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Dominoes are finally starting to fall across Major League Baseball this offseason, though the much-anticipated big moves have yet to go down.
Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton are drawing the bulk of attention in the sport. Ohtani is the free agent on every team’s radar, but his list of suitors has been whittled down to seven, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It is a process that could go through Dec. 22.
Stanton, the reigning National League MVP, is the biggest bat on the trade market. The Miami Marlins could move him at any moment, which would shake up the entire landscape of this offseason since teams will get finality on him and be able to move on free agents and other trade pieces.
Looking at where things stand with the MLB Winter Meetings on tap next week, here are the latest trade rumors around the sport.
Marlins Eyeing Cardinals’ Pitchers
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As discussions between the Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals about Stanton continue, a pair of St. Louis players have caught Miami’s eyes.
Per Venezuelan baseball reporter Wilmer Reina (via MLB Network’s Jon Morosi), the Marlins have “shown interest” in right-handed starter Michael Wacha and infielder Jose Martinez from the Cardinals.
It’s unclear what this might mean for a previous report from Morosi, stating the Marlins have agreed to a general framework for deals with the Cardinals and San Francisco Giants for Stanton, and the teams are just waiting to see if Stanton will waive his no-trade clause to be dealt.
Martinez is an expendable piece for the Cardinals, especially if they add Stanton’s bat. He’s a 29-year-old who spent 10 years in the minors before getting a cup of coffee in the big leagues in 2016 and playing in 106 games last season.
The Venezuelan native hit well with a .309/.379/.518 slash line in 2017, but he’s primarily a first baseman and the Cardinals already have Matt Carpenter.
Wacha had a decent bounceback season last year after an injury-plagued 2016. The 26-year-old had a 4.13 ERA with 158 strikeouts in 165.2 innings after posting a 5.09 ERA the previous season.
The Cardinals don’t have much depth in their starting rotation right now. Carlos Martinez remains their No. 1 starter, but Lance Lynn is a free agent and Mike Leake was traded to the Seattle Mariners last August. Adam Wainwright is 36 years old with a 4.81 ERA over the past two seasons.
Luke Weaver showed promise with a 3.88 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 60.1 innings. Top prospect Alex Reyes had Tommy John surgery last February, so presumably he wouldn’t be ready to pitch in an MLB game until perhaps May.
If the Cardinals view Stanton as a game-changer for their lineup who will help bring them back into the playoff mix after missing out the past two seasons, paying the price of two cost-controlled players and whatever else the Marlins want won’t be too steep.
Red Sox Not Engaged on Jose Abreu
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press
Even though the Boston Red Sox need to add a power hitter to their lineup, their interest in Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu appears to be muted.
Per Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, talks between the Red Sox and White Sox about Abreu in November were only “preliminary.”
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported on Nov. 29 that the Red Sox were one of the teams in talks with the White Sox about acquiring Abreu. ESPN.com’s Scott Lauber added the White Sox were seeking “an arm and both legs” in order to trade Abreu.
The interest in Abreu is problematic, at least on Chicago’s side, because the free-agent market has plenty of first basemen to choose from.
The Red Sox have their choice of players like Eric Hosmer, Carlos Santana and Logan Morrison for the position, instead of trading another big package of prospects to the White Sox for Abreu after last year’s blockbuster for Chris Sale.
Abreu’s performance has made it so the White Sox can ask for a big return in trade talks. The Cuban star hit .304/.354/.552 with 33 home runs in 2017 and has an .883 career OPS in four MLB seasons.
Boston has to come out of this winter with at least one big bat for the lineup. The Red Sox hit the fourth-fewest home runs (168) and had the fifth-lowest slugging percentage (.407) in MLB last season.
Abreu would have led the Red Sox in average, slugging percentage and home runs (33) and would have tied with Mookie Betts for the team lead in RBI (102).
Putting Abreu in the lineup behind Dustin Pedroia, Andrew Benintendi and Betts would make the Red Sox more formidable, especially since they are competing against a loaded New York Yankees team in the American League East.
But this isn’t the year for a team like the White Sox to be selling high on a first baseman with so many other options on the market available to choose from.
Rockies Seeking Closer Help
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After Greg Holland opted out of his contract at the end of last season, the Colorado Rockies became buyers for a closer heading into 2018.
Per Morosi, one option the Rockies have explored is trading for Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton.
The Orioles likely missed their window to cash in big on Britton, though it was for understandable reasons. His stock was never going to be higher than it was at the end of 2016 when he finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting and 11th in AL MVP voting.
Since the Orioles made the playoffs as a wild card in 2016 and had hopes of making it back again last season, they weren’t going to deal Britton last offseason.
Unfortunately for the Orioles, Britton spent most of 2017 on the disabled list. The left-hander only appeared in 38 games and had a 2.89 ERA with 39 hits allowed, 29 strikeouts and 18 walks in 37.1 innings.
The problem is compounded because Britton is projected to make $12.2 million through arbitration in 2018, per Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors.
If the Orioles put a heavy price tag on Britton, like they did last summer, it will be difficult to move him. He’s going to be 30 on Dec. 22 with a projected salary that would make him the third-highest paid reliever in MLB, per Spotrac.
The Rockies will need to address the back of their bullpen this offseason, which could make them desperate enough to pay a steep price for someone like Britton. It’s a thin free-agent market for closers, with Wade Davis being the best of a group that includes Fernando Rodney and Francisco Rodriguez.
After making a brief playoff appearance as a wild-card team last season, the Rockies could try to be aggressive in an effort to keep pace with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West.