Thu, Dec 12, 2019

With the annual general manager meetings underway, the lull between the end of the postseason and the hot stove period should be concluding in the near future. Top executives are actually starting to acknowledge potential offseason free agent targets or their intent to make an impact on the trade market — though they can’t list targets currently employed by other teams. 

Let’s run down the latest from Wednesdays’ MLB rumor mill.

Dodgers, Rangers among teams in on Donaldson

Josh Donaldson in his age-33 with the Braves batted .259/.379/.521 with 37 home runs in 155 games and plus defense at the hot corner. In other words Donaldson on a one-year contract rebuilt his value after a disappointing 2018 campaign and positioned himself as a premium free agent this offseason. No surprise, then, that a number of teams have him in mind. 

The Braves have some interest in a reunion, and the champion Nationals have Donaldson on their radar as a potential replacement for fellow free agent Anthony Rendon. Now Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Dodgers also have interest in Donaldson. Any signing of Donaldson by the Dodgers would likely lead to an infield shuffle, assuming they kept Donaldson at third base. Right now, Justin Turner is the team’s third baseman, but he could be moved to first or even second as a way to clear the decks for Donaldson. On this same front, Jon Heyman tweets that the Dodgers also have some interest in Rendon.

Elsewhere, USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale reports that the Rangers are also interested in Donaldson. Last season, Asdrubal Cabrera received a plurality of the time at third base, but he was released on early August. Nick Solak is probably in line for the job at the moment, which explains the Rangers’ interest in an upgrade at the position.

Braves on Moose

Speaking of Donaldson, what happens to the NL East champion Braves should their star third baseman sign elsewhere? Installing top prospect Austin Riley at third is a possibility, but the Braves may instead be looking for a veteran hand to hold down the position for 2020. On that point, Jon Heyman tweets that Mike Moustakas is of interest to Atlanta. Moustakas is coming off a 2019 campaign for the Brewers in which he put up an OPS+ of 114 with 35 home runs in 143 games. He’ll be going into his age-31 season.

Jays have talked to Grandal

The Blue Jays certainly don’t seem to committed to building a contending roster this offseason, but maybe they’ll be more active on the free agent market than you’d think. Speaking of which, ESPN’s Marly Rivera reports that the Jays are one of the teams to meet with free agent catcher Yasmani Grandal. Grandal, who just recently turned 31, spent last season with the Brewers. With Milwaukee, he batted .246/.380/.468 with 28 home runs in 153 games. In addition to being a top defensive catcher, Grandal also boasts a career OPS+ of 115.

Cardinals to entertain Molina extension

Cardinals backstop Yadier Molina originally intended to retire once his contract concluded at the end of the 2020 season. That’s no longer the case.

Rather, Molina “would like to play through 2021 and possibly 2022,” according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cardinals were informed of as much on Tuesday by Molina’s agent, Melvin Roman, and will discuss a new deal with Roman and Molina during spring training.

Molina, 37, is coming off a down season by his lofty standards. 

Padres intend to discuss extension with Tatis

As we noted elsewhere, the Padres want to lock up star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. to a long-term deal. It’s unclear how likely an agreement between the sides is, but it stands to reason Tatis will want more than the eight-year, $100 million deal that Ronald Acuna Jr. received from the Braves earlier this year.

Tatis was recently named the third-place finisher in National League Rookie of the Year Award voting.

Astros eye veteran starters

No surprise here, given that the Astros could lose Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley to free agency (and may have to non-tender Aaron Sanchez), but Houston will be on the look out for veteran starters this winter, per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle.

The Astros would seem more likely to focus on potential bargains than shop at the top of the market. Their owner has publicly discussed a willingness to “make a run at” re-signing Cole, however, the luxury-tax implications would seem to make that unlikely.

Bumgarner drawing a crowd

Erstwhile Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner figured to be a popular name on the free-agent market. So far, that looks to be the case. The Braves and Yankees were known to have various degrees of interest in Bumgarner. You can now add the Phillies to Bumgarner’s list of potential suitors, too, per Ken Rosnethal of The Athletic

Bumgarner is considered part of the second tier of starters available this winter. Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg comprise the top tier.

Blue Jays intrigued by Odorizzi

Count the Blue Jays among the teams who have interest in free-agent right-hander Jake Odorizzi, per Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Odorizzi has, over the years, proven to be an athletic strikethrower who fits in fine as a team’s No. 3 or 4 starter. He’d make sense for a Jays team looking to add pitching talent.

The Jays have already acquired Chase Anderson this winter from Milwaukee.

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