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The Hot Stove is open for business. As the top free agents begin to ink new deals and clubs begin to make the moves they think will vault them into contention or put them over the top, MLB.com will have you covered with all the latest buzz right here.
Marlins want Acuna in a Yelich deal with Braves
Christian Yelich‘s name has been in the trade rumor mill for much of the offseason, and the buzz has picked up again after the center fielder’s agent said Tuesday that Yelich hopes to be traded before Spring Training starts. According to MLB Network insider Peter Gammons, any deal would have to bring a “huge return” for Miami.
Citing conversations with teams that have called the Marlins about Yelich, Gammons said Wednesday on MLB Tonight that the Marlins won’t move the 26-year-old unless they get back “star-level talent.” As one example, Gammons said Miami has told the Braves that uber-prospect Ronald Acuna would have to be included in any trade for Yelich.
“The Marlins told the Braves, ‘Look, we’ll do a three- or four- or five-for-one, but Ronald Acuna has to be in it or we don’t go even to the second player,'” Gammons said on MLB Network.
Acuna is one of baseball’s very top prospects. He currently ranks as MLB’s No. 6 overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and could move up even further on that list in the upcoming 2018 rankings. The 20-year-old outfielder seems likely to be promoted to the big league club early next season.
Gammons said Acuna is a player the Braves won’t trade, and the fact that the Marlins would tell the Braves that he would have to be the minimum headliner of any Yelich deal indicates that they’re “shooting very high.”
Following Miami’s trades of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon to the Yankees, Cardinals and Mariners, respectively, Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto have been floated as the next players the team could potentially move as part of its rebuilding effort.
Gammons also mentioned Realmuto in the segment, saying that other teams’ general managers think the Marlins might wait to trade Realmuto closer to the 2018 Trade Deadline.
Red Sox offer to Martinez reportedly $100 million
Negotiations between the Red Sox and free-agent slugger J.D. Martinez haven’t yet culminated in a contract agreement, and his agent, Scott Boras, has refuted recent reports that Boston extended an offer of five years in the $100 million range.
Boras told MLB Network insider Jon Heyman the reports of the offer, which was said to be less than what Martinez was seeking, were “not accurate.” Heyman reported last week that Martinez is looking for a six-year deal valued at $30 million per year.
The Red Sox have long been linked to Martinez since before he hit free agency, first as a speculative fit following his monster season and then after multiple reports this offseason indicated the two sides were talking. Boston has been seen as the favorite to land Martinez, though a snails-pace free agent market this winter has stalled potential agreements with nearly every high-profile free agent.
Heyman reported last week that Martinez is willing to hold out into Spring Training for a contract that he believes meets his market value, which indicates other clubs are also involved. Martinez was a remarkable catalyst for the D-backs last year in helping them reach their first postseason since 2011, and Arizona is reportedly still interested in bringing him back, per Heyman.
After he was acquired on July 18, Martinez hit 29 homers and 65 RBIs in just 62 games, trailing only National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton in each category in that span. On the season, Martinez hit 45 homers despite playing in just 119 games, becoming the first player in MLB history to do so.
Martinez, who will be 31 in August, would reportedly prefer to play outfield, and Boston already has established Gold Glove Award winner Mookie Betts to go with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi. Martinez’s fit would likely be at designated hitter, which may give Arizona an edge, in addition to the fact that the club recently hired Martinez’s personal hitting coach.
Castellanos on the trade block?
While the Tigers were ultimately able to avoid an arbitration hearing with Nicholas Castellanos, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Detroit remains open to trading the rising slugger, citing multiple clubs that have engaged in discussions with the Tigers this offseason.
Castellanos, 25, agreed to a one-year, $6.05 million contract with the Tigers on Friday. Detroit’s first-round Draft choice from 2010 is about to embark on his first full season in right field, but Fenech reports that the Tigers’ uncertainty about his defensive ability could still lead to a trade before Opening Day. Castellanos has primarily manned third base during his first four full seasons in the Motor City, but he has rated below average in terms of Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) in each of those campaigns. He played 21 games in right last season.
Castellanos’ prowess at the plate is much less in doubt. He broke out for a career-high 26 home runs and 101 RBIs for the Tigers in 2017 while recording a league-adjusted 110 OPS+ (where 100 is average) and pacing the American League with 10 triples. He was even more productive in some respects in ’16, finishing with a 120 OPS+ over 110 games. While Castellanos will be eligible for arbitration again next winter, he will not test the free-agent market until 2020. That means Castellanos, for the moment, represents a controllable, relatively cheap hitter coming into his own — regardless of his defensive ability.
Tigers general manager Al Avila revealed at the Winter Meetings that the team approached Castellanos about a contract extension toward the end of last season, but that no progress has been made.
If Pirates aren’t contending, J-Hay wants to be dealt
A day after Andrew McCutchen was traded to San Francisco, Josh Harrison effectively asked to be traded “if indeed the team does not expect to contend this year or next” in a statement released Tuesday to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal. Harrison, 30, is under contract for $10.25 million this year, with club options for 2019 ($10.5 million) and ’20 ($11.5 million). More >
Giants still looking for OF upgrades
Fresh off acquiring Andrew McCutchen from the Pirates on Monday, the Giants are trying to add even more talent to their outfield, with the former National League Most Valuable Player being told that he’ll play a corner spot with the team this season, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.
San Francisco’s main desire is to upgrade defensively in center field, and sources tell ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that the Giants rank Jarrod Dyson as their most coveted option behind Lorenzo Cain. The club is also interested in Jon Jay and Cameron Maybin, according to Crasnick, but values Dyson’s “speed, defensive metrics and stolen-base ability.”
The Giants, after bringing in McCutchen via a trade with the Pirates, do not have the space under the luxury-tax threshold to sign Cain at his projected salary, according to MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi. Morosi reported that the club is looking to add a “defense-first player” in center field “who will be less expensive than Cain.”
Dyson, Jay and Maybin will certainly all be less expensive than the former Royals center fielder, and Dyson led that group with seven Outs Above Average last season, according to Statcast™. Maybin was at plus-2 two while Jay was minus-3.
Dyson, 33, has stolen at least 25 bases in each of the past six seasons and would be a big boost to a Giants club that ranked 20th in the Majors with 76 steals last year. Jay has 51 steals in eight Major League seasons, but his .738 career on-base-plus-slugging percentage bests Dyson’s .677 total.
Maybin owns a career .693 OPS and stole 33 bases during his time split between the Astros and Angels last season.
Brewers remain interested in Arrieta, Moustakas
The Brewers “continue to be in” on free-agent right-hander Jake Arrieta and third baseman Mike Moustakas, according to Jim Bowden of SiriusXM.
The Brewers have been known to be seeking starting pitching in free agency, and Arrieta would certainly be a boost to Milwaukee’s rotation, especially with Jimmy Nelson‘s 2018 status unclear. Nelson, who underwent surgery on his right shoulder in September, went 12-6 with a team-best 3.49 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 175 1/3 innings last season.
It was reported earlier in January that the Cubs and Cardinals were the two clubs most interested in Arrieta’s services, but the Brewers’ desire to sign the 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner could create a potential bidding war between the NL Central rivals.
Arrieta, 31, went 64-29 with a 2.67 ERA in 119 starts for the Cubs over the past four seasons.
According to Bowden, the Brewers’ interest in Moustakas comes with the idea that the club “could trade Travis Shaw” to the Yankees, Braves or Mets.
Milwaukee does not necessarily have a need at third base with the incumbent Shaw being younger and cheaper than Moustakas. The 27-year-old Shaw, under team control through 2022, also excelled for the Brewers last season, batting .273/.349/.513 with 31 home runs and 101 RBIs in 144 games.
Yankees believe they can sign Darvish for ‘reasonable price’
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman’s interest in signing right-hander Yu Darvish is “very real” because he believes the slowly developing free-agent market may translate into a “reasonable price” for Darvish, according to the New York Daily News.
Darvish is a four-time All-Star in five Major League seasons, posting a 3.86 ERA in 31 starts between the Rangers and Dodgers last season. He pitched well down the stretch for Los Angeles after being acquired at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, and posted a 1.59 ERA between the National League Division Series and NL Championship Series. He was hit hard for nine runs (eight earned) in 3 1/3 innings over two World Series starts.
Overall, the 31-year-old Darvish owns a career 3.42 ERA and 11 strikeouts per nine innings. If the Yankees were to sign him, he would join a starting rotation that already features Luis Severino, who finished third in American League Cy Young Award voting last season, as well as former All-Stars Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray and CC Sabathia.
Cashman has stated the Yankees want to remain under the luxury tax threshold of $197 million for 2018, and signing Darvish would likely require the club to unload salary elsewhere via trade in order to keep payroll below that figure.
The Yankees, who also traded for NL Most Valuable Player Giancarlo Stanton earlier this offseason, came within a win of reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009 last October.
The Yankees, Rangers, Cubs, Astros and Twins previously had been reported as finalists for Darvish, but Darvish also said there is another team in the mix.
The first five teams come according to a report from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Jeff Wilson — and the mystery team from Darvish himself.
Darvish tweeted Wednesday night that he knows “one more team is in.”
D-backs remain persistent in pursuit of Machado
It remains to be seen whether the Orioles will deal Manny Machado this winter, but the D-backs remain the most persistent among the potential trade suitors, according MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.
The D-backs have been one of several teams in pursuit of Machado since Baltimore began fielding offers. The two sides aren’t close to an agreement, Rosenthal said, but Arizona second baseman Brandon Drury is one of the players under discussion in a potential deal. The Yankees and Red Sox have also been recently linked to the 25-year-old infielder.
If a trade did come to fruition, the D-backs would bolster an already talented roster that made the National League Division Series last season. That core wouldn’t be locked down long term, however; Machado, outfielder A.J. Pollock and left-hander Patrick Corbin are eligible for free agency after this season, while first baseman Paul Goldschmidt‘s contact is up after 2019 and third baseman Jake Lamb‘s deal expires after 2020.
Machado is a .279/.329/.476 hitter with 138 home runs and 406 RBIs in 764 games over six Major League seasons, while also being regarded annually as one of the best defensive third basemen in the game.
A two-time Gold Glove Award winner, Machado has requested a move to shortstop, his natural position. It’s a move that could increase his value even more as he looks to land a large contract next offseason.
Castro requests trade from Marlins
Starlin Castro, acquired in the December deal that sent slugger Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees, has requested a trade from Miami, sources told MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.
Castro “does not want to be a part of another rebuilding process” as he was when he was with the Cubs from 2010-15.
The Marlins are in the midst of a full rebuild, and it’s been expected that Miami would try to flip Castro to another team. MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reported last week that the Marlins might ultimately keep the 27-year-old infielder.
Castro is to make nearly $11 million in 2018 and almost $12 million in 2019. His contract comes with a $16 million club option for 2020.
Castro, a four-time All-Star, batted .283/.317/.442 with 37 home runs and 133 RBIs in 263 games over two seasons with the Yankees after hitting .281/.321/.404 with 62 homers and 363 RBIs across six seasons with the Cubs.