnacion‘s big bat will land him a big payday. Thus far, however, the interest in his services isn‘t quite as frenzied as perhaps the slugger might have hoped it would be for a player with 34 or more home runs in five straight seasons.

Prediction: Rangers


Mark Trumbo

Mark Trumbo is the remaining domino in the slugger market, and a return to the Baltimore Orioles is hardly guaranteed, per Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com:

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the other logical suitor for Trumbo at the moment seems to be the Colorado Rockies, though “sources say that the Rockies’ chances of signing him—at least for the moment—are unlikely.”

The team signing Ian Desmond might have something to do with that, though if it finds a trade partner for the talented Charlie Blackmon and slides Desmond back into the outfield—rather than play him at first base—Trumbo would make more sense in Colorado.

That’s a lot of potential dominoes to fall, though. Which makes Baltimore the most likely destination for Trumbo at this point.

Prediction: Orioles


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MLB Rumors: Analyzing Trade Buzz on Brian Dozier, Sonny Gray and More

The big story coming into Major League Baseball’s offseason was how teams would play the trade market, because this year’s crop of free agents wasn’t particularly impressive

This has already played out in a huge way with the Chicago White Sox officially entering rebuilding mode by trading Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox and Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals in the span of 24 hours. 

Despite those moves, there are still deals to be made. It always comes down to finding one team willing to pay the price another team has established. The Red Sox and Nationals have aggressive general managers with teams in win-now mode. 

Few teams operate like that for various reasons, but the allure of winning a championship now or getting key pieces to do it in the future makes for interesting points of discussion. 


Dozier Still on Dodgers’ Radar

The Los Angeles Dodgers answered their two biggest free-agent question marks with Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reporting Kenley Jansen agreed to a five-year, $80 million deal and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reporting third baseman Justin Turner agreed to a four-year, $64 million deal. 

Those deals, while certainly notable, also represent the Dodgers’ status quo. They have been part of postseason heartbreaks each of the previous two years against the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs. 

Now, the real test for Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman will be to find missing pieces to get his team over that hump and into the World Series for the first time since 1988. 

Per ESPN.com’s Doug Padilla, the Dodgers are still showing interest in trading for Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier. 

However, Padilla did note a potential deal for Dozier would likely require the Dodgers to part with star pitching prospect Jose De Leon and that they “are reluctant to part with” him. 

Second base remains an alarming black hole for the Dodgers right now. Chase Utley was a good platoon player in 2016, hitting .273/.343/.425 against right-handed pitching and just .154/.206/.264 against lefties.

Utley’s not a long-term solution. He turns 38 on Friday but might end up being the default solution for the team if it can’t figure out a possible trade. 

It makes sense for the Twins to try trading Dozier now when his value is never going to be higher. He’s coming off a career year in which he hit 42 home runs and signed for a total of $15 million through 2018, per Baseball-Reference.com.

The Dodgers learned last year how valuable depth is after tying a dubious MLB record with 27 players spending time on the disabled list.

It becomes harder to make a trade, which will likely require at least two high-quality assets going back to Minnesota in return, but the Dodgers have been so close to the World Series over the last four years. At some point, being overaggressive to upgrade a position of desperate need makes sense. 

Friedman is not one to overreact to what’s happening with teams around him, though I never would have expected him to give a reliever five years on a contract before Jansen proved me wrong. 


Gray’s Limited Market

Any hopes the Oakland Athletics might have had about building a blockbuster trade package around starting pitcher Sonny Gray appear to be dashed, at least so far this offseason. 

Per Rosenthal, Gray is generating “little interest” from around the league. 

It’s certainly not hard to figure out why Gray’s market would be limited.

He spent time on the disabled list last season, making just 22 starts (his fewest in three full MLB seasons) and posted career-worst marks in ERA (5.69), WHIP (1.496), hits allowed per nine innings (10.2), home runs allowed per nine innings (1.4), strikeouts per nine innings (7.2), strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.24) and wins above replacement (-0.5), per Baseball-Reference.com

Despite those numbers, Gray figures to get a substantial raise in 2017, the first year he’s eligible for arbitration. Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors estimates the 27-year-old will make $3.7 million. 

Salary isn’t going to be an issue holding teams back from acquiring Gray. It’s just hard to figure out what kind of pitcher he will be moving forward. 

If the A’s tried to trade Gray last offseason, right after he finished third in the American League Cy Young voting, they could have asked for a package fairly close to what the White Sox received for Chris Sale because he’s under team control through 2019. 

Unfortunately, Gray doesn’t look the part of a No. 1 starter. He’s listed at 5’10” and 190 pounds on the A’s official website. Given his small stature, teams can look at his breakdown in 2016 as an indication the heavy workload from the previous two seasons caught up to him. 

The A’s don’t have to be in a rush to trade Gray, especially with his value at its lowest point. Keeping him to start 2017 while hoping he can re-establish himself as a top-of-the-rotation starter in order to trade him in July or next offseason makes sense for the franchise. 


The Bruce Dilemma

The New York Mets hoped when they acquired Jay Bruce in July that he would provide a similar spark to what they received from Yoenis Cespedes the previous year. 

Instead, Bruce floundered in 50 games with the Mets. He hit .219/.294/.391 in 169 at-bats with the team and is scheduled to earn $13 million in 2017, per Spotrac

The Mets are in a difficult spot right now with too many outfielders, particularly in corner spots, for too few spots. Bruce, Cespedes, Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto are all in the mix. 

Per Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Mets would prefer to deal Bruce instead of Granderson. 

Marc Carig of Newsday noted the Mets were “optimistic” about their chances of finding a taker for Bruce at the winter meetings, only to leave Washington D.C. with the same logjam they had when they arrived. 

Given Bruce’s high salary and mediocre performance over the last three seasons, which has been worth a total of 0.2 FanGraphs‘ wins above replacement, the market won’t be clamoring for that kind of player. 

Cespedes will likely end up starting the year in center field, despite FanGraphs noting he cost the Mets seven runs in less than 500 innings at the position last season, because the team doesn’t have anyone else for the position. 

Juan Lagares is a tremendous defensive center fielder, but no team can support a .298 career-on base percentage from the position. 

Conforto needs to start playing regularly, or else the Mets run the risk of completely running off one of their best young players. Granderson is going to play because he’s a better option than Bruce at this point. 

It’s not a good situation the Mets have put themselves in, though they may not have a way out of it unless they decide to trade a player like Granderson or Conforto, both of whom will be more intriguing to teams in search of outfield help. 

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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest on Chris Archer, Clay Buchholz and More Offseason Buzz

An old baseball adage suggests “you can never have enough pitching,” and most of the high-profile movement this offseason, both in terms of free agency and trades, is backing up that notion. Front offices around the league are paying sizable prices to improve their rotations and bullpens.

Expect more of the same leading up to spring training since there’s still a talented group of starters available via trade. And there’s plenty of demand among contenders as they look to keep pace with the likes of the reigning champion Chicago Cubs and likely offseason winner Boston Red Sox.

With that in mind, let’s check out some of the latest trade buzz from around MLB and analyze what it could mean for the players and teams involved.


Rays Seeking King’s Ransom for Chris Archer

Chris Archer didn’t live up to expectations leading the Tampa Bay Rays staff this past season. The 28-year-old right-hander went 9-19 with a 4.01 ERA and 1.24 WHIP across 33 starts. Those numbers represented his worst performance since a brief six-game cameo in 2012.

Things weren’t as bad as they may seem on the surface, though. He posted a more typical 3.25 ERA after the All-Star break and still struck out an eye-popping 233 batters in 201.1 innings. His 3.41 xFIP for the season was also below his career average, according to FanGraphs.

That’s why the Rays still want a boatload in return if they decide to trade him. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported the front office is seeking a package bigger than the one the Chicago White Sox received for Chris Sale, which included prized prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech.

Mark Bowman of MLB.com previously noted Archer was the most likely trade target for the Atlanta Braves, but they felt the asking price was too high. The latest update from Topkin explains why.

Of course, there’s no rush for Tampa to make a deal. The starter remains under team control for five more years at club-friendly prices of no more than $8.25 million, per Spotrac. It adds to his value and takes away some of the risk associated with a potential trade.

The Braves make sense as a landing spot. They are looking to turn the corner after a rebuild and have bolstered their rotation with veterans Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey and Jaime Garcia. An ace is still needed, however, but it sounds like they’ll wait to see if the price drops before going all-in on Archer.


Clay Buchholz Being Pushed into Market

Clay Buchholz is an enigma. There are certain years, like 2010 (2.33 ERA) and 2013 (1.74 ERA), when he performs like one of the top pitchers in baseball. Alas, there are also certain seasons, like 2016 (4.78 ERA), when he pitches on a level barely worthy of a major league roster spot.

The 32-year-old Texas native did pitch better down the stretch last season. He accumulated a 3.22 ERA in 19 appearances split between the rotation and bullpen after the All-Star break. It was a much-needed turnaround after finishing the first half with a 5.91 mark.

Now it seems like the Red Sox may try to capitalize on his resurgence by moving him while the pitching market is hot. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported the front office is trying to sell teams on Buchholz rather than Drew Pomeranz as it looks to clear a pitching logjam.

The Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners are among the teams that have called Boston about possibly acquiring a starter, according to Cafardo. He pointed out the veteran’s $13.5 million contract for 2017 is a hurdle in talks, though.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is having a strong offseason, but getting value for Buchholz will be a challenge. Not only is the contract a problem, but the peripheral statistics don’t lend a ton of hope to a major rebound next season.

A team like the Twins is probably Boston’s best bet to unload him. Minnesota continues to lean far too heavily on pitchers with low strikeout potential, and it could still use another starter after Jose Berrios struggled mightily in his first taste of action in the majors in 2016.


Houston Astros Casting Wide Pitching Net

The Houston Astros are prepared to make some serious noise next season. They added Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Josh Reddick and Nori Aoki to help create one of the league’s most well-rounded lineups, and they’re already strong in the bullpen, where so many other teams are looking to upgrade.

While the starting rotation lacks star power outside of Dallas Keuchel, it’s still a rock-solid group that’s probably good enough to guide the team to the playoffs as it sits. Adding another starter with No. 1 or No. 2 ability could move Houston toward title contention, though.

Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reported the Astros are making an effort in that area, adding, “The team has the prospects to get a deal done and is likely to make a move at some point.” He listed Jose Quintana, Jake Odorizzi, Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura and Archer as notable targets.

Aside from Archer, Quintana is the name that stands out most from the group. The 27-year-old lefty has been one of the most reliable starters in baseball since making his debut in 2012. He holds a career 3.41 ERA and has never finished a season with a mark above 3.76.

If the Astros could acquire him for a package of prospects to take the spot where Charlie Morton is penciled in, it’d become hard to find a weak spot on the roster. Such a move would push the team all-in for next season, but it feels like a leap worth taking after years of building.


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MLB Trade Rumors: Buzz Surrounding Jose Quintana and Top Players Available

The first five weeks since the Chicago Cubs captured their first World Series title in 108 years have generated one of the most action-packed starts to an MLB offseason in recent memory. From blockbuster trades to lucrative free-agent signings, contenders haven’t hesitated to make splashes.

Now, the question is whether the frenzy will continue straight through the holidays and into the new year or if the movement will begin to calm down following the hectic initial surge. For the sake of entertainment, most baseball fans are probably hoping for the former.

So let’s check out some of the latest rumors making their way around the league and analyze what the potential moves could mean for the players and teams involved.


Multiple Teams Check on Jose Quintana

Quintana, who often got lost in the shadow of the recently departed Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale, was quietly one of the best starting pitchers in the American League last season. He ranked seventh in the Junior Circuit with a 3.20 ERA while striking out 181 batters in 208 innings.

The 27-year-old Colombia native has also been one of the most reliable starters in baseball since breaking into the majors in 2012. He’s never finished a campaign with an ERA above 3.76, and he’s taken the mound at least 32 times in four straight years.

With the White Sox trending toward a complete rebuild, however, he could become the next high-profile asset shipped out for a package of prospects. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros are among the teams showing serious interest.

The Astros are a perfect fit on paper if they’re able to acquire the talented lefty without having to give up any crucial pieces from the major league roster. They own one of the most potent lineups in baseball, thanks to new additions Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann, and they feature a strong bullpen.

While the rotation is solid, led by Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh, it’s the one area where they could still use another high-end asset. Quintana fits the bill after last season, and it makes sense to make a strong push to acquire him with the rest of the roster ready to contend.


Cardinals Set High Price on Kolten Wong

Wong is coming off a down year offensively for the St. Louis Cardinals. While he posted a career-best .327 on-base percentage, the second baseman contributed just five home runs and seven stolen bases. Both numbers were roughly half the production he provided over the previous two years.

Add in the fact the Cardinals are overcrowded in the infield—with seven players to fill four spots—and other teams may view the situation as a chance to buy low on the slick fielder. It doesn’t appear the St. Louis front office is going to bite on the offers, though.

Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reported the Los Angeles Angels expressed interest in Wong during the league’s winter meetings. But he noted the Cards are “unlikely” to trade him away and are still asking for a lot in return to even consider it.

It could be a bit of posturing by St. Louis, though. The team likely needs to do something to alleviate the infield logjam before the start of next season, and moving Wong this winter after the drop-off in his offensive involvement would help do that.

Meanwhile, the Angels could use an upgrade at second base, as Cliff Pennington is penciled in as the projected starter. Wong would represent a nice upgrade for a team that ranked in the bottom third of baseball in fielding percentage last season.


Alex Colome Joins Group of Reliever Targets

Colome was nothing short of dominant in his first season as the Tampa Bay Rays closer. The converted starter posted a microscopic 1.91 ERA to go along with a 1.02 WHIP and 71 strikeouts in 56.2 innings en route to 37 saves with just three blown opportunities.

Those numbers are even more valuable because he’s part of the most coveted group of players this offseason: relievers capable of pitching multiple high-leverage innings. Each championship hopeful wants one in its bullpen after the success of Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller in the playoffs.

Whether the Rays would move Colome is unclear because he’s still under team control for an additional four years, per Spotrac. It’s at least being discussed, though. Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported the Nationals have spoken with Tampa about the closer.

Washington has been linked to virtually every notable late-inning reliever on the free-agent and trade markets since the offseason got underway. It’s a spot of definite need for the reigning NL East champions, who otherwise have a roster built for success once again in 2017.

A Colome trade would come with legitimate risk. He only has one full season of bullpen work under his belt, and the asking price is likely high due to his age (27) and favorable contract situation. But it’s a chance a team like the Nats may feel is worth taking to fill a key void.


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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Trade Buzz After 2016 Winter Meetings

The 2016 Winter Meetings are over, but the offseason action is still getting started.

While it is easier to complete deals when everyone is in the same location, not a single team is settled heading into the 2017 season. Everyone is going to be looking for upgrades, either through trades or free agency, to help improve the roster before pitchers and catchers report.

Here are some of the latest rumors surrounding trades that could still go down in the coming days or weeks.


Nationals Still Looking for a Closer

The Washington Nationals made a splash at the winter meetings with the addition of Adam Eaton in exchange for some of their best prospects, via ESPN.

However, the team still needs a closer after losing Mark Melancon to free agency and missing out on bidding wars for Wade Davis and Aroldis Chapman. Undoubtedly, the front office will keep looking for more options to solidify the back of the bullpen.

Mark Zuckerman of MASN reported in addition to targeting free agent Kenley Jansen, there is trade interest in both David Robertson and Alex Colome.

Colome is coming off by far his best season, finishing with a 1.91 ERA and 37 saves for the Tampa Bay Rays. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports provided his thoughts on the potential deal:

Acquiring Robertson would likely be cheaper in terms of prospects. While he has been an effective closer in each of the past three years, he only has a 3.44 ERA in two seasons with the Chicago White Sox.

It would also be an interesting situation between two teams that already completed a trade for Eaton this week. As Bob Nightengale of USA Today noted, the Nationals tried to pair Robertson in the same deal, but the White Sox chose to make it a separate transaction.

Considering how much Washington had to give up for Eaton, including top prospect Lucas Giolito, the team might want to hold off on sending more young players to the same organization.

Still, the Nationals will need a closer in order to compete with the best teams in the National League and won’t be shy about getting one. 


Padres Need a Shortstop

Luis Sardinas finished the year as the starting shortstop for the San Diego Padres and played well, but the organization isn’t ready to commit to him being the full-time option going forward.

General manager A.J. Preller provided his thoughts on the 23-year-old, per A.J. Cassavell of MLB.com:

Sardinas showed, in a brief stint, that he has the capability to be a solid Major League player. There are some things he needs to work on, some areas he needs to improve with. I don’t think he showed us he’s going to be a lockdown guy there for the next three years. But he showed he has a chance to compete for that job.

This basically means the team will add someone else before the start of the year. Considering the lack of quality options in free agency, it appears the squad will have to look for a trade to find any upgrade.

Cassavell noted the recent activity to accomplish this goal:

Both Jose Iglesias and Hanser Alberto are defensive-minded shortstops who would greatly improve the infield in San Diego.

The Tigers have confirmed interest in Iglesias, per Jason Beck of MLB.com. While consistency has been an issue, he still hits well enough to help any lineup, including a .300 season in 2015 when he was named an All-Star.

On the other hand, Alberto would be mostly projection after hitting just .194 with two walks in 162 career plate appearances. He still has a lot of upside, though, giving San Diego a potential cornerstone on a rebuilding team.

Per T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, the Rangers could be interested in Travis Jankowski in a potential deal. While the center fielder has shown potential, he is also expendable due to a logjam in the outfield.

If the Padres are willing to part with him or another quality player, they could find a deal they are looking for.


Mets Trying to Dump Jay Bruce

As most teams are looking for upgrades at certain positions, the New York Mets are doing whatever they can to get rid of their slugger.

After re-signing Yoenis Cespedes on a four-year deal, the team now has too many corner outfielders with Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto all likely to compete for playing time in right field.

This leaves Bruce as the likely odd man out after a miserable second half of the season with the team. The left-handed hitter began 2016 with 25 home runs and 80 RBI in 97 games for the Cincinnati Reds, but he struggled mightily after being dealt to the Mets before the deadline.

He hit just .219 in New York over the final two months while his OPS dropped from .875 to .685.

Sullivan reported interest from the Rangers in a potential deal for Bruce:

Mike Puma of the New York Post also added the Toronto Blue Jays as a potential suitor along with Texas, although they are “showing minimal interest, according to source.”

The fact is Bruce is still likely to be traded, even if the Mets need to reduce their offer. They picked up his $13 million option as a hedge in case Cespedes left town, but now they are on the hook for that money for a player who doesn’t fit into the lineup.

Considering Bruce hit 33 home runs last season—the fourth time in six seasons he hit 30 home runs—there should still be plenty of demand before the start of 2017. If the Mets are patient, they will eventually find a trade partner.


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Jake Arrieta Contract: Latest News, Rumors on SP’s Negotiations with Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are hoping to sign starting pitcher Jake Arrieta to a long-term deal before he hits free agency. 

Continue for updates.

Latest on Extension Negotiations

Thursday, Dec. 8

According to Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago, the 30-year-old’s agent, Scott Boras, believes this is the time to come to an agreement with the team, and a contract will be discussed in January.

Arrieta is in his third year of arbitration and is set to be a free agent after the 2017 season.

The Cubs acquired Arrieta in a trade from the Baltimore Orioles during the 2013 season. Since then, the right-hander has blossomed into one of the top pitchers in the game.

After a breakout 2014 season during which he had a 2.53 ERA in 25 starts, Arrieta took home his first Cy Young Award in 2015, when he posted a 22-6 record, 1.77 ERA and 236 strikeouts in 229 innings.

He followed that up with a strong 2016, as he won 18 games with a 3.10 ERA, finishing in the top 10 of the Cy Young Award voting for the third year in a row. He was also instrumental toward helping the Cubs bring home their first World Series title since 1908.

Just for good measure, Arrieta also won a Silver Slugger Award in 2016 after posting a .262 batting average with two home runs.

This is especially impressive considering how well he shut down all opposing hitters, per Jayson Stark of ESPN.com:

While Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester also put together outstanding seasons for Chicago, Arrieta is still a valued member of the pitching staff, and the Cubs will likely want him around for as long as possible.

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Mitch Moreland Reportedly Agrees to Contract with Red Sox

Free-agent first baseman Mitch Moreland was one of the more appealing options on the market for teams looking to add power to their lineups, but he has reportedly chosen his next team.

Moreland has agreed to a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

Prior to the deal, Moreland was also being pursued by the Cleveland Indians, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The Toronto Blue Jays were also talking to Moreland, according to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball.

Moreland, 31, had spent his entire career with the Texas Rangers, hitting 22 or more home runs in three of the past four seasons. In 2016, he hit just .233 but added 22 homers and 60 RBI. It was a bit of a down year after an impressive 2015 that saw him hit .278 with 23 home runs and 85 RBI.

Moreland can be utilized as either a first baseman or a designated hitter, though he’s best suited to a platoon in either role, given his struggles against left-handed pitching. In the past three seasons, he’s hitting .245 against lefties, with just 10 of his 47 home runs in that time frame coming against southpaws.

Boston was in the market for a designated hitter after David Ortiz’s retirement. 


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MLB Trade Rumors: Analyzing Buzz on Andrew McCutchen, Ian Kinsler and More

Free agency gets all the headlines this time of year in Major League Baseball, but a dreadful crop of talent for all 30 teams to choose from should boost interest and activity in the trade market over the winter. 

The end of November is often the calm before the storm, as MLB players and executives are making their final preparations for the winter meetings that will begin on Dec. 4. 

That is the key date to focus on for when a deluge of trades is likely to happen. Teams already have a strong idea of what their payroll will be for 2017 and how much they have to spend, though trades are more complex because they require teams to give up assets and money in order to improve. 

Given what the trade market could bring this hot-stove season, here are the hottest rumors two weeks away from the winter meetings. 


McCutchen’s Market

Coming off the worst season of his career, Pittsburgh Pirates star Andrew McCutchen finds himself at a crossroads. He’s only 30 years old and finished in the top five of National League MVP voting each year from 2012-15, so there is reason to be optimistic about a turnaround next season.

Other teams are aware of this, which is why they have called the Pirates about McCutchen. 

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported the Seattle Mariners inquired about McCutchen earlier this offseason, but whatever talks the two sides had did not advance. 

The Pirates may not be able to wait around for McCutchen to figure things out in 2017. His salary will be $14 million, per Spotrac, which is a manageable figure for most teams. 

Per Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Pirates’ payroll has exceeded $90 million the previous two seasons and their obligations for next season when factoring in estimated arbitration salaries. They also have to supplement the roster with free agents. 

The Pirates are a small-market team, so having one player eating up a significant portion of the payroll severely limits what they are capable of adding around him. They also have a nearly ready center field prospect in Austin Meadows, who ended this season in Triple-A. 

ESPN.com’s Keith Law highlighted another reason it could be enticing for the Pirates to move McCutchen now:

Trading McCutchen, as painful as it might be, could be a big retooling move for the Pirates, who still have a strong farm system and could use Cutch to keep the team competitive without having to go through a few losing seasons first. There should be 20 clubs lined up to make offers, as anyone could take him and put him in left field, where I expect his defense to be plus and his offense, at pre-2016 levels, to still make him an above-average or better regular.

McCutchen hit .256/.336/.430 with a career-high 143 strikeouts in 598 at-bats. His defense fell off a cliff, with FanGraphs’ defensive runs saved noting he cost the Pirates 28 runs in center field. 

There is an injury explanation for McCutchen’s offensive performance. He had a right thumb issue that flared up in May and June, and any issue with the hand is going to impact bat speed and power. 

The defensive fall is more worrisome since it could be an indication McCutchen is losing a step now that he’s reached 30. 

If the thumb issue is a problem in the rearview mirror, McCutchen’s offense should at least approach his 2012-15 levels and make his $14 million salary a relative bargain. He’s exponentially more valuable if he can play center, as opposed to moving to a corner, but the bat will play anywhere. 

The Pirates certainly don’t want to trade McCutchen because of how important he’s been to the franchise, but they also can’t afford to hang onto him one year too long when his market could completely collapse if he has another down season. 

The Mariners may be the most recent team linked to McCutchen, but when the winter meetings begin, any team that might think it needs an outfielder should be calling the Pirates to see how serious they are about engaging in trade talks. 


The Kinsler Complication

The Detroit Tigers could be at the epicenter of trade discussions this offseason. General manager Al Avila said in October the team has been operating “way above its means for some time,” per MLB.com’s Jason Beck

Owner Mike Ilitch has been willing to spend freely for the last five years in hopes of bringing Detroit a World Series title, but that strategy has limitations. The Tigers are now saddled with a lot of large multiyear contracts for players well into their 30s. 

Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander are still terrific players. However, they are almost impossible to move because they will make a combined $172 million through 2019, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts, and Cabrera is signed through 2023 (excluding option years), when he will be 40 years old. 

Ian Kinsler becomes one of the most valuable trade chips for the Tigers because he’s still a star player who is signed to a modest deal that pays him $11 million in 2017 with a $10 million team option for 2018, per Spotrac

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers have had talks regarding Kinsler. 

Things would not be as simple as merely agreeing on pieces being moved if the two sides were to strike a deal.

Rosenthal noted Kinsler has a limited no-trade clause with 10 teams on the list, including the Dodgers. Kinsler’s agent, Jay Franklin, told Rosenthal his client would be open to agreeing to a deal under one condition.

“If one of the 10 teams happens to call and wants to talk about it, we’re open to talking about it,” Franklin said. “(But) they’re going to have to extend him for us to waive the no-trade.”

The problem with extending Kinsler is he will turn 35 in June. He’s coming off a strong 2016 in which he hit .288/.348/.484 with 28 homers and won his first Gold Glove. 

As a result of that success, Kinsler could and should be seeking a multiyear extension. But how many more years can he realistically be expected to have anywhere near that kind of production?

The Dodgers would be a perfect fit because they need a second baseman with Chase Utley being a free agent, and they certainly have the money to do whatever they want. Yet this front office, led by Andrew Friedman, let Zack Greinke walk last winter after he had a 1.66 ERA in 2015. 


Wacha’s Last Stand

When Michael Wacha burst onto the scene in 2013, the natural assumption was he would be the St. Louis Cardinals’ No. 2 starter and heir apparent to Adam Wainwright as the ace. 

Three years later, Wacha’s career has been a disappointment due to a series of injuries that have hindered his performance. 

Perhaps as an indication the Cardinals don’t want to wait around for Wacha to regain his 2013 form, Rosenthal reported the team has “floated” his name around in trade discussions. 

However, Rosenthal added “it’s unlikely they would get much for a pitcher who has a history of shoulder trouble.”

Last year was rock-bottom for Wacha. He had a 5.09 ERA with 159 hits allowed in 138 innings over 27 appearances (24 starts). He missed one month from Aug. 8 through Sept. 14 with a shoulder issue. 

Per MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch, Wacha and the Cardinals doctors worked together to develop a new rehab strategy to get him healthy. The results didn’t show upon his return, as he allowed 13 earned runs in 6.2 innings. 

One advantage Wacha has for any team potentially interested is age. He’s only 25 years old and under team control through 2019. His struggles last season will help keep his arbitration salary down next season, with Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors estimating he will make $3.2 million. 

Wacha is just one year removed from making 30 starts with a 3.38 ERA and posting a career-high 2.3 wins above replacement, per FanGraphs.

He may never be the pitcher who looked like an ace and carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning of his first playoff start in 2013, but a low-cost starting pitcher is the most valuable commodity in baseball. 

The Cardinals are smart to dangle Wacha out there to see if any market develops. If it does, they can deal him without hesitation. If it doesn’t, they will do everything in their power to make sure he starts 30 games once again.

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MLB Free Agents 2017: Rumors and Predictions for Biggest Stars

Major League Baseball’s offseason has already seen some action, but things will pick up after Thanksgiving as every team and free agent prepares for the winter meetings in December. 

Even though players are free to sign deals right now, the marquee names are most likely to wait until everyone converges on Maryland, where it’s easy to get more people in a room to try to ignite a bidding war to drive up prices. 

While a lot of things will change even before the meetings start Dec. 4, here are the latest rumblings for some of this year’s top sluggers. 


Shopping at Napoli’s

Coming off two injury-plagued seasons in 2014-15, Mike Napoli’s days as an impact power hitter in the middle of a good lineup appeared to be over. 

After waiting until January to sign a one-year deal with the Cleveland Indians, Napoli proceeded to have a fine bounce-back season with career highs in games played (150), home runs (34) and RBI (101). 

Napoli has also become a cult figure in Cleveland thanks to the “Party at Napoli’s” rallying cry. With all of that going for him, it’s not a surprise the Indians want to bring him back next season. 

Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reported on Sept. 29 that the team hopes to work out a deal with Napoli, while he’s seeking a multiyear deal. 

With free agency now in full swing, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the Houston Astros are taking a look at Napoli to fill their void at first base and designated hitter. 

Napoli, who turned 35 on Oct. 31, will likely be looking for something resembling long-term security coming off a solid 2016 season. He is a player with limitations that could hurt his market, notably on defense. FanGraphs calculated he cost the Indians four runs at first base in 2016. 

The Astros have already shown they are going all-in to win in 2017 by signing Josh Reddick and trading for Brian McCann. Signing Napoli would be another indication they aren’t going to wait around for the rest of the American League West to strike.

The Indians know the value Napoli brings to the middle of their order and in the clubhouse, but they may opt to use whatever money they have to spend this offseason to address a more pressing needcenter field. 

With the Astros motivated and willing to spend money, they appear to be Napoli’s best bet for a new home in 2017. 

Prediction: Napoli signs with Astros


Encarnacion’s Market

The market for Napoli will surely be directly impacted by what happens with Edwin Encarnacion, who serves the same role as a power-hitting first baseman and designated hitter. 

The key difference is Encarnacion, despite turning 34 in January, is in position to ask for a deal of at least three or four years because he’s posted five straight seasons with at least a .350 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage. 

The Toronto Blue Jays, who have given Encarnacion a stage to showcase his hitting skills since 2010, appeared to be out of the market for the slugger after signing Kendrys Morales to a three-year, $33 million deal. 

However, per Heyman, the Jays have made Encarnacion an offer of $80 million over four years.

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told reporters last week (via Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca) that Morales’ presence would likely impact what they were able to do with Encarnacion:

“It makes things slightly less likely for Edwin, but doesn’t impact us on Jose (Bautista) in any way. We still feel that both are realistic for us. When you sign someone like Kendrys Morales, that does decrease the likelihood of Edwin coming back to the Blue Jays, but it by no means eliminates that possibility.”

The bad news for Toronto—which is good news for Encarnacion—is Heyman mentioned the Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have also been connected to the three-time All-Star. 

The Rangers, Red Sox and Yankees have three of the deepest pockets in MLB. If Encarnacion’s camp is able to open up a bidding war that includes at least two of those teams, the Blue Jays would likely end up exceeding what money they have available. 

The Red Sox have always made the most sense as a landing spot for Encarnacion because David Ortiz retired and they need to find someone capable of providing the production Big Papi did. 

One advantage for the Red Sox is they have so much young position player talent that they can rotate into the DH spot if they don’t want to spend big money on a player entering his mid-30s. 

The Yankees don’t really make sense unless they believe competing for a playoff spot in 2017 is viable. The Rangers did lose Prince Fielder to retirement last season and Mitch Moreland had a .298 on-base percentage as the primary first baseman. 

Given how aggressive the Astros have already been this offseason, the Rangers need to issue a response of their own.

Spending big money on players over 30 has gotten them into some trouble recently, like trading for Fielder and signing Shin-Soo Choo, but Encarnacion doesn’t have to play a position to provide value and he’s appeared in at least 140 games four times in the last five seasons. 

Prediction: Encarnacion signs with Rangers


Bye-Bye, Joey Bats

Sticking with the Blue Jays, Bautista is their other big free agent who could end up going elsewhere. 

Despite what Atkins told reporters, Heyman reported on Thursday that the Jays “do not seem at all interested in Bautista beyond the draft pick they’ll be getting if/when he signs elsewhere.”

Bautista’s free agency is one of the most fascinating test cases of any player available this winter. He’s still a star in name, but his performance and body have started to break down in recent years.

Another problem for Bautista is age. He’s 36 years old and virtually incapable of playing in the outfield anymore, costing the Blue Jays eight runs by FanGraphs‘ metrics last season.

In February, TSN’s Rick Westhead reported Bautista was seeking $150 million over five years on his next contract. Bautista denied the report, per Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

Whether Bautista wanted a deal like that, he will be lucky to get a contract with a total value of $50 million this offseason, and even that will only happen if he can find a team willing to give him three years. 

Heyman noted one rival agent told him Bautista should have accepted Toronto’s qualifying offer that would have paid him $17.2 million in 2017. It will likely be a higher average annual salary than the six-time All-Star will get elsewhere.

Trying to find a market for Bautista is especially difficult because if he can’t play a position—or even gets pushed to first base—the number of teams that might pursue him dwindles dramatically. 

Heyman reported on Nov. 10 that the Red Sox reached out to Bautista’s camp during the general manager meetings. 

Even though Bautista isn’t the hitter Encarnacion is at this point, he would actually be a better fit for the Red Sox. He likely isn’t going to cost as much in terms of years and dollars. He’s coming off an injury-marred 2016, so the Red Sox can shift him to DH in place of Ortiz and hope to catch lightning in a bottle. 

Plus, with all of Boston’s young talent already in place and other players like Yoan Moncada likely available at some point in 2017, the Red Sox don’t need Bautista to anchor their lineup because they can score 800 runs falling out of bed. 

Prediction: Bautista signs with Red Sox

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