With Soto deal done, is Yamamoto next for Yanks?

With Soto deal done, is Yamamoto next for Yanks?

LATEST FREE AGENT & TRADE RUMORS

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We’re keeping track of all the latest free agent and trade rumors.

Dec. 6: Yankees willing to exceed $300M payroll for Soto and Yamamoto?

After several days of discussions, the Yankees and Padres agreed to a deal sending Juan Soto to New York in a seven-player swap. Now, can the Bronx Bombers add another star to their roster?

Can the Bronx Bombers land both? It’s in play.

SNY’s Andy Martino hears that the Soto trade won’t preclude the Yanks from going full bore after Yamamoto.

Citing conversations with “sources familiar with owner Hal Steinbrenner’s thinking,” Martino reports that the Yankees would be willing to push their payroll past $300 million for the first time to land both Soto and Yamamoto. More >

Dec. 6: E-Rod, D-backs agree to four-year deal (source)

The reigning National League champions are adding to their roster. The D-backs and left-handed starter Eduardo Rodriguez have agreed to a four-year, $80 million contract, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. The deal contains a vesting option that can bring the total value to $99 million. 

Rodriguez, who signed a five-year, $77 million deal with the Tigers before the 2022 season, bounced back after a tough debut season in Detroit, posting a 3.30 ERA in 26 starts in ’23. As a result, Rodriguez exercised the opt-out clause in his contract, forgoing the remaining three years and $49 million to explore free agency once again.

Rodriguez, 30, is set to join an Arizona rotation that already includes Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Brandon Pfaadt. The D-backs made their first big move of the offseason on Nov. 22, acquiring third baseman Eugenio Suárez from the Mariners.

Dec. 6: Could the Padres sign the 2022 KBO MVP after trading Soto?

After trading superstar Juan Soto to the Yankees, could the Padres’ next move be to try filling that void?

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported that Jung-Hoo Lee is high on the Padres’ wish list, with a source saying “a deal could come together quickly” with Soto’s salary off the books and center fielder Trent Grisham off to New York in the same deal. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported earlier on Wednesday that the Padres were one of the possible landing spots. 

Heyman previously mentioned the Giants and Yanks as other clubs that are interested in the 25-year-old who had a .340 career average in Korea. The Giants are among the teams that have heavily scouted Lee, sending general manager Pete Putila to South Korea to attend Lee’s final game with the Heroes in October. San Francisco is aiming to improve its defense and athleticism this offseason, and Lee — a five-time winner of the KBO’s Golden Glove who is viewed as a plus defender — would be a strong fit.

Besides his lofty average and stellar play in the field, Lee posted a .407 on-base percentage and a .491 slugging percentage through seven seasons in the KBO. He hit a career-high 23 home runs to go with 10 triples and a .996 OPS during his MVP season in ’22. His 30-day negotiating window opened at 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday.

Dec. 6: White Sox ‘pulling back’ on Cease trade talks; have ‘no intention’ to trade Robert (report)

White Sox starter Dylan Cease has been one of the top trade options discussed this offseason. It appears, however, that a Cease trade is nowhere near imminent.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported that the White Sox are “pulling back” on trade talks for Cease, according to rival sources. Heyman notes that there’s still a good chance Cease will get dealt, but the White Sox might be waiting to see how the market plays out for free-agent starter Yoshinobu Yamamoto

While Cease may ultimately be traded, the White Sox have “no intention” to trade star outfielder Luis Robert Jr., according to Heyman. Robert, who is coming off a superb 2023 season where he hit 38 home runs and was worth 5.0 Wins Above Replacement, has four years and $67.5 million remaining on his deal — assuming his $20 million club options are exercised from 2026-27.

Dec. 6: Angels aggressively pursuing trade market for starting pitching (report)

According to the report, the Angels engaged the Blue Jays about Alek Manoah, although those discussions reportedly didn’t gain any traction. Additionally, the Angels have “scanned and engaged in discussions” for Cleveland’s Shane Bieber, Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes and Tampa Bay’s Tyler Glasnow, all of whom are entering their final years of club control. 

Following a 2022 season in which Angels starters finished in the top 10 with a 3.67 ERA and 15.0 WAR (FanGraphs), they regressed to a 4.47 ERA and 10.8 WAR in ’23. Without Ohtani’s contributions as a starting pitcher (3.14 ERA and 2.4 WAR), those numbers would have looked even worse. 

With a possible Ohtani deal looming, the Angels will likely need the trade market to bring in more talent. While the Angels’ farm system ranks near the bottom of the league, the club has a collection of young players — such as Zach Neto, Logan O’Hoppe and Nolan Schanuel — that rival teams are intrigued by, according to the report.

Dec. 6: Reds add veteran to stacked infield (source)

The Reds have added a veteran presence to their talented young infield. Third baseman Jeimer Candelario agreed to a free-agent deal with Cincinnati, pending a physical, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

Candelario, 30, was dealt by the Nationals at the 2023 Trade Deadline to the Cubs, where he started his career before spending five full seasons and part of a sixth with the Tigers. He posted a .251/.336/.407 slash line in 2023 with 39 doubles, 22 home runs and 70 RBIs.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Paul Morosi, signing Candelario would mean the Reds would likely trade an infielder prior to Opening Day 2024. Cincinnati’s already crowded infield currently contains Matt McLain, Elly De La Cruz, Noelvi Marte, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Jonathan India and Spencer Steer, with Steer also spending considerable time in the outfield in 2023.

Dec. 6: Some rivals expect Brewers to trade Burnes (report)

Eligible for free agency a year from now, Corbin Burnes is one of the top trade candidates on the starting pitching market this offseason. While some have expressed doubt that the Brewers would actually move him when they are trying to contend in 2024, there does appear to be some momentum building toward a trade.

Multiple rival executives who have talked to the Brewers told MLB Network insider Jon Heyman that they think there is a decent chance the club will trade the 29-year-old.

This comes after ESPN’s Jeff Passan (subscription required) reported last Friday that the Brewers “have engaged teams in recent days” in trade talks involving Burnes, the 2021 National League Cy Young Award winner.

Dec. 6: With Ohtani ‘days away’ from decision, which teams are still in?

The Dodgers. The Blue Jays. The Giants. The Angels. And possibly the Cubs.

Those are the teams reportedly still in on Shohei Ohtani as the two-way superstar gets close to ending a free-agent odyssey that has been shrouded in mystery and filled with intrigue.

Reporting from the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., MLB Network insider Jon Paul Morosi said Wednesday that Ohtani is “days away from deciding, according to what a lot of people close to this process have told me here this week. Again it may not be today, but it’s going to be soon.” More >

Dec. 6: Yamamoto reportedly meets with Mets; Yanks up next

The courtship for Yoshinobu Yamamoto is spanning the globe.

Dec. 6: Could Dodgers include Lux in trade for Brewers’ Burnes?

Shohei Ohtani is the Dodgers’ top target this offseason, but he won’t be able to help their pitching staff in 2024 as he recovers from elbow surgery. So, regardless of whether or not the Dodgers sign the biggest free agent available, they still need to fill out their starting rotation.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (subscription required), one option on the table for Los Angeles is striking a deal for Brewers ace Corbin Burnes. The Dodgers have been often linked to Burnes in the rumor mill, and Rosenthal writes that a trade with Milwaukee may also include shortstop Willy Adames. Both he and Burnes are slated to be free agents following the 2024 season.

If Adames is in the deal, the Dodgers would have to figure out what to do with Gavin Lux. More >

Dec. 6: Latest on closer market after O’s deal with Kimbrel

Baltimore was previously connected to Josh Hader, the No. 1 closer on the free-agent market, as well as Aroldis Chapman and Jordan Hicks.

Hader, though, may have been out of the O’s price range — his contract is expected to challenge Edwin Díaz’s reliever record ($102 million). With Baltimore presumably out of the picture, it may be a while before Hader finds his next team.

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand said Tuesday night on MLB Network that a potential Hader signing will likely come after the free-agent decisions of Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, which are both expected in the coming weeks.

“Those teams that lose out on Ohtani, those teams that lose out on Yamamoto, they’re going to spend their money somewhere,” Feinsand said. “I think Hader’s going to have to wait until those two dominoes fall before he really finds out which teams are serious about him.”

Teams looking for a top-tier closer but not interested in paying up for Hader could also turn to the trade market. ESPN’s Jeff Passan (subscription required) reported on Dec. 1 that the Guardians are open to trading Emmanuel Clase, who led the Majors in saves in each of the past two years. Clase’s five-year, $20 million deal runs through 2026 and includes $10 million club options in ’27 and ’28.

The Cubs, Rangers and Phillies (who need a replacement for Kimbrel) were linked to Hader earlier this offseason, but it’s unclear if any of those clubs are in on the left-hander at this point.

The Rangers are showing interest in Hicks, as are the Astros and Angels, according to MLB Network insider Jon Paul Morosi. The flamethrowing righty, a native of Houston, posted a 3.29 ERA with a career-high 11.1 K/9 over 65 appearances between the Cardinals and Blue Jays in 2023, saving 12 games along the way.

Dec. 6: Cubs eyeing multiple high-profile pitchers (reports)

Will the Cubs add to their starting rotation through free agency or the trade market?

They have been linked to a significant name in each market recently: Tyler Glasnow and Shōta Imanaga. More >

Dec. 6: Marlins open to moving young arms

Miami may yet be willing to deal from a position of strength. According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the Marlins are “listening” on their young starters, a group likely to include right-hander Edward Cabrera and left-handers Braxton Garrett and Jesús Luzardo.

Cabrera, 25, lost a chunk of the 2023 season to a right shoulder injury but showed promise when he was able to take the mound, pitching to a 4.24 ERA while generating a 55.7% ground-ball rate and an opponents’ expected batting average of .199.

Garrett and Luzardo were the backbone of Miami’s rotation in 2023, each surpassing 150 innings pitched. Garrett, in his first full Major League season, pitched to a 3.66 ERA while maintaining a 4.4% walk rate, which ranked in the 97th percentile among qualifying pitchers. Carrying on from his breakout 2022 season, Luzardo recorded a 3.58 ERA with 208 strikeouts in 178 2/3 innings pitched.

Dec. 5: Are the Dodgers and Blue Jays the favorites for Ohtani?

On the set of MLB Tonight on Tuesday, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand said that he thinks the Dodgers and Blue Jays are the 1-2 for signing Ohtani.

Feinsand’s report follows similar rumblings we’ve heard around both teams in recent days. Blue Jays officials are believed to have met with Ohtani on Monday at the club’s Spring Training complex in Dunedin, Fla., according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required). If true, the news indicates Toronto is clearly one of the finalists for the two-way superstar.

Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun also reported that the Blue Jays are “all-in” and “put its best foot forward” in trying to land Ohtani.

While Ohtani might not sign during this week’s Winter Meetings, he is expected to ink a free-agent contract in the coming weeks. Whether that deal will be with the Blue Jays remains to be seen, but according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, Ohtani recently told some people that he has a “positive feeling” about the Blue Jays and Dodgers, along with other cities and clubs.

This follows a report from the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser, who wrote Sunday that there were “rumblings” that Ohtani was in San Francisco on Saturday while a number of the Giants’ top decision-makers were at Oracle Park.

The Angels and Cubs have been considered the other finalists to sign Ohtani. After a report surfaced on Tuesday about the Cubs being out of the Ohtani sweepstakes, Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer refuted that claim.

“I don’t know where that came from. There’s nothing to report whatsoever,” Hoyer told reporters at the Winter Meetings. More >

Dec. 5: Could this free-agent outfielder replace Verdugo in Boston?

The Red Sox and Yankees made a rare trade on Tuesday that sent outfielder Alex Verdugo to New York. That move could open up a spot for a free-agent outfielder that the Red Sox are reportedly interested in.

Dec. 5: Are talent-rich Orioles the favorite to acquire Cease?

When speaking to reporters at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday, Orioles general manager Mike Elias said there’s “definitely a very strong possibility” that MLB Pipeline’s No. 1 prospect Jackson Holliday could make the club’s 2024 Opening Day roster.

The 20-year-old Holliday, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 Draft, headlines a farm system that was recently ranked as the best in MLB. And farm system is a key reason why MLB Network insider Jon Paul Morosi views the pitching-needy Orioles as the favored landing spot for White Sox starter Dylan Caese 

“Their farm system is so good, and their need for pitching is so clear that I think that Dylan Cease to Baltimore is where I’m going to predict that he winds up,” Morosi told NBC Sports Chicago on Monday.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman made the Cease-Orioles connection as well in an article for the New York Post on Monday, writing that Baltimore “should have a good chance with their stash of outstanding prospects” and pointing to infielder Jordan Westburg as a player who could be a key piece in a Cease package. Westburg was a first-round Draft pick in 2020 and was considered a top-100 prospect prior to the 2023 season by MLB Pipeline.

With two years of control remaining, Cease has many teams reportedly in the mix for him. Morosi described the right-hander’s market as “robust” on Sunday, with the Dodgers and Braves among the other clubs talking to the White Sox about the 27-year-old ace, per sources. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported earlier on Sunday that those aforementioned clubs as well as the Cardinals “are all clamoring” for Cease.

Cease, the Rays’ Tyler Glasnow and the Brewers’ Corbin Burnes are a few of the prominent starters who could be on the move this offseason. While the Orioles likely won’t make huge splashes in free agency, they could use their plethora of talented prospects to get a frontline pitcher.

Dec. 5: Giolito drawing interest from multiple teams

Lucas Giolito is drawing interest from multiple teams in free agency, including the Dodgers, Mets, Red Sox, D-backs and Royals, according to MLB Network insider Jon Paul Morosi.

The Dodgers, Mets and Red Sox are also believed to be serious suitors for Yoshinobu Yamamoto, so it’s possible Giolito will wait to sign until Yamamoto is already off the board.

The 29-year-old Giolito has posted a 4.89 ERA over the past two seasons and led the AL in home runs allowed (41) this past season, but he’s a durable arm who has shown ace upside in the past. From 2019-21, Giolito recorded a 3.47 ERA with an 11.1 K/9 over 72 starts for the White Sox.

Dec. 5: Snell, Giolito could be Yamamoto fallback options for Mets

Yoshinobu Yamamoto is believed to be the Mets’ No. 1 target in free agency this offseason, but with so much competition in the Yamamoto sweepstakes, New York is considering a number of fallback options.

Dec. 5: Several Brewers OFs involved in trade discussions (report)

Even after Jarred Kelenic was dealt to the Braves and Alex Verdugo to the Yankees, the outfield trade market remains active, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman wrote Tuesday night in the New York Post

In addition to reported trade targets like the Twins’ Max Kepler, the Rays’ Randy Arozarena and the Cardinals’ Tyler O’Neill — whom St. Louis president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said the Cards are likely to trade — multiple outfielders from a National League contender could be available.

Heyman listed several Brewers outfielders as potential trade targets, including Joey Wiemer, Garrett Mitchell and Blake Perkins, all of whom were rookies in 2023, as well as 29-year-old Tyrone Taylor. Heyman said Milwaukee would likely prefer to keep Sal Frelick, who was MLB Pipeline’s No. 30 prospect prior to the 2023 season and made his MLB debut on July 22.

Dec. 5: Trout trade? ‘100 percent’ won’t happen, Angels GM says

While speculation and rumors continue to swirl around Shohei Ohtani, the fate of the other Angels megastar, Mike Trout, seems pretty clear now.

Angels general manager Perry Minasian said on Tuesday that Trout “is not getting traded. 100 percent.”

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported in September that the Angels were open to trading the 32-year-old outfielder, who is owed about $37 million over each of the next seven seasons. But Trout, who has a full no-trade clause, never gave any hints that he wanted to be moved out of Southern California, and it looks like he won’t be.

Dec. 5: Mariners reportedly considering Bellinger among other OF options

Seattle is in need of two outfielders after opting not to make a qualifying offer to free-agent right fielder Teoscar Hernández and then trading left fielder Jarred Kelenic to the Braves on Sunday.

The Mariners’ Nov. 22 trade of third baseman Eugenio Suárez to the D-backs and Sunday’s deal, which also sent Evan White and Marco Gonzales to Atlanta, trimmed about $42 million in future commitments from Seattle’s payroll.

Cot’s Baseball Contracts puts the Mariners’ current payroll at roughly $113 million, including projected salaries for arbitration-eligible players. Seattle’s Opening Day payroll in 2023 was around $137 million, per Cot’s.

Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto said Sunday night that the team’s payroll will likely be higher than it was in 2023. However, it remains to be seen if the Mariners can fit Bellinger into their budget. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, the outfielder is seeking a contract north of the eight years and $162 million ($20.25 million average annual value) Brandon Nimmo received from the Mets last year.

With the Mariners needing multiple bats, pursuing less expensive options via the trade market might make more sense. Morosi reported Sunday that the Mariners and Rays, who have completed 14 trades with one another since 2015, have spoken about outfielder Randy Arozarena as well as third baseman Isaac Paredes.

Morosi has also mentioned Twins outfielder Max Kepler — who is under contract for 2024 on a $10 million option — as a potential trade candidate.

Meanwhile, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman has speculated that Sunday’s trade could make the Mariners a fit for Padres outfielder Juan Soto. That may be more unlikely, though, with Soto’s salary projected to be north of $30 million in 2024, his final year before free agency.

Dec. 5: Red Sox continue pursuit of rotation help

Red Sox chief baseball officer Craig Breslow said Monday that the team is “actively engaged” in the free-agent and trade markets for starting pitchers. That’s no surprise as the Red Sox finished 2023 with a 4.68 rotation ERA, and Chris Sale is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract (he carries a $20 million club option for 2025).

But Breslow is also willing to deal from the team’s glut of position-player prospects in order to obtain controllable pitching, and he said no prospect is untouchable. More >

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