MLB Trade Rumors » » Washington Nationals 2018-01-17T01:33:59Z Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals, Howie Kendrick Agree To Two-Year Deal]]> 2018-01-16T00:50:54Z 2018-01-15T20:14:23Z 2:14pm: Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the two sides have reached an agreement, pending a physical (Twitter links). The contract contains an additional $2.25MM worth of incentives that can be unlocked based on plate appearances.

10:01am: The Nationals are nearing a deal with infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). The prospective contract would promise the Reynolds Sports Management client $7MM over two years.


If the contract is finalized, Kendrick will return to the place that he thrived in a late-season stint in 2017. His role is not immediately clear, but odds are he’ll see time around the infield as well as the corner outfield. Most importantly, perhaps, adding Kendrick will help the Nats ease the burden on All-Star second baseman Daniel Murphy as he returns from microfracture surgery.

In the aggregate, bringing back Kendrick at this price tag seems to make quite a lot of sense for the Nats. He represents a quality reserve and insurance policy at every position but short and center (along with the battery, of course). Star third baseman Anthony Rendon has had his share of nicks over the years. Outfielder Adam Eaton is returning from ACL surgery, so Kendrick can help reduce his wear-and-tear as well. Kendrick’s righty bat is a natural platoon match with Eaton and fellow corner outfielder Bryce Harper, each of whom hits from the left side, so he can readily spell either over the course of the season.

[RELATED: Updated Nationals Depth Chart]

MLBTR had predicted that Kendrick would get a two-year pact, but at a loftier overall guarantee ($12MM). That reflected not only his long history of solidly above-average production, much of it as a regular at second base, but also a quality output in the 2017 campaign. While he was banged up at times, Kendrick produced on both sides of the mid-season swap that sent him to Washington from the Phillies, ending the year with an overall .315/.368/.475 batting line through 334 plate appearance. And Kendrick has a lengthy record of durability before that.

Between 2010 and 2014, Kendrick functioned as the Angeles’ everyday second bagger. He thrived without standing out in any one area, averaging a .288/.332/.420 batting line with 11 homers and twelve steals per year while generally grading as a plus in the field. After moving to the Dodgers in 2015, though, Kendrick’s defensive grades at his accustomed position slipped. That spurred a move to the corner outfield, where he has been viewed as a roughly average performer, in a 2016 season that was Kendrick’s worst at the plate since he established himself as a big leaguer.

While the 2017 campaign represented something of a return to form, then, expectations will remain in check. Kendrick is already 34 years of age, after all. With the various cracks that have formed in his game, it’s not surprising to see him sign into a situation where he won’t be expected to play every day.

Entering the winter, the Nats justifiably felt most of the pieces were in place for a strong 2018 roster. Even while exploring larger moves — none of which has yet come to fruition — the team has steadily added role players over the course of the winter. Kendrick joins reliever Brandon Kintzler as a 2017 deadline acquisition who was brought back, while the team slotted Matt Adams in as its reserve first baseman and lefty bench bat. Upgrading the catching situation stands out as a remaining possibility, while both the rotation and relief unit could surely still be improved as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Nats Won't Face Stiff Penalty For Exceeding Luxury Tax Limit]]> 2018-01-14T20:21:35Z 2018-01-14T20:21:35Z The competitive balance tax has been a significant offseason storyline, most notably in regards to big-market teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, and Giants are all looking to stay under the threshold this winter in order to reset their tax costs and further position them for bigger spending next offseason and beyond.  While much has been made about the value of avoiding the tax,’s Mark Zuckerman notes that the actual financial cost is pretty minimal for teams (like the Nationals) who barely exceed the threshold.  For instance, the Nats’ current $199.2MM payroll puts them $2.2MM over the tax line, putting D.C. in line for a 30% tax on the overage since this would be the club’s second straight year over the threshold.  Since only the overage is taxed, however, the Nationals would only be paying an extra $660K.  Zuckerman figures that a contending team like Washington shouldn’t have any issue in paying a bit extra tax money in order to acquire a pricey trade addition during the season, especially if that player ends up helping the Nats finally enjoy some postseason success.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/12/18]]> 2018-01-13T04:29:29Z 2018-01-13T04:29:29Z The Braves released Adonis Garcia recently to allow him to move to the KBO, and the full set of transactions is now in the books. The 32-year-old third baseman has inked a $800K deal with the LG Twins, as Dan Kurtz of notes on Twitter. He played in the majors in each of the past three seasons but clearly was not a part of Atlanta’s plans for 2018.

Let’s catch up on a few minor moves from around the game, all courtesy of SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (links to Twitter) …

  • Righty Tyler Cloyd will join the Marlins on a minors pact. Now thirty years off age, Cloyd has made just a single MLB appearance since wrapping up his time with the Phillies in 2013. He spent most of 2017 pitching at Triple-A in the Mariners organization, where he worked to a 5.67 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 60 1/3 innings. While the output hasn’t been very encouraging of late, Cloyd could have a chance to push for an important place on the Miami depth chart. The rebuilding club is sure to have some pitching opportunities in the season to come.
  • The Nationals added right-hander Justin Miller as well as slugger Balbino Fuenmayor on minor-league deals. Miller, 30 has seen 88 1/3 total MLB innings, spread over the 2014-16 campaigns, with a composite 4.99 ERA. He has shown some swing and miss ability at times, though. Last year, he pitched to a 5.48 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 46 frames in the PCL. The 28-year-old Fuenmayor, meanwhile, played in Mexico last year after his once-prodigious upper-minors power output fizzled in 2016. He hit well in Mexico and has continued to rake in Venezuelan winter action.
  • Southpaw James Russell is headed to the Tigers organization on a non-roster arrangement. Whether he’ll receive a camp invite isn’t known in this case (or the others). The 32-year-old is long removed from his days as a solid bullpen presence. He last appeared in the majors, rather briefly, in 2016. Though he only threw 31 professional innings last year, all in the Mexican League, they were in a starting role. He worked to a 2.03 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9.
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: National League]]> 2018-01-13T06:28:47Z 2018-01-12T21:10:22Z The deadline for MLB teams to exchange salary arbitration figures with their arbitration-eligible players is today at 1pm ET. As such, there will be a veritable flood of arb agreements piling up in the next few hours — especially in light of a more universal approach to the “file and trial” method for teams. (That is to say, those teams will no longer negotiate one-year deals after arb figures are exchanged and will instead head to a hearing with those players, barring an agreemenr on a multi-year deal.)

Note that you can keep an eye on all of today’s deals using MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker, which can be filtered to show only the results of the team you follow and is also sortable by service time and dollar value of the agreement. All projections that are referenced come from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s annual compilation of projected arbitration salaries.

Onto today’s landslide of deals…

National League West

  • The Rockies have agreed to a $2MM salary with righty Chad Bettis, MLBTR has learned (Twitter link). That’s a fair sight more than his $1.5MM projection. Bettis surely would have had an opportunity to set a bigger platform for himself, but had to battle through testicular cancer before returning to the hill in 2017. Meanwhile, second baseman DJ LeMahieu has settled for a $8.5MM payday in his final year of arbitration, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. That’s just a hair short of the $8.8MM he was pegged for in MLBTR’s projections.
  • Giants second baseman Joe Panik is slated to earn $3.45MM in his first season of arb eligibility, Devan Fink of SB Nation was first to tweet. That’s just a hair shy of the $3.5MM that MLBTR projected. Lefty Will Smith has settled at $2.5MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). The club has also announced deals with its remaining arb-eligible players, right-handed relievers Sam Dyson ($4.6MM projection), Hunter Strickland ($1.7MM projection), and Cory Gearrin ($1.6MM projection). (H/t John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, on Twitter). Strickland earns $1.55MM, Nightengale tweets.
  • The Padres and Freddy Galvis agreed to a $6.825MM deal for his lone season of team control in San Diego, tweets Robert Murray of FanRag Sports. Galvis, who spent the first several seasons of his career in Philadelphia before being traded this winter, had been projected to make $7.4MM. Infielder Cory Spangenberg settled at $1.7MM, Heyman tweets, falling below a $2.0MM projection. San Diego has also reached agreements with righty Kirby Yates and outfielder Matt Szczur, the team announced. Yates will earn $1,062,500, Heyman tweets, which is just shy of his $1.1MM projection. Szczur, meanwhile, will get $950K, a healthy boost over his $800K projection, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link).
  • The Diamondbacks agreed to a $7.75MM deal with center fielder A.J. Pollock, Murray tweets. Pollock was projected to earn $8.4MM in his final year of eligibility before free agency. Murray also notes that Brad Boxberger is set to earn $1.85MM next year (Twitter link). Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic adds that lefty Andrew Chafin ($1.2MM projection) and the D-backs have a $1.195MM deal in place. Third baseman Jake Lamb, meanwhile, agreed to a $4.275MM deal with the Diamondbacks, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter link). Lamb, eligible for arbitration for the first time, was projected to earn $4.7MM. He’s controllable through 2020. And ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that Chris Herrmann ($1.4MM projection) landed a $1.3MM deal. Righty Taijuan Walker has settled for $4.825MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter), which is within range but shy of the $5.0MM he projected for. Lefty Robbie Ray has settled at $3.95MM, per Nightengale (Twitter link), which falls short of his $4.2MM projection. Infielder Nick Ahmed will $1.275MM, per Heyman (via Twitter), which tops the projected figure of $1.1MM. Arizona has also announced that Chris Owings and David Peralta have agreed to terms.
  • The Dodgers are in agreement on a $6MM deal with lefty Alex Wood, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). He had projected at $6.4MM. Meanwhile, righty Josh Fields agreed to a $2.2MM deal, tweets Murray. Heyman tweets that Enrique Hernandez will earn $1.6MM. Fields’ projection of $2.2MM was on the money, whereas Hernandez topped his mark by $300K. Fields is controlled through 2019, while Hernandez is controllable through 2020. Southpaw Tony Cingrani gets $2.3MM, Murray tweets, which is just a shade over his $2.2MM projection. Outfielder Joc Pederson has also settled, per J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (via Twitter), with Beth Harris of the Associated Press reporting a $2.6MM salary that rather handily tops the $2.0MM that MLBTR projected.

National League Central

  • All three remaining Cardinals arb-eligibles have agreed to deals,’s Jenifer Langosch tweetsMarcell Ozuna will earn $9MM after drawin a much larger $10.9MM projection, Heyman tweets. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had explained that Ozuna likely wouldn’t quite reach the amount the algorithm suggested, though the actual salary still comes in a bit shy of expectations. Lefty Tyler Lyons ($1.3MM projection) receives $1.2MM, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). The Cards have also reached agreement with Michael Wacha for $5.3MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter); he was projected to earn $5.9MM.
  • The Reds agreed to a $860K salary with Anthony DeSclafani, tweets Murray. DeSclafani missed the 2017 season due to arm troubles and had been projected to earn $1.1MM. He’ll remain under Reds control through 2020. Billy Hamilton and the Reds have settled on a one-year deal worth $4.6MM, tweets Murray. A popular trade candidate this offseason, Hamilton was projected to earn $5MM and comes with another two seasons of team control. Murray also conveys that Michael Lorenzen agreed to a $1.3125MM deal, which lines up fairly well with his $1.4MM projection.
  • The Cubs have struck a deal with lefty Justin Wilson, agreeing to a one-year, $4.25MM pact, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link). Wilson, who had been projected at $4.3MM, will be a free agent next winter. The Cubs alsoagreed to a $950K salary with infielder Tommy La Stella, tweets’s Carrie Muskat. La Stella was projected to make $1MM in his first offseason of arbitration eligiblity and can be controlled through 2020. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs have agreed to a $4.175MM salary, per Nightengale (on Twitter). That sum comes in a fair bit shy of his projected $4.9MM projection as a first-time eligible player. The Cubs control Hendricks through the 2020 season. Chicago also agreed with Addison Russell, per Wittenmyer (Twitter link). The shortstop will receive $3.2MM for the coming season.
  • Nightengale reports (on Twitter) that the Brewers and breakout closer Corey Knebel settled at $3.65MM. As a Super Two player, Knebel can be controlled through the 2021 season and will be arb-eligible thrice more. He was projected at $4.1MM.’s Adam McCalvy tweets that the Brewers and right-hander Jimmy Nelson settled at $3.7MM, which falls $1MM shy of his $4.7MM projection (though some of that discrepancy may be due to Nelson’s shoulder injury). Milwaukee also announced a deal for infielders Jonathan Villar (projected at $3MM) and Hernan Perez (projected at $2.2MM). McCalvy reports that Villar will earn $2.55MM, while terms of Perez’s deal are not yet available.
  • The Pirates have avoided arbitration with shortstop Jordy Mercer by settling on a $6.75MM salary for 2018, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Mercer, who’d been projected to earn $6.5MM, is entering his final year of team control and will be a free agent next winter. Biertempfel also reports that Gerrit Cole will earn that same $6.75MM salary in 2018 — a $3MM raise over last year (Twitter link). He has two years of control remaining and had been projected to earn $7.4MM. Righty George Kontos has also agreed to terms, per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter). He had projected for $2.7MM and will receive a smidge more, at $2,725,000, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link).

National League East

  • The Braves reached a $3.4MM deal with righty Arodys Vizcaino, per Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link). He’d been projected at $3.7MM. The Braves and righty Dan Winkler agreed to a $610K salary for the upcoming season, tweets Mark Bowman of Winkler tossed just 14 1/3 innings in the Majors this year as he made his way back from elbow surgery. He’d projected at $800K.
  • The Marlins and Miguel Rojas agreed to a $1.18MM deal for 2018, Heyman tweets, placing him north of his $1.1MM projection. Rojas should see additional playing time following the Marlins’ wave of trades this offseason. He’s controlled through 2020. Miami also has a deal in place with infielder Derek Dietrich for $2.9MM, Heyman tweets, after projecting at $3.2MM.
  • The Mets were able to settle perhaps their most notable arb case, agreeing to a $7.4MM deal with righty Jacob deGrom, per James Wagner of the New York Times (via Twitter). That’s well shy of his $9.2MM projection, though MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had explained the formula likely overestimated deGrom’s earning power by quite a wide margin. Fellow top righty Noah Syndergaard gets $2.975MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter), which goes a fair sight past the $1.9MM projection for the outstanding young starter, whose 2017 season was limited by injury. And reliever AJ Ramos will take home $9.225MM, according to Wagner (via Twitter). That’s just barely past the $9.2MM projection.  Wilmer Flores has also avoided arbitration with the Mets, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports (on Twitter). He’ll receive a $3.4MM salary, which falls within $300K of his projected rate. The Mets control Flores through the 2019 campaign. The Mets and right-hander Matt Harvey agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.625MM, tweets Nightengale. Harvey, who is a free agent next winter, had been projected to earn $5.9MM. Meanwhile, Marc Carig of Newsday tweets that Jeurys Familia will earn $7.925MM for the upcoming year, while Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that catcher Travis d’Arnaud will earn $3.475MM in 2018 (Twitter link). Familia, a free agent next winter, was projected at $7.4MM. The Mets control d’Arnaud through 2019, and his projection was $3.4MM. Righty Hansel Robles gets $900K, Heyman tweets.
  • Also via Nightengale (Twitter link), the Nationals agreed to a $6.475MM salary for 2018 with right-hander Tanner Roark. That falls about $1MM shy of his $7.5MM projection but still represents a noted raise of $4.315MM for Roark, whom the Nats control through 2019. Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post adds that Michael Taylor will earn $2.525MM next year. Taylor is controlled through 2020 and was projected at $2.3MM.
  • The Phillies and Maikel Franco settled on a $2.95MM salary for the 2018 season, reports Jim Salisbury of (Twitter link). Franco, a Super Two player who’d been projected at $3.6MM, remains under club control with the Phils through the 2021 season. Second bagger Cesar Hernandez will earn at a $5.1MM rate in 2018, per’s Todd Zolecki (via Twitter). That beats his $4.7MM projection and wraps up this year’s arb business for the Phillies.
Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals Avoid Arbitration With Anthony Rendon]]> 2018-01-12T20:12:55Z 2018-01-12T20:08:23Z The Nationals have agreed to a 2018 contract with third baseman Anthony Rendon, the team announced. He’s set to earn $12.3MM, according to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post (via Twitter).

It’s little surprise to see Rendon cash in a big raise in his third arbitration campaign. After earning $2.8MM as a Super Two and $5.8MM in 2017, he had a strong base to work with. On the heels of a monster season, he was primed for another substantial bump. The final amount exceeds the $11.5MM that MLBTR had projected.

Rendon was one of the game’s most productive all-around players, with big-time offensive production and top-end defense leaving him with a sixth-place finish in the NL MVP vote. As always, a few key offensive numbers drive arb earnings, and Rendon performed quite well there. In 605 plate appearances, he slashed .301/.403/.533 with 25 home runs and 100 runs batted in.

While agreeing to a salary for the coming season takes care of the most immediate business between Rendon and the Nats, it’ll be interesting to see whether the sides continue discussions into camp. Rendon certainly features as a possible extension candidate.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Nationals Re-Sign Edwin Jackson To Minor League Deal]]> 2018-01-11T21:55:22Z 2018-01-11T21:51:53Z The Nationals and right-hander Edwin Jackson have agreed to a minor league contract, according to his agents at the ESQ Agency. Jackson’s deal comes with a $1.5MM base salary as well as an additional $1.4MM worth of incentives.

The 34-year-old Jackson returned for a second stint with the Nats in 2017, signing a midseason minor league pact after initially spending time in the Orioles organization. Jackson posted a pristine 0.44 ERA in 20 1/3 Triple-A frames for the Nationals before being called up to the big league roster following Joe Ross’ season-ending Tommy John surgery. He’d go on to make 13 starts for the Nationals down the stretch, registering a 5.07 ERA with 7.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and 38 percent ground-ball rate.

Jackson turned in a 2.94 ERA through his first eight starts, though he surrendered a whopping nine home runs through those 49 frames. That susceptibility to the long ball caught up to him over his final five starts, as Jackson was tagged for 24 earned runs in 22 innings of work. That said, he did average 93.6 mph on his heater with the Nationals and turn in an above-average 10.1 percent swinging-strike rate.

[Related: Washington Nationals depth chart]

The Nats will once again rely upon Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark in the top four spots of the rotation this coming season, though the fifth spot looks to be unsettled as Spring Training approaches. Jackson will join the race for that spot, vying with fellow right-handers Erick Fedde, A.J. Cole and Austin Voth as well as left-hander Tommy Milone (who also signed a minor league deal).

Of course, the Nationals have at times been linked to various starting pitching targets on both the free-agent and trade markets, leaving open the possibility that they’ll bring in another option to whom they’ll promise that remaining rotation vacancy.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Nationals Interested In Lance Lynn]]> 2018-01-07T19:08:20Z 2018-01-07T19:08:20Z
  • The Nationals have interest in free agent righty Lance Lynn, though a signing would further put the team over the luxury tax threshold.  Washington has been circling the starting pitching market all winter, with Jake Arrieta standing out as the top-tier name most often mentioned as a possibility due to the well-documented relationship between Nats ownership and Scott Boras (Arrieta’s agent).  Arrieta, however, would be a considerably pricier signing than Lynn, though Lynn wouldn’t be cheap himself; MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes projects Lynn for four years and $60MM.

    • The Nationals have interest in free agent righty Lance Lynn, though a signing would further put the team over the luxury tax threshold.  Washington has been circling the starting pitching market all winter, with Jake Arrieta standing out as the top-tier name most often mentioned as a possibility due to the well-documented relationship between Nats ownership and Scott Boras (Arrieta’s agent).  Arrieta, however, would be a considerably pricier signing than Lynn, though Lynn wouldn’t be cheap himself; MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes projects Lynn for four years and $60MM.
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[East Notes: Nationals, Red Sox, Starlin]]> 2018-01-06T17:54:17Z 2018-01-06T17:54:17Z Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post wonders if the Nationals will end up paying up for a Scott Boras client, as they often do late in the offseason. In recent winters, owner Ted Lerner approved deals for players like Rafael Soriano, Max Scherzer and Matt Wieters after the calendar flipped to the new year, and there’s certainly a possibility it could happen again. Janes lists reliever Greg Holland, outfielder J.D. Martinez and starter Jake Arrieta as Boras clients who make sense for the club’s roster as it’s currently constructed. The Nationals have a history of doing business with Boras late in the year, or as Janes puts it, “When big-name Boras clients linger into the new year, the Nationals linger, too, as potential suitors, regardless of whether they have an obvious need.”

    Elsewhere along the East Coast…

    • Unlike the Nats, the Red Sox rarely make late splashes in the free agent market. Jen McCaffrey of posits that this year might be different. Boston is still in need of an upgrade to their offense, and J.D. Martinez remains on the market. Though the only significant late-winter deals the club made in the past decade were one-year pacts with Mike Napoli and Adrian Beltre, the Red Sox are probably facing pressure from their fan base to improve an offense that finished dead last in the American League with 168 home runs and third to last with a 92 wRC+. Other big hitters still on the market include the likes of Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, though neither seem like particularly good fits for Boston.
    • Though new Marlins second baseman Starlin Castro is generating some trade interest, Joe Frisaro of believes he’s likely to stay put. Gary Denbo, the Marlins’ VP of player development and scouting, says that  Castro “has the ability to hit for average, and for a second baseman, he does provide power for that position.” Denbo also says he hopes that the second baseman can be a steady defender in the middle of the field. Since coming to Miami in the blockbuster Giancarlo Stanton trade, speculation has swirled around Castro as a potential trade candidate. I recently noted that the 27-year-old perhaps has some surplus value in his contract, which has two years and $22MM in guarantees remaining. His .300/.338/.454 battling line with the Yankees last year is solid, but his defense up the middle detracts a bit from his value.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Nationals, Braves Interested In Christian Yelich, J.T. Realmuto]]> 2018-01-04T18:00:21Z 2018-01-04T17:59:07Z 11:59am: The Nationals, too, are interested in both Realmuto and Yelich, writes’s Joe Frisaro. The Nats’ interest in Realmuto has been previously reported by the Washington Post and, among others, though GM Mike Rizzo’s club hasn’t been prominently linked to Yelich due to its own strong collection of outfielders. Per Frisaro, the Nats could have interest in trying to land both players, though that’s likely true of many teams.

    Frisaro notes that the Marlins would covet both Victor Robles of the Nationals and the Braves’ Acuna, though both clubs would likely be reluctant to part with their top-ranked minor league talents. Rosenthal tweets that the Nationals would be loath to part with either Robles or fellow outfield Juan Soto, for instance. It’s a similar tale for the Phillies — an oft-cited Yelich suitor — as Frisaro writes that Rhys Hoskins would surely appeal to the Marlins, but it stands to reason that he’d be near untouchable after his stellar 2017 debut.

    Talks regarding both Yelich and Realmuto are expected to pick up next week, according to Frisaro.

    8:52am: Not only have the Braves called the division-rival Marlins to express interest in Christian Yelich (as has been previously reported), they’ve also tried to engage Miami in talks on catcher J.T. Realmutoper Jon Morosi of Talks between the two sides haven’t advanced too far in either case as of late, he notes, but it seems as though the Braves have some level of interest in attempting to pry one or both players out of South Florida. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution hears that the Braves have expressed interest in acquiring the pair, though he classifies it as doubtful that new GM Alex Anthopoulos would part with the overwhelming level of talent it’d take to land both players.

    Atlanta will trot out a pair of solid veterans on one-year commitments — Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki — to handle the bulk of their catching duties in 2018, whereas Realmuto and his remaining three years of control would give them a longer-term answer behind the dish. There’s a clearer spot for Yelich following the trade of Matt Kemp to the Dodgers, but Atlanta wants to leave space for top prospect Ronald Acuna to debut in an outfield corner as well. O’Brien speculates that perhaps the Braves could convince Miami to take on Nick Markakis and his salary if Martin Prado or another pricey veteran heads back to Atlanta in the deal.

    While both Yelich and Realmuto are immensely popular trade targets — Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes (subscription required/recommended) that “virtually every club” is interested in trading for Yelich — it seems that there was at one point some positive momentum between the two sides.’s Mark Bowman tweets that Atlanta and Miami “made some progress toward” a trade involving Yelich back at the Winter Meetings. The Marlins, though, pumped the brakes on talks a bit as they dealt with significant PR backlash from trading away the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna, according to Bowman. He does add that talks were expected to resume eventually.

    Certainly, acquiring even one of the two would require a massive haul. (Rosenthal, for instance, spoke to one exec who suggested that the Marlins could rightly ask three to four “genuine assets” in exchange for Yelich alone.) Acquiring both in one swoop would presumably require one of the largest packages of young, controllable talent in recent memory.

    Even after being stripped of a dozen prospects on the heels of their recent front office scandal, the Braves have one of the game’s strongest farm systems, though there are still untouchable players in the organization (O’Brien has tweeted more than once that Acuna simply is not available in discussing scenarios with his followers). On paper, then, it’s possible that the two sides could line up for a swap, though things are never quire so simple. Other factors to consider include the financial component of a deal, whether the Marlins would charge some type of premium for dealing their top two remaining stars to a division rival, and what type of splash the new Anthopoulos-led Braves front office wants to make on its first significant move in Atlanta.

    It’s worth stressing, again, that the Braves are merely one team that is interested in the pair of young Miami stars. In that same column, Rosenthal writes that the Nationals have already checked in on Realmuto, while the Astros “would figure to be interested” in the Miami backstop as well.’s Joe Frisaro wrote yesterday that upwards of  dozen clubs were in on Realmuto. As for Yelich, the Cardinals, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Giants, White Sox and even the outfield-heavy Cubs are among the teams that have been connected to him in previous reports, and surely there are others that have at least gauged the asking price as well.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nats Agree To Minor League Deals With Mendez, Darnell]]> 2018-01-04T03:52:51Z 2018-01-04T03:49:49Z
  • The Nationals have added a pair of hurlers on minor-league deals, according to Cotillo (also via Twitter). Righty Roman Mendez and lefty Logan Darnell will both join the D.C. organization, though it’s unclear at this point whether either will receive an invitation to MLB camp. Both have seen some MLB action, though neither has an extensive track record and the pair hasn’t touched the bigs for a few seasons. Mendez spent some time with Japan’s Hanshin Tigers in 2017, but only threw 9 2/3 innings. In 2016, he worked to a 3.38 ERA in 64 Triple-A frames. As for Darnell, who’ll soon turn 29, he spent the ’17 campaign outside the Twins organization for the first time. The long-time minor-league starter appeared with the Rays’ Double-A affiliate, the indy ball Somerset Patriots, and in the Venezuean winter league, allowing between 3.81 and 3.98 earned runs per nine at each of those stops. In 359 1/3 lifetime innings at Triple-A, Darnell owns a 3.51 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Harper Brothers Reunion In D.C.?]]> 2017-12-31T16:44:38Z 2017-12-31T16:44:38Z
  • One interesting wild card in the Nationals’ attempts to keep Bryce Harper beyond 2018 could be his older brother Bryan Harper,’s Byron Kerr writes.  The elder Harper, who just turned 28, is a left-handed reliever who posted strong numbers in 2015-16 for Washington’s Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, with good splits against left-handed batters.  The southpaw is preparing to return to the mound after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2016, and there’s at least a chance he could join his younger brother on the Nats roster this season.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Nationals Turned Down Wilmer Difo Trade Offers Last Winter]]> 2017-12-31T16:54:28Z 2017-12-31T04:11:02Z
  • The Nationals rejected trade offers for Wilmer Difo last offseason, and now the young infielder is a key part of the team’s bench and potentially its second baseman of the future, the Washington Post’s Jorge Castillo writes.  Difo held his own filling in for Trea Turner at shortstop last season, and if Difo continues to progress at the plate, the Nats might consider him as a possible second base option if Daniel Murphy leaves in free agency next winter.  If Murphy’s recovery from offseason knee surgery lingers past Opening Day, Difo could get an early audition at the keystone in April.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals Have Inquired On Top Relievers]]> 2017-12-30T03:35:17Z 2017-12-30T02:53:55Z
  • The Nationals have put out feelers on the top available relievers, says Heyman, even though the club surely isn’t desperate to find a new option in the ninth inning. While Wade Davis is now off the board, it seems Greg Holland could yet be an option for the Nats. And of broader importance, the report suggests that further bullpen upgrades are still under consideration as the team considers how it can put the finishing touches on an already-strong roster.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Marlins Open To Trade Talks About Christian Yelich, J.T. Realmuto]]> 2017-12-29T01:24:22Z 2017-12-29T01:24:24Z 7:24pm: The Nationals asked about Realmuto during the Winter Meetings but were told that the Marlins weren’t planning to deal him,’s Jamal Collier reports.  Matt Wieters’ struggles in 2017 make Washington a natural candidate to look for a catching upgrade, though Collier notes that it isn’t GM Mike Rizzo’s style to make a huge trade offer for Realmuto that the Marlins couldn’t refuse.

    5:34pm: The Marlins are in “active trade discussions” about outfielder Christian Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports (Twitter link).  No trade is imminent, Morosi notes, and the exact nature of Miami’s willingness to deal either of its controllable young stars isn’t yet determined.

    According to Clark Spencer and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, three sources give slightly different descriptions of the talks.  One source says the Marlins are “more seriously considering offers” than in the past, and are particularly listening on Yelich.  Another source says that the Marlins are listening to offers but “not aggressively shopping” either player, while the third source says rival teams have been informed by Miami that Yelich and Realmuto “are available for the right price.”

    It’s worth noting that none of these three takes on the situation really contradict each other, and ultimately, the Marlins could simply be doing their due diligence in exploring what they could get for two very valuable trade chips.  There have been conflicting reports on whether the Marlins were really looking to move Yelich (or Realmuto), or if the team had completed much of its heavy lifting in terms of payroll clearance in previous trades of Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon, and (to a lesser extent) Marcell Ozuna.

    Both Yelich and Realmuto have been disappointed with this latest Miami rebuild, with Realmuto going so far as to reportedly ask for a trade.  Since both players are under team control (Yelich via an extension, Realmuto via arbitration) for several more years, they don’t have any real leverage to make a deal happen, though obviously the Marlins could see value in moving players that no longer want to be there, especially when those two players could bring back multiple young assets in return.

    As Jackson and Spencer note in their piece, the Marlins could try to capitalize on Yelich and Realmuto’s trade value by attaching one of their remaining big contracts (i.e. Martin Prado, Brad Ziegler, Junichi Tazawa) to either of those players in a trade.  Multiple teams have been linked to Yelich for months now, while Realmuto would certainly generate almost as much interest, even from teams that may have a solid catcher in place but could be swayed by the idea of landing a younger option.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Nats Could Be Limited By Luxury Tax Overages]]> 2017-12-25T05:48:44Z 2017-12-25T05:48:44Z
  • The Nationals project to be over the luxury tax limit for the second straight year, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post writes, which could have some impact on how — or if — the team continues to spend this offseason or at the trade deadline.  The Nats are currently slated for a 30 percent tax on all overages beyond the $197MM threshold, though that tax bill will rise if the Nationals spend beyond the $217MM mark.  There doesn’t seem much chance that Washington will pass the threshold again next year, however, as the club has several big contracts coming off the books, so the Nats will be well-positioned to spend big in the vaunted 2018-19 free agent class, which includes such notable D.C. players as Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Nationals To Sign Jeff Ames]]> 2017-12-23T08:35:19Z 2017-12-23T04:09:21Z
  • The Nationals agreed to terms with right-hander Jeff Ames, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). Ames, 26, was the 42nd overall pick in the 2011 draft but has yet to crack the majors. He reached Triple-A for the first time in 2017, working to a 3.98 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 5.0 BB/9 in 63 1/3 innings.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals Sign Matt Adams]]> 2017-12-22T18:58:37Z 2017-12-22T18:57:12Z Dec. 22: The Nationals have formally announced Adams’ signing. Their 40-man roster is now up to 39 players.

    Dec. 20: The Nationals have reportedly agreed to terms with first baseman Matt Adams on a deal that would bring him to D.C. If finalized, the contract is expected to include a $4MM guarantee and $500K of available incentives for a single season.

    Aug 18, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Matt Adams (18) runs after hitting a home run against the Cincinnati Reds during the second inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    Adams is exactly the sort of lefty platoon bat the Nationals have needed since bidding adieu to Adam Lind at the end of the season. The 29-year-old Adams was non-tendered by the Braves after projecting to earn a $4.6MM salary through arbitration.

    While he’s not much of an option against lefties, Adams has an excellent track record when hitting with the platoon advantage. For his career, he carries a .286/.333/.495 batting line against opposing right-handers. Adams is also best limited to playing first in the field, though he has at times attempted the corner outfield.

    [Related: Updated Washington Nationals depth chart and Nationals payroll outlook]

    Those caveats are just fine with the Nats, who seek a player to step into Lind’s role as a complement to veteran first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and source of left-handed bench power. Adams is essentially a younger version of Lind himself, so it’s easy to see the fit here.

    It came as a bit of a surprise when the Nationals declined their end of a $5MM mutual option with Lind, who was quite productive for the team in his single season in Washington. But it seems the organization correctly anticipated a sluggish market for bats and determined it might have a shot at a more appealing asset. Though Lind is a more accomplished overall hitter than Adams, he’s also about five years his senior.

    Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted that a deal was in place, along with the contract terms. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported (via Twitter) that the sides were in serious discussions.’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted earlier that the sides had ongoing interest, as had been reported previously.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Nationals Re-Sign Brandon Kintzler]]> 2017-12-22T06:10:53Z 2017-12-21T19:47:37Z DECEMBER 21: Washington has announced the signing.

    DECEMBER 14: The Nationals are set to re-sign free agent reliever Brandon Kintzler to a two-year deal, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports in a tweet. The deal is pending a physical. Kintzler acknowledged that he’ll be returning to D.C. in an interview with MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link).

    Aug 15, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler (21) throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels during the eighth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    Contract details are still coming in, and they paint a somewhat complicated picture. The deal guarantees Kintzler $10MM over a two-year term, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports (Twitter link), and could reach $16MM in value. But the way it operates is through competing 2019 options, as Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post (Twitter link), Mark Zuckerman of, and Rosenthal (via Twitter) explain. Kintzler will receive a $5MM salary for the upcoming season. The Nationals can elect to exercise a $10MM club option for the 2019 campaign. If that is declined, then Kintzler will get to decide between a $5MM player option and a return to the open market. At this point it is not clear whether the extra $1MM of possible contract value comes from, but it could be an escalator or incentive bonus of some kind.

    Kintzler, 33, pitched 26 innings for the Nationals last season after being acquired from the Twins in exchange for Tyler Watson and $500K in international bonus pool money. The righty posted a 3.46 ERA in Washington, chipping in a save for the club.

    The Brewers picked Kintzler with the number 1,182 pick in the 2004 draft (40th round). After two seasons in the low minors and a year away from the sport in 2006, he eventually ended up playing independent ball until Milwaukee offered him a new minor league contract in 2009. Kintzler climbed quickly through the ranks this time and made his MLB debut the following year. He pitched well out of the Brewers’ bullpen from his sophomore season on; his ERA with the club never climbed above 3.78 from 2011-2014.

    After an injury ended his 2015 season, Kintzler was forced to settle for a minor league deal with the Twins the following winter. He became the team’s closer almost immediately and has posted impressive results ever since.

    Kintzler is a fascinating case study; the right-hander has vastly outperformed his ERA estimators over the past two seasons. Furthermore, across 2016-2017 he has the 14th-highest ground ball rate among qualified relievers, and the second-lowest strikeout rate. It’s clear Kintzler’s success is built upon an ability to limit hard contact while generating ground balls. He’ll slot in behind Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson, reuniting the Nats’ late-inning crew from last year’s playoff run.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 12/21/17]]> 2017-12-21T17:58:26Z 2017-12-21T17:50:40Z We’ll cover the day’s minor moves in this post:

    • The Cubs have re-signed catcher Taylor Davis, MLBTR has learned. The 28-year-old was non-tendered after a season in which he received his first MLB call-up, staying long enough to pick up his first few base knocks but not to put down a meaningful track record. Davis strode to the Triple-A plate 406 times in 2017, producing a .297/.357/.429 batting line with six home runs. Notably, he continued to exhibit strong plate discipline and contact ability, striking out just 45 times while drawing 37 walks.

    Earlier Updates

    • Indians have agreed to a deal with right-hander Lisalverto Bonilla, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). The 27-year-old struggled badly in his ten MLB appearances last year with the Reds, working to a 8.10 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9 while serving up eight long balls in 36 2/3 innings. He did generate a useful 11.8% swinging-strike rate, though, and has typically drawn a fair number of grounders in the minors.
    • The Nationals reached a minor-league pact with righty Chris Smith, MLBTR’s Steve Adams tweets. He gets an invitation to participate on the majors side of camp next spring. Smith, 29, got a brief taste of the majors last year with the Blue Jays, showing a 93.9 mph average four-seamer. He spent most of the year at Triple-A, where he worked to a 5.40 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9, but Smith has recorded much higher strikeout rates in the upper minors in the past.
    • Lefty Hunter Cervenka was outrighted to Triple-A by the Marlins after clearing waivers. He had been removed from the 40-man roster recently as the organization continues to tweak its mix of MLB assets. Cervenka spent most of 2017 at the Triple-A level, where he pitched to a 4.58 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 5.9 BB/9. That hefty walk rate has long been a problem for Cervenka, who’ll soon turn 28.
    • The Tigers announced a series of minors signings today. Lefty Will Lamb, infielder Ronny Rodriguez, and outfielders Jason Krizan and Kenny Wilson are all joining the Detroit organization, with Krizan and Rodriguez also taking spring invites. Lamb, 27, has struggled to a 6.06 ERA in 120 1/3 career Triple-A frames, but owns a 2.28 ERA in 90 2/3 innings at the penultimate level of the minors. The 25-year-old Rodriguez brings some infield versatility and pop to the table; he hit .291/.324/.454 with 17 home runs in 483 plate appearances last year at the Indians’ top affiliate. Krizan, 28, will return for his eighth year in the Detroit system; in 2017, he hit .281/.351/.417 in 480 upper-minors plate appearances. Wilson, who’ll soon turn 28 as well, is a speed-and-defense type who has not yet hit enough to earn his way into the big leagues.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals To Sign Tommy Milone]]> 2017-12-20T21:03:19Z 2017-12-20T21:03:17Z 3:03pm: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that Milone would earn a $1.2MM base salary in the Majors, and his contract contains another $1MM worth of performance incentives.

    8:18am: The Nationals have struck a minor-league deal with lefty Tommy Milone, according to reports. It seems the first mention came from this Twitter account, with SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter link) and the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes (Twitter link) confirming the signing.

    Milone, who’ll turn 30 in February, returns to the organization where he got his start. He memorably swatted a home run in his debut with the Nats and seemed slated to compete for a rotation spot the following spring. Instead, Milone was included as part of the package that brought back Gio Gonzalez from the Athletics.

    Since that time, the soft-tossing southpaw has thrown over 700 innings in six MLB seasons. He spent a few years as a steady, if unspectacular, starter with the Athletics and Twins. More recently, though, Milone has bounced around and struggled at the major-league level. Over the last two seasons, he has pitched to a 6.50 ERA over 117 2/3 innings.

    Milone will join a group of pitchers hoping to find a spot in the pecking order in D.C. Unless there’s an injury or the Nationals fail to add a fifth starter, Milone will enter camp with little more than an outside shot at making the MLB roster as a long man. But if he shows well, Milone could be among the first men up if a need arises.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[NL East Notes: Nats, Rendon, Mets, Phillies]]> 2017-12-17T16:49:01Z 2017-12-17T16:49:01Z Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon implied to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post and other reporters Sunday that he’d be open to discussing an extension with the team (Twitter link). “Why not stay with one organization?” said Rendon, who has been a member of the franchise since it chose him sixth overall in the 2011 draft. The Scott Boras client has turned into an elite-level player since then, and he’s only two years away from free agency (he’ll make a projected $11.5MM in 2018). Unsurprisingly, general manager Mike Rizzo suggested earlier this week that the Nats would be interested in locking up Rendon before he’s able to leave.

    More on Washington and two of its division rivals:

    • The Mets’ front office enters each offseason “flying blind,” without an exact idea of how much money is available to spend, Marc Carig of Newsday reports. Carig reached out via email to Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon to discuss the team’s payroll, but the executive declined comment through a spokesman. As a result, Carig goes on to criticize the Mets for a lack of transparency and accountability, an unwillingness to spend like the huge-market team they are, and their almost nonexistent scouting presence in the Pacific Rim and Cuba.
    • Even with Carlos Santana, Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek now aboard, the Phillies may not contend for a playoff spot in 2018. However, those signings are credibility-building moves that will help the team make progress in the win-loss column next season, thus making it a more attractive option for premier free agents in a year, Matt Gelb of observes. According to Gelb, the club has done a lot of planning around next winter’s class, one that’s currently slated to include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and other superstars.
    • Reliever Brandon Kintzler turned down offers to close elsewhere to return to the Nationals as a setup man, Rizzo revealed Sunday (Twitter link via Mark Zuckerman of “Part of the thing we like most about him is he’s about the name on the front of the jersey, more so than the name on the back,” Rizzo said. More on Kintzler from Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, who reports (Twitter link) that the righty’s agent, Kevin Kohler, asked Rizzo during negotiations if he’d re-up Kintzler to a one-year, $5MM contract. Rizzo said he would, but he expressed doubt that Kintzler would accept that. Kintzler’s camp then responded with a two-year, $15MM proposal. In the end, the sides settled on a two-year agreement with a $10MM guarantee and a chance for $6MM million more in incentives.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals Re-Sign Tim Collins]]> 2017-12-16T04:29:04Z 2017-12-16T03:54:15Z
  • The Nationals have brought back lefty Tim Collins on another minors deal, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports on Twitter. Collins, who is still just 28, pitched competitively for the first time since 2014 during his recent minor-league run with the Nats. He walked 14 and allowed 15 earned runs in his 17 1/3 frames across three levels of the minors, but did at least pick up 23 strikeouts in his preliminary effort to return from consecutive Tommy John procedures. Before the unfortunate health downturn, Collins had turned in 211 frames of 3.54 ERA ball over four seasons with the Royals.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals Expect Harper To Test Open Market]]> 2017-12-15T14:04:32Z 2017-12-15T14:04:01Z Dec. 15: USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that the Nationals say the conversations about Harper were casual, and they fully expect Harper to test free agency next winter. The Nats still hope to re-sign Harper, he adds, but they seemingly don’t expect to be able to do so without him first exploring the open market.

    Dec. 13, 2:54pm: Nationals president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo confirms the meeting, as Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports on Twitter, and adds that the sides also discussed other topics. That includes Anthony Rendon, another Boras client who is eligible for arbitration for the second-to-last time after a highly productive 2017 season. Rizzo says that a long-term arrangement with Rendon is “something we’ll certainly discuss,” as the Post’s Jorge Castillo tweets.

    10:13am: Agent Scott Boras told the media today that he has engaged Nationals ownership in preliminary discussions about a potential extension for star outfielder Bryce Harper, as Jamal Collier of was among those to report on Twitter. Those initial conversations occurred last month.

    It is still far from clear whether there’s any real likelihood of a deal coming together before Harper reaches free agency after the 2018 season. Indeed, Boras would not commit to anything and also did not indicate whether there are clear plans for future talks.

    That said, it’s notable that the sides are engaging early to explore the possibility of a deal. And there is little question that Boras and the Nats’ ownership can find a way to bridge differences. After all, they have struck numerous high-dollar deals; of greatest relevance here, the sides lined up on a rather surprising extension to keep Stephen Strasburg from reaching the open market.

    Harper, who only just turned 25, dealt with an injury late in the 2017 season but nevertheless compiled an outstanding .319/.413/.595 batting line with 29 home runs in 492 plate appearances. He’s considered one of the game’s preeminent young hitters and is certainly one of its best-known players. The expectation long has been that Harper will prefer to test the open market, where his youth and talent will draw a bidding war, though it’s fair to wonder whether he’d also see some merit in striking a deal to stay with one organization (while also locking in earnings after a strong season).

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Could Nationals Make A Play For J.D. Martinez?]]> 2017-12-15T02:48:41Z 2017-12-15T02:48:41Z
  • It probably isn’t safe to rule out the Nationals on any Scott Boras client given the relationship between the team and the super-agent, and indeed, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter link) hears from some in the industry that Washington could be a “dark horse” contender to sign J.D. Martinez.  In this scenario, the Nats would obtain a long-term slugger that would help them withstand the potential loss of Bryce Harper to free agency next winter.  Cotillo suggests that the Nationals could shop Michael Taylor if they signed Martinez, though I’d argue that Taylor is better served as an (overqualified) fourth outfielder for 2018 who could move back into a starting role in 2019 if Harper leaves.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[NL East Notes: Braves, Mets, Robles, Albers]]> 2017-12-14T17:55:40Z 2017-12-14T12:19:08Z Though a few of the Braves’ relief targets have signed elsewhere, GM Alex Anthopoulos has an interesting contingency plan. An article by David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reveals that Atlanta is apparently willing to utilize some of their young upside starters as relievers early on in their careers, if the team can’t add the type of bullpen arms they’re looking for through free agency. “We’ve explored it. A long time ago, starters would break in as relievers,” Anthopoulos says. “It’s something that’s come up internally in our conversations. It’s not something we’re planning on doing right now, but at least it’s been discussed, in light of the market for relievers and the price points right now.” Anthopoulos also notes that the relief market has been “continually strong the last two or three years.” The piece also details the GM’s thoughts on calling up Ronald Acuna. It’s great insight for Braves fans.

    Some other items from across the NL East…

    • Mark Bowman of writes that the Braves could seek short-term rotation help this offseason in order to “satisfy their desire to add experience to their inexperienced rotation.” While there might be a desire in the future to “strike a big deal for a legit ace,” Anthopoulos hints that he’d like to take some of the workload off their younger arms. Bowman mentions Wade Miley as one example of a pitcher who could be had on a one-year contract.
    • While the Mets have been linked to Jay Bruce, Anthony DiComo of reports (via Twitter) that the club doesn’t appear to be “warm” on any player in the outfield or first base market. Rather, they seem to be focused on second base as their top priority. One notable Mets target at that position already came off the market when the Angels acquired Ian Kinsler from the Tigers. The second base market does have other options, and the Mets have been linked to of Jason Kipnis of the Indians recently.
    • Though it’s not clear what position Nationals outfielder Victor Robles will play in 2018, GM Mike Rizzo says he’ll be an everyday player (via Pete Kerzel of Rizzo further specifies that if there isn’t a spot for him in the Majors, the Nats’ top prospect will begin the season at Triple-A. It would seem as though the latter is the most likely scenario, considering Washington has Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton and Michael A. Taylor ticketed for the outfield grass. On the other hand, perhaps Taylor could end up in a part-time role.
    • Before the Nationals agreed to terms with Brandon Kintzler on a two-year contract, the team was exploring the possibility of bringing back Matt Albers on a two-year deal, according to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Ultimately, nothing ended up coming together. Albers was fantastic for Washington last season; the righty posted a sterling 1.62 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. He struck out 9.30 batters per nine innings against just 2.51 walks.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Nationals Talking With Righty Relievers]]> 2017-12-14T05:49:15Z 2017-12-14T05:49:15Z
  • The Nationals and various right-handed relievers have had “serious” talks today, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. While Janes doesn’t include any names, Jon Heyman of FanRag lists Addison Reed, Brandon Kintzler and Steve Cishek as relievers who are on the team’s radar (Twitter links). Wade Davis and Hector Rondon have also been mentioned in connection with the Nats during the meetings.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Trade Chatter: Nats, Rays, Fulmer, Reds, Jays, Braves, Giants, Yelich, Phils]]> 2017-12-14T03:45:12Z 2017-12-14T03:44:39Z Looking to improve an already enviable rotation, the Nationals have Rays right-handers Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi on their radar, Jon Heyman of FanRag reports (via Twitter). Either would cost far less in terms of salary than free agent Jake Arrieta will, and Heyman notes that the Nats are unsure if they’d be able to afford Arrieta. Heyman also points to Diamondbacks righty Zack Greinke as a possibility for the Nats; however, he’s not exactly cheap, with $138.5MM coming his way through 2021.

    More on the trade front:

    • The Tigers “will only entertain lopsided offers” for righty Michael Fulmer, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). A trade involving the highly coveted 24-year-old doesn’t look likely, then.
    • The Blue Jays are interested in Reds outfielders Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall, per reports from Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (via Twitter) and Jays Journal. The Braves also have interest in the 29-year-old Duvall, tweets Heyman. Duvall, a 30-home run hitter in each of the previous two seasons, is controllable for the next four years. He won’t be arbitration eligible until next winter.
    • The Giants’ own interest in Hamilton continues, but Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that the chatter with the Reds has “faded significantly” of late. Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer adds on Twitter that the Giants are the most serious suitors for Hamilton, but they’re “at a bit of a standoff” with the Reds. San Francisco still has interest in free agent Jay Bruce, per Rosenthal, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that Bruce is the top name on San Francisco’s “wish list.” Still, the club has not made him an offer to this point.
    • It’s up in the air whether the Marlins will trade center fielder Christian Yelich. Either way, the Phillies will continue to monitor his availability, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia relays. Meanwhile, they’ve “been aggressive” in shopping shortstop Freddy Galvis, according to Salisbury, who adds (via Twitter) that the Angels “really liked” second baseman Cesar Hernandez before they acquired Ian Kinsler. The Halos didn’t want to meet the Phillies’ asking price for Hernandez, however.
    • The Red Sox asked about Marcell Ozuna before the Cardinals acquired him, but they did not have the sort of pitching assets the Marlins were for, Dombrowski told reporters including the Globe’s Peter Abraham (Twitter link.) The Indians also inquired about Ozuna, Paul Hoynes of writes.
    • In addition to Chase Headley, the Padres are dangling infielder Yangervis Solarte in chatter with rival organizations, Heyman reports on Twitter. Solarte, 30, is controllable for the next three years at affordable costs (a guaranteed $4MM in 2018 and then club options totaling $13.5MM for 2019-20).
    • The Blue Jays were another team with interest in Kinsler before Wednesday’s trade, Nicholson-Smith tweets. Toronto was on Kinsler’s 10-team no-trade list, so it’s unclear how open he’d have been to going there.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals Interested In Hector Rondon]]> 2017-12-14T01:46:20Z 2017-12-14T01:46:20Z
  • The Nationals are interested in reliever Hector Rondon, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post tweets. Washington isn’t the favorite to land Rondon, according to Castillo, though he does note that the former Cub is familiar with manager Dave Martinez and bullpen coach Henry Blanco. Both men were on Chicago’s staff through last season.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Nats Interested In Alex Avila]]> 2017-12-13T16:38:40Z 2017-12-13T16:38:40Z
  • Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic suggests that the Nationals are considering backup catchers, including free agent Alex Avila (subscription required & highly recommended). Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post hears the same, tweeting that while the Nats do like young Pedro Severino, bringing a more proven backup catcher into the fold is something the club has discussed.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Nationals Interested In Wade Davis, Weren't In On Bryan Shaw]]> 2017-12-13T03:12:03Z 2017-12-13T03:12:03Z
  • The Nationals are one of the suitors for Wade Davis, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter), though the team isn’t close to signing any relievers.  D.C. hadn’t thought to have been looking for any major bullpen upgrades this winter after the team landed Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson last summer, though the combination of Davis with those two relievers would make for a formidable end-game trio.  Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post hears that the Nats haven’t yet officially started to go afte Davis, though several representatives for free agent relievers feel Davis is one of Washington’s top offseason targets.
    • The Nationals are one of the suitors for Wade Davis, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter), though the team isn’t close to signing any relievers.  D.C. hadn’t thought to have been looking for any major bullpen upgrades this winter after the team landed Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson last summer, though the combination of Davis with those two relievers would make for a formidable end-game trio.  Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post hears that the Nats haven’t yet officially started to go afte Davis, though several representatives for free agent relievers feel Davis is one of Washington’s top offseason targets.
    • In another tweet from Janes, she reports that the Nationals weren’t in on Bryan Shaw, who agreed to a three-deal with the Rockies tonight.
    • Francisco Rodriguez is hoping to keep pitching for his 17th big league season, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman writes.  After years as an effective closer, K-Rod suffered through a disastrous 2017 campaign that saw him post a 7.82 ERA over 25 1/3 IP for the Tigers.  He pitched in the Nationals’ farm system on a minor league deal before being released last July.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pitching Market Rumblings: Brewers, Rays, Duffy, Nicasio, Arrieta]]> 2017-12-12T17:59:15Z 2017-12-12T17:28:06Z Starting pitching is in the news this morning, with several notable names being discussed. But there are a whole lot of other moving pieces out there. Let’s run down the latest chatter on the pitching market:

    • The Brewers have chatted with the Rays about their potential rotation trade pieces, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter), who cautions that there’s no indication to this point that “any traction was made.” It’s not immediately clear which Tampa Bay hurlers have piqued the interest of the Milwaukee front office, though surely they’d have the trade pieces necessary to swing a deal for just about anyone. Chris Archer remains the big name to watch, though we don’t yet know whether he’s truly available. The Brewers could conceivably have interest in other pitchers, too, including veteran Jake Odorizzi, but it’s all speculation at this stage.
    • Meanwhile, the Brewers are said to have interest in righty Jesse Chavez, Haudricourt also tweets. We heard yesterday the veteran swingman was likely to find a new home this week.
    • Veteran closer Fernando Rodney has met with the Rangers and Twins, per’s TR Sullivan (via Twitter) and Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter). It’s not clear at this point how serious the interest is, though Rodney might conceivably be an option for either club, both of which have largely unsettled ninth-inning plans.
    • Another interesting possibility on the rotation market is Royals lefty Danny Duffy. He has drawn interest from the Cubs, per Robert Murray of Fan Rag. Indeed, K.C. has been contacted by rivals on Duffy and a few other notably interesting assets,’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets. It’s entirely unclear at this point what kinds of scenarios might be pondered on Duffy, but the Royals will surely want a significant return for a player they only recently extended. His contract runs through 2021 and promises him $60MM. While a DUI arrest and elbow surgery introduce some uncertainty into the situation, from a pure on-field perspective Duffy remains a valuable asset as he nears his 29th birthday.
    • The Mets are among the organizations with interest in free agent righty Juan Nicasio, according to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times (via Twitter). The 31-year-old pitched quite well throughout 2017, both before and after an odd series of August transactions. He ended the year with a 2.61 ERA over 72 1/3 innings, with 9.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.
    • We’ve heard some possibility that the Nationals could have interest in free agent righty Jake Arrieta, and’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that agent Scott Boras is working to sell that potential fit to the team’s ownership. Then again, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post characterizes the Nationals’ interest as “tepid” in a tweet. The division-rival Phillies are reportedly also a possibility, along with several other teams, as we covered this morning. Given that the Nats have an opening in their rotation, it isn’t at all surprising to hear that Boras is pushing for it to be filled by Arrieta; after all, his connection to the organization’s ownership is quite well-established by this point. Of course, adding yet another high-priced starter would carry some pretty notable risk for the organization, so it stands to reason that the club will explore other possibilities before deciding whether to join the pursuit of the 31-year-old Arrieta. Crasnick also takes a broader look at Arrieta’s still-developing market, including an extensive examination of Boras’s marketing strategy.
    • While there is action at the top of the pitching market, the Blue Jays seem to be taking a patient approach, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of writes. While GM Ross Atkins says there’s a lack of depth in the rotation market, he also has indicated no interest in pushing hard to strike a deal. It seems the organization’s inclination remains to seek value in bolstering the rotation depth.
    • For the Diamondbacks, meanwhile, the team may at least be preparing to consider deals involving some fairly surprising players. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic runs down the team’s options for trade candidates who might free up some payroll space and enable the team to achieve future value. At the top of the list are center fielder A.J. Pollock and lefty Patrick Corbin. Meanwhile, the D-Backs are certainly still looking to field a competitor in the near term as well. They are one team with some level of interest in reliever Seung-Hwan Oh, according to Murray. Oh was not able to match his compelling MLB debut season in 2017, but still posted 8.2 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9 while carrying a 4.10 ERA over 59 1/3 innings.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[6 To 8 Teams Interested In Marcell Ozuna]]> 2017-12-12T20:27:46Z 2017-12-12T16:42:00Z TODAY: The Rockies and Blue Jays are also among the interested teams, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).

    YESTERDAY, 7:45pm: The Marlins are telling teams Ozuna would be easier to acquire than outfield mate Christian Yelich, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets. That’s not surprising, as the 26-year-old Yelich is controllable by way of a team-friendly contract through 2022 and carries a more consistent track record than Ozuna.

    7:01pm: Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna is drawing interest from six to eight clubs, Joe Frisaro of reports (on Twitter). Along with the Cardinals, whose interest was already known entering Monday, the Giants and Nationals are among the teams in on Ozuna, per Frisaro. The Athletics are also still considering Ozuna, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Slussser first reported their interest in Ozuna in early November.

    Two of these clubs – the Cardinals and Giants – have spent a large portion of the offseason engaging with the Marlins about right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, and they even had deals in place to land the 2017 NL MVP. But Stanton nixed those trades before accepting a deal to the Yankees over the weekend, sending the Cards and Giants scrambling for other options. Ozuna makes for an appealing Plan B, then, as he’s coming off a season in which he slashed a career-best .312/.376/.548 with 37 home runs and a 4.8 fWAR over 679 plate appearances.

    In terms of production, last year was an outlier for Ozuna relative to the rest of his career – which began when he debuted in 2013 – but he has still accounted for at least 2.5 fWAR in three of four full seasons. At worst, Ozuna seems to be a solid regular, and the 27-year-old doesn’t come with an onerous, Stanton-esque contract. He’s controllable for two more years via arbitration and will earn a projected $10.9MM in 2018. That’s certainly an affordable figure, though it should also help the Marlins land a quality return for him. They’re obviously educated on both the Cardinals’ and Giants’ farm systems thanks to the Stanton talks.

    The Nationals, meanwhile, share a division with the Marlins, but that shouldn’t necessarily serve as a deterrent to a payroll-cutting Miami team whose primary goal in an Ozuna trade should be to bolster its weak system. Washington’s prospect pool is only the majors’ 18th best, per Baseball America (the outlet ranks the Cards’ 13th and the Giants’ 27th), but it seems that’s primarily because of a lack of depth. The top of the Nationals’ system is impressive, according to BA, and that could help pave the way for an Ozuna swap.

    With the Nationals at risk of losing Bryce Harper to free agency in a year, Ozuna might somewhat help cover for his potential exit in 2019. In the meantime, the Nats could perhaps use a left fielder to complement Harper in right and Adam Eaton in center. They do, however, have other in-house options in Michael A. Taylor and Brian Goodwin. Taylor was particularly strong in 2017, yet the Nats may not be content with him functioning as a regular in 2018, if their interest in Ozuna is any indication.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[NL East Links: Anthopoulos, Marlins, Yelich, Kendrick, Lind, Harvey]]> 2017-12-12T13:15:36Z 2017-12-12T13:15:36Z New Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos spoke to reporters (including’s Mark Bowman and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien) about his team’s offseason shopping list, which includes a third baseman, bullpen help, and a controllable starting pitcher.  The “backdrop of everything” with the Braves’ plans, Anthopoulos stressed, is an improved defense.  “If we can improve in just one area defensively, we’re going to make 12 or 13 guys on that [pitching staff] a lot better,” the GM said.  As Bowman points out, this would seem to hint that Matt Kemp or Nick Markakis could be moved, as both outfielders posted subpar fielding numbers last season.  It may still be a while before we see one of Anthopoulos’ signature major trades, however, as he said he is still familiarizing himself with Atlanta’s baseball operations department after only a few weeks on the job.  While he wouldn’t rule out some notable moves, “I would say my thought for Year 1 would be a more cautious approach,” Anthopoulos said.  He also believed that the Braves’ payroll would likely remain around the $130MM mark.

    Some more rumblings from around the NL East…

    • With the Braves looking for third base help,’s Joe Frisaro believes they could at least be open to a trade for the MarlinsMartin Prado.  One would think Miami would have to eat a big chunk of the $28.5MM owed to Prado through 2019 to make any trade involving the veteran work, as Prado was limited to just 37 games last season due to hamstring injuries and knee surgery.  The well-respected Prado would be a good leader within a young Atlanta clubhouse, however, and Prado has a long relationship with the Braves after spending his first 10 pro seasons in the organization.
    • In two other tweets, Frisaro notes that the Marlins may be better served by trading Christian Yelich, even though the team’s “sentiment…is to retain” the young outfielder.  Getting a big haul of talent in an “overpay situation” for Yelich would greatly help Miami restock its farm system, plus Frisaro cites the factor that Yelich may simply be tired of playing for losing teams.  While Yelich’s name has surfaced in trade speculation, the Marlins are in no particular rush to deal him; the outfielder is locked up on a contract that runs through at least the 2021 season.
    • The Nationals got a lot of production off the bench from Howie Kendrick and Adam Lind last year, and GM Mike Rizzo told’s Pete Kerzel and other reporters that he is open to a reunion with either player.  Playing time could be an issue, as while both Kendrick and Lind saw significant action in 2017, they theoretically wouldn’t be used as much next year since the Nats expect better health throughout their lineup.  The two veterans could therefore try to sign for teams that could promise them more regular at-bats.
    • The Mets and Orioles have had some talks about Matt Harvey, and while Dan Connolly of is “all for [the O’s] taking a flier on Harvey,” doing so in a trade for Brad Brach would be ill-advised from the Orioles’ perspective.  Dealing a proven quality reliever like Brach is too much of a risk, since Harvey is a question mark after two injury-plagued down years.  Fortunately for Connolly’s concerns, a Brach-for-Harvey trade doesn’t seem to be a likely possibility.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals Have Interest In Hector Rondon]]> 2017-12-11T20:26:58Z 2017-12-11T20:21:23Z
  • As the Nationals look into possible bullpen additions, the club could consider free agent Hector Rondon, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports on Twitter. Washington was among the teams that spoke with the Cubs about Rondon before he was non-tendered. The Nats and others obviously were not willing to risk an arbitration hearing with a player who projected at $6.2MM, but presumably there’ll be fairly wide interest at a lower price tag. Though he faded a bit in 2017, Rondon still carried 10.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 while maintaining his typically robust fastball velocity and also showing career highs in swinging-strike (11.9%) and groundball (48.3%) rates.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals Have Interest In Matt Adams]]> 2017-12-11T17:26:06Z 2017-12-11T17:02:25Z
  • Fresh off of a non-tender by the Braves, first baseman Matt Adams has drawn interest from a few organizations, according to Jerry Crasnick of (via Twitter). Specifically, the Indians, Royals, and Nationals have all reached out to Adams’s representatives. While Cleveland and Kansas City could offer fairly significant roles to the left-handed hitter — who really is best utilized in a platoon capacity — the Nats unsurprisingly would consider him as a frequently used bench piece who might take some of the burden from Ryan Zimmerman. Atlanta was not able to find a taker for Adams before the tender deadline; he had projected to earn $4.6MM via arbitration, so it’d be surprising if he ended up receiving more than that on the open market. For the Indians, it seems, adding a player such as Adams would represent something of a “fallback,” as Crasnick terms it, if the team is unable to strike a new deal with Carlos Santana. MLBTR’s Kyle Downing just analyzed Santana’s free agent case and we have also rounded up the latest market chatter on one of the market’s top bats.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Gio Gonzalez, Trade Chip?]]> 2017-12-11T05:24:52Z 2017-12-11T05:24:52Z
  • Could the Nationals use Gio Gonzalez as a trade chip?’s Pete Kerzel discusses the possibility, as the Nats could obtain some controllable talent by dealing the veteran as he enters the final year of his contract.  Gonzalez is coming off one of the best of his six seasons in Washington (2.96 ERA, 2.38 K/BB rate, 8.42 K/9 over 201 innings), though advanced metrics were less impressed by his performance, so Kerzel believes the Nats could look for a trade while Gonzalez’s value is high.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Reactions To And Effects Of The Giancarlo Stanton Trade]]> 2017-12-10T03:52:12Z 2017-12-10T03:52:12Z The Yankees shook the baseball world early Saturday when they agreed to acquire 2017 National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins. As you’d expect, the deal has elicited no shortage of media reactions, many of which we’ve rounded up here:

    • While the Los Angeles-born Stanton would have preferred to go to the Dodgers, they didn’t make an offer that “intrigued” the Marlins, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. Sending Stanton to the Dodgers would have required the Marlins to take on more bad contracts than they were “comfortable with,” according to Sherman, who reports that LA wanted Miami to accept one or both of Adrian Gonzalez or Scott Kazmir and absorb $30MM of Stanton’s contract. The Marlins found acquiring Starlin Castro from the Yankees much more appealing, as he’s someone they could slot in at second base or flip elsewhere.
    • The Dodgers’ wariness toward a more aggressive Stanton pursuit stemmed from the back-loaded nature of his 10-year, $295MM commitment, per Buster Olney of ESPN (subscription required and recommended). If he doesn’t opt out of his contract after 2020, Stanton will rake in $96MM over the final three years of his pact, when he’ll be in his late 30s. The Yankees will be able to slot him in at designated hitter then if his work in the field sharply declines with age, whereas the Dodgers would have had to continue running him out as a defender.
    • Adding Stanton gives the Yankees as many as six major league-caliber outfielders, thereby making Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier potential trade candidates. The Yankees will work to rid themselves of Ellsbury, even if it means eating “a lot” of the $68.3MM left on his contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Ellsbury was reportedly uninterested in leaving the Yankees as of earlier this week, but that was before the acquisition of Stanton relegated him to the role of a fifth outfielder. While Ellsbury, who has a full no-trade clause, would be a salary dump, the 23-year-old Frazier would likely bring back a quality return – perhaps a starter, King suggests. Additionally, the Yankees “would certainly listen on offers” for third baseman Chase Headley, per King. Headley is entering the last year of his contract, in which he’ll make $13MM.
    • With new Marlins owners Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman on a mission to continue paring down payroll to the $90MM range, Castro looks like their most obvious trade chip, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. By parting with Castro – who has two years and $22MM left on his pact – and not taking back another guaranteed contract, Miami would still be about $15MM above its spending goal, Jackson notes. Further payroll slashing could come from deals involving some combination of Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, Martin Prado, Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa. Moving Castro, Ozuna, Ziegler and Tazawa would likely obviate any need to trade Yelich, Jackson suggests.
    • Prior to the Yankees’ Stanton acquisition, they looked poised to go after Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper in free agency a year from now. That may be out the window now, leading Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post to posit that the trade probably helps the Nationals to some degree because it appears to erase a would-be Harper suitor. However, several other teams will make big offers to Harper, Janes points out, so retaining him on what should be a record contract still figures to be a tall order for the Nats.
    • Harper is among the losers in this trade, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic opines (subscription required and recommended). Unsurprisingly, Harper’s agent, the always colorful Scott Boras, disagrees. “A Bronx opera . . . The Three Tenors . . . Hal’s genius, vision,” Boras told Rosenthal via email, referencing Harper, Stanton, Aaron Judge and Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner. Boras added that the Harper-Stanton-Judge trio would be “a galaxy of international popularity” on the same team. While Boras clearly isn’t ruling out a Yankees-Harper union, Rosenthal sees Manny Machado as a more likely target for the club in free agency next year.
    • The fact that Stanton is set to join a Yankees team that was just one win from securing a World Series trip last season is a major blow to parity in the AL, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs argues. Cameron classifies the Astros, Yankees, Red Sox and Indians as potential “super teams” heading into next season, and the Angels could be on their way to the playoffs after winning the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes. As impressive as those clubs look, there’s now less incentive for others to play for the last wild-card spot, Cameron contends, which could lead certain fringe teams to rebuild.
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 12/9/17]]> 2017-12-09T21:26:25Z 2017-12-09T21:25:34Z We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves in this post.

    • The Rays have bolstered their bullpen depth by signing right-hander Cody Hall to a minor-league deal, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The pact includes an invitation to spring training. As Topkin notes, Hall has made major-league relief appearances with the Giants (who originally drafted him in 2011) and the Marlins. He’s only made nine MLB appearances, however, and the results weren’t good; Hall allowed ten earned runs in just 11 1/3 innings. The upside for Hall seems to lie in his strikeout ability; the 29-year-old struck out 33.1% of the batters he faced with the Giants’ Double-A affiliate last season.


    • The Nationals announced that they have signed David Goforth to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training camp. The 29-year-old right-hander was a seventh-round selection of the Brewers in the 2011 draft, with whom he’d spent his entire professional career until now. Though he spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons as a starter in the minor leagues, he transitioned into a relief role in 2014 and hasn’t made a start since. Goforth averages about 96MPH on his fastball, but hasn’t been consistent with his command. He’s also struggled to keep the ball in the park at the major league level, as shown by his 1.73 HR/9. However, while the 5’10” reliever’s 5.94 ERA may seem ugly on the surface, his 3.98 xFIP and high fastball velocity paint him as someone with intriguing upside.
    • The Rangers have signed former Braves prospect Yenci Pena for $675K, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. The Rangers were currently holding one of the largest international bonus pools in baseball, perhaps in part because they were attempting to lure Shohei Ohtani to Texas. However, they’ll now focus those funds elsewhere, and the 17-year-old Pena is how they chose to kick off that spending. The shortstop originally signed with the Braves out of the Dominican Republic for $1.05MM, but hit just .230/.328/.327 in his first taste of pro baseball. However, his 12.8% walk rate helped make him a roughly average offensive player in rookie ball.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals Could Have Interest In Jake Arrieta, Gerrit Cole]]> 2017-12-09T07:27:43Z 2017-12-09T06:35:16Z The Nationals are checking over the market for starters, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (subscription required). While the team’s potential targets aren’t yet clear, Rosenthal does list two interesting options, both of whom were among the names we floated as hypothetical candidates in our review of the Nats’ offseason outlook. Gerrit Cole of the Pirates could be a name to watch on the trade market, says Rosenthal. And the Nationals are “kicking around” a pursuit of free agent Jake Arrieta, per the report. Certainly, the club’s numerous dealings with Scott Boras make that possible match one to keep an eye on. It’s certainly still possible the Nationals will go in any number of different directions in filling out their rotation, though the report does suggest the team shouldn’t be ruled out for a significant addition.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Sawchik On Nationals' Need For Catching Help]]> 2017-12-04T20:29:20Z 2017-12-04T20:28:26Z
  • The catcher position remains a glaring need for the Nationals, writes Fangraphs’ Travis Sawchik, who opines that the team should aggressively pursue upgrades despite the fact that they’re already widely favored to win the division. The Nats have just one year of Bryce Harper guaranteed to them, and it’s anyone’s guess how long both Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg will continue pitching at elite levels. Matt Wieters’ dismal offense and poor framing were all the more apparent in the postseason, Sawchik observes, and that latter deficiency is particularly troublesome in the playoffs. Amid offseason reports that the Nats will be open to dealing Yasmani Grandal, Sawchik argues that he’s the perfect upgrade for the Nats due to his elite framing skills. It’d also be worthwhile to try to pry Tyler Flowers away from the Braves, he suggests, though intra-division trades are often more difficult to negotiate, and there’s been no indication that the Braves would make Flowers available.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mariners, Giants, Padres, Rangers, Cubs, Angels Among Teams To Meet With Shohei Ohtani]]> 2017-12-04T05:40:13Z 2017-12-04T05:40:33Z 11:40pm: The Angels are indeed one of the finalists, as per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter).

    10:39pm: The Angels are thought by “multiple sources” to be one of the finalists, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan tweets.  The Tigers are out of the running, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.

    8:59pm: The Rangers and Cubs will both meet with Ohtani, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports (Twitter link), and they’re also the only two non-West Coast teams who appear to still be alive in the candidate process.  The Rangers, Grant notes, have yet to comment on their status one way or the other.

    7:22pm: The Nationals won’t be receiving a meeting, the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes reports (Twitter link).

    6:58pm: The Braves are out,’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter).

    6:50pm: The Padres will receive a meeting with Ohtani, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter links).  The Dodgers are also thought to still be active in the Ohtani sweepstakes though Heyman doesn’t have confirmation; regardless, the Dodgers aren’t thought to be favorites to land Ohtani.

    6:38pm: The Rays, Cardinals and White Sox are out, according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (all Twitter links).

    6:15pm: The Diamondbacks won’t receive a meeting, Ken Rosenthal tweets.

    6:12pm: The Blue Jays, Pirates, and Brewers are all out, as respectively reported by’s Shi Davidi,’s Adam Berry, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt (all Twitter links).

    5:48pm: The Mets are also out, as per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).

    5:38pm: Ohtani’s list is “heavy” on West Coast teams, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, though the Cubs may still be involved.  Not every west-based team is included, however, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal tweets that the A’s aren’t involved.

    5:28pm: The Red Sox are also out of the running, president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.  The Twins also won’t be getting a meeting with Ohtani, Heyman tweets.

    5:16pm: The Giants and Mariners are among the teams that will receive meetings with Shohei Ohtani and his representatives next week, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link).  It isn’t known who the other finalists are in the Ohtani sweepstakes, though the Yankees are one of the teams that didn’t make the cut, as Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters (including’s Brendan Kuty and’s Bryan Hoch).

    According to Cashman, Ohtani seems to be leaning towards West Coast teams in smaller markets.  This ties to a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman saying that Ohtani’s reps are informing teams that the two-way star would prefer to play in a smaller market.

    The news adds another fascinating layer to the Ohtani sweepstakes, which was already one of the more intriguing free agent pursuits in recent memory.  Given the seeming lack of immediate financial motive that inspired Ohtani’s move to Major League Baseball, it opened the door for every team in baseball (regardless of market or payroll size) to make a push for the 23-year-old.  There had been speculation that Ohtani might look to avoid playing in a larger market, so this apparent confirmation creates a realistic possibility that he will land with a team that wouldn’t normally be considered a favorite to land such a coveted free agent.

    Of course, San Francisco isn’t exactly a small market, though Ohtani wouldn’t necessarily be the center of attention on a club with such established stars as Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner (and maybe even Giancarlo Stanton in the near future).  Playing for an NL team, however, would force Ohtani into a pinch-hitting or even a part-time outfield role for the at-bats he seeks in his attempt to be a two-way player in the big leagues.  The Mariners do have such a DH spot available (in a timeshare with Nelson Cruz), and were considered to be a contender for Ohtani given their long history of Japanese players.

    The Yankees also have had several significant Japanese players on their past and current rosters, and were widely seen as one of the major favorites for Ohtani’s services from a financial (in terms of available international bonus money) and positional (openings at DH and in the rotation) standpoint, not to mention their international fame and their young core of talent ready to make a World Series push.  With Ohtani now out of the picture, the Yankees could move to signing more pitching depth — a reunion with C.C. Sabathia has been widely speculated as a possibility — or a veteran bat to serve as designated hitter, if the club doesn’t just rotate its DH days to find plate appearances for everyone on the current roster.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[How The Stanton Trade Talks Impact The Nationals]]> 2017-12-04T05:17:50Z 2017-12-04T05:17:50Z Every team in baseball is monitoring the Giancarlo Stanton trade talks given their importance to the rest of the offseason transaction business, though the Nationals are perhaps watching closer than most,’s Mark Zuckerman writes.  Should Stanton end up with the Dodgers, that would all but eliminate Los Angeles from pursuing Bryce Harper in free agency next offseason.  If the Giants or Cardinals (two teams that probably won’t be prime suitors for Harper next year) land Stanton, that leaves the Nats with another major threat in L.A. to worry about for Harper’s services, to go along with the interest he’s expected to draw from big spenders like the Yankees, Cubs, or Phillies.  Beyond that long-term issue, the Nats obviously also are concerned about the idea of Stanton going from an inter-division threat to a team that could end up facing Washington in the postseason.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Shohei Ohtani Rumors: Thursday]]> 2017-11-30T20:45:29Z 2017-11-30T20:45:16Z The question of whether Shohei Ohtani can successfully lead a big league rotation and serve as a legitimate member of its offense on a semi-regular basis is one of the most fascinating storylines in recent memory, and Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports takes an excellent look at the viability of that scenario. Brown spoke to GM, scouts, coaches and players throughout the league, and though the prevailing opinion was that while it would be difficult and unlikely, there’s also a sentiment that those in the industry are nonetheless rooting for Ohtani to succeed at both.

    Rays righty Chris Archer tells Brown that a successful two-way player would “change our perspective” on the game. Archer and free-agent outfielder Jayson Werth both chatted with Brown about their daily schedules and recovery programs, which Brown uses as a means of illustrating the challenges of Ohtani successfully serving as a starter and a DH/outfielder. Brown also talks with former pitcher/outfielder Rick Ankiel about the summer he spent as a starter and a DH in A-ball. Ankiel suggests that the true question isn’t one of whether Ohtani can physically handle a two-way role but rather one of whether Ohtani can thrive in both areas. “Can he be great at both here?” Ankiel asks rhetorically. “That depends on how good he really is.”

    Some other notes on the game’s most intriguing free-agent-to-be, who should be formally posted by Saturday…

    • The Athletics can only offer $300K to Ohtani after exceeding last year’s allotted international pool, but Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports a detailed account of their pitch to Ohtani. Oakland is will to not only let Ohtani hit but also play the outfield on occasion, she notes, and their sales pitch also centers around an emerging young core of comparably aged players to Ohtani — led by Matt Olson and Matt Chapman. The A’s hope to be in a new ballpark by 2023, if not sooner and are hoping to sell Ohtani on helping them usher in that new facility as one of the faces of the team. They also highlighted manager Bob Melvin’s relationship with Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui as well as Oakland’s relative proximity to Japan, among many other aspects.
    • Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports that the Angels have “earmarked” the $1.315MM they now have in their international pool after today’s trade with the Braves for a pursuit of Ohtani.

    Earlier Updates

    • The Phillies haven’t been mentioned in connection with Ohtani, but’s Todd Zolecki writes that they do plan to take their shot at landing him, even if they’re considered long shots. The Phils have $900K to offer Ohtani in terms of a signing bonus, and new skipper Gabe Kapler spent a season playing in Nippon Professional Baseball, giving him some familiarity with Japanese baseball and culture. Zolecki also notes that former Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel, a senior advisor in the front office, enjoyed an excellent six-year career in NPB and is likely a known name for Ohtani, even if Manuel wrapped up his playing career before Ohtani was born. Nonetheless, the Phils will also need to convince Ohtani that their rebuilding club is near contention, and Zolecki further notes that other markets like New York, Los Angeles and Seattle have considerably larger Japanese populations and communities.
    • Pennsylvania’s other MLB club may also be a long shot, but Pirates GM Neal Huntington still spoke optimistically in his team’s ability to make a competitive pitch for Ohtani in a recent appearance with Chris Mueller and Joe Starkey on 93.7 The Fan“We are going to do everything in our power, and hopefully, have him honor us with the ability to get beyond the written presentation, get beyond the initial 30-club presentation and really dig into why it would be an honor for us to have him become a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates,” said Huntington. In terms of potential bonus offer, the Bucs are one of the better-positioned teams, with a bit more than $2.2MM to offer, but Ohtani is widely expected to make far more through endorsements than his initial signing bonus anyhow, so the bonus itself may not be an enormous separator.
    • David Kaplan of NBC Sports Chicago writes that the Cubs have sent scouts to Japan to watch Ohtani for weeks at a time in the past, and some rivals believe the Cubs to be a serious threat to land him. One exec remarks to Kaplan that president of baseball ops Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have success in setting up support systems for international stars thanks to their acquisition of Daisuke Matsuzaka with the Red Sox in the 2006-07 offseason. The Cubs are capped at a $300K signing bonus, though again, that doesn’t appear to be as significant a strike against them as it would be in the pursuit of a more traditional free agent.
    • Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals crafted a presentation in English, which international scouting assistant Taisuke Sato then translated to Japanese for Ohtani’s consumption. Janes notes that the Nationals, who are also capped at $300K, cannot compete financially in terms of signing bonus and don’t have previous experience in signing Japanese players under GM Mike Rizzo to demonstrate a proven plan for helping an NPB star transition to the Majors. That said, the team has very recently made a significant investment in its medical staff, boasts a new Spring Training facility and a fairly new ballpark in D.C., and can attempt to sell Ohtani on the allure of joining an immediate contender with an open rotation spot. Janes paints the Nats as long shots but notes that they, like all 30 other clubs, will at least perform their due diligence in attempting to entire Ohtani.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Victor Robles Likely Headed For Triple-A In 2018]]> 2017-11-29T01:52:03Z 2017-11-29T01:52:03Z
  • Nationals top prospect Victor Robles is expected to begin the 2018 season in Triple-A, reports Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. The Nats are as bullish as ever on the highly touted 20-year-old, but they’d prefer that he receive everyday at-bats rather than play in a more limited role to open the year. As it stands, Washington figures to head into the season with Michael Taylor, Adam Eaton and Bryce Harper as its starting outfield and Brian Goodwin on hand as a reserve. Robles already made his MLB debut in 2017, so it stands to reason that in the event of an injury, he’d be under consideration for a promotion and a regular role. And, with Harper potentially departing as a free agent following the 2018 campaign, a long-term spot could be opening for Robles in advance of his age-22 season (2019).
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Shohei Ohtani Rumors: Tuesday]]> 2017-11-28T22:13:31Z 2017-11-28T22:13:43Z Though Shohei Ohtani has not even yet been officially posted — that’s expected as soon as Friday — the supreme young talent is drawing plenty of attention from MLB organizations. Those clubs received a memorandum over the weekend asking them to provide information to Ohtani and his representatives on a variety of subjects, which is only the beginning of a highly unusual and utterly fascinating recruitment process.

    Here’s the latest:

    • Though Ohtani is limited to a signing bonus and a minor league contract in coming to the Major Leagues, he stands to earn substantially more through marketing endorsements, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Marketing agents have predicted to Nightengale that between endorsements back in Japan and in the United States, Ohtani could command north of $20MM annually. That’d make him MLB’s highest-paid player in terms of off-the-field revenue.
    • Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic spoke to agent Scott Boras (who was in the running to represent Ohtani before Ohtani signed CAA and Nez Balelo) as well as MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem about Ohtani’s earning capacity. Unsurprisingly, Boras offered sharp criticism of a system that won’t allow Ohtani to top a $3.535MM signing bonus at this point. “He is precocious, greatness cast adrift, forced into the MLB lifeboat,” said the always colorful Boras. “And his admission is handcuffs that prevent him from getting at least what his older, lesser valued peers received—in Tanaka’s case, more than $150 million.” Halem, as one would expect, wholly disagreed with Boras’ notions, pointing out that it was Ohtani who passed on the chance to sign with MLB clubs as an amateur out of high school, which could have jump-started his earning potential. And, it was Ohtani who asked to be posted as an amateur just two years before he could have been posted as a professional. The free column has quite a few quotes from both Boras and Halem on the matter and is well worth a full look.

    Earlier Updates

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