Inside Baseball MLB Notes: Mariners, Indians among teams open to dealing key players

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Taking an offseason trip around MLB … 

Arizona Diamondbacks 

— They are considering everything, as expected, and that includes a trade of D-Backs icon Paul Goldschmidt. That will be a “very difficult” thing to do, GM Mike Hazen admits — he is that beloved in Arizona — but two rival GMs predicted that Goldschmidt will be dealt … 

— While Hazen declined to discuss any contractual talks they’ve had with Goldschmidt, there is zero chance they’d trade him without first seeing whether there’s any potential for a multiyear deal. (Maybe they already know there isn’t. The D-Backs just aren’t saying.) … 

— Some execs think a trade of Zack Greinke may actually be more likely, though one estimated that the D-Backs would likely have to pay down a third of the $105 million remaining. Hazen inherited that deal, which made little sense for the D-Backs. (The team with the lowest ticket prices in baseball – yes, even lower than the Marlins - shouldn’t have the highest-paid player.) The D-Backs have to be willing to pay down the remaining three years by a bit, but they view the Clayton Kershaw extension that gives him $93 million over three years as proof they wouldn’t have to pay down Greinke by too much.  

 

Atlanta Braves

— The Braves are looking for an outfielder. One suggestion would be Nick Markakis, who did a nice job for them in 2018. A.J. Pollock is the top outfielder on the market and would give Atlanta probably the best defensive outfield in the league, with also Gold Glove winner Ender Inciarte plus 19-year-old wunderkind Ronald Acuna … 

— They are also seeking a catcher, but a Braves person shot down the rumor that they had made a “strong” offer for Marlins star J.T. Realmuto. To that point, the Braves had made no offer for Realmuto, the person said … 

— They have considered bringing back Kurt Suzuki who made a nice tandem with Tyler Flowers, who already is back in the fold … 

— The catching market is interesting, with several catchers available. In trade there’s possibly Realmuto plus the Mariners’ Mike Zunino (who appears headed to the Rays) and maybe one of Cleveland’s duo of Yan Gomez and Roberto Perez. In free agency there are Yasmani Grandal, Wilson Ramos, Martin Maldonado, Robinson Chirinos, Jonathan Lucroy, Suzuki, Matt Wieters and others (Travis d’Arnaud of the Mets is a non-tender candidate). However, close to half the teams are looking for catching help of some sort … 

— The Braves could seek a closer, and Craig Kimbrel, the former Brave from Huntsville, Ala. could make sense, as Jon Morosi of MLB Network mentioned.

 

Baltimore Orioles

— It was interesting to see the Dodgers allow their rival Giants to interview L.A.’s GM Farhan Zaidi for a higher job with a competitor (and in this case the biggest competitor) as it reminded us that Orioles owner Peter Angelos didn’t allow his then GM Dan Duquette to interview for the Jays president’s job three years ago when it was clearly a higher job, and his job to win . It’s an unwritten rule to allow execs to interview for higher jobs, but since it is indeed unwritten Angelos stood in Duquette’s way. Then he fired him three years later … 

— The Orioles are moving slowly on the GM front. They say wonderful things about Ben Cherington, so he’d presumably have a great shot — if he wants it. David Chadd of the Tigers is another candidate, as was reported here first. 


 


Boston Red Sox

— The bullpen is the major focus as Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly are free agents …

— Kimbrel is expected to seek at least five years but the Red Sox are not believed to want to go quite that many years … 

— The Red Sox would love to bring Nathan Eovaldi back if possible. His free agent case is an interesting one. He could not have thrown any better in October, yet teams will want to look at medicals which will show two Tommy John surgeries. Logan White who drafted him for the Dodgers had it right when he said Eovaldi could be summed up in one word: gamer.

 

Chicago Cubs

— The Cubs have a terrific nucleus, but that doesn’t mean everyone is untouchable. “We’re open for business,” Cubs president of baseball Theo Epstein said. Surely, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are going nowhere … That said, they are expecting better production from many in their core — probably including Willson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell, Ian Happ and maybe one or two others (though no one was singled out). “We think a lot of those guys are better than they played last year,” Epstein said. “We still believe in this group.” … 

— With Joe Maddon heading into 2019 as a lame duck, it may take a special year for the sides to stay together. There is believed to be a bit of friction between Maddon and his higherups but Maddon could force their hand with a World Series appearance, which obviously is doable with that team … The Cubs haven’t said why they haven’t set their coaching staff yet, but there’s been some speculation pitching coach Jim Hickey may not return … 

— The Cubs made a clever trade by sending Drew Smyly to the Rangers while picking up Cole Hamels’ $20-million option in a deal that made plenty of sense on so many levels. The Rangers needed Smyly more and wanted to make sure the Cubs didn’t decline Hamels’ option because their trade stipulated that they would have to pay the $6 million fee to reject. The Cubs have suggested they have budget considerations, and they have made sure to stay under the threshold while fielding an excellent team. But Cubs sources suggest they are not required to stay under the threshold this year. Or as Epstein put it, “We are not really CBT motivated.” … 

— The Cubs’ main order of business is to bolster their bullpen, which was depleted badly late last year. They do expect Brandon Morrow back (and also Yu Darvish).


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Chicago White Sox

— The White Sox are a player for Nelson Cruz … 

— It was interesting that the White Sox extended Rick Renteria be an undisclosed number of years when he lost 100 games and the more successful manager 10 miles to the north was not extended. Part of that could be related to Renteria’s reasonable (though not especially low) pay, which was reported here to be in the $1.2 million range on the old contract … 

— The White Sox do like how Renteria has been willing to make statements when their young players occasionally have had lapses, and it’ll be interesting to see how that works if they do import Manny Machado, who famously failed to hustle while playing in the postseason and had $300 million (or so) effectively on the line, though the guess here is he gets it (somewhere) anyway. The reality is that the White Sox showed they were willing to sign imperfect superstars in the past when they gave Albert Belle a then-record contract to pry him away from the rival Indians. (History lesson: That was a disaster, though they were able to dump him on the Orioles) … 

— The White Sox’s apparent willingness to spend big is interesting, and seems to come a year before their readiness to contend. But as GM Rick Hahn points out, “We purposely put ourselves in position to create some flexibility.”

 

Cincinnati Reds

— One Reds baseball person joked that he feels “like an HR person” with all the hiring they’ve done, between the front office staff, manager and coaches. It was interesting to see respected Derek Johnson leave the Brewers for the Reds, making it three NL Central teams for him; he previously worked for the Cubs following an excellent career as Vanderbilt’s pitching coach. Johnson’s presence could spark Reds interest in Sonny Gray, who is available and will be dealt from the Yankees ...

— Cincinnati has some interest in super utilityman Josh Harrison, a Cincinnati product who played at the University of Cincinnati, though they look rather strong on the infield and at Harrison’s strongest positions — second base and third base.

 

Cleveland Indians

— The Indians are believed to have extended GM Mike Chernoff, though they won’t announce it (or admit it). Chernoff was pursued by the Giants and Mets, and he did seriously consider the Mets. He and his wife are New Jersey natives and geographically San Francisco wouldn’t have worked. The reason he stayed in Cleveland though is that he loves his situation working for Chris Antonetti and a stable, hands-off ownership group. Said Chernoff, “I love Cleveland.” ...

— Cleveland is actively shopping for outfield help.


 


Colorado Rockies

— Rockies GM Jeff Bridich says the team has talked to Nolan Arenado about a long-term deal and will continue to try. However, word is that Arenado, who’s going to make $60 million through the arbitration process, feels no urgency with a year to go. He is expected to set the arbitration record (currently Josh Donaldson for $23 million this year) though it will be fairly short-lived with Mookie Betts and Kris Bryant coming. It is rare to get stars of this ilk signed with a year to go, but the Rockies apparently haven’t given up hope.

 

Houston Astros

— Houston is looking at DH and is interested in Nelson Cruz … 

— They are seen as a logical landing spot for J.T. Realmuto, who expects and (presumably) wants to be traded this winter, as he did last winter. His agent Jeff Berry predicted Realmuto would be traded this winter in an interview with Jim Duquette on MLB Network radio, and it sounded a lot like a desire of his, too. At the very least, the chances for a longterm deal with Miami seem to be nil … 

— Charlie Morton suggested he might like to play only one more year (or even retire after 2018) sometime early last year. But he is said to be looking for a multi-year deal. With the Astros having ready-made replacements like Colin McHugh and Brad Peacock plus star prospect Forrest Whitley, they may not win the bidding for Morton. While Morton thrived in Houston and really became a star there, is an East Coast guy. The Nats would be more convenient for him …

— Marwin Gonzalez has a monster market, and someone connected to Gonzalez says his name comes up with practically every team.

 

Kansas City Royals

— Mike Matheny is a candidate for an advisory role with the Royals. KC has always liked him, and he might be seen as a manager in waiting, especially since this is expected to be Ned Yost’s last year.

 

Los Angeles Angels

— The Angels aren’t saying when they are approaching Mike Trout about an extension. But if they are smart, it’s soon. He has finished in the top four in MVP voting every year. Amazing … 

— Eric Chavez has been invited to stay in his advisory role if he so desires.


 


Los Angeles Dodgers

— The Dodgers appear to be doing the right thing by not over-reacting to one or two pitching moves in the World Series and trying hard to bring back Dave Roberts, though negotiations have been much tougher than anyone would have figured. The Dodgers thus far have only picked up his $1.1 million option for 2019, though that is seen as a vehicle to keep the dialogue going. Roberts was aiming to get a deal similar to A.J. Hinch’s reported $12-million, four-year deal (though he understood that the low-priced option meant he’d have to take a bit less). … 

— While Roberts was hit for removing Rich Hill after 6 1/3 innings of one-hit ball in Game 4, Dodgers people recognized that that’s the way they do things, not letting pitchers often go too deep the third time through the order. They also seem to understand Roberts is perfect for the team … 

— Brian Dozier toughed it out and played with a severe bone bruise all 2018, which explains his uncharacteristic season … 

— There’s decent interest in Hyun-Jin Ryu but it is believed that he has a good chance to accept the $17.9 million qualifying offer and resets. The Dodgers like him very much so they wouldn't mind that, and they like the one-year deals … 

— Yasmani Grandal has received good interest, according to Robert Murray of The Athletic, and folks are expecting he will probably decline the qualifying offer …

— Some wonder whether two qualifying offer acceptances might hamstring the Dodgers, but that would be doubtful. By resetting the tax, the Dodgers are in good shape financially.

 

Miami Marlins

— Their chances for an extension with star catcher J.T. Realmuto are just about zero at this point. While Realmuto said at the All-Star Game he’d be open to listening to what the Marlins have to say, that doesn’t mean there’s any chance for a long deal. Until the Marlins show evidence of becoming a contender in the foreseeable future, it’s not viable to convince Realmuto to commit to staying. The Braves rumor was shot down, however … 

— The Marlins may continue their sale and are thought to be considering trading Dan Straily and even Joe Urena, who had a big finish and should bring back some significant pieces.

 

Minnesota Twins

— The Twins remain hopeful that Paul Molitor will remain in the organization. They are still in touch with him. Friends, however, aren’t sure the St. Paul native who was fired after one year of his three-year deal is ready to commit to the team at this moment… 

— While we love Molitor here, at least the Twins did well with Rocco Baldelli coming from the Rays. Baldelli interviewed in five places for good reason … Derek Shelton, who knew Baldelli from his days in Tampa Bay, decided to stay with the Twins as bench coach, which is another plus. Shelton finished second for the Twins job and is believed to have been second for the Rangers job to Chris Woodward.


 


New York Mets

— Agent Scott Boras got an obscure joke off on the Mets, saying they normally “shop at Fred’s,” Which sent the writers scrambling to view Google, whereupon Mike Puma of the New York Post discovered that Fred’s is a chain of discount department stores in the southeast. It also happens to be the Mets’ owner’s name. Boras has a long history of making cracks about the Mets’ lack of spending. They did sign Carlos Beltran, who Boras represented at the time, for $119 million, 13 years ago, but passed on Matt Holliday, another Boras client, to sign Jason Bay … 

— New GM Brodie Van Wagenen said he didn’t take very hard Boras’ comments to the same Post about why Boras would never leave his players for a team, and Van Wagenen and Boras met here when the BorasCorp met with the Mets. Van Wagenen noted, “We like some of their players.” That doesn’t necessarily mean Bryce Harper; everyone seems to like Marwin Gonzalez, who is a potential fit for the Mets and others (one said 'every team but one' is interested in him), and Zach Britton among other relievers certainly would help.

— The Mets are looking for infield help. It will be interesting to see how this might affect new GM Van Wagenen’s former client Todd Frazier ...

—Dave Lennon writes in Newsday that Van Wagenen needs to brush up on on his messaging after he said the Mets “weren’t ruling out” trading Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, two other clients ...

— Van Wagenen also suggested Tim Tebow — yet another former client — could make the Opening Day roster. That probably comes under the Jim Carrey quote in Dumb and Dumber “so you’re saying there’s a chance!!!”

— The Mets are seeking catchers. Martin Maldonado is one of many on their radar as they seem to have concluded they don’t have a starter on their roster.

 

New York Yankees

— A few other teams called on C.C. Sabathia, including his hometown Oakland A’s (C.C. is from Vallejo), but he never gave his agent the go-ahead to engage anyone but the Yankeees. It wasn’t about the money. Sabtahia wants to finish as a Yankee, and he probably wouldn’t mind making the Hall of Fame (from here he has an excellent chance) … 

— The Yankees still want to acquire two more starting pitchers, with free agents Patrick Corbin (a Yankee fan growing up) and J.A. Happ (who pitched for the Yankees in the second half) plus trade targets Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and James Paxton on their list. The Yankees have plenty of prospects, so don’t rule out a trade, though free agency is an easier route (they also have plenty of money) … 

— The Yankees met with the Indians while here … 

— Sonny Gray will be dealt, and the Yankees believe “Sonny Gray will go back to being himself” with 29 other teams. The Reds make sense, as do others. He is healthy, just not a fit for the Yankees … 

— They have all but ruled out a run at Harper. However, if Harper is willing to play first base, he could be a somewhat better fit. Scott Boras brought up Harper as a first baseman in the Bronx, pointing out he's taken grounders at the position for a couple years. Luke Voit did a great job the last several weeks, and is penciled in at the moment; the Yankees are suggesting he is their guy for first base. They also haven't expressed interest in Diamondbacks All Star Paul Goldschmidt, who is available, so perhaps they really do plan to give Voit a shot … 

— The Yankees like Josh Harrison’s versatility and have met on him. Marwin Gonzalez is a potential fit, as well ...

— Despite the rumors about players around the diamond, make no mistake: The Yankees' offseason focus is pitching, pitching and more pitching, with Machado (or possibly a lesser infielder) after that.


 


Oakland Athletics 

— The A’s are looking for a second baseman. The obvious choice would be Jed Lowrie, but there could be a little delay in their talks, as Lowrie switched agencies following his former agent Brodie Van Wagenen’s move to become Mets manager. He is now with Excel headed by Casey Close … 

— The A’s also seek Sonny Gray. They called on Bay Area native C.C. Sabathia but knew their chances were sim. Perhaps another Yankee, Sonny Gray, could make sense. Gray thrived with the A’s.


RELATED: Predicting the deals for 131 of free agency's potential movers and shakers 


Philadelphia Phillies

— The Phillies are going to be a monster player this winter, as we know by now. One positive, beyond the obvious $2.5 billion TV deal, is their lack of major payroll commitments going forward … 

— The plan right now is to have Carlos Santana play some third base and Rhys Hoskins to play some first base. Some wonder whether they might consider shopping Santana, whose signing forced the move of Hoskins from first base, where he was fine, to left field, where he still a work in progress … 

— GM Matt Klentak admitted it’s not possible to go from a “poor” defensive team to a good one in one winter. They could become a contender, however.

 

St. Louis Cardinals

— Someone suggested star closer Craig Kimbrel could be a fit for them, but Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggested they’d rather mix and match in the bullpen than spend on one big-time closer … 

— Following three years missing the playoffs, the strong belief is that the Cardinals will spend, however. Machado fits positionally. But the Cardinals really could use a lefty hitter, so Harper might make more sense. St. Louis presumably still has some money left after missing out on Jason Heyward and David Price, and before that Albert Pujols ...

— Mike Moustakas or Josh Donaldson could be target for St. Louis, Ken Rosenthal reported. St. Louis is indeed interested in a corner bat. They’ve tried for Donaldson before but didn’t play on Moustakas last year when he also made sense. He may make more sense this year because of the lack of a qualifying offer ...

— Interestingly, the Cardinals do not seem interested in Manny Machado despite their interest in s corner infield bat. It’s unclear whether the postseason affected their thinking.

 

San Diego Padres

— The Padres are looking for a third baseman … 

— They also will look at short-term help at shortstop in anticipation of top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. not being ready to start the season with the major-league team. They will talk to Freddy Galvis, who they had last year and like, and may consider Jose Iglesias, Adeiny Hechavarria and others … 

— GM A.J. Preller characterized a big free-agent deal like last year’s surprise signing of Eric Hosmer as “not that likely.”


 


San Francisco Giants

— The Giants are ecstatic to get Farhan Zaidi from the Dodgers to run their baseball operations. They also have to be a bit relieved after trying earlier to at least interview David Stearns of the Brewers, Mike Hazen of the Diamondbacks, Mike Chernoff of the Indians and many other luminaries around the game. The Giants look like there M.O. was to go down the list of “young guys who are most respected.” Anyway, they got someone very respected, and they diminished their main rival, who was professional and kind enough to let him better his opportunity. The reason the Brewers were able to say no to the Giants interviewing Stearns is that Stearns is already in charge of baseball operations while Zaidi, despite the GM title ranked below Andrew Friedman with the Dodgers … 

— Folks around baseball are impressed. “Wicked smart,” is a phrase heard around the MLB offices to describe Zaidi … 

— Some candidates to join Zaidi in San Francisco, perhaps as GM, include Billy Owens, a longtime A’s exec, and Dan Kantrovitz, another A’s exec. Another possibility could be Sam Geaney, who is now with the Padres but was with the A’s when Zaidi was there is another possibility. Mark Feinsand also mentioned Dan Feinstein as a possibility …

— On some level it would make sense to trade the legendary Madison Bumgarner. But that kind of deal is something the Giants have never done. It will be interesting to see if the change in leadership changes that approach. In any case, it wouldn’t be easy.

 

Seattle Mariners

— The Mariners were in serious talks to send Mike Zunino to the Rays. Ryan Divish of the of the Seattle Times suggested it could be Zunino and outfielder Guillermo Heredia for OF Mallex Smith. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first tied Zunino to the Rays …  

— GM Jerry Dipoto disputed the notion they would have a “teardown” but agreed that they needed to “reimagine the roster.” Realistically, he said they understand the bar is high in the AL (Red Sox) and the AL West (Astros) and they aren’t quite there. He said that rather than a rebuild, their goal is to make themselves as competitive as possible as soon as possible (it may just not be right away, realistically) … 

— Dipoto made it seem like it’s nothing out of the ordinary. “We’re always open,” he pointed out, a subtle reference to his record of trading, which is extensive (though not usually of the sell variety) No one wants to admit to a teardown, but sources suggest everyone but Edwin Diaz, Mitch Haniger and Marco Gonzales, three stars under control for the next few years, are “up for grabs.” … 

— Diaz would bring back a haul if they were to consider moving him, and that could make some sense, as a closer isn’t a necessity unless they expect to contend …

— Word is Robinson Cano, while gracious to be the super utilityman after returning from his ban, wants his second base job. Dipoto wasn’t ready to commit to that, at least not publicly. “We don’t know that yet,” is how he put it … 

— Dipoto suggested he doesn’t believe the team has a chemistry problem in answer to a question. He acknowledged the physical fight between Jean Segura and Dee Gordon but suggested all teams have those kind of episodes, the difference being that this one was done in front of the media.

 

Tampa Bay Rays

— The Rays are close to officially acquiring Mike Zunino of the Mariners. “An obvious need,” a Rays person called catcher … 

— The Rays have plenty of prospects, and after seeing their team shock folks and win 90 games, they may be ready to trade prospects to bolster their big-league chances …

— Chaim Bloom finished second for the Mets GM job and it appears he may have been second for the Giants’ big job as well. He hasn’t been connected to the Orioles yet, but they seem to be OK with moving slowly, so stay tuned.

 

Texas Rangers

— No one’s said anything official, but the belief is that Hall of Famer to be Adrian Beltre may be leaning toward retiring to spend more time with his family. Nothing is certainly official yet, and he still could decide to play one more year … 

— Derek Shelton was a runner up to new manager Chris Woodward.


 


Toronto Blue Jays

— GM Ross Atkins says Vladimir Guerrero Jr. should be expected to emerge in 2019. He didn’t provide a timetable, but it would be a surprise if Guerrero starts the season with the team since he only needs to spend 15 days in the minors to delay his free agency. Atkins mentioned how pleased they are by how Guerrero handles everything, and presumably that includes not saying anything aloud about not being in the majors yet … 

— Toronto is looking for pitching. And coaches.

— Word is that the Jays won’t be spending big this year as they transition to a young team. They lost significant fans last year as they began the transition so this may be a risk.


RELATED: Is $500 million Harper's target for a deal?


Washington Nationals

— The Nats’ offer of $300 million for 10 years, as first reported by The Washington Post's Chelsea Janes, is technically “off the table,” at this time. But if Harper said he’d take it, they’d surely do the deal. That isn’t about to happen, though, as it is clear he is aiming much higher than that. That contract didn’t include any opt outs or a no-trade clause, which are almost automatic in the mega deals these days … 

— The Nats got a quick start on their bullpen rebuild by signing Trevor Rosenthal and trading for Kyle Barraclough. GM Mike Rizzo said he saw “value” there. Rosenthal threw very well in his showcase coming off Tommy John surgery, and Barraclough’s value may have been down a tad after a rough stretch late last year … 

— While the Nats made the Barraclough deal with the Marlins, they have been unable to get star catcher J.T. Realmuto, “We’ve been trying for a year … and gotten nowhere,” GM Mike Rizzo said … 

— Rizzo said he wouldn’t mind adding another starting pitcher. Charlie Morton is an East Coast guy and could be a fit. Rizzo is said to like his talent … 

— Rizzo’s love of Bryce Harper is obvious. Don’t rule them out.

Jon Heyman is Fancred's baseball insider. He publishes his weekly Inside Baseball column each Thursday on the App and FancredSports.com. You can download the App here and interact with Jon by following him right here.

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