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2019/20 Hot Stove Speculation

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  • #76
    Rumors: Morton, Edwin, Price, Hader, Arenado

    23 Dec 2019, 12:44 AM EST is keeping track of all the latest free-agent and trade rumors right here.

    Would Rays trade Morton?
    Dec. 22: As the free-agent starting-pitcher market continues to thin out, teams will likely start to more seriously explore trade candidates, and some of the names who could be discussed might surprise you. ESPN's Buster Olney expects Rays right-hander Charlie Morton to be among the most targeted assets in the New Year.

    Morton is owed an affordable $15 million in 2020, and he's coming off a season in which he finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting. However, he's also 36 years old, and his trade value might never be higher. There's also a risk that he'll break down after throwing a career-high 204 2/3 innings (postseason included).

    "If the Rays were to do the arbitrage thing, as one evaluator described it, then it would make sense for the small-budget franchise to flip Morton right now, in the way it did Tommy Pham, because the potential return nearing the end of his career could be excellent," Olney writes in an article for ESPN+ (subscription required).

    Morton's contract includes a 2021 option that will vest at $15 million if he spends no more than 30 days on the injured list in 2020. After 30 days, the option drops to $10 million and continues to scale down from there, based on how long he's on the IL.

    As Olney notes, a trade remains unlikely due to the Rays' strong relationship with Morton, as well as the belief that the pitcher would consider retiring if he's dealt somewhere against his wishes. Morton is also a big part of Tampa Bay's postseason hopes in 2020.

    White Sox reportedly talking to Encarnación
    Dec. 22: After adding Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez and Nomar Mazara in addition to re-signing José Abreu, do the White Sox have another big move in them this offseason?

    According to Bruce Levine of 670 The Score, Chicago is continuing discussions with veteran slugger Edwin Encarnación. The team first began talking to Encarnacion at the Winter Meetings, per Levine.

    Encarnación is the only hitter in Major League Baseball who has topped 30-plus homers in each of the past eight seasons. No one else has more than six such campaigns in that span. He finished 2019 -- his age-36 season -- with 34 home runs and a 132 OPS+.

    The White Sox have an opening at the designated-hitter spot. Encarnación could fill that void and give Chicago someone who can spell Abreu at first base. No AL team had a lower OPS (.641) at DH than the White Sox in 2019.

    Ryu to Blue Jays could lead to increased urgency on trade market
    Dec. 22: The Blue Jays' addition of Hyun-Jin Ryu on a four-year, $80 million contract (per sources) means the top remaining free-agent starting pitchers, in terms of 2019 FanGraphs' Wins Above Replacement, are Homer Bailey, Iván Nova, Andrew Cashner and Jason Vargas. While each of those hurlers could capably fill the fifth spot in a team's rotation, none is going to make a major difference in 2020. As a result, we could see increased urgency on the trade market in the coming weeks.

    According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the Twins, Dodgers, Angels, Padres and Phillies are all still searching for a starting pitcher, and the Brewers and Braves might be as well.

    Heyman is hearing the Red Sox's David Price, the D-backs' Robbie Ray, the Tigers' Matthew Boyd, the Indians' Mike Clevinger, the Yankees' J.A. Happ, the Pirates' Chris Archer, the Mets' Steven Matz and Marcus Stroman, the Mariners' Marco Gonzales and the Cubs' Jose Quintana being floated as trade candidates.

    Among those pitchers, Price has the most expensive deal, as he's owed $96 million over the next three years. Before Toronto added Ryu, the team reportedly was talking to Boston about a trade for Price, but the Jays are likely out of that mix now.

    Happ is signed for $17 million in 2020, and he has a $17 million option in '21 that will vest if he makes 27 starts or throws 165 innings next season. Archer, meanwhile, has an $11 million club option in 2021. Ray, Stroman and Quintana are eligible for free agency next offseason, and Matz the year after that. Boyd and Clevinger are controllable for three more seasons, while Gonzales has four more years of team control left.

    ESPN's Buster Olney also expects the Rays' Charlie Morton to become a popular trade target (see above).

    Yanks maintaining Hader interest
    Dec. 22: How could the Yankees' elite bullpen get even more potent? Adding the National League Reliever of the Year would do the trick.

    MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports that New York remains interested in acquiring Brewers star Josh Hader, who has been linked to the Bronx Bombers in trade rumors for several weeks. Heyman speculates that the Yanks could build a trade package around third baseman Miguel Andújar, the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year runner-up. More >

    Why Rangers might be willing to take on all of Arenado's contract; Mets could show interest
    Dec. 21: After a report emerged from MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in The Athletic (subscription required) on Thursday connecting the Rangers to Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, it's become clear that Texas could be a serious contender for the 28-year-old.

    Sources told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that the Rangers' interest in Arenado is "genuine," and that the club is doing its due diligence at this point. According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, Texas has been eyeing Arenado for quite some time.

    "The Rangers have been intrigued, fascinated, maybe even a little obsessed, over Arenado for years," Grant writes. "Before he signed the eight-year, $260 million extension he now sits under with Colorado, he stood out as the Rangers’ most likely free agent target for this winter. So, yeah, they are more than a little interested."

    Texas has a void at the hot corner and was one of the finalists for Anthony Rendon. Although the Rangers' initial offer ($195 million over six years) wasn't close to what Rendon got from the Angels ($245 million over seven years), Grant reports that Texas was willing to add a seventh year onto the contract, but agent Scott Boras never circled back after Los Angeles made its offer.

    As a result of the team's dealings with Rendon, Grant thinks the Rangers might be willing to take on the $234 million remaining on Arenado's contract, which could give them an advantage over other clubs even if they don't offer as strong of a prospect package.

    As Rosenthal wrote Thursday, finding a trade package that makes it worthwhile to move Arenado is expected to be difficult for the Rockies. Even if Colorado agrees to eat a sizable portion of Arenado's deal, teams could be hesitant to surrender top prospects for a player who can opt out in two years. Arenado also has a full no-trade clause, giving him control over where he ends up.

    Adding another guaranteed year onto his contract could convince Arenado to remove the opt-out clause and approve a trade. But it's still going to take a significant offer to pry him from the Rockies.

    Could the Mets be willing to make that type of offer? According to MLB Network insider Joel Sherman in an article for the New York Post, they should due to "a confluence of factors," including the savings they're going to have from Yoenis Cespedes' restructured contract, the internal belief that they can compete in the NL East, and the opportunity to counter the Yankees' big signing of Gerrit Cole with a big move of their own.

    Donaldson waiting on Braves?
    Dec. 21: It has been speculated throughout this offseason that the Josh Donaldson sweepstakes could come down to whichever team was willing to guarantee him four years.

    However, the third baseman remains unsigned, even after MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported in an article for The Athletic (subscription required) that the Nationals and Twins had both offered him a four-year deal.'s Mark Bowman wrote Friday that Donaldson could remain in a "holding pattern" until after the holiday season. Why? Perhaps because he's waiting for the Braves to swoop in. More >

    Lindor talks reportedly reaching 'critical stage,' Reds among teams eyeing him
    Dec. 20: Trade talks concerning Indians star shortstop Francisco Lindor look to be nearing a "critical stage," according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required). Rosenthal reports that the Indians have asked all interested teams to submit their final offers this weekend so that Cleveland can weigh them and determine whether and where to deal Lindor.
    Meanwhile, ESPN's Buster Olney reports a "high-ranking executive" believes both Lindor and superstar right fielder Mookie Betts of the Red Sox will be traded this offseason in order to capitalize on their current value before it depreciates as they get closer and closer to free agency.

    The Reds have engaged in talks with the Tribe regarding Lindor, a source told's Mark Feinsand. Cincinnati has a number of young players who could be of interest to Cleveland, and the two sides have a recent history of dealing with each other, collaborating on the three-team deal that brought Trevor Bauer to the Reds last July.

    MLB Network insider Jon Heyman has heard that the Indians are especially fond of Nick Senzel, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. Senzel made his MLB debut in 2019 and hit .256/.315/.427 with 12 home runs in 414 plate appearances. The 24-year-old played center field for the Reds last season, but he was drafted as a third baseman and logged some time at second base in the Minors.
    To get a sense of what the Reds and other teams might have to give up to get Lindor, here are six not-so-crazy trade proposals for the 26-year-old shortstop.

    For more on the latest Lindor trade rumors, click here.

    Drew's Sig


    • #77
      Originally posted by West Coast Mets Fan View Post
      Joel Sherman of the NY Post suggests the Mets should target Nolan Arenado for 3B even to the point of giving up McNeil to get him.

      While his splits are clear they are padded by the thin mile-high air he still averages 31 HR per year and 87 RBI on the road:

      There is no arguing what he would bring to the club defensively with his 7 GG. He has been very durable playing 155 games or more each of the last 5 years.

      I would rather give up Nimmo to make this deal and keep McNeil as a super-sub for Cano & Cespedes, but it would be tempting. Would you make the deal?
      firm NO here. If we wanted to spend 35 million per year into the long term future, I would have signed Rendon for only Money and had both Rendon AND McNeil. If we passed there, why would we suddenly look to spend 35M and give up a 500K allstar?


      • #78
        Originally posted by NY FANG View Post
        did I miss something? Why is Nimmo removed from OF equation?
        Money coming off books as far as I can tell:
        Ramos - 1.5M buy out.
        No "Nimrod" that I can tell...

        1 comment
        • yogi8
          yogi8 commented
          21-Dec-2019, 01:51 PM
          That Nimmo remark is an fantasy of Saxon's Sorry Sax, Santa will not be delivering your fondish wish
        I love this response that someone had in reply to Heyman's Tweet from yesterday about Mets/Pirates exchanging names:

        Met fans are obsessed with Brandon Nimmo bc he walks a lot and is a nice guy.
        Sooner or later teams are gonna realize he’s not very good.
        His value is running out.
        Nimmo in 4 years: .254 AVG, 31 HRs, 14 SBs, 103 RBIs
        Marte in 2019: .295 AVG, 23 HRs, 25 SBs, 82 RBIs
        the bottom line with Nimmo:
        If he plays a corner OF, his offense is severely lacking with not a lot of power, virtually no real speed, low batting average and strikes out far too often for a guy that doesn't possess Pete Alonso power;

        If he plays center field, he lacks the range, speed and instinct to fully cover the ground that a good CF can.

        At least with Daniel Murphy's lack of skills, he made up for it by hitting a lot of doubles and singles while playing a defensive position that wasn't usually a great source of offensive skill and is usually one of the weakest defensive positions on the diamond.
        Last edited by saxon; 27-Dec-2019, 07:44 PM.


        • #79
          Rumors: Arenado, Braves, Rangers, Lindor, Puig

          28 Dec 2019

 is keeping track of all the latest free-agent and trade rumors right here.

          Braves have talked to Rockies about Arenado trade
          Dec. 27: The Braves have inquired about a trade for the Rockies' Nolan Arenado, sources told's Jon Paul Morosi. However, talks between the two clubs haven't been active recently.

          Atlanta would be an ideal trade partner for Colorado, as the team is replete with highly ranked prospects who could fill the Rockies organization's biggest weaknesses (pitching, catching, center field). But the Braves are wary of the salary commitment, per Morosi. Arenado, 28, is owed $234 million over the next seven years, though he can opt out of his deal after the 2021 season.

          With Josh Donaldson hitting free agency, the Braves have an opening at third base. There's mutual interest in a reunion between the two sides, but Atlanta reportedly doesn't want to go to four guaranteed years for the 34-year-old.

          The Braves also could explore a trade for the Cubs' Kris Bryant, but any deal is unlikely to happen until an arbitrator rules on Bryant's grievance against the team. Bryant's claim is that the Cubs manipulated his service time by keeping him in the Minors for the first two weeks of the 2015 season, thus ensuring an extra year of team control. If the arbitrator rules in Bryant's favor, he would be eligible for free agency in one year instead of two.

          Rangers the favorite for Castellanos?
          Dec. 27:'s Jon Paul Morosi considers the Rangers to be the most prominent team in the Nicholas Castellanos race, with the Giants, Reds and the Cubs also in the mix.

          Texas has filled out its rotation by trading for Corey Kluber and signing Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles, but the club swung and missed on Anthony Rendon, losing him to the American League West-rival Angels. As a result, the Rangers are still in the hunt for a bat. More >

          Source: Reds in talks with Akiyama, may be most likely to land him
          Dec. 27: The next free-agent outfielder to sign might be an unfamiliar name to U.S. fans. A source told's Mark Sheldon on Thursday that the Reds are in talks with Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama. Nikkan Sports from Japan first reported that Cincinnati's persistence has made the Reds the most likely destination for him. More >

          A day later, however, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported that the Reds are not alone in their pursuit of Akiyama. The D-backs, Padres, Cubs and Jays have all thrown their hats into the ring, Heyman said.

          Akiyama, 31, is a lefty-hitting outfielder who has starred for years with the NPB's Seibu Lions. He finished 2019 with a robust .303/.392/.471 batting line and 20 homers across 678 plate appearances. Adding Akiyama to the Reds' roster could create some intrigue, since top youngster Nick Senzel was projected to man center field again in '20 but could move back to the infield in the wake of this move. Cincinnati already signed free agent Mike Moustakas to play second base, and veteran Freddy Galvis is penciled in at shortstop. Maybe Galvis (.734 OPS, 23 HR in '19) becomes a trade chip for the Reds if they add Akiyama to the mix, or maybe they slide Senzel over to right field, and therefore drop out of the sweepstakes for free agents Nicholas Castellanos, Marcell Ozuna or Yasiel Puig.

          The Padres are also a leading contender for Akiyama, per Yahoo Japan, and that scenario presents its own intrigue. San Diego already acquired outfielder Trent Grisham from the Brewers this offseason, and so adding Akiyama to the outfield mix could increase the Padres' desire to trade Wil Myers, who's owed $22.5 million next season.

          Among likeliest trade candidates, Lindor rockets up the list
          Dec. 26: It is the season of giving, and according to some forecasts, a Francisco Lindor move could very well happen.

          MLB Trade Rumors theorized on Tuesday that Lindor is the third-most likely name to be traded this winter. The Pirates' Starling Marte topped the list of 25 as the most likely name to be moved, followed by the Blue Jays' Ken Giles, Lindor, the Tigers' Matthew Boyd and Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Red Sox.

          All but Lindor were ranked rather highly on MLB Trade Rumors' initial offseason trade list, which was released in late November. But both the Corey Kluber trade and increased buzz surrounding Lindor, which has landed with mainly the Reds and Dodgers, appear to make a trade involving the four-time All-Star all the more likely. And with the Indians reportedly listening on Mike Clevinger as well, it's possible the two could be moved in a blockbuster deal.

          Among other notable rises in trade likelihood include Josh Hader (No. 7, previously unranked), David Price (No. 8, previously unranked), Kris Bryant (No. 10, previously No. 21), Nolan Arenado (No. 11, previously unranked) and Brad Hand (No. 16, previously unranked), among several others.

          Meanwhile, Mookie Betts fell from No. 20 to 24 in the latest rankings.

          White Sox reportedly remain interested in RF market, targeting Puig
          Dec. 26: Even though they recently traded for right fielder Nomar Mazara and reportedly agreed to a deal to bring Edwin Encarnación to the South Side, the White Sox remain "engaged with the right field market," according to's Mark Feinsand, and "a primary target" is Puig. The 29-year-old slugger could theoretically platoon with the left-handed-hitting Mazara in right, adding to an outfield that already consists of Mazara, Adam Engel in center and Eloy Jiménez in left.

          It's already been a busy offseason for the White Sox, who in addition to the Mazara and Encarnación acquisitions, have added left handers Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez to the starting rotation, and Yasmani Grandal behind the plate, all on free-agent deals.

          Giants may stand pat with arms ... for now
          Dec. 25: Even with Madison Bumgarner now in Arizona -- and perhaps because of that fact -- the Giants do not seem eager to sell off some of their starting rotation ... at least for now.

          Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle predicted on Tuesday that both Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto will be Giants to open the 2020 season. But will things change by the time the July 31 Trade Deadline rolls around? That's very possible, Schulman said.

          Whereas Samardzija, who is coming off a nice bounce-back season, would be a rental acquisition, Cueto is signed through 2021, with a club option in '22. By holding onto him, San Francisco could start a bidding war should the former Cy Young Award finalist -- who returned from Tommy John surgery at the tail end of '19 -- revert back to his old form.

          But at least for the time being, Schulman said that the Giants need as many innings-eaters as they can get to open the year.

          Pieces for blockbuster trade taking shape
          Dec. 24: If the Dodgers do intend to make a splash on the trade market this offseason, the pieces they're going to need to part ways with are becoming clearer.

          Andy McCullough wrote in The Athletic (subscription required) on Tuesday that both Joc Pederson and Corey Seager are potentially moveable for the right price. But they would not be enough alone for someone like Mookie Betts or Francisco Lindor. However, as Ken Rosenthal also noted in The Athletic recently, Los Angeles' top prospect Gavin Lux (No. 2 overall in MLB) is off limits.

          But Los Angeles is rich in prospects. If Lux is indeed untouchable, perhaps right-hander Dustin May (MLB's No. 32 prospect) and catcher Keibert Ruiz (No. 33) could top off a package for the Red Sox's or Indians' superstar.

          Parrot flocks to South Side
          Dec. 25: Edwin Encarnación and the White Sox have agreed to a one-year, $12 million deal, a source told's Mark Feinsand on Wednesday. The deal also includes a club option for 2020 worth $12 million. The club has not confirmed the move.

          In 2019, Chicago finished near the bottom in all of MLB in terms of OPS and homers. Encarnación, meanwhile, is the only hitter with 30-plus homers in each of the past eight seasons -- no one else has amassed more than six such campaigns in that span.

          Encarnación, who will be 37 when the 2020 season starts, showed little signs of aging while playing for the Mariners and Yankees in ’19. The Dominican-born slugger slashed .244/.344/.531 with 34 homers in 418 at-bats last year.

          Position-wise, Encarnación fills a hole at designated hitter for a Chicago team that does not have a stalwart at the position and rotated among four players in 2019. It would also bolster a roster that has recently come to terms with Yasmani Grandal and Gio Gonzalez this offseason -- and reportedly done the same with Dallas Keuchel -- along with re-signing José Abreu and acquiring Nomar Mazara via trade.

          Angels monitoring trade options after missing on Keuchel, Ryu
          Dec. 23: Corey Kluber landed with their division rival. Then they missed out on Dallas Keuchel. And now the same is true with Hyun-Jin Ryu. But the Angels aren't taking their fingers off the pulse of the starting-pitching market, even after adding some stability with the recent signing of Julio Teheran.

          According to's Jon Paul Morosi, while Los Angeles does not appear close to a deal to acquire Tigers lefty Matthew Boyd, as previously rumored, the club in desperate need of front-end pitching is keeping its options open in regards to trades.

          As MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported recently, some of those options include the Red Sox's David Price, the D-backs' Robbie Ray, the Indians' Mike Clevinger, the Yankees' J.A. Happ and the Pirates' Chris Archer, among several others. The Angels are looking to add to their starting rotation after acquiring Dylan Bundy from the Orioles at the beginning of December and officially coming to terms with Teheran on Saturday.

          As for Boyd, the soon-to-be 29-year-old has three years of team control remaining, and Detroit is in the early stages of a rebuild. Still, Tigers general manager Al Avila indicated in early December that he would only trade Boyd for MLB-ready pieces or higher-level prospects.

          For the Angels, trading for Boyd or any front-end starter gets made more difficult by the fact that Jo Adell (MLB's No. 5 prospect) is their only prospect ranked among MLB Pipeline's Top 100 overall, and he's unlikely to be available.

          Drew's Sig


          • #80
            the bottom line with Nimmo:

            Why pull punches...why not compare him to Mike Trout? Yes; strikes out to much, but also draws a high percentage of BB leading to his OBP 2018 his only full season with no Cepedes .263/.404/.483/.886...that production cost the Mets 556 K. Came back from injury last season on 9/1 and produced .261/.430/.565/.995 with 14 R 15 RBI in 93 PA
            Side by side Nimmo has OPS+ advantage and better LF metrics ( Rng., Fld. %) compared with Marte. Nimmo has 3 years of control and is likely designated for the bench if Cespedes returns, but if he doesn't how many teams can run out a 4th OF with his credentials?


            • #81
              Originally posted by saxon View Post

              I love this response that someone had in reply to Heyman's Tweet from yesterday about Mets/Pirates exchanging names:

              the bottom line with Nimmo:
              If he plays a corner OF, his offense is severely lacking with not a lot of power, virtually no real speed, low batting average and strikes out far too often for a guy that doesn't possess Pete Alonso power;

              If he plays center field, he lacks the range, speed and instinct to fully cover the ground that a good CF can.

              At least with Daniel Murphy's lack of skills, he made up for it by hitting a lot of doubles and singles while playing a defensive position that wasn't usually a great source of offensive skill and is usually one of the weakest defensive positions on the diamond.
              still failed to answer the question of where you've seen no Cespedes and Nimmo in the OF equation aside from your personal wish list.


              • NY FANG
                NY FANG commented
                Editing a comment
                so are you saying the drop him if they don't trade him?

              • saxon
                saxon commented
                Editing a comment
                not saying that at all Fang...just that I think that eventually they'll figure out that he's more Danny Heep than Mike Greenwell in his value to the in, 4th OFer not starting LFer...taking pitches out of the strikezone is good, but taking called strikes while striking out a ton is not good....If a team wants to make a trade based on their belief that he is a starting OFer, it's worth pursuing before pitchers and umps finally expose him and his OBP drops
                Last edited by saxon; 01-Jan-2020, 10:37 PM.

              • NY FANG
                NY FANG commented
                Editing a comment
                ok, I guess I was just thrown off by the initial comment that said "I would welcome him in LF in 2021 when all it costs is a billionaire's money with both Cespedes and Nimrod being gone from the OF equation" - glad we sorted that out

            • #82
              Rumors: Frazier, Rangers, Red Sox, Twins

              31 Dec 2019

     is keeping track of all the latest free-agent and trade rumors right here.

              Rangers reportedly in touch with Frazier

              Click image for larger version

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ID:	9810Dec. 31: While rumors have swirled that the Rangers are very interested in trading for Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, the Dallas Morning News reports Texas is hedging its bets by talking with veteran corner infielder Todd Frazier. While it appears the Rangers would love to acquire Arenado, such a deal might be a long shot, and either way, a Frazier signing would add a right-handed power bat to the lineup while taking care of the vacancy at third base or -- in the event Arenado becomes a Ranger -- providing a platoon at first base with the left-handed-hitting Ronald Guzman.

              Frazier hit .251/.329/.443 with 21 home runs in 133 games for the Mets last season, a campaign shortened due to injury. The two-time All-Star, entering his age-34 season, hit lefties well in 2019, posting a .294/.373/.540 slash line.

              Report: Red Sox not actively shopping Mookie

              Dec. 31: Although the Red Sox could be multiple moves away from getting under the $208 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold in 2020, the club isn't actively shopping Mookie Betts, according to a report from Rob Bradford of

              In fact, there are no signs CBT concerns are influencing the team's plans when it comes to Betts, Bradford writes. More >

              Is Donaldson next for Twins?

              Dec. 31: When the Twins officially declined Martín Pérez's option on Nov. 4, they were left with four rotation spots to fill. But Minnesota's starting staff is close to being complete again.

              After bringing back Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda earlier this offseason, the team signed Homer Bailey and Rich Hill to one-year deals worth a combined $10 million in guaranteed money on Tuesday.

              The Twins might not be done adding. ESPN's Jeff Passan thinks the team still has room to go big for a player such as Josh Donaldson, to whom Minnesota reportedly has offered a four-year contract. More >

              Arenado talks beginning to cool?

              Dec. 30: As the pendulum of Nolan Arenado trade talks continues to swing, it appears that the current position may lie on the inaction side of the spectrum.

              In an article for ESPN+ (subscription required), Buster Olney reports that one team evaluator whose club has had conversations with the Rockies recently walked away with the feeling that the third baseman is not going to be moved. "Now Colorado is just open to ideas rather than pushing to unload the third baseman's contract," Olney reports.

              This comes just a few days after's Jon Paul Morosi reported that the Braves have inquired about Arenado, though even those talks did not seem to have much traction. With Josh Donaldson still on the open market, it seems like when and where he decides to sign will have ripple effects on the remainder of the third-base market. The Braves have the farm system to trade for Arenado should Donaldson sign with a team like the Nationals.

              But any team that trades for Arenado will have to take on his remaining seven years and $234 million owed -- though the third baseman has an opt-out clause after the 2021 season. A team like the Rockies, who seem poised to want a fresh start after a 71-91 campaign in '19, may not want to have that money on the books going into the next phase, whereas the Braves, now deep in their window of contention, are more suited to take on the salary.

              Might Ozuna land in Texas?

              Dec. 29: The Rangers have already traded outfielder Nomar Mazara this offseason, but could they be in the market to add another to the current group of Willie Calhoun, Danny Santana and Joey Gallo? According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, Texas may be in the market for a right-handed-hitting outfielder given that the Rangers' lineup is predominantly left-handed.

              Ozuna, 29, had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .312/.376/.548 with 37 home runs and 124 RBIs. Since then, while he's put up solid numbers at the plate, they haven't been anywhere near that level of production. From 2018-19, he hit .263/.327/.452 with 52 homers.

              Still, Texas could sign Ozuna in the hopes that his production continues at that rate or better, given that Mazara hit .261/.320/.435 over four seasons for the Rangers.

              The Rangers have also been connected to right-handed-hitting Nicholas Castellanos, as Heyman notes.'s Jon Paul Morosi sees Texas as the most prominent team in the mix for the slugger.


              Drew's Sig


              • #83
                Magnificent 11: Best free agents still available

                by Mark Feinsand @feinsand
                3 Jan 2020

                As free agents continue to come off the board, a number of talented players remain on the hunt for new contracts. Spring Training is a little more than a month away, giving clubs plenty of time to address their remaining needs.

                Who are the top players still available? Here’s a look at the market’s most desirable 11 remaining free agents and some potential landing spots:

                1. Josh Donaldson, 3B
                The top free agent on the market, Donaldson has no shortage of teams bidding for his services. The Twins, Braves and Nationals have already made four-year offers in the $100 million range, while the Dodgers and Rangers remain in the mix to differing extents. Donaldson, who turned 34 last month, will give his next team solid defense at third base and a potent middle-of-the-lineup bat, making him the lone all-around impact player available.

                Possible fits: Twins, Braves, Nationals

                2. Marcell Ozuna, OF
                Like Donaldson, Ozuna’s market appears to be gaining clarity, as the Reds, Rangers and Cardinals have emerged as favorites. Ozuna’s two years in St. Louis were solid (he averaged 26 homers, 88 RBIs and a .779 OPS), though he’s never matched his breakout 2017 season (37 homers, 124 RBIs, .924 OPS). The 29-year-old is one of two impactful outfielders remaining on the market, so he should be able to land a good deal.
                Possible fits: Reds, Rangers, Cardinals

                3. Nicholas Castellanos, OF
                The other top free-agent outfielder, Castellanos thrived during his two-month stint with the Cubs, hitting 16 homers with a 1.002 OPS in 51 games. Whether potential bidders are willing to overlook his questionable defense and four mediocre months in Detroit (11 homers, .790 OPS in 100 games) remains to be seen, but the soon-to-be 28-year-old has shown the ability to perform for several years (.840 OPS from 2016-19).
                Possible fits: Cubs, Giants, Rangers

                4. Daniel Hudson, RHP
                Hudson was brilliant during his two-month stint with the Nationals, posting a 1.44 ERA in 24 regular-season appearances before saving four games during Washington’s World Series run. The Nationals signed Will Harris to a three-year deal, but Hudson -- who had a 2.47 ERA overall in 69 outings for Toronto and Washington last season -- remains on the team’s radar. As many as 10 clubs remain interested in the right-hander, who turns 33 in March.

                Possible fits: Nationals, Giants, Braves

                5. Robinson Chirinos, C
                More than a dozen catchers have already signed this offseason, limiting Chirinos’ options. Still, given his bat (he’s averaged 17 homers, a .798 OPS and 105 games over the past three seasons), the 35-year-old is still an appealing option for clubs seeking help behind the plate. Chirinos appears to be close to signing, so he could be one of the next free agents to come off the board.

                Possible fits: Pirates, Rangers, Athletics

                6. Craig Stammen, RHP
                Stammen has been among the game’s most consistent relievers over the past three years, pitching to a 3.06 ERA and 1.131 WHIP while averaging 70 outings per season. Stammen, who turns 36 in March, was a solid late-inning option for the Padres in 2019, pitching 71 1/3 of his 82 innings in the seventh inning or later. He might not land a three-year deal like Harris, but a two-year deal isn’t out of the question.

                Possible fits: White Sox, D-backs, Blue Jays

                7. José Iglesias, SS
                Shortstop was among the shallowest positions on this year’s free-agent market, which makes sense given the dearth of teams looking for one. Didi Gregorius signed with the Phillies, leaving Iglesias as the top available shortstop. Iglesias, who turns 30 on Sunday, posted career-best offensive numbers in 2019, hitting 11 home runs with a .724 OPS in 146 games with the Reds, while also flashing a strong glove in the field. Iglesias’ best shot at a starting job would appear to be with the Orioles.

                Possible fits: Orioles, Brewers, Tigers

                8. Yasiel Puig, OF
                Puig has the talent to be listed with Ozuna and Castellanos, but the enigmatic 29-year-old has been on three teams since the start of 2018, leading some executives to wonder about his makeup. Puig is a great physical talent, but he occasionally makes on-field mistakes that drive managers and coaches crazy. Puig -- who hit only two home runs in 49 games after being traded to the Indians last summer -- might have to settle on a one-year pillow contract to reestablish his value.

                Possible fits: Rangers, Giants, White Sox

                9. Steve Cishek, RHP
                Despite a recent report that Cishek was hoping to land with the Red Sox (he’s from Massachusetts), a source said that won't be the case for the 33-year-old righty. Cishek doesn’t throw hard, but the ground-ball specialist has been very consistent throughout his career, posting a 2.68 ERA in his decade in the Majors. He’s had a sub-3.00 ERA in each of the past four seasons.

                Possible fits: Rangers, White Sox, Nationals

                10. Alex Wood, LHP
                Injuries limited Wood to 35 2/3 innings over seven starts for the Reds in 2019, but the lefty had been quite good from 2013-18, pitching to a 3.29 ERA in 172 games (129 starts) for the Braves and Dodgers. With all of the notable starting pitchers already signed, Wood will be a worthwhile gamble for some pitching-needy team.
                Possible fits: Angels, Giants, Brewers

                11. Brock Holt, INF/OF
                Given Holt’s versatility -- he played six positions for the Red Sox last season -- it’s somewhat surprising that the 31-year-old hasn’t attracted more interest. A return to the Red Sox can’t be counted out, though there are many teams that would benefit from adding the jack-of-all-trades.

                Possible fits: Red Sox, Mets, Yankees

                Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined as a reporter in 2001.

                Drew's Sig


                • #84
                  Rumors: Bryant, Castellanos, Clevinger, Donaldson

                  6 Jan 2020, 1:03 PM ET

         is keeping track of all the latest free-agent and trade rumors right here.

                  Is Cubs' asking price for Bryant and Contreras too high?
                  Jan. 6: It's not exactly a revelation that the Cubs are looking for a healthy return in exchange for third baseman Kris Bryant. But some people around baseball think Chicago's asking price is too steep, according to a report from NBC Sports' David Kaplan.

                  “The Cubs' asking price for Bryant is a joke," a former general manager told Kaplan. "They want nearly ready Major League talent at the level of a Gleyber Torres type or close and there is no chance a team is going to give them a package of those caliber of players."

                  Bryant hit .292/.385/.554 (146 OPS+) with 39 home runs as a 24-year-old in 2016, winning the National League MVP Award and helping the Cubs win the World Series. He followed that up with another strong campaign in 2017 (142 OPS+), though he hit 10 fewer homers.

                  He has regressed a bit in the past two years, however, posting a 127 OPS+ while battling injuries. Bryant also has taken a step back on defense, recording -9 Defensive Runs Saved at the hot corner after notching +8 DRS from 2015-17.

                  Further complicating Bryant's situation is his pending service-time grievance against the Cubs. If an arbitrator rules in his favor, Bryant will be eligible for free agency next offseason instead of in two years. Regardless of the outcome, Bryant is going to be looking for a massive payday -- possibly similar to the deal fellow Scott Boras client Anthony Rendon got from the Angels (seven years, $245 million) -- when he hits the open market.

                  "I like Bryant but he is not a player that I would pay $30-plus million a year for," an executive said. "He and Scott Boras are going to want a massive deal and I would never commit to that type of commitment at this point in time."

                  The same executive also told Kaplan that the Cubs want a "king's ransom" for catcher Willson Contreras, who is three years away from free agency.

                  The Nationals are one team that is known to have discussed Bryant with the Cubs, but MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported last week that talks between the two sides have not gained traction. Given Chicago's need in center field, the Cubs likely asked for 22-year-old speedster Victor Robles, who was one of MLB's top defensive outfielders in 2019.

                  Neither Jim Duquette nor Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio would entertain a Robles-for-Bryant trade if they were in Nats GM Mike Rizzo's shoes.


                  Morosi: Rangers among finalists for Castellanos
                  Jan. 6: Sources tell's Jon Paul Morosi that the Rangers are among the finalists to sign Nicholas Castellanos.

                  Per Morosi, Castellanos recently met with the club and came away with a favorable impression. More >

                  Report: Angels, Tribe discussed Clevinger
                  Jan. 5: The Angels are still doing their due diligence to improve their starting rotation before Opening Day. A source told’s Jon Paul Morosi that Los Angeles has had talks with the Indians regarding a trade for Mike Clevinger, however the Tribe’s asking price remains very high for the right-hander, and those talks have stalled for the time being.

                  The Indians' initial asking price included outfielder Jo Adell, baseball’s No. 5 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, and another player, Morosi reports, but the Halos have been extremely reluctant to part with Adell to this point. More >

                  Are Braves the Donaldson favorites over Nats, Twins?
                  Jan. 4: What was shaping up to be a three-team race for Josh Donaldson could be narrowing fast.

                  The Nationals, Twins and Braves are the three clubs to offer Donaldson a four-year deal, sources confirmed to Meanwhile, the 34-year-old Donaldson has been waiting for a team to meet his asking price, which is believed to be in the $110 million range, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.

                  But the circumstances in Washington and Minnesota might be knocks against those teams' chances of landing Donaldson. More >

                  Two-way player from Cuba seeking Major League deal
                  Jan. 4: Outfielder and pitcher Oscar Colás has defected from Cuba and will look for a deal with a Major League team, according to Las Mayores' Francys Romero.

                  The 21-year-old hit .302 with a .516 slugging percentage in 66 games for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Japan's Western League last year. Colás also reportedly can reach 95 mph as a pitcher, though he didn't pitch in Japan.

                  ESPN's Jeff Passan notes that there are differing views on Colás' future position. One scout thinks he'll remain an outfielder, while another says he has a good enough arm to play a two-way role.
                  Either way, Passan expects Colás to garner significant interest across MLB, though the youngster may not be in a hurry to sign. Most clubs have a majority of their international signing bonus money committed already. The next international signing period begins in July, at which point the bonus pool resets for each team.


                  50/50 chance Arenado gets traded
                  Jan 2: There's about a 50 percent chance Nolan Arenado is traded, according to a report from MLB Network insider Jon Morosi. Morosi notes that at least six teams have checked in on the Gold Glove third baseman, who is under contract through 2025, though the deal has an opt-out after 2021. The Dodgers are not the most likely destination, tempering prior momentum of such rumors, as the Rockies would prefer to trade Arenado outside the division if they were to make a move.

                  The latest on Betts, Lindor trade discussions
                  Jan. 2: Speculation regarding a possible trade of Francisco Lindor to the Dodgers have dominated the trade rumor mill, but the Lindor winds may be shifting. Sources tell's Jon Morosi that talks between the Dodgers and Indians have stalled somewhat as Los Angeles refuses to part with infielder Gavin Lux, Cleveland's desired centerpiece in a return for Lindor. In fact, sources tell Morosi that the Dodgers are having "more dynamic" conversations with the Red Sox regarding Mookie Betts, as Boston might not be as fixated on Lux, and could possibly include left-hander David Price alongside Betts to help the Dodgers replace departed starters Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill.

                  As the Dodgers' chase for Lindor possibly plateaus, the Reds could soon become more serious players. FanGraphs' Craig Edwards notes that Cincinnati's acquisition of Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama might create some overlap with Nick Senzel, who is just a year removed from topping the Reds' top prospects list. Senzel could be a player that piques the Indians' interest in a Lindor trade discussion.

                  Three frontrunners emerge in bidding for Ozuna
                  Jan. 2: The market for Marcell Ozuna may finally be taking shape.

                  A source told’s Mark Feinsand that the Reds, Rangers and Cardinals are among the teams still making a push for the slugger, who spent the past two seasons in St. Louis. Other teams might also still be in play, but these three appear to be the frontrunners. One factor to consider when comparing is that Ozuna received a Qualifying Offer from the Cardinals, which means that any team other than St. Louis that signs him will forfeit a Draft pick. Castellanos, by virtue of being traded during the 2019 season, was ineligible for a Qualifying Offer, which could make him more appealing to some clubs concerned about giving up Draft picks.

                  Ozuna and Nicholas Castellanos are the two most prominent free-agent outfielders still on the market. Kole Calhoun (two years, $16 million with Arizona) and Corey Dickerson (two years, $17.5 million with Miami) signed deals recently, taking two other potential options off the board.

                  Multiple executives still expect the Reds -- who have already signed Mike Moustakas, Wade Miley and Shogo Akiyama this offseason -- to make another notable move. Could that move be Ozuna?

                  Nats pursuing third-base trade options
                  Jan. 2: The Nationals are exploring options at third base via the trade market if Josh Donaldson signs elsewhere, according to a report from MLB Network insider Jon Morosi. According to the report, the Nationals have been reluctant to make center fielder Victor Robles available in discussions with the Rockies on Nolan Arenado and the Cubs on Kris Bryant.

                  Robles led all outfielders with 23 Outs Above Average in 2019, six more than the next-closest outfielder. The 22-year-old just completed his first full season in the Majors, hitting .255 with 17 homers.

                  Arenado to LA? Not so fast
                  Jan. 1: There are a lot of reasons Nolan Arenado in Dodger blue makes sense. The superstar is a native of Southern California. The Dodgers are a win-now team, have a history of not being shy to spend when it needs to and have a hole at third base, assuming Justin Turner makes the transition to first.

                  But as sensible as the move may seem, it would be a big surprise to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post.

                  "I really don’t see a scenario in which Arenado lands in L.A.," Saunders wrote in a recent reader mailbag. "Trading a star player to a team within the division is always a risky and unpopular thing to do. The Dodgers already own the Rockies, so can you imagine the outrage among Rockies fans if the Dodgers won a World Series with Arenado playing third base?"

                  Going one step further, Saunders predicts that Arenado will remain a Rockie come Opening Day. But he would not be totally surprised if Arenado is traded at some point before he can opt out of the last five years of his contract following the 2021 season.

                  No matter what, Arenado's full no-trade clause in his contract ultimately makes him the decider in where he lands should that location not remain in Colorado. Saunders describes that as one of the biggest factors surrounding Arenado's trade talks, and even though Los Angeles would make sense for a multitude of levels, it may not be that easy. More >

                  Drew's Sig


                  • #85
                    Rumors: Arenado, Marte, Cubs, Betts, Yanks

                    25 Jan 2020

           is keeping track of all the latest free-agent and trade rumors right here.

                    Arenado to Rangers may be unlikely
                    Jan. 25: Texas may not be Nolan Arenado's next stop. Rangers GM and president of baseball operations Jon Daniels said Saturday at Fan Fest that an Arenado trade is unlikely, according to's T.R. Sullivan. That being said, the Rangers are still looking to add another bat in some way, so it doesn't appear the team has closed up shop on transactions for the winter. Daniels said that the club has talked to most clubs about what offensive players might be available, indicating that some trade could be in the works at some point.

                    Pirates may be ramping up efforts to trade MarteClick image for larger version

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                    Jan. 24: Whispers about a potential trade of Starling Marte cooled off after dominating the early weeks of the offseason, but the Pirates may now be ready to move forward -- and perhaps quickly, with Spring Training just a few weeks away. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported Friday morning that discussions surrounding Marte were "intensifying," with the Mets and Padres involved.


                    However, Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen put a damper on the possibility of a trade with Pittsburgh later in the day, saying that he doesn't envision making a move that would significantly disrupt the team's current outfield mix. Of course, it's possible that Van Wagenen was posturing in response to the Pirates' steep asking price. Per Heyman, the two sides remain engaged but are still far apart in trade talks.


                    The Mets have long seemed like a logical destination for the 31-year-old Marte, who is coming off his second straight 20-20 campaign and possesses the two-way ability that New York has been missing in center field. Marte is under club control through 2021, and is owed a palatable $11.5 million this season. New York traded for center fielder Jake Marisnick, but he projects to be a platoon player, while new manager Luis Rojas could pencil in Marte nearly every day.

                    The Padres, meanwhile, have already overhauled their outfield with the additions of Tommy Pham and Trent Grisham, but Marte's offense would be an upgrade over what current center fielder Manuel Margot has achieved to this point. San Diego has also reportedly engaged in trade discussions with the Red Sox involving Mookie Betts, so clearly the club is open to tinkering with its outfield a little more.

                    Cubs reportedly close to deal with Souza
                    Jan. 24: The Cubs are close to a deal with free-agent outfielder Steven Souza Jr., according to a report from MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.

                    Souza missed all of 2019 after undergoing left knee surgery to repair an ACL tear, an LCL tear, a partial PCL tear and a posterior lateral capsule tear. The veteran injured his knee when he slipped on home plate late during an exhibition game in late March. Souza also played just 79 games in 2018 due to a recurring right pectoral strain.

                    Over five big league seasons, the 30-year-old has recorded a .233/.323/.417 slash line with 70 home runs in 471 games, spending time with the Nationals, Rays and D-backs in that span.
                    Souza would give Chicago another corner-outfield option, perhaps allowing Jason Heyward to see more time in center field. The move likely closes the door on a Cubs reunion with Nicholas Castellanos, who was already a long shot to re-sign with the club due to its payroll constraints. More >

                    Will Arenado trade talks pick up again before Spring Training?
                    Jan. 23: Although Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich attempted to clarify Nolan Arenado's status Monday by telling the Denver Post that the five-time All-Star would begin the 2020 season with the team, Arenado's future in Colorado remains more uncertain than ever after the third baseman expressed his frustration in a text to's Thomas Harding.

                    As's Jon Paul Morosi notes, the coming days could determine whether the Rockies' front office feels it can repair its relationship with Arenado. If not, Bridich may be compelled to try to move Arenado sooner rather than later to avoid an awkward situation at Spring Training, as Arenado indicated Wednesday that he no longer will discuss his situation with the Rockies.

                    The Cardinals and Rangers remain two of the strongest suitors for the 28-year-old, sources told Morosi on Tuesday. The White Sox also are consistently mentioned by people within the industry as a potential Arenado suitor, per Morosi. More >


                    Padres have discussed Betts trade with Red Sox
                    Jan. 23: The Padres have discussed a trade with the Red Sox involving outfielder Mookie Betts, with recent talks focusing on a package of Wil Myers and prospects going to Boston, sources told's AJ Cassavell, confirming what was initially reported by Dennis Lin of The Athletic (subscription required).

                    People familiar with the discussions consider a trade to be a long shot at this juncture, but there's at least legitimate interest on both sides, Lin notes. More >

                    Cashman says Happ will be Yankees' No. 5 starter
                    Jan. 23: There was some speculation that the Yankees would look to trade J.A. Happ this offseason, especially after they signed Gerrit Cole to a record nine-year, $324 million contract.

                    But Meredith Marakovits of the YES Network revealed Saturday that general manager Brian Cashman said Happ will open 2020 as the team's No. 5 starter after Cole, Luis Severino, James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka. More >

                    Still available, Puig 'isn't a priority' for this team
                    Jan. 23: With Marcell Ozuna now off the board after inking a one-year, $18 million deal with the Braves on Tuesday, Yasiel Puig is among the very few remaining available corner outfielders who possess intriguing upside, along with Nicholas Castellanos.

                    In fact, Castellanos' former club, the Tigers, possibly are in the market for an outfielder, GM Al Avila told Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. Puig, however, "isn't a priority" for Detroit, according to Avila. More >

                    Reds reportedly made multi-year offer to Ozuna, now eyeing Castellanos
                    Jan. 23: At first glance, the Braves' one-year, $18 million deal with Marcell Ozuna seemed like bad news for Nicholas Castellanos. Not only did Ozuna sign for much less than expected, but he also joined a team that could otherwise have been a fit for his free-agent counterpart.

                    However, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports that Ozuna had multiple multi-year offers on the table -- albeit at a lower average annual value -- than the deal he ultimately signed with the Braves. He opted for the one-year contract to try for something better next offseason, when he'll have no Draft compensation attached to him. Yasmani Grandal, Josh Donaldson and Hyun-Jin Ryu all took that route last offseason, and it paid off in a big way when they tested free agency again.

                    Per Heyman, one of the clubs that made a longer offer to Ozuna was the Reds, who have now turned their attention to Castellanos. More >

                    This could be a name to watch for teams seeking bullpen help
                    Jan. 23: At this point in the offseason, most of the big-name free agents have signed, and that includes the reliever market, which wasn't exactly deep at the outset, anyway.

                    One name that could be an interesting target for teams still seeking bullpen help, however, is Pedro Strop. A group of clubs appears to be in the mix for the right-hander, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet Canada, who named the Marlins, Rangers, Brewers and Cubs.


                    Although Strop's 2019 campaign was subpar by his standards (4.97 ERA, 1.27 WHIP), part of that could be attributed to a left hamstring injury that limited him to 50 games -- the fewest appearances he made since joining the Cubs via trade in 2013.

                    Even factoring in last season, the 34-year-old's stats in his seven years with Chicago were quite impressive: a 2.90 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP and 474 strikeouts over 373 innings.

                    Francona: Lindor 'not on the trading block'
                    Jan. 18: Indians manager Terry Francona told MLB Network Radio that the Tribe is no longer actively shopping superstar Francisco Lindor.


                    “I can guarantee you we’re not trying to trade Lindor," said Francona. "We have him for two more years. Keeping him is everybody’s goal.

                    "Also know that keeping him and fielding a competitive team is a challenge in our market," he continued. "There’s no getting around that. It’s not gonna be easy. I think that’s as honest as you can be.”
                    The momentum toward a Lindor trade has been slowing down for a while, but Francona's voice adds some weight to the idea that Cleveland will at least begin the 2020 season with its star shortstop in tow. The Indians still have a competitive roster that can compete in the American League Central, and they can still shop Lindor closer to the July Trade Deadline. The 26-year-old is set to hit free agency after the 2021 season.

                    Cubs expect to be active in coming months, GM says
                    Jan. 17: Although Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein made it clear after the 2019 season ended that the club would be considering a wide range of options to shake up the roster, Chicago has had a quiet offseason to this point. But in an appearance on 670 The Score on Friday, general manager Jed Hoyer indicated that the Cubs expect to be more active in the coming months.
                    The conclusion of Kris Bryant's service-time grievance could be the spark that gets the ball rolling. If an arbitrator rules in the Cubs' favor, Bryant will remain under team control for two more years, perhaps allaying other teams' concerns and improving his trade value by removing the uncertainty.

                    "Usually, at this time of year, you're sort of wrapping up your offseason," Hoyer said. "For us, not that we haven't been doing a lot of different things behind the scenes, but as far as the kind of moves that fans notice or get excited about, we've been quiet on that front. I feel like our offseason isn't just ending right now, like it usually would be. It's kind of just beginning.

                    "We certainly will be active leading up to the season. I think it's fair to say this offseason for us has been pushed back a little bit, and we're just getting things started on some of the things that we want to do."

                    Hoyer admitted that the club is not going to be able to keep its core of Bryant, Javier Báez, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber together for much longer. Like Bryant, the other three are under control for two more years.

                    "We had this young group that came through the farm system, that came up at the same time," Hoyer said. "We offered all of those guys extensions, we tried hard to really keep this group together for as long as we can. I think there are certain realities where we are not going to be able to keep this group together forever. It may be by them leaving through free agency, it may be by us trading some of them. We might be able to extend some of them.

                    "In all honesty, we passed the point of being able to extend all of those players. I think we had a moment in time where that might have been possible and we passed that."

                    Hoyer went on to note that the team is keeping one eye on the present and another on the future when building its roster.

                    "The reality is, we've kept this group together for a long time by baseball standards," Hoyer said. "We hope to continue to be able to keep it together, but when you look at it, a lot of these guys hit free agency after 2021. We have to think about not only this year's team, but we have to think about how we're going to field a really competitive team beyond that group's free agency after '21."

                    As for potential additions this offseason, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports that the Cubs have discussed free-agent center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who has missed the past two seasons due to injuries and was released by the Yankees in November. Ellsbury, who was a teammate of new Cubs manager David Ross on the 2013 Red Sox, could fill the club's need for a center fielder and a leadoff hitter, if healthy. More >

                    Drew's Sig