The 2019 Winter Meetings have proved to be a fun week, with each of the three big free agents — Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole, and Stephen Strasburg — finding homes in consecutive days. Most executives are about to head out of San Diego, but there have been a few more deals struck Thursday (the Mets got Rick Porcello and the Yankees re-signed Brett Gardner).
There are also a fair share of hot stove rumors still circulating. We’re here to round them up.
It’s been a quiet offseason thus far for the reigning NL Central champs, but the Cardinals may be gearing up to fortify the rotation. MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reports that St. Louis has met with agents for two notable free agent lefties — Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dallas Keuchel.
Ryu, 32, finished runner-up in the NL Cy Young balloting this past season thanks to an MLB-leading 2.32 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 6.79 in 182 2/3 innings. For his career, he owns an ERA+ of 129 across parts of six big league seasons, all with the Dodgers.
Keuchel, who soon turns 32, turned a solid season for the Braves in 2019 — 121 ERA+ in 19 starts — despite not signing until after the season began and thus not benefiting from a normal ramp-up in spring. The 2015 AL Cy Young winner’s strong groundball tendencies would pair well with a quality infield defense in St. Louis.
Either Ryu or Keuchel would be a good stabilizer behind young ace Jack Flaherty.
The well heeled Dodgers have already added Blake Treinen to the bullpen mix, and now they be looking to add another big relief arm. Joel Sherman tweets that the Dodgers have serious interest in free agent reliever Dellin Betances, who’s spent the first eight seasons of his MLB career with the Yankees.
Betances, who turns 32 in late March, was limited to only one appearance this past season because of shoulder, oblique, and Achilles’ injuries. Otherwise, the four-time All-Star has been dominant. For his career, Betances owns an ERA of 2.36 (177 ERA+) with 621 strikeouts 381 2/3 innings.
After the Rangers missed out on Anthony Rendon on Wednesday, it seemed likely that they’d engage in a serious pursuit of Josh Donaldson. So much for that. The Rangers might already be out of the Donaldson sweepstakes, according to Levi Weaver of The Athletic, who reports Donaldson’s asking price has exceeding Texas’ comfort level.
If the Rangers do indeed miss out on Donaldson — who would likely sign with the Nationals, Phillies, or Braves — then they could pivot to the trade market, be it for an obvious choice like Kris Bryant, or a more under-the-radar option. Alternatively, they could look to free-agent types like Maikel Franco and Matt Duffy.
Whatever the case, the Rangers appear more likely to come up empty in their attempts to land one of the top free agents remaining.
The Tigers agreed to a one-year deal with catcher Austin Romine for $4 million, according to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. Romine, 31, has spent his career with the Yankees and was the backup backstop in the Bronx for the past four seasons. He appeared in 72 games last season, posting a .281/.310/.439 slash line with eight homers in 228 at-bats. The Yankees, meanwhile, are said to be targeting one of Gerrit Cole’s favorite catchers to serve as Gary Sanchez’s new backup.
The Yankees have had a busy week, adding Gerrit Cole and Brett Gardner in separate deals. They might not be done, either. That’s because the Yankees are considered to be the most aggressive team in on Brewers closer Josh Hader, per Ken Rosenthal.
We covered the possibility more elsewhere, but the Brewers are considering a Hader deal for two main reasons: 1) to refresh a horrid farm system and 2) avoid paying him through the arbitration process. Hader projects to make nearly $5 million in the first of his four arbitration-eligible seasons.
The Yankees figure to make at least one trade over the coming weeks, as they look to move J.A. Happ and reduce their luxury-tax calculation to avoid the (relatively) steep overage fees, among other penalties.
Since its inception, The National Digest has been dedicated to providing authoritative and thought-provoking insights into trending topics and the latest happenings.