Ever since the Chicago White Sox committed to a full-on rebuild by trading away ace Chris Sale and center fielder Adam Eaton, the baseball world has wondered about the fates of lingering veterans like Jose Quintana and David Robertson. The top remaining starter and incumbent closer both look like prime candidates to move as GM Rick Hahn works to bolster a weak farm system at the expense of the present.
Quintana, whose affordable contract runs through 2018 with team options for the following two years, has been linked to various teams including the Pirates, Rangers and Astros. However, a recent report from USA Today's Bob Nightingale alludes that the Yankees are emerging as top contenders for the southpaw, and are expanding the scope of their talks to include their homegrown product Robertson as well.
It's a logical angle for the Yanks, who could use another high-caliber arm at the top of their rotation and would be essentially replicating their three-headed bullpen monster formula from the first half of 2016 by reuniting with Robertson and installing him alongside Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances. If Robertson gets dealt, Nate Jones would become the leading closer candidate in Chicago.
Will the White Sox pull the trigger on another blockbuster? This remains to be seen, but there's no doubt that Hahn is open for business, and New York has been uncharacteristically quiet this winter outside of the Chapman signing.
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Stagnating Dozier Trade Talks
For weeks, we've heard rumors of ongoing haggling between the Twins and Dodgers regarding Brian Dozier. According to multiple reports, the two sides are in agreement on top pitching prospect Jose De Leon as the headliner in a potential deal, but have been unable to compromise on how the rest of the package shakes out. Could another club take advantage of these stalling negotiations and swoop in for the slugging infielder?
Earlier this week, Darren Wolfson of KSTP in Minnesota suggested that in addition to the Dodgers, the St. Louis Cardinals were "very much in on Dozier." Given the odd fit (Kolten Wong is under contract through 2020), this felt like more of a strategic leak intended to drive up the second baseman's price. Sure enough, Mark Saxon – an ESPN.com reporter based in St. Louis – subsequently indicated that the Cards "are not actively pursuing" Dozier.
Similarly, interest from alleged suitors like Washington and San Francisco has been downplayed on various fronts, so right now it sure looks like the Dodgers are the only serious team in the mix for Dozier.
They have always been the most obvious fit, with their need for an impact bat at second and their deep assortment of high-caliber pitching prospects. It still seems likely that a deal will come to fruition eventually, but it's also becoming increasingly clear that Minnesota's newly installed front office leaders won't settle for anything less than a major haul in exchange for their best player.
Red Sox Interested in Plouffe?
If the Twins trade Dozier, he'll become the second long-tenured righty power bat to depart Minnesota this offseason. Back in November the team moved on from Trevor Plouffe following an injury-marred campaign. Now, according to Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald, the Red Sox are taking a hard look at the 30-year-old.
Plouffe, a streaky hitter who is defensively adept at both corner infield spots, averaged 19 home runs from 2012 through 2015. He went deep 12 times this year despite missing almost half the games due to recurring oblique and intercostal issues. With an .809 career OPS against left-handed pitchers, he'd be a solid platoon option with Mitch Moreland at first base, while also providing insurance at the hot corner in the event Pablo Sandoval fails to bounce back.
There has been little buzz surrounding Plouffe's market since the Twins let him loose, so he'll probably come at a relative bargain after earning $7.25 million in 2016.
Quick Hits: The Pirates officially finalized their three-year, $26 million deal with Ivan Nova ... Veteran right-hander Ross Ohlendorf, who posted a 4.66 ERA out of the Cincinnati bullpen this year, signed a contract to play for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in Japan ... Utility infielder Alexi Amarista inked a one-year pact with the Rockies ... Jim Bowden reports that the Braves are keeping tabs on free agent catcher Matt Wieters ... Mallex Smith left his Puerto Rican Winter League team due to a recurring oblique issue, but it sounds like a precaution aimed at ensuring he's 100 percent next spring ... Outfielder Xavier Scruggs signed a deal with the NC Dinos in Korea, where he'll look to follow the path of Eric Thames as a marginal MLB talent who dominates in KBO and renews interest stateside.