Sammy Sosa Needs to Be Honest with Cubs to Be Welcomed Back, Tom Ricketts Says

Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said Saturday that former outfielder Sammy Sosa needs to be honest with the team regarding performance-enhancing drug use before he will be welcomed back.

Ricketts made the statement during the Cubs' annual fan convention, according to ESPN.com's Jesse Rogers, saying, "Players from that era owe us a little bit of honesty. The only way to turn that page is to put everything on the table."

Although Major League Baseball never publicized a failed PED test by Sosa during his career, Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times reported in 2009 that lawyers accessed information regarding a failed test by Sosa in 2003.

In 2016, current MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said 2003 anonymous survey testing turned up 10 or more results that were concerning. He did not indicate who those tests belong to, per ESPN.com's Scott Lauber.

Sosa has long denied PED use and even testified under oath before Congress in 2005 that he did not use PEDs.

Despite that, Ricketts is hopeful that Sosa will be open with him moving forward, saying, "I think we have to be sympathetic to that era...but the players owe us some honesty, too."

Sosa ranks ninth on the all-time home runs list with 609.

During his 13-year stint with the Cubs from 1992 through 2004, Sosa clubbed 545 homers. He hit 60 or more home runs in a season on three occasions, including 66 in 1998, which was the same year St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire finished with a then-record 70.

All told, Sosa was a seven-time All-Star, six-time Silver Slugger Award winner and one-time National League MVP during his career.

Despite his impressive numbers, Sosa has not been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 2017, Sosa was included on just 8.6 percent of Hall of Fame ballots, according to Baseball Reference.

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Red Sox Rumors: J.D. Martinez Willing to Hold Out into Spring Training for Deal

Free-agent outfielder J.D. Martinez is reportedly willing to hold out into spring training in an effort to receive what he believes is a contract that reflects fair market value.

According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Boston Red Sox and at least one other team have offered Martinez a five-year deal. Martinez is also reportedly a priority for the Arizona Diamondbacks, although they haven't extended an official five-year offer.

The 30-year-old Martinez is coming off a career year split between the Detroit Tigers and Diamondbacks.

Overall, he hit .303 with a career-high 45 home runs and 104 RBI.

He was especially strong after Detroit traded him to Arizona, as he hit 29 homers and drove in 65 runs in 62 games with the Diamondbacks.

Across seven MLB seasons, Martinez boasts a .285 career batting average with 152 home runs and 476 RBI.

He is a one-time All-Star and also won a Silver Slugger Award with the Tigers in 2015.

Few teams could use Martinez's power bat more than the Red Sox.

Although Boston won the American League East crown last season and finished 10th in scoring, the team hit just 168 home runs (27th).

Of course, Fenway Park is a homer-friendly venue, and there is little doubt the right-handed Martinez would do damage.

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Manny Machado Trade Rumors: Offers for 3B ‘Not Close’ to Orioles Asking Price

Teams interested in Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado reportedly haven't offered anything close to what the O's are hoping to land in return for him, according to Tony Massarotti of 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston

With Machado eligible to become a free agent next offseason, his name has been one of the biggest on the MLB trade block since the end of the 2017 campaign.

 

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

 

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Eric Hosmer Reportedly Has Record 7-Year Contract Offer from Padres on Table

Free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer reportedly has a big contract offer on the table from the San Diego Padres, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today

Per Nightengale, it is a seven-year deal that would make Hosmer the highest-paid player in Padres history.

The 28-year-old Hosmer spent the first seven years of his MLB career with the Kansas City Royals.

 

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

 

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Yankees Rumors: Yu Darvish to Be ‘Seriously Considered’ by New York

The New York Yankees are reportedly seriously considering signing free-agent starting pitcher Yu Darvish, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Heyman added that the Yanks are considering several options at starting pitcher and noted they and others are seemingly waiting for Darvish's price to drop before moving forward.

Along with Darvish, the Yankees are reportedly looking at free-agent pitcher Alex Cobb, and they have kicked the tires on acquiring Gerrit Cole of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chris Archer of the Tampa Bay Rays and Michael Fulmer of the Detroit Tigers.

Heyman noted Cole may be the most sensible option but also said little progress has been made on that front.

The biggest hurdle between the Yankees and Darvish may be their ability to sign him while still remaining under the luxury tax threshold.

Per Heyman, New York can perhaps move center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

The 31-year-old Darvish is a four-time All-Star who split last season between the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers.

He went 10-12 with a 3.86 ERA and 209 strikeouts in 186.2 innings, but his performance was far better down the stretch with L.A.

In nine starts for the Dodgers, the Japanese star went 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 49.2 innings.

While Darvish has been one of MLB's most dynamic pitchers since he entered the league in 2012, it could be argued that his stock is down after a disastrous performance in the World Series.

In two starts, Darvish went 0-2 and posted a 21.60 ERA in just 3.1 innings, including five runs allowed in 1.2 innings in Game 7.

Still, Darvish is a swing-and-miss artist who would fit well in the Yankees rotation.

Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray and CC Sabathia are surefire members of the rotation, but there is an open slot unless New York decides to roll with Jordan Montgomery or Chad Green.

The Yankees arguably have the best lineup in baseball after they acquired Giancarlo Stanton to pair with Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Co., and Darvish would give the Bronx Bombers five All-Stars in their rotation as well.

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White Sox Trade Rumors: Chicago Has Talked Manny Machado, Christian Yelich Deals

The Chicago White Sox have reportedly held trade talks this offseason involving both Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado and Miami Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, according to MLB Network's Jon Morosi.

While Morosi reported the White Sox have discussed potentially acquiring both guys, he added Thursday they weren't progressing toward a deal for either yet.

With Machado set to hit unrestricted free agency in 2019, he has been rumored to be on the block in recent weeks. On Dec. 20, however, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported the O's were considering removing him from the trading block if offers did not improve.

Yelich is the Marlins' biggest remaining star after the cost-cutting trades of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon.

ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reported in December that Yelich was unhappy with Miami's fire sale and wanted to speak with ownership about the team's direction. On Thursday, Morosi reported the Marlins were willing to listen to offers for both Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Unlike Machado, Yelich is under contract through 2021, with a club option for 2022.

Since Yelich is under a long-term deal and is just 26, he seems like a more sensible target for the White Sox than Machado. Chicago is a young team with a strong farm system that is likely still a couple of years away from playoff contention after going 67-95 in 2017.

Machado hit .259 with 33 home runs and 95 RBI last season, and while adding the 25-year-old would provide Chicago with an instant boost, the risk of losing him in free agency would be high.

Yelich doesn't boast as much star power as Machado, but he is a Gold Glove award winner (2014) in the outfield and hit .282 with 18 homers and 81 RBI last season.

By the time the White Sox are ready to contend, Yelich could be firmly in his prime and ready to put up the best offensive numbers of his career.

With arguably the best minor league system in baseball, however, the White Sox also have the luxury of exercising patience, much like the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros did before them.

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Rob Manfred Defends Derek Jeter, Marlins After Giancarlo Stanton, Other Trades

Appearing on ESPN Radio's The Dan Le Batard Show on Wednesday, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred defended Miami Marlins owner Derek Jeter and his recent fire sale.

As seen in the following video, courtesy of ESPN, Manfred made it clear he had no intention of micromanaging the Marlins' roster moves:

According to ESPN.com, Manfred didn't take issue with the decisions Marlins ownership made:

"We do not get involved in operating-level decisions in the ownership approval process. Clubs make those local decisions. We did not have player-specific plans from the Miami Marlins or any other team that has been in the ownership process. Those are decisions that the individual owners make, and they do not have to be cleared by us or approved by us. ... Those are local decisions that really are not part of the approval process."

The Marlins have slashed payroll significantly this offseason, trading outfielder Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees, second baseman Dee Gordon to the Seattle Mariners and outfielder Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals for largely mid-tier prospects and salary relief.

Manfred told Le Batard he was satisfied with the ownership group and its plan despite the decimation of Miami's roster:

"This is really simple. We approved a very well-funded group that made numerous presentations to us about their commitment to provide winning baseball in South Florida over the long haul. That's generally what we look for in the approval process.

"We don't get into, are you going to trade 'Player X' or 'Player Y' at a particular point in time, nor do we ask them to make a commitment to people before they even got in and made an evaluation of their talent level, their ability to win with the people that they have. That's just not how the ownership process works."

While the Marlins have parted with much of their top-end offensive talent this offseason, they aren't stripping down a team that enjoyed much success in the first place.

Miami went just 77-85 last season, hasn't had a winning season since 2009 and hasn't reached the playoffs since winning the World Series in 2003.

As an example of a team that's turned things around after selling off pieces, Manfred mentioned the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros:

"The strategy that, apparently, the Marlins have adopted is one that is tried and true in baseball. I'm not saying it's without pain. As a matter of fact, I think the fans in Houston endured some bad seasons. But it was a process that ultimately produced a winner, and that process is really dominant in terms of the thinking in our game right now, in terms, particularly, of smaller markets' ability to win."

Stanton won the National League MVP award last season after hitting .281 with 59 home runs and 132 RBI, but the Marlins potentially saved $260 million by moving his contract.

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Report: MLB to Investigate Leak of Shohei Ohtani’s Elbow Injury

Major League Baseball reportedly will launch an investigation into the circumstances that led to this week's release of the medical information of Los Angeles Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney.

Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated reported Monday that sources from two MLB teams told him Ohtani had a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow in October.

On Tuesday, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported Ohtani underwent a physical in November that determined he has a first-degree sprain of his right UCL.

         

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

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Bryce Harper Contract Extension Discussed by Scott Boras, Nationals Owners

Scott Boras—the agent for Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper—said Wednesday he met with Nats ownership in November to discuss a potential contract extension for Harper, according to MLB.com's Jamal Collier.

Harper is set to become a free agent during the 2018-19 offseason.

The 25-year-old outfielder is in line to potentially land the largest contract in the history of Major League Baseball.

That distinction belongs to New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who is playing under a 13-year, $325 million deal he signed with the Miami Marlins in 2014, per Spotrac.

In a June article by ESPN.com's Eddie Matz, an anonymous general manager said a $400 million contract would be "light" for Harper, and that he should be signed to a 15-year deal that could approach $40 million per season.

Harper hit .319 with 29 home runs and 87 RBI in 111 games last season. He was on pace for perhaps the best season of his career, but a knee injury limited him down the stretch.

The five-time All-Star was named National League MVP in 2015 after hitting .330 with 42 homers and 99 RBI to go with a .460 on-base percentage.

In six MLB seasons, Harper has registered a .285 batting average with 150 home runs and 421 RBI.

The 2010 No. 1 overall draft pick is one of the game's most-prolific power hitters, and it can be argued that he hasn't even hit his prime yet.

Washington is a perennial playoff contender, however, it has been unable to get past the National League Division Series during Harper's tenure.

If the Nats can't come to terms on a long-term deal with him prior to the start of the 2018 season, the pressure will be enormous to win immediately.

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Marcell Ozuna Trade Rumors: Cardinals Reportedly Favorite to Land Marlins OF

The St. Louis Cardinals have reportedly emerged as the favorites to acquire outfielder Marcell Ozuna in a trade with the Miami Marlins, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today

Nightengale added Tuesday that no decision has been made yet regarding whether a deal between the two sides will come to fruition.

 

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

 

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Marcell Ozuna Trade Rumors: Cardinals Reportedly Favorite to Land Marlins OF

The St. Louis Cardinals have reportedly emerged as the favorites to acquire outfielder Marcell Ozuna in a trade with the Miami Marlins, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today

Nightengale added Tuesday that no decision has been made yet regarding whether a deal between the two sides will come to fruition.

 

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

 

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Chase Headley, Bryan Mitchell Reportedly Traded to Padres from Yankees

The New York Yankees reportedly traded corner infielder Chase Headley and pitcher Bryan Mitchell to the San Diego Padres on Tuesday, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Yankees will receive outfielder Jabari Blash in return.

Rosenthal added that the Padres are reportedly absorbing all of Headley's $13 million salary for 2018, which will aid the Yankees in achieving owner Hal Steinbrenner's stated goal of getting under the $197 million luxury tax threshold.

The 33-year-old Headley spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Padres before a 2014 trade to the Yankees.

Last season, Headley played both third base and first base for the Yanks, and he finished the campaign with a .273 batting average, 12 home runs and 61 RBI, which represented his best overall production since 2012.

That season, Headley hit .286 with a career-high 31 homers and 115 RBI for the Padres.

The 26-year-old Mitchell has spent time as both a starter and a reliever with the Yankees over the past four seasons.

In 2017, he went 1-1 with a 5.79 ERA in 20 appearances, including one start. For his career, Mitchell has a 4.94 ERA in 48 games.

Blash is a 28-year-old outfielder with 99 games of MLB experience to his credit. Last season, he hit .213 with five home runs and 16 RBI in San Diego.

He may be hard-pressed to make New York's major league roster since it currently boasts the likes of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Aaron Hicks and Clint Frazier in the outfield.

The trade was primarily a salary dump for the Yankees, and it opens up another potential spot for top prospect Gleyber Torres to enter the starting lineup in 2018.

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MLB Winter Meetings Rumors: Padres Remain ‘Strongly in Mix’ for Eric Hosmer

The San Diego Padres are reportedly looking to make a run at prized free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. 

Per Heyman, the Padres are "thinking big" and remain "strongly in the mix" for Hosmer's services.

        

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

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Jack Morris, Alan Trammell Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

The Modern Baseball Era Committee elected pitcher Jack Morris and shortstop Alan Trammell to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

Morris and Trammell were two of the 10 former players and contributors who were considered for enshrinement in the class of 2018.

The 62-year-old Morris enjoyed an 18-year MLB career with the Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians.

He was named an All-Star on five occasions and finished his career with a record of 254-186 to go along with a 3.90 ERA.

Morris also won three World Series titles, including the 1991 Fall Classic with the Twins. During that Series, Morris went 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA against the Atlanta Braves en route to being named MVP.

Trammell, 59, spent his entire 20-year playing career with the Tigers, where he formed an elite double-play combination with Lou Whitaker.

During his 20 MLB seasons, Trammell was a six-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove award winner and three-time Silver Slugger award winner.

He also won the 1984 World Series with the Tigers and was named World Series MVP by virtue of hitting .450 with two home runs and six RBI in five games.

Trammell finished his regular-season career with a .285 batting average, 185 home runs and 1,003 RBI.

Per the Baseball Hall of Fame's official website, former Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey, New York Yankees pitcher Tommy John, Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly, MLB Players Association head Marvin Miller, Braves outfielder Dale Murphy, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Dave Parker, St. Louis Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons and Boston Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant were the candidates who were not elected.

Morris and Trammell will be enshrined in Cooperstown in the summer of 2018.

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Report: Brandon Morrow, Cubs to Agree on Contract Worth $10-11 Million Per Year

The Chicago Cubs reportedly agreed to a free-agent deal with relief pitcher Brandon Morrow on Saturday worth between $10 million and $11 million per season, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. 

Morrow spent the 2017 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, going 6-0 with a 2.06 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 50 strikeouts in 45 appearances.

The 33-year-old right-hander has enjoyed previous stints with the Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres in his 11-year MLB career.

He was primarily a starter from 2010 through 2015 before moving into a bullpen role with the Padres in 2016.

His 1.69 ERA in 18 appearances that season compelled the Dodgers to sign him, and he became a key part of their pen in 2017.

Morrow made 14 appearances during L.A.'s postseason run to the World Series, compiling a 3.95 ERA. He struggled mightily against the Houston Astros in the Fall Classic with an 8.44 ERA in seven games.

The Cubs were sixth in bullpen ERA last season at 3.80 and seventh with 19 blown saves.

With closer Wade Davis available via free agency, however, the Cubs needed to strengthen their bullpen.

While Morrow has limited closing experience, he is a strong candidate to fill that role for Chicago in 2018 if it is unable to re-sign Davis.

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Red Sox Rumors: Boston Looking at J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Possible Trades

The Boston Red Sox are reportedly considering several high-profile options in free agency and via trade to improve their offense this offseason. 

According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, outfielder J.D. Martinez and first baseman Eric Hosmer are on Boston's radar. 

The Red Sox are also weighing trade possibilities, and Heyman credited ESPN.com's Scott Lauber with reporting that Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber is a potential target.

Despite winning the American League East last season, the Red Sox often struggled offensively.

The Red Sox finished 10th in runs (785) and 15th in batting average (.258), but the area in which they had an especially difficult time was hitting for power.

With just 168 home runs, the Red Sox were 27th in Major League Baseball last season.

Boston has already seen its archrival make a big move this offseason, as the New York Yankees agreed to a trade for outfielder Giancarlo Stanton with the Miami Marlins on Saturday.

Stanton led the majors with 59 homers last season, and he joins a team that topped all clubs with 241 long balls in 2017.

Martinez, Hosmer and Schwarber would all provide Boston's lineup with a considerable boost.

The 30-year-old Martinez set career highs with 45 home runs and 104 RBI in just 119 games last season, with 29 of those homers coming after a trade from the Detroit Tigers to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Hosmer tied his career high with 25 home runs last season while adding 94 RBI and hitting .318.

Schwarber struggled to bat .211; however, he clubbed 30 home runs and drove in 59 runs last season.

Boston has a strong, young nucleus that includes Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers, but without a legitimate run producer in the middle of the lineup, defending the AL East crown over the up-and-coming Yanks will be a major challenge.

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Giancarlo Stanton Trade Wish List Reportedly Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Astros

Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton has reportedly narrowed his trade wish list to four of Major League Baseball's top teams.

According to MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal (h/t MLB.com's Joe Frisaro), the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees are Stanton's top choices. Craig Mish of SiriusXM added that along with the Dodgers and Yanks, Stanton would be willing to accept a trade to the Chicago Cubs or Houston Astros.

MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported Sunday that the Marlins agreed to the general framework for trades with the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals.

While the Giants and Cardinals reportedly aren't among Stanton's desired destinations, Frisaro reported that Stanton hasn't ruled out a trade to either team.

On Friday, Mish broke down the likelihood of Stanton's suitors landing him in the following tweet:

Since Stanton has a full no-trade clause, he can veto any deal, including the ones San Francisco and St. Louis reportedly have in place.

With former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter at the helm as Miami's part owner, the Marlins are looking to strip down the team and build toward the future.

Getting rid of the $295 million in guaranteed money remaining on Stanton's contract could go a long way toward accomplishing that.

While Stanton's deal is lofty, he is among Major League Baseball's elite players, as he won the National League MVP award last season after hitting .281 with an MLB-leading 59 home runs and 132 RBI.

Among the teams Stanton is reportedly interested in playing for, the Dodgers and Astros each reached the World Series last season, while the Yankees and Cubs fell in their respective league championship series.

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Brian Cashman, Yankees Reportedly Finalizing 5-Year, $25M Contract

The New York Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman are finalizing a five-year, $25 million contract extension, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported Friday.

Per Nightengale, the new deal will replace Cashman's three-year, $9 million contract, which expired at the conclusion of the 2017 season.

Cashman has already had a busy offseason, as he decided against retaining Joe Girardi after 10 years at the helm as manager.

In his place, Cashman made a gutsy hire in the form of former Yankees third baseman Aaron Boone, who has no managerial experience.

The 50-year-old Cashman has been part of the Yankees organization since 1986, and he was promoted to general manager in 1998.

New York has won four World Series championships during his time as GM and five overall since he joined the organization.

Cashman led an overhaul of the Yankees' prospect pool in recent years, which led to the emergence of several young stars, including reigning American League Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge, catcher Gary Sanchez and starting pitcher Luis Severino.

The Yanks are expected to be contenders for many years to come due to their young, talented nucleus, but they arrived early in 2017, as they reached the American League Championship Series and fell one game short of the World Series.

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Ex-Cardinals Pitcher Anthony Reyes Among Firefighters Battling SoCal Wildfires

Former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Anthony Reyes is among the firefighters who are currently battling the raging wildfires in Southern California.

According to Cardinals Magazine (h/t Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch), Reyes became a Los Angeles County firefighter in March, and he is on the front lines attempting to bring the fires under control.

Reyes is following in the footsteps of his father, Rick Reyes, who previously served as a firefighter.

         

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

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Giancarlo Stanton Reportedly Has Yankees Among Preferred Trade Destinations

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton reportedly has interest in a potential trade to the New York Yankees, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.

Per Crasnick, Stanton has a full no-trade clause, and the Yankees are among the teams he would be willing to waive it for.

Craig Mish of SiriusXM reported Thursday that the Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros are the clubs to which Stanton would approve a trade.

According to MLB Network's Jon Morosi, the Marlins agreed to a "general framework" of a deal with both the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals involving Stanton.

Since Stanton has final say, however, the Marlins need his approval in order to make a trade happen.

New York would be an interesting landing spot for several reasons. Chief among them is the fact that new Marlins part owner Derek Jeter is a legendary Yankees shortstop.

Also, the Yanks already have a massive power hitter of their own in the outfield in the form of reigning American League Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge.

Judge led the AL with 52 homers last season, while Stanton paced all of Major League Baseball with 59 round-trippers.

The Bronx Bombers have never been shy about taking on big contracts, and Stanton has a lofty one with $295 million guaranteed remaining on his deal.

As pointed out by Crasnick, though, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner has made it clear that he wants to get under the $197 million luxury tax threshold.

If nothing materializes with the Yankees, the Dodgers could be a strong fit due to their willingness to absorb salary and the fact that Stanton is a Panorama City, California, native.

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