The MLB Hot Stove has lowered from a boil to a simmer as Christmas approaches, but there are still a few moves left to be made before everyone gathers around the tree, chugs some eggnog, opens presents, the whole Yuletide shebang! Of course, some baseball executives have surely asked Santa Claus for a trade that could help, or maybe a key free agent signing!
New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman’s Christmas wish is simple: Jacoby Ellsbury to waive his no-trade clause and for a buyer to present themselves. One west coast team, in particular, would love that, not to mention add another bat alongside Ellsbury.
Strap in, folks. This is the Rumor Roundup.
A new home for Ellsbury
Jacoby Ellsbury made it loud and clear in the past he had no intention of waiving his no-trade clause and wanted to remain with the Yankees, be it as their fourth outfielder or by reclaiming the starting center fielder’s job from Aaron Hicks. However, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports Ellsbury may be willing to waive that clause for “a few select teams” and mentions the San Francisco Giants as a possibility, citing their willingness to take on bad contracts (see Longoria, Evan), need for a center fielder, and Ellsbury making his offseason home in Phoenix.
The Giants do make sense, but they may take some convincing. Ellsbury is 34 years old, oft-injured, and has three years and $63.4m remaining on his contract. New York would have to cover a good portion of the remaining cash and expect little more than low-level prospects in a return package for any potential deal.
Nothing on the Ellsbury front is definite yet but if he will waive his no-trade clause under circumstances, his name has to be watched over the rest of the offseason.
Giants interested in Jay Bruce
Jay Bruce is one of the hotter sluggers on the market, but a deal has yet to materialize. ESPN’s Buster Olney reported the Giants as a team interested in Bruce, but not for more than a three-year contract. This makes sense since Bruce, on top of turning 31 in April, is a defensive liability and posted an Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) of 1.8 with the New York Mets and Cleveland Indians in 2017. He would likely play outfield or first base in San Francisco, depending on if the team has Brandon Belt switch positions, and adding Bruce also means Hunter Pence would also be traded.
Bruce batted a modest .254 in 2017 but also smacked 36 home runs with 101 RBI. That bat would be a welcome addition to a Giants team that ranked second to last in runs in 2017 and last in home runs. Naturally, it’s all going to come down to money but in terms of overall need, Bruce and the Giants could wind up being a great match.
Alonso to Indians
And we conclude today’s Rumor Roundup with another free agent finding a home! First baseman Yonder Alonso, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, has signed with the Cleveland Indians. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the deal as being worth $16m over two years, plus a vesting option for a third year valued at $8m. Alonso is expected to take over first base duties following Carlos Santana signing with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Alonso will turn 31 in April and had his long overdue breakout season in 2017. He posted a slash line of .266/.365/.501 and set new career highs with 28 home runs and 67 RBI for the Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners. The home run total suggests overachieving since the most Alonso hit in a season prior to 2017 was nine back in 2012, but it’s just as likely Alonso adjusted his swing accordingly.
So long as he stays healthy, he should do quite well in Cleveland.
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