Jose Altuve Named 2017 AP Male Athlete of the Year

Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve has added another award to his collection after being named the Associated Press 2017 Male Athlete of the Year. 

The AP announced its annual honor Wednesday (via ESPN.com). 

"Winning the World Series, winning the MVP, you feel like you have everything," Altuve said. "But my perspective is to try and get better every year and if we win one World Series, why not win another one? Just keep playing for the team and keep playing for my city."

The Astros All-Star won the voting with 715 points, finishing ahead of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (646 points) and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (626 points).

Altuve had a memorable 2017 for the Astros. He became the second MVP winner in franchise history, joining Jeff Bagwell (1994), after leading MLB with a .346 batting average and the American League with 204 hits during the regular season. 

The Astros won their first World Series title this year by defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games. Altuve hit .310/.388/.634 with seven home runs in 18 playoff games. He hit three homers in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox, becoming one of 10 players in MLB history to accomplish the feat in a postseason game.

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Giants Trade Rumors: Billy Hamilton Talks with Reds Remain Ongoing

As the San Francisco Giants continue to examine roster upgrades for next season, Cincinnati Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton is still on their radar.

Per MLB Network's Jon Morosi, the Giants and Reds remain in trade talks for Hamilton.

    

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Steven Wright Domestic Violence Case Retired by Court

Boston Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright had his domestic violence case retired by a Tennessee court earlier this week. 

Per Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald, a Williamson County courthouse clerk said Wright's case was retired Tuesday ahead of his scheduled court appearance today. 

“It’s over with,” the clerk said about Wright's case. “It’s done.”

As noted by Mastrodonato, retiring the case is the first step toward a dismissal that can happen in 12 months if Wright doesn't commit any other offenses. 

Wright was arrested and charged with domestic assault following an argument with his wife at their home in Nashville on Dec. 8. 

In a statement released on the family's behalf by Alex Little, Wright's lawyer, Wright admitted to saying things he regretted, via Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston:

"On Friday night, Steven was arrested at our home following a verbal argument, and the police charged him with domestic assault. Although he said things he deeply regrets, he did not raise his hand at anyone during the incident, and the situation was purely emotional. We are working together as a family to make our relationships stronger, and we ask that you respect our privacy as we do so."

Wright is still subject to a possible fine and/or suspension under Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy.

Entering his sixth MLB season in 2018, Wright has spent his entire career with the Red Sox. He only made five starts last season after having knee surgery in May. 

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Manny Machado Trade Rumors: Star to ‘Stay Put’ Unless Offers Change Drastically

The Baltimore Orioles are letting teams interested in third baseman Manny Machado know that the trade offers they have received are not enticing enough to make a deal happen. 

Per USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Orioles said Thursday that "unless someone drastically changes their offer" Machado will remain with the team. 

          

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Yonder Alonso, Indians Reportedly Agree to Contract

Coming off a career year in 2017 with the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners, first baseman Yonder Alonso has reportedly agreed to a deal with the Cleveland Indians.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported the news Wednesday, and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic noted the agreement was for two years, $16 million with a third-year vesting option of $8 million.

The Mariners acquired Alonso from the Oakland Athletics last August. The 30-year-old had a .266/.365/.501 slash line and hit 28 home runs in 142 games after having 39 career homers from 2010-16.

Alonso's power numbers did drop after the All-Star break. He hit 20 homers in the first half of the season but had a total of 16 extra-base hits in 63 games during the second half.

Because Alonso had never shown the kind of power production in his career that he did early in 2017, there's a strong chance he's unable to duplicate that performance moving forward. The good news is he has been a solid hitter for average with on-base skills even when not hitting for power.

In eight MLB seasons, Alonso has a career .268/.340/.407 slash line. He also hasn't played in a lot of hitter-friendly parks, like Oakland Alameda Coliseum with the A's and Petco Park with the San Diego Padres, so a change of scenery could help him tap into some untapped power.

The Indians have the ability to use Alonso at the top of their order, taking advantage of his on-base skills, to set the table for the heart of their lineup to drive him in. He can also add length to the bottom part of their lineup by getting on base and hitting an occasional home run, if his power spike last season was a fluke.

Alonso's ability to get on base makes him a good fit for what Cleveland needs to improve on last season's playoff exit.

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GM Sandy Alderson Agrees to Contract Extension with Mets; Terms Undisclosed

The New York Mets announced Wednesday that Sandy Alderson will return for his eighth season as the team's general manager after the two sides agreed to a contract extension. 

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.     

Alderson's return in 2018 had been expected since the end of the 2017 season. Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reported Sept. 22 that the Mets already made the decision to bring him back. 

Last season was a mess for the Mets. Their 70-92 record was their worst since they posted an identical mark in 2009. Their disabled list often looked better than the starting lineup: Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler all missed significant time.

Despite the team's many injuries, Alderson didn't want that to be an excuse for why things fell apart.

"The injuries need to be taken into account, but I don't think they can be an excuse for not doing a thorough examination of all the other aspects of the season," he said, per Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. "... It's not going to happen just at the end of the season. It's been an ongoing review."

The Mets hired Alderson to be their general manager in October 2010. He took over a franchise in disarray during the final years of Omar Minaya's tenure, including four straight seasons of missing the playoffs from 2007 to 2010. 

In his early days with the Mets, Alderson was forced to operate under some financial restrictions after owner Fred Wilpon lost $178 million as part of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. 

Per Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Mets had a payroll under $100 million for three straight seasons from 2012 to 2014. It was the first time that happened with the franchise since a stretch from 2000 to 2002. 

Alderson did play a key role in building the roster to help the Mets reach the World Series in 2015 and make the postseason as a wild card in 2016, including acquiring right-handed ace Syndergaard in 2012—when he was still in Low-A—and Cespedes in a midseason deal with the Detroit Tigers in 2015. 

If the Mets can keep their key players healthy in 2018, the roster has the potential to bounce back in a big way.

"I feel that we have some unfinished business," Alderson said, according to Wednesday's press release. "Spring training is around the corner, and our quest to return to the postseason will continue." 

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GM Sandy Alderson Agrees to Contract Extension with Mets; Terms Undisclosed

The New York Mets announced Wednesday that Sandy Alderson will return for his eighth season as the team's general manager after the two sides agreed to a contract extension. 

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.     

Alderson's return in 2018 had been expected since the end of the 2017 season. Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reported Sept. 22 that the Mets already made the decision to bring him back. 

Last season was a mess for the Mets. Their 70-92 record was their worst since they posted an identical mark in 2009. Their disabled list often looked better than the starting lineup: Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler all missed significant time.

Despite the team's many injuries, Alderson didn't want that to be an excuse for why things fell apart.

"The injuries need to be taken into account, but I don't think they can be an excuse for not doing a thorough examination of all the other aspects of the season," he said, per Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. "... It's not going to happen just at the end of the season. It's been an ongoing review."

The Mets hired Alderson to be their general manager in October 2010. He took over a franchise in disarray during the final years of Omar Minaya's tenure, including four straight seasons of missing the playoffs from 2007 to 2010. 

In his early days with the Mets, Alderson was forced to operate under some financial restrictions after owner Fred Wilpon lost $178 million as part of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. 

Per Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Mets had a payroll under $100 million for three straight seasons from 2012 to 2014. It was the first time that happened with the franchise since a stretch from 2000 to 2002. 

Alderson did play a key role in building the roster to help the Mets reach the World Series in 2015 and make the postseason as a wild card in 2016, including acquiring right-handed ace Syndergaard in 2012—when he was still in Low-A—and Cespedes in a midseason deal with the Detroit Tigers in 2015. 

If the Mets can keep their key players healthy in 2018, the roster has the potential to bounce back in a big way.

"I feel that we have some unfinished business," Alderson said, according to Wednesday's press release. "Spring training is around the corner, and our quest to return to the postseason will continue." 

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Evan Longoria Reportedly Traded to Giants from Rays for Christian Arroyo, More

Evan Longoria's tenure with the Tampa Bay Rays has come to an end after they traded the three-time All-Star to the San Francisco Giants

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times first reported the trade. Topkin noted Longoria and cash considerations will be sent to San Francisco for infielder Christian Arroyo, Denard Span, Stephen Woods and Matt Krook.

Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic confirmed the deal.

Since the Rays tend to have one of the lowest payrolls in MLB, exploring a Longoria trade made sense.  

He is owed $81 million over the next five years with a $13 million club option for the 2023 season. It's an affordable deal for most teams, but the Rays understand that stockpiling assets who will be considerably cheaper is smarter business for them. 

Longoria has put his injury woes from 2011-12 in the rearview mirror, playing at least 156 games in each of the past five seasons.

The Giants have been exhausting all avenues to try to make a big splash this offseason. They came up short in their quest to acquire Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins when the 2017 NL MVP invoked his no-trade clause. 

Adding Longoria is a significant boost for the Giants at a position they needed to upgrade. San Francisco third basemen hit a collective .216/.268/.300 last season. Longoria posted a .261/.313/.424 slash line with 20 home runs in 2017. 

The Rays may not have wanted to move in a different direction with the best player in franchise history, but sometimes circumstances dictate that difficult decisions have to be made. 

Arroyo is the key to the deal for the Rays. The 22-year-old hit .300/.345/.434 over five seasons in the minors and is under team control for six years after playing just 34 MLB games last season. 

Span has one more guaranteed year left on his deal with a $12 million option for 2019. The 33-year-old will add some depth to Tampa Bay's lineup after hitting .272/.329/.427 with 12 stolen bases in 129 games last year. 

Longoria isn't quite the MVP-caliber player he was earlier in his career, yet he's found his niche after turning 30. He has the power and glove to be an essential piece for a playoff contender, which the Giants hope to be after an injury-plagued 64-98 record in 2017. 

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Yankees Trade Rumors: Gerrit Cole Talks with Pirates Have ‘Cooled’

The New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates have reportedly made little progress in trade talks for starting pitcher Gerrit Cole

Per Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic, talks between the Yankees and Pirates have "cooled" since their discussions at the winter meetings last week. 

       

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Yankees Trade Rumors: Gerrit Cole Talks with Pirates Have ‘Cooled’

The New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates have reportedly made little progress in trade talks for starting pitcher Gerrit Cole

Per Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic, talks between the Yankees and Pirates have "cooled" since their discussions at the winter meetings last week. 

       

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Manny Machado Trade Rumors: Orioles Unhappy with Offers, May Pull 3B from Market

After exploring the market for third baseman Manny Machado, the Baltimore Orioles are reportedly leaning toward pulling the three-time All-Star off the trade block. 

Per FanRag's Jon Heyman, the Orioles "intend to pull [Machado] off the trading block in a couple days" if the offers they are receiving—which he noted the team was "dissatisfied" with—don't improve. 

Heyman lists seven teams, including the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks as those that inquired about Machado, but no offer has "come close to even tempting to this point."

As for what the Orioles are looking for in return, Heyman noted they would be willing to do a deal similar to what the Atlanta Braves did in trading Jason Heyward to the Cardinals in Nov. 2014 for Shelby Miller and minor league pitcher Tyrell Jenkins. 

At the time Miller was traded to the Braves, he still had four years of team control remaining. Miller was traded to the Diamondbacks after spending one year in Atlanta. 

Machado is one year away from free agency. He's projected to make $17.3 million in 2018 through arbitration, per Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors. 

The Orioles will try to bounce back after finishing 75-87 in 2017, their worst record since 2011. Machado has hit at least 30 home runs in each of the past three seasons and finished in the top five in AL MVP voting in 2015 and 2016. 

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Yovani Gallardo Reportedly Signs Contract to Return to Brewers

Veteran pitcher Yovani Gallardo is heading back to the Milwaukee Brewers after the two sides agreed on a deal Saturday.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports provided details on the player's decision:

Gallardo has been one of the most well-traveled pitchers in Major League Baseball. The 31-year-old has played for four different teams over the past four seasons, including the Brewers, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners

Unfortunately for Gallardo, one reason he's been unable to stick anywhere more than one year is his performance, especially the past two seasons. The former All-Star has a 5.57 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in 51 appearances since the start of 2016. 

Things got so bad for Gallardo with the Mariners in 2017 that he was moved to the bullpen on two separate occasions during the season. 

It was a role that Gallardo started to embrace after getting comfortable with it. 

"I'm going to do whatever I can to get guys out," Gallardo told MLB.com's Josh Horton in July. "No matter what the score is when I enter the situation that I'm in. We all know that everything can happen in this game."

Milwaukee can use that versatility to its advantage by using Gallardo to fill whatever its biggest need is, whether it's help in the rotation or the bullpen.  

Gallardo is at a career crossroads. He's still young enough to be a productive pitcher, but the results have been bad enough for two straight years that he needs to bounce back to possibly secure one more multiyear deal.

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A’s OF Dustin Fowler Sues White Sox over Leg Injury at Guaranteed Rate Field

Oakland Athletics outfielder Dustin Fowler has filed a lawsuit against the Chicago White Sox because of a leg injury he suffered in a game last summer when he was with the New York Yankees

Per Tom Schuba of the Chicago Sun-Times, Fowler's lawsuit states the White Sox and the state agency that manages Guaranteed Rate Field were negligent when they failed to secure an unpadded electrical box he ran into during a game on June 29. 

Schuba also notes Fowler's lawsuit alleges the White Sox and Sports Facilities Authority "failed to adequately inspect the right field wall and the box" and its placement at knee level was installed "in a manner so as to create a hidden and undetectable hazard."

The 22-year-old Fowler made his MLB debut during the game he was injured. He was attempting to catch a foul ball hit by White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu in the top of the first inning when he ran into a sidewall. 

The Yankees announced Fowler suffered an open rupture of his right patella tendon and required surgery. He was traded to the Athletics as part of the Sonny Gray deal on July 31. 

The A's reinstated Fowler off the 60-day disabled list last month. He will have a chance to compete for the team's starting job in center field for the 2018 season. 

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Matt Moore Reportedly Traded to Rangers from Giants for Prospects

The San Francisco Giants have reportedly traded starting pitcher Matt Moore to the Texas Rangers.  

Per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Giants will receive prospects from the Rangers in exchange for the left-hander. 

Shea previously reported the Giants were nearing a deal involving at least one of Moore and Hunter Pence in an effort to shed salary. 

The Giants have been linked to multiple high-profile free agents and trade targets this offseason, though they have yet to make any additions to their roster. 

San Francisco had the framework of a trade in place to acquire Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who vetoed the deal with his no-trade clause before going to the New York Yankees.

USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported the Giants were expected to intensify their pursuit of Jay Bruce after the Stanton deal fell apart. 

Since being acquired by the Giants in July 2016, Moore has posted a 5.12 ERA with 217 strikeouts in 242.2 innings over 44 appearances. He's owed $9 million next season with a $10 million team option for 2019. 

The Rangers are in need of depth in their starting rotation, which Moore will help fill. Their starters ranked 17th in MLB with a 4.66 ERA last season, despite having Yu Darvish through July and Cole Hamels. 

Adding Moore to the mix gives Texas a group of starting pitchers for 2018 that includes Hamels, Martin Perez, Doug Fister and Mike Minor. 

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Yankees Trade Rumors: Gerrit Cole, Clint Frazier Swap Reportedly Discussed

The New York Yankees' offseason dealing may not be over, as they are reportedly interested in right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole.        

On Friday, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported the Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates are having trade talks about Cole and that outfielder Clint Frazier is "likely" to be part of a potential deal. 

Cole's name came up in trade rumors during the 2017 season. In May, Heyman wrote that rival teams believed the Pirates could make him available, and he listed the Yankees as a possible suitor because they have "always loved him."

New York does have history with Cole. In 2008, the team drafted him out of high school with the 28th overall pick, but he opted to play college baseball at UCLA. 

Pittsburgh selected Cole at No. 1 overall in 2011. The 27-year-old has a 3.50 ERA with 734 strikeouts in 782.1 innings over the past five seasons and was a National League All-Star in 2015. 

He is under team control for two more years before being eligible for free agency after the 2019 season. 

The Yankees acquired Frazier in the Andrew Miller trade with the Cleveland Indians in July 2016. The 23-year-old made his MLB debut in 2017, hitting .231/.268/.448 with four home runs in 39 games. 

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Zack Cozart, Angels Agree to 3-Year, $38 Million Contract

Veteran infielder Zack Cozart has cashed in after his breakout 2017 season by signing a three-year, $38 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels

Angels PR announced the free-agent deal Friday. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first reported the financial details.

Cozart was a part of the rise in power across Major League Baseball last season. The 32-year-old set career highs with a .297 average, .385 on-base percentage .548 slugging percentage and 24 home runs. 

For his efforts in 2017, Cozart was named to the National League All-Star team for the first time. He has been hit by injuries throughout his career, especially since 2015 when he tore ligaments in his knee after his foot slipped off the first base bag in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies, ending his season after 53 games.

Injuries have also cost Cozart 81 games combined over the past two seasons. He admitted being a free agent for the first time in his career was a different feeling. 

"I've thought about it," he told MLB.com's John Fay in August. "To be honest with you, the thing I keep thinking about is how weird it's going to be to not be affiliated with a team. Usually, I'm in contact with [strength and conditioning coach] Sean Marohn and getting my workout schedule. I'll probably stick to whatever workout routine I've done."

With the Reds still in rebuilding mode after losing 94 games last season, Cozart was able to find a situation that can get him back into a playoff race. He's going to provide a huge boost to the Angels' lineup as long as his body holds up.

There's more inherent risk in a long-term deal with Cozart than a normal free agent, but he proved in 2017 how valuable his bat can be.

He'll likely slot in at third base in L.A. to create a potent infield alongside shortstop Andrelton Simmons, recently acquired second baseman Ian Kinsler and the first baseman C.J. Cron.

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Carlos Santana, Phillies Reportedly Agree to 3-Year, $60 Million Contract

Carlos Santana will bring his blend of patience and power to the Philadelphia Phillies lineup in 2018 after the two sides reportedly agreed to a deal Friday, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Per Heyman, Santana's deal is worth $60 million over three years with the Phillies. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic confirmed the terms.

Santana spent the first eight years of his Major League Baseball career with the Cleveland Indians. The 31-year-old posted a .249/.365/.445 slash line from 2010 to 2017.

Last season, Santana hit .259 with 23 home runs and 79 RBI. For his career, he has 174 homers and 587 RBI.

A hallmark of Santana's offensive ability is working counts and drawing walks. He led MLB with 113 walks in 2014, and his 15.2 walk percentage since the start of 2010 ranks third in MLB behind Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds and Joey Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Santana has also been a durable player throughout his career, appearing in at least 143 games in each of the past seven seasons and 152 games in each of the last five.

In addition to his offensive prowess, Santana has turned himself into a solid defensive first baseman. He moved to the position full-time in 2014, and his 10 defensive runs saved last season tied for second among MLB first basemen, per FanGraphs.

Even with a glut of solid first basemen available to teams this winter, including Eric Hosmer, Logan Morrison and Mitch Moreland, Santana is a standout in that group because of his ability to hit, get on base and save runs with his glove.

The Phillies will depend on Santana's usual level of production in the middle of their lineup as they look to make a playoff push next season after missing the postseason for six consecutive years.

Philadelphia's decision to sign Santana may raise some eyebrows since Rhys Hoskins currently occupies first base. Hoskins was a revelation last season, hitting 18 home runs in 170 at-bats.

Moving Hoskins to the outfield is a possibility.

Santana can also play third base, although Maikel Franco mans the hot corner for the Phillies. Santana has limited experience in the outfield as well and has caught 330 games in his career, but he hasn't been behind the plate since 2014.

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MLB Rumors: Latest Trade Buzz on Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson and More

Even though the 2017 winter meetings came to an end on Thursday, Major League Baseball's offseason wheeling and dealing is far from being over. 

There are still plenty of top-tier free agents on the board, but the biggest stories coming out of Orlando involved superstar players being discussed in trade talks. That doesn't always guarantee a deal will come to pass, but smoke can often lead to fire. 

It also speaks to the lack of star power at the top of the free-agent market this offseason that teams seem to be more engaged in trade discussions to upgrade their roster. However, J.D. Martinez, Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are all excellent players with major question marks about their future potential on a long-term deal. 

With all of the trade rumors that came out of the winter meetings, here are the ones to keep a close eye on. 

                     

The Manny Machado Sweepstakes

It's a surprise that the Baltimore Orioles are even listening to offers for third baseman Manny Machado but even more shocking might be the team leading the charge to acquire the All-Star. 

Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Chicago White Sox have been the "most aggressive suitor" in talks with the Orioles for Machado

Even though the White Sox, who went 67-95 in 2017, don't seem like the right fit for a player one year away from free agency, Rosenthal did note there is a method to their madness: 

"The White Sox want to land Machado and sign him long-term before he becomes a free agent at the end of the season, sources said. However, the possibility also exists that the White Sox could flip Machado to another club—most likely the New York Yankees—and secure additional prospects for what already is one of the game’s best farm systems, if not the best."

The Yankees being part of the equation adds to the drama of this situation. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported there was "no way" they would do the deal because this iteration of the Yankees isn't likely to trade multiple major prospects for a player one year from free agency. 

Unless the White Sox receive some indication they can re-sign Machado, which could realistically end up costing $250-300 million, it wouldn't be smart for them to move three significant prospects from a stacked farm system for a couple more wins in 2018. 

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported the St. Louis Cardinals have also made an offer to the Orioles for Machado. They would make more sense because they are on the cusp of being a playoff contender following an 83-79 record and after acquiring Marcell Ozuna from the Miami Marlins. 

The Orioles are so bereft of starting pitching that it's hard to see them improving upon last year's 75-win effort without taking drastic action. Their rotation had an MLB-worst 5.70 ERA and threw the fewest innings in the AL (846) in 2017. 

Machado is coming off his worst full season in MLB with a .259/.310/.471 slash line, but he was worth at least 6.2 FanGraphs wins above replacement three times in four seasons from 2013-16.  

The Orioles should be asking for a king's ransom in exchange for Machado. They have to start thinking about replenishing the talent in their farm system, especially if they want to remain within shouting distance of the Yankees and Boston Red Sox in the AL East. 

The White Sox have the kind of system to offer anything the Orioles could be hoping for. It's almost too perfect a match, assuming both sides are serious in their desire to make a move. 

           

Toronto's Dilemma

Staying at third base in the AL East, the Toronto Blue Jays are in a similar position to the Orioles with Josh Donaldson

However, unlike the Orioles actively engaging in discussions about Machado, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported the Blue Jays have "no intention" of dealing Donaldson even though five teams have shown interest in the 2015 AL MVP.

Donaldson will be eligible for free agency after next season, so the Blue Jays have a short amount of time to decide what kind of team they will be in 2018. They went 76-86 last season and only scored 693 runs, fewest in the AL. 

There still pieces in place for the Blue Jays to be better next season. The starting rotation will be better if Aaron Sanchez and J.A. Happ are healthy and able to make 30 starts each. Donaldson missed 49 games and was still able to hit 33 home runs with a .944 OPS. 

Adding pieces to the lineup will be essential for Toronto's front office. Donaldson, Justin Smoak and Ezequiel Carrera were the only regulars who had an above-average OPS+ in 2017, per Baseball Reference

The Blue Jays' biggest problem is playing in a division with the Yankees, who are loaded with young talent and just added Giancarlo Stanton to the lineup, and Red Sox, who still have a deep core of talent and the money to add major pieces in free agency. 

The Blue Jays could start the year with Donaldson and wait to trade him in July if things fall apart, but that would also diminish the return they can ask for than if they shop him now. 

          

The Marlins' Plan

This has been an offseason from hell for fans of the Miami Marlins, and things don't seem likely to get better any time soon. 

Per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the Marlins told teams they would trade Christian Yelich after Marcell Ozuna was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals. 

Miami's stance on Yelich has been subject to conflicting reports. Nightengale reported the Marlins said they have no intention of dealing the 26-year-old. 

Heyman added the Marlins were going to talk with Yelich, who is "frustrated" by their recent deals, before making a decision on how to handle things. 

The Marlins' trades of Stanton and Ozuna have been lackluster in terms of the return, as noted by Rotoworld's Drew Silva:

Yelich might be the most valuable of Miami's trade assets because of his contract status. His deal runs through 2021 with a team option for 2022, and he could be owed up to $58.25 million, per Spotrac.

By comparison, Stanton can make up to $295 million over the next 10 years if he doesn't opt out of his deal after 2020. Ozuna is under team control for two years before being eligible for free agency after 2019.

Considering where the Marlins are at right now, it makes no sense for them not to entertain deals for Yelich. They haven't done a good job replenishing their farm system so far with their recent trades. 

It's hard to imagine a scenario where the Marlins' talks with Yelich result in anything other than him expressing a desire to leave what looks like a sinking ship. 

Yelich is entering the prime years of his career, locked into a contract with a franchise that doesn't appear to have any plan beyond cutting as much salary as possible.

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Zack Cozart Reportedly Targeted by Angels, More Clubs Interested as Well

The market for shortstop Zack Cozart is heating up, with the Los Angeles Angels reportedly interested in the All-Star free agent. 

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the Angels' interest, but he added that Cozart is also in discussions with other teams as he pursues a deal. 

The Angels have been one of the most active clubs in MLB this offseason, starting with the surprise signing of Japanese star Shohei Ohtani last week. They acquired Ian Kinsler in a trade with the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday. 

Cozart doesn't seem like an immediate fit for the Angels, who have Andrelton Simmons locked in at shortstop. 

Given Simmons' value on defense, where he has won three Gold Gloves and led MLB with 32 defensive runs saved last season, Cozart would likely have to switch positions. 

Third base is a position the Angels need to upgrade after getting a collective .238/.318/.395 slash line from the position in 2017. 

The 32-year-old Cozart is coming off the best year of his career last season. He hit .297/.385/.548 with 24 home runs in 122 games. 

 

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Giants Trade Rumors: Avisail Garcia Deal Being Discussed, Blue Jays in the Mix

Coming off a breakout season in 2017, Chicago White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia is reportedly the subject of trade talks at Major League Baseball's winter meetings.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the San Francisco Giants and Toronto Blue Jays have had discussions with the White Sox about Garcia, though no deal is close right now. 

The Giants have been in the market for outfielders all offseason. They had the framework of a deal in place with the Miami Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton that wound up falling through when the 2017 National League MVP invoked his no-trade clause. 

Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic reported Wednesday that the Giants' initial plan after Stanton turned them down was to sign free agent Jay Bruce and acquire Billy Hamilton from the Cincinnati Reds

Garcia had his best season, by far, in 2017. He was named to the American League All-Star team and had a .330/.380/.506 slash line with 18 home runs in 136 games for the White Sox. 

The 26-year-old Garcia has two more years of team control before he's eligible for free agency after the 2019 season. 

 

 

 

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