White Sox ace Chris Sale may soon be donning a Nationals uniform, as Washington appears to have moved into the catbird seat to pull off a blockbuster deal for the star southpaw. Offering a loaded package of prospects to meet Chicago’s high asking price, the Nationals now have a “legitimate chance” of acquiring Sale and are haggling over the final pieces of a trade, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.
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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.
12:39pm: The Rangers have been in “frequent” contact with the Pirates about McCutchen, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. A deal between the two sides is possible but not close at this time, he adds. Heyman adds that he’s heard it’s “not likely” that the Rangers would actually meet the Pirates’ asking price, though. Additionally, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi tweeted earlier today that the Dodgers have made a recent inquiry on McCutchen as well. 11:10am: There’s a “mystery team” pursuing Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). Pittsburgh is said to be looking for a taker for its longtime star. To this point, the Nationals have been tied most closely to the former MVP center fielder
The Mets offered one of Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce to the Orioles in exchange for “a high-end reliever,” ESPN.com’s Adam Rubin reports, though talks didn’t go anywhere. Based on that description, one would think the Mets were asking about Brad Brach, Mychal Givens or maybe even ace closer Zach Britton. While the O’s are indeed looking for right field help, it’s understandable why they didn’t accept that offer. Here’s more from around the NL East… The Marlins will make a strong push for Aroldis Chapman, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports (Twitter links). Miami is also looking at Kenley Jansen (and is thought to be willing to make him a very big offer), though the team would prefer to keep the 14th overall pick in next year’s draft, whereas Chapman can be signed without draft compensation. The Marlins are open to a number of bullpen options, though they’re prioritizing signing a reliever over trading for relief help
Opposing teams bring up right-handers Carlos Martinez and Alex Reyes more than any other Cardinals in trade talks, general manager John Mozeliak told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Unsurprisingly, though, the Redbirds are “extremely unlikely” to deal either, said Mozeliak. The Cardinals were interested in extending Martinez as of October. For now, Martinez is arbitration eligible for the first time, with MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projecting a $5.3MM award. The 22-year-old Reyes, on the other hand, won’t hit arbitration until after the 2019 season
This week in baseball blogs: North Shore Nine explains why the Pirates trading center fielder Andrew McCutchen would not be a salary dump. Sports Talk Philly doesn’t see McCutchen as a sensible target for the Phillies. NYRDCAST interviews Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak. BP Toronto advises the Blue Jays to avoid trading for Mets outfielder Jay Bruce. Off The Bench Baseball contends that the Athletics should trade right-hander Sonny Gray.
The Mets are “positioned to move fairly quickly” to trade Curtis Granderson and/or Jay Bruce, Newsday’s Marc Carig writes (Twitter links). While it isn’t likely they trade both, that scenario is a possibility, Carig adds. After recently re-signing Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets have plenty of outfield options, also including Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo, in addition to Granderson and Bruce. Trading both Granderson and Bruce arguably would leave the organization a bit short, but there’s the possibility the Mets could deal both as a prelude to other moves. Between Granderson and Bruce, the latter appears to be more likely to be traded, as noted earlier this week. If the Mets were to trade Bruce, Granderson could stay and share time with Lagares in center field. The 29-year-old Bruce had a strong season overall in 2016, batting .250/.309/.506 with 33 homers in 589 plate appearances. He did, however, struggle a bit after arriving in New York via an August 1 trade.
After making three All-Star teams in the past four years and posting a sub-2.00 ERA along the way, Mark Melancon is improbably playing third fiddle on the closer market as he hits the free agency for the first time in his career. Despite the competition he faces, he should be in line for a very lucrative contract. Pros/Strengths Melancon doesn’t flash the enormous velocity of fellow free-agent closer Aroldis Chapman, nor does he boast Kenley Jansen’s ludicrous strikeout totals, but he’s turned in a better ERA than either one of them since the start of the 2013 season (1.80) and has also pitched the highest number of innings of any of the three in that time (290). In addition to that 1.80 ERA, Melancon has averaged 8.3 K/9 against a minuscule 1.4 BB/9 rate in that four-year stretch. Melancon uses his cutter to rack up grounders at an enormous rate; he’s 22nd of 222 qualified relievers with a 57.4 percent ground-ball rate dating back to 2013 and has actually been more effective against lefties than righties due to that pitch, so he doesn’t come with platoon worries. Those ground-ball tendencies and his excellence even when hitters hold the platoon advantage are among the reasons that it’s so difficult to leave the yard against Melancon. Since 2013, his 0.31 HR/9 rate trails only Wade Davis among qualified relievers