Winter meetings: Latest updates, buzz on Kemp, Choo, Tanaka, more
The second day of baseball's winter meetings on Tuesday brought a pair of trades, one of them a significant three-team deal highlighted by Mark Trumbo going from the Angels to the Diamondbacks, and saw outfielder Rajai Davis sign a two-year deal with the Tigers. For the most part, howevever, there has been more smoke than fire coming from Orlando this week. Heading into the third day of the meetings, here are some updates on the players whose embers have been burning brightest.
The Big Fish: Matt Kemp, CF, Dodgers
The Dodgers are shopping their All-Star outfielder Matt Kemp in attempt to cash in on their outfield logjam and, per Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, are reportedly willing to eat salary for a better return. SI.com's Tom Verducci reported Tuesday night that the Mariners, Tigers, Red Sox and two unidentified National League teams were "the most serious suitors" for Kemp. CBSSports.com' Jon Heyman later Tweeted that the Red Sox decided that Kemp "isn't a fit at this time," but added the Rangers to the list of teams that have talked to the Dodgers about him.
Mark Trumbo going to Arizona, where he will play leftfield, eliminated a leading suitor for Shin-Soo Choo, and pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs going to the Angels eliminated a potential match for the Cubs in their attempts to trade righty Jeff Samardzija. Adam Eaton going to the White Sox, meanwhile, as part of the three-team deal has put Alejandro De Aza on the trade block. Trading Trumbo for two pre-arbitration players has given the Angels an extra $4 million of payroll space with which they intend to be "very aggressive" in pursuing further pitching help in the words of general manager Jerry Dipoto, per a report by MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. The Diamondbacks will now turn their attention to acquiring a front-of-the-rotation starter, per Rosenthal.
Rakuten Golden Eagles president Yozo Tachibana and assistant GM Aki Sasaki were in Orlando on Tuesday but remain undecided as to whether or not the team will be willing to post Tanaka now that Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball have agreed on a maximum $20 million posting bid. Per the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin, Tachibana plans to speak to Tanaka on the matter next week, putting the market for Tanaka and, likely as a result, top free agent pitchers such as Santana and Garza, on ice for another week at least.
Free agent Hart appeared close to a decision Tuesday evening, per MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. A return to the Brewers at a discount is the most likely destination for Hart, who missed all of 2013 due to injury. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt suspects the Brewers have made Hart their final offer.
The Brewers appear to have Davis lined up as their alternative to Hart, per the New York Daily News' Andy Martino.
The Marlins' signing of lefthanded first baseman Garrett Jones, which was officially announced Tuesday, and their full outfield support the reports that Morrison will likely be traded. The Pirates, Mariners and Orioles are among the many teams that have shown interest, but Haudricourt reports that the Brewers are not interested in Morrison as an alternative to Hart.
Bronson Arroyo, RHP, Free Agent
Arroyo's agent, Terry Bross, met with Reds general manager Walk Jocketty on Tuesday afternoon and later said he was expecting an offer from the team. That could signal a potential trade of another Cincinnati starter, or further concerns about the health of Johnny Cueto. The Mets and Twins were also said to be in pursuit of Arroyo.
Grant Balfour, RHP, Free Agent
Per MASN Sports' Roch Kubatko, Balfour's ongoing negotiations with the Orioles seem likely to lead to a contract, which would mean the A's and Orioles would have effectively traded closers; Jim Johnson was dealt from Baltimore to Oakland earlier this offseason.
Bartolo Colon, RHP, Free Agent
The Star-Telegram's Jeff Wilson cited "a baseball source" that said the Rangers are interested in Colon as a place-holder in their rotation for next year, while the Orioles "had conversations" with Colon's representatives, per Fox Sports' Jon Morosi.
Mike Morse, 1B/OF, Free Agent
Of all the players the Phillies have been said to be open to trading (including Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Domonic Brown), expensive closer Papelbon is the one they are most "eager to move," per this report by Comcast SportsNet's Jim Salisbury, and might be willing to eat salary to get it done. Peter Gammons adds the wrinkle that the Phillies could include Brown in a Papelbon trade as an alternative to eating salary.
The Blue Jays are looking to trade Rasmus for starting pitching and, according to the Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott, have already pitched two such deals to other teams.
Heyman reports that the Yankees do not intend to trade outfielder Brett Gardner despite some reports that they were open to doing so. They'd instead like to flip Suzuki but could have a hard time finding a taker for a 40-year-old who hit .262/.297/.342 last year and will make $6.5 million in the coming season, even if he is a future Hall of Famer in two hemispheres.
In Other News: Former A's and Cardinals lefty Mark Mulder, a two-time All-Star and former Cy Young runner-up who hasn't pitched since 2008 and retired the following year due to shoulder injuries, is mounting a comeback. Mulder, is 36, less than three months younger than the newly-retired Roy Halladay. He told his current ESPN colleague Jerry Crasnick that he began imitating Dodgers lefthander Paco Rodriguez's delivery while watching the playoffs in October, began working out with former major league catcher Chad Moeller in November and recently pitched in front of the scouts of three major league teams who clocked his fastball at 90 miles per hour. Given recent comebacks by Colon (at the age of 37) and Scott Kazmir, Mulder can't be dismissed out of hand, but his chances of making it back to the majors would still seem incredibly slim.