Tue, Dec 10, 2019

The MLB offseason of 2019-20 is still fairly young, which means pretty much all the action has yet to transpire. That said, rumors regarding free agent player and team pairings and potential trades are circulating, and we’re here to get you up to speed on all the latest scuttle. We also have a rundown of all of the key dates in this year’s offseason and our ranking of the top 50 free agents on the market. For the latest on the market’s big names, make sure you check out CBS Sports’ 2019-20 MLB Free Agent Tracker.

Now here’s what’s buzzing for Friday. 

Phillies in on Didi, Mad Bum

The Phillies were active last season in the service of contention, and they’re expected to be spenders once again in the winter of 2019-20. So it’s no surprise that they’re expected to be in on a number of frontline free agents. On that front, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi has a pair of Philly scoops

First, Morosi reports that the Phillies have interest in free agent shortstop Didi Gregorius, who’s spent the last five seasons with the Yankees. Gregorius, who turns 30 in February, remains a solid defender at the position and a good source of power. On the downside, he’s inconsistent in terms of his on-base capabilities. As Morosi notes, the Phillies would create room for Gregorius by trading Jean Segura or moving him to another position. Last season, the Phillies didn’t get strong production from third base, so a move to the hot corner could make some sense. 

Elsewhere, Morosi also reports that the Phillies may look to free agent lefty Madison Bumgarner to bolster their troubled rotation. Per Morosi, both sides have been in contact. The Giants‘ icon is going into his age-30 season, and he’s coming off a 2019 campaign in which he pitched to a 3.90 ERA/107 ERA+ with a K/BB ratio of 4.72 — one of the best K/BB ratios of his career — in 207 2/3 innings. In terms of run prevention, Bumgarner isn’t quite an ace, but he’s a durable purveyor of comfortably better than average innings. Given the state of the Philly rotation behind Aaron Nola, he’d be a sound addition. 

White Sox sign Abreu to extension

The White Sox announced another signing on Friday, one day after the Yasmani Grandal signing, the White Sox agreed to terms with first baseman/designated hitter Jose Abreu on a three-year extension. Abreu, a three-time All-Star, hit .284/.330/.503 with 38 doubles, 33 home runs and a career-high 123 RBI in 159 games last season. Signed with Chicago through his age-35 season, he’ll be a veteran presence for the White Sox’s core group of youngsters.

You can read more details on Abreu’s extension here.

Mariners agree to extension with prospect

The Mariners made history on Friday with reports of the club signing their first base prospect Evan White to a long-term deal. The Mariners locked up White to a six-year, $24 million deal. White, 23, has never played above the Double-A level, making it the first time in MLB history that a club has signed a player at that level to a long-term contract. 

In Double A, White hit .293/.350/.488 with 55 RBI, 18 home runs, 13 doubles and two triples in 92 games. Here’s more details on White, and his unprecedented contract agreement with the Mariners.

Five teams focused on Ozuna

There might be five clubs heavily interested in signing free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna, MLB.com’s Jon Morosi said on MLB Network on Friday. Ozuna, 29, spent last season with the Cardinals, who Morosi notes as one of the five MLB teams interested in signing Ozuna. The discussions for a deal has been in the five-year range, according to Morosi.

The other four teams interested in the outfielder include the BravesRangersDiamondbacks and Reds.

Ozuna is the 13th-ranked free agent available in this year’s market, according to CBS Sports’ Top 50 Free Agents ranking. A two-time All-Star, Ozuna batted .241/.328/.472 with 89 RBI and 29 home runs in 130 games.

Cubs interested in Merrifield

The Cubs are showing “continued interest” in trading for Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield, according to MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. Merrifield signed a four-year, $16.2 million contract extension with the Royals at the beginning of 2019. Merrifield, 30, is set to make $5 million in 2020, and Morosi notes that the Cubs may be in the market for a middle infielder to play alongside shortstop Javier Baez.

Second base has been a bit of an Achilles heel for the Cubs as of late. Ben Zobrist missed most of last season, while on the restricted list dealing with personal issues. At 38-years-old, Zobrist’s future with the Cubs is unknown. Addison Russell and Daniel Descalso both disappointed at the plate last year. Infielder David Bote was a decent option when he played second, but Merrifield would be an obvious upgrade.

Merrifield, a right-handed batter, was a first-time All-Star last season after he recorded career-high marks in games played (162), at-bats (681), hits (206) and triples (10). He slashed .302/.348/.463 with 74 RBI and an OPS+ of 112.

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