The floodgates are open as MLB’s Winter Meetings continue in Orlando and just when we thought the New York Yankees acquiring Giancarlo Stanton would be the only blockbuster, the Baltimore Orioles have proven beyond determined to trade star infielder Manny Machado as he enters his contract year at the young age of 25. Naturally, suitors have lined up in droves.
On the free agency end, All-Star first baseman Eric Hosmer has been fielding offers and one team seems determined to land him. He won’t come cheap at all and is one of free agency’s top targets this year, so expect his market to get hot sooner rather than later. If he leaves Orlando with a contract, it wouldn’t at all be a surprise.
Oh, and let’s not forget the flurry of late-night deals that went down.
Strap in and put the Mickey Mouse ears away, everyone. This is the Rumor Roundup.
Hosmer headed west?
Eric Hosmer matched a career high with 25 home runs in 2017 while tallying 94 RBI, and he also ranked third in the AL with a .318 batting average for the Kansas City Royals. Unfortunately, as much as the team he helped win a World Series would love to keep him, the small-market Royals just don’t have the cash and are all but out of the race at this point.
The top suitor for Hosmer, it seems, is the San Diego Padres. Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted early this morning San Diego was “the clear-cut favorite” to land Hosmer after having two in-person meetings with him, though the Boston Red Sox and their gaping hole at first base are still said to have a chance. The Padres have the money to offer Hosmer close to $20m a year, if not more, but pitcher-friendly Petco Park means his offensive numbers would take a dip. San Diego not being a contender also makes them a surprising favorite.
Either way, Hosmer’s contract is likely to set the bar for other hitters on the market, so keep an eye out for his name.
Machado suitors line up
It seems it’s not a matter of if the Orioles trade Manny Machado this week, but when. GM Dan Duquette has been fielding offers over the last couple of days and talks appear to be heating up. Nightengale speculated in the wee hours of the morning that Machado could be traded this week, and he also said the St. Louis Cardinals had a “strong offer.”
However, the Cardinals have competition. Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reported the White Sox as a “lead team” in trade discussions and Nightengale said their offer was stronger than that of the Cardinals. That’s certainly an interesting destination for Machado, given the ChiSox are nowhere close to contending and finished fourth in the AL Central in 2017. Why would GM Rick Hahn acquire a player just a year out of free agency and give up top prospects to do so?
Not only that, Baltimore would surely command young pitching prospect Lucas Giolito in any deal involving Machado, with righty Michael Kopech also a possibility. Perhaps the plan is to trade for Machado and then sign him to a long-term contract so the team can build around him and another talented young infielder in Tim Anderson. Machado’s presence could also convince top free agents to sign with the White Sox.
This saga isn’t over yet but if there’s a story to watch as the Winter Meetings wind down, this is it.
A flurry of moves
And, of course, we’ll end today with the flurry of deals that went down last night and early today. A big one is reliever Brandon Kintzler returning to the Washington Nationals on a two-year deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, and the Houston Astros announced they signed side-armer Joe Smith to a two-year, $15m contract.
Great as those deals are, however, the bigger story belongs to a pair of trades. The first saw the Detroit Tigers send second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Los Angeles Angels, with Rosenthal initially reporting the deal. Detroit receives two prospects in the deal and Los Angeles will take on all of Kinsler’s $11m salary for next year. Kinsler had a rough 2017 and hit a career-worst .236, but still hit 22 home runs and saw his walks go up and strikeouts go down, so he probably just had bad luck and is now on an Angels team that looks ready to compete in 2017.
The other trade involves the St. Louis Cardinals and not a player named Marcell Ozuna. Rather, the Cards will trade outfielder Stephen Piscotty to the Oakland A’s for prospects Max Schrock and Yairo Munoz, according to MLB.com’s Jane Lee. Piscotty had 22 home runs and 85 RBI in 2016 and earned himself a six-year, $33.5m extension, but took a noticeable step back last season and batted just .235 with nine home runs.
This was likely because Piscotty’s mother was diagnosed with ALS in May, so it’s no wonder he wasn’t himself at the plate. The trade allows the Stanford graduate and California native to play closer to home, and St. Louis receives a pair of talented youngsters in return so it’s not as though Piscotty was traded for nothing. Munoz is 22 and hit .300 with 13 home runs, 68 RBI, and 22 stolen bases across Double and Triple-A last season, while Schrock is a 23-year-old left-hitting infielder who batted .321 at Double-A.
It’s a trade that works for both teams, so look for both Oakland and St. Louis to look better in 2018.
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