Free agent designated hitter/first baseman has three preferred landing spots – the Blue Jays, Red Sox and an unidentified team – a major league source told Rob Bradford of WEEI. The mystery club isn’t the Yankees, per Bradford, and they’re likely out of the running for Encarnacion (if they were ever in it) after adding Matt Holliday. The Blue Jays could be out, too, as they’ve reached deals with two first base/DH types in Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce this offseason. The fact that Toronto moved on to other options so quickly after Encarnacion rejected its four-year, $80MM offer came as a surprise to the longtime Jay, tweets Jon Morosi of MLB Network. More from the majors’ two East divisions: Despite reported interest in Holliday and now-Astro Carlos Beltran, Boston didn’t make offers to either, Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. “I figured we would wait to see what takes place later on, who’s out there
TUESDAY: The Yankees have checked in on Dozier, though it’s unclear how serious they are about acquiring him, reports Heyman. New York traded for second baseman Starlin Castro last winter, but his recent track record pales in comparison to Dozier’s. Castro hit .270/.300/.433 with 21 homers in 610 plate appearances in his first year with the Yankees and is owed $31MM through the 2020 season. MONDAY: The notion that the Dodgers have “piqued” the Twins’ interest in trade discussions for second baseman Brian Dozier is “more rumor than substance,” a source told Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). That could change, however, as talks will pick up during this week’s winter meetings, per Wolfson. In a potentially interesting development, Dozier will attend the meetings in National Harbor, Md., and is scheduled to arrive Monday, according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.
News and rumors from around the AL West… The Angels checked in with the Phillies about second baseman Cesar Hernandez at the start of the offseason but talks didn’t develop due to the Phils’ high asking price, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. While Hernandez doesn’t look like an option, Fletcher lists several other relatively inexpensive second base possibilities who could be available for the Halos in free agency or in trades. One name cited by Fletcher is Chase Utley, and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman indeed tweets that the Angels “have emerged” as a potential landing spot for the veteran second baseman. Utley has a clear path to playing time in Anaheim and he would get to stay in his hometown area. The Athletics and Royals have a pretty healthy trade history, MLB.com’s Jane Lee notes, and the clubs could work out another deal to land the A’s a center fielder in the form of Jarrod Dyson. Lorenzo Cain is also available, if more expensive and Oakland would have to give quite a bit more to land him. Lee’s piece suggests several names that could be on Oakland’s radar for the center field vacancy, though costs will keep the A’s away from many of the bigger names. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto said his club is engaged in talks to acquire a starter, with a trade more likely than a signing, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes. Dutton speculates that Scott Kazmir or Brandon McCarthy, both of whom are reportedly being shopped by the Dodgers, could be fits in Seattle.
The Indians are discussing a multi-year contract with slugger Edwin Encarnacion, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Cleveland’s interest in Encarnacion was first reported earlier today, and it appears as though the Tribe has more than just a cursory interest — talks are “serious,” Hoynes writes, though there’s no indication that the two sides are close to any sort of agreement. With Mike Napoli a free agent, the Tribe have been connected to several first basemen this offseason, though Encarnacion (the top first base option on the market) was widely considered to be beyond Cleveland’s financial reach. When asked if this was the case, however, Indians director of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said “you don’t have to curb expectations. We are being exhaustive in exploring options to improve our position player club.” A source tells Hoynes that the Tribe’s run to Game 7 of the World Series may have generated as much as $48MM in extra revenue for the club, which could provide Antonetti and company with some unexpected payroll flexibility. It could be something of a perfect storm for Cleveland, as the team’s extra money coincides with a possible downturn in Encarnacion’s market — potential suitors like the Blue Jays, Astros, Yankees have acquired other players, while the Red Sox and Rangers have both shown only lukewarm interest. The draft pick compensation tied to Encarnacion (due to his rejection of the Jays’ qualifying offer) has also reportedly factored into his relatively quiet market, and giving up the 27th overall pick of the 2017 draft to sign Encarnacion is surely a major consideration for the Indians as well.
Catch up on all the news from the Winter Meetings on MLB Network, presented by WBC. Live coverage picks back up at 9 a.m. ET with Hot Stove.
The Braves are reportedly still in the mix for Chris Sale, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Atlanta also made a run at Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray but found Oakland’s asking price to be prohibitive (Twitter link). Oakland did not ask for Dansby Swanson to be included in the deal, but Atlanta still felt the A’s were asking for too much in return. A few more notes on the market for starting pitchers… The Royals are gauging interest in left-hander Danny Duffy, reports MLB Network’s Jon Morosi (via Twitter). Duffy had a breakout campaign this past season, tossing 179 2/3 innings with a 3.51 ERA, 9.4 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 36.4 percent ground-ball rate. As Morosi points out, he could make sense for a team looking to augment its rotation but unwilling to part with the talent required to land someone like Chris Sale or Chris Archer. Duffy, however, is a free agent next winter, so he’d be a short-term upgrade rather than a long-term solution like those other names. The Astros are more likely to trade for rotation help than they are to pursue the remaining free agents on the market, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney. Houston isn’t in on right-hander Ivan Nova and likely considers him to be too expensive, per Olney. The Astros are reportedly open to moving either Collin McHugh or Mike Fiers as they seek to create some roster/payroll flexibility, as Olney’s colleague, Jayson Stark, reported earlier today
Chris Sale’s name figures to dominate headlines in the coming days as baseball’s Winter Meetings pick up steam. We’ll track all of today’s updates on his market in this post… The Nationals are stepping up their efforts to acquire Sale from the White Sox, tweets FanRag’s Jon Heyman. The Nats and White Sox are meeting this afternoon to discuss Sale according to Heyman, who also notes that the Red Sox and other teams are also still in the mix for Sale. Washington reportedly believes it has the prospects to add both Sale and Andrew McCutchen in a trade, though doing so would obviously come with a lofty asking price that would require GM Mike Rizzo to part with a significant portion of his farm system (and likely some MLB-ready talent as well). Trea Turner is reportedly off limits in trade talks, though the Nats have plenty of other young talent to entice other clubs. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted this morning that rival execs get the sense that the Nationals and Astros are the most aggressive teams on the Sale market, and the Braves are in the picture as well. As is the case with the Nats and Turner, the Astros (Alex Bregman) and Braves (Dansby Swanson) each have a young core player whom they effectively deem to be untouchable in trade talks, even for someone of Sale’s caliber
Committing an unprecedented sum of money in an attempt to offset unprecedented lapses in performance, the Giants obtained the closer they sought by agreeing to a four-year contract Monday with free-agent right-hander Mark Melancon. In announcing the deal, Giants general manager Bobby Evans did not divulge financial details of Melancon’s contract, which will become official pending the obligatory physical examination.
The Astros have claimed left-hander Ashur Tolliver off waivers from the Angels, tweets Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The 28-year-old reliever made his big league debut with the Orioles last season after impressing with a 2.23 ERA, 10.2 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 44 1/3 innings across three minor league level. However, Tolliver was still designated for assignment when the Orioles picked up Kyle Lobstein, and he want to the Angels on waivers shortly thereafter. Tolliver has just 4 2/3 big league innings under his belt, during which time he allowed three runs on five hits and three walks with five strikeouts, but he’ll give Houston an MLB-ready southpaw option to add to its depth chart.
DEC. 5: The Astros announced that Beltran has passed his physical, making the contract complete. DEC. 3: The Astros have agreed to a one-year, $16MM deal with free agent DH Carlos Beltran, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (Twitter links). Beltran is an MVP Sports Group client.