Nick Doran

Offseason Lowdown

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Lowdown: Frozen Trade Talks

Friday, December 29, 2017


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Cold snows and hot stoves.


With an arctic cold front slamming much of the country it would be great if there were some slobberknocker trades to discuss but we will just have to settle for scuttlebutt. There hasn't been a lot of transaction action this week but the rumor mill is in full swing. There are still many good free agents available and a surprising number of star players could yet change teams via trade this winter.

 

Pirates Trying to Wheel and Deal

 

Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports the Pirates are still shopping Andrew McCutchen around the league. The club exercised their $14.5 million option for 2018 last month. The team has been trying to trade McCutchen since last winter but their lofty asking price has thus far scared away all suitors. McCutchen has been the face of the franchise for nearly a decade but will be a free agent after the upcoming campaign. The 2013 National League MVP suffered a down year in 2016 but bounced most of the way back this past season, slashing .279/.363/.486 with 28 home runs, 88 RBI and 94 runs scored.

 

The Giants have been in contact with the Pirates regarding McCutchen but it is not clear how strong their interest might be. The Giants have been connected to nearly every outfielder on the market as they try to execute an instant rebuild after finishing in a tie for the worst record in the majors last year. Morosi hears that McCutchen is a fallback option for the Giants if they are unable to land free agent J.D. Martinez. McCutchen's sub-par defense doesn't seem like a great fit for the expansive outfield at AT&T Park but they could really use his bat. The Giants have also been trying to work out a deal with the Reds for fleet-footed center fielder Billy Hamilton.

 

McCutchen was moved to left field for the beginning of the 2017 season with Starling Marte taking over in center field, but that plan fell apart when Marte got slapped with an 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. If the Pirates do move McCutchen they could replace him with top prospect Austin Meadows.

 

Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that several teams have expressed in interest in second baseman Josh Harrison. He mentions the Yankees, Blue Jays and Mets have contacted the Pirates about his availability. Harrison batted .272/.339/.432 with 16 home runs in 128 games. He plays good defense at multiple positions and would make a nice super utility player for any contender. The Yankees have also been targeting starting pitcher Gerrit Cole so perhaps a package deal could be worked out.

 

Stars on the Move?


Earlier rumors indicated the Orioles might pull third baseman Manny Machado off the trade market because they were not happy with the offers they were getting. Jon Morosi of MLB Network hears that may have just been a negotiating tactic. He says the Orioles "continue to hear from multiple teams" hoping to snare the 25-year-old star. Machado will be a free agent after the upcoming season and is likely to receive a contract approaching the $300 million range. The Orioles would like to cash him in now for a major haul of talent rather than let him walk away for nothing after the season, but so far their asking price has been exorbitant. Teams known to be involved are the Yankees, Cardinals, Cubs, White Sox, Giants, Phillies and Diamondbacks. The Cubs purportedly offered a package of Addison Russell, Albert Almora and Mike Montgomery but were rebuffed. The Orioles are believed to be looking for at least two major league ready starting pitchers in any potential deal.

 

MLB.com's Jon Morosi reports the Marlins are engaged in "active trade discussions" with multiple suitors involving both Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto. There has been widespread interest in Yelich all winter and he seems more likely than Realmuto to be traded. Yelich has expressed displeasure with his team's fire sale highlighted by the trades of Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna. The Astros, Giants, White Sox, Diamondbacks, Phillies, Padres and Braves are among the teams most interested in acquiring Yelich. Starting pitcher Dan Straily is another player highly likely to be moved before the season gets under way.

 

Bullpen Action


MLB.com's Thomas Harding hears free agent reliever Greg Holland is likely to return to the Rockies. Holland wants to stay in Colorado and the team wants him back but they have not been able to come to an agreement on a contract. Holland is represented by super-agent Scott Boras and therefore is unlikely to give his preferred team a discount. The Rockies have been in contact with Addison Reed and Wade Davis, both of whom would be strong alternatives in the closer role if no deal can be struck with Holland. The 32-year-old turned in a strong comeback campaign after recovering from Tommy John surgery, registering a 3.61 ERA with 70 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings and tying for the National League lead with 41 saves.

 

MLB.com's Adam McCalvy confirms that the Brewers have agreed to sign free agent left-hander Boone Logan, although terms of the deal have not been made public. Boone is coming off a disappointing, injury-plagued season that saw him register a weak 4.71 ERA in just 21 innings for the Indians. The 33-year-old has been a quality left-handed specialist since 2006 in stints with the White Sox, Braves, Yankees, Rockies and Indians.

 

Former Orioles outfielder Dariel Alvarez has been converted into a pitcher, and according to Roch Kubatko of MASN the club feels he has a strong chance of making it back to the big leagues as a hurler. The 29-year-old is recovering from Tommy John surgery performed in April and is nearing a return to baseball activities. He could be a mid-season addition to the Orioles' bullpen.

 

Sano in the News

 

Minnesota third baseman Miguel Sano could be facing a suspension after he was accused of sexual assault on Thursday. The incident occurred during an autograph signing event at a mall back in 2015. The Twins and Major League Baseball are taking the allegations seriously and will investigate to see if discipline is warranted.


Twins manager Paul Molitor plans to add Sano to the club's rotation at designated hitter in an effort to keep him fresh throughout the season. Sano had a titanium rod inserted into his shin in early November after battling a stress reaction in his lower leg for much of last season. The injury caused him to spend 38 days on the disabled list and miss the American League Wild Card Game against the Yankees. The 24-year-old slugger wielded a potent bat despite the persistent pain, batting .264/.352/.507 with 28 home runs and 77 RBI in 114 games.

 

Senzel on the Verge


Reds infield prospect Nick Senzel received an invitation to participate in the Reds' major league camp at spring training. He was the second overall pick of the 2016 draft and has advanced quickly through the minor leagues on the strength of his bat. The Reds have expressed a desire for Senzel to play multiple positions in addition to third base, including shortstop, second base and the outfield. He is blocked at third base by Eugenio Suarez, although the club could move Suarez back to shortstop if Jose Peraza fails to pan out there. Senzel is unlikely to begin the season in the majors because the team will delay his arrival to ensure they gain an extra year of control much like the Cubs did with Kris Bryant in 2016.

 

Former Braves third baseman Adonis Garcia has agreed to a deal with the LG Twins in the Korea Baseball Organization. The 32-year-old batted .237/.273/.347 in 52 games last season.




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