Opening Day is four weeks and three days away and yet Bryce Harper remains unsigned. The Dodgers jumped back into the mix recently, giving the Phillies some competition. Jim Bowden of CBS Sports reports the Dodgers will offer Harper more money per season, but adds they will "absolutely not" go anywhere close to a 10-year contract. Bob Nightengale of USA Today says Harper is expected to make a decision by the end of the week, with MLB.com adding that Scott Boras is believed to be seeking a figure worth "well north" of $350 million.
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Beyond Harper, several quality free agents remain unsigned, including Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel. Seven of our top 50 free agents are unsigned. Harper, Keuchel and Kimbrel are going to get paid eventually. Second-tier free agents like Gio Gonzalez, Adam Jones and Evan Gattis might not be so lucky. Here are the latest hot stove rumblings. Make sure you check back often throughout the day for updates.
According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said it is unlikely the club will swoop in to sign a free agent reliever. Craig Kimbrel is, far and away, the top reliever sitting in free agency right now. Other viable big league bullpen arms like Adam Warren, Jim Johnson, Ryan Madson and Tony Sipp remain unsigned and could likely be had on low-cost one-year contracts, though Boston appears willing to stand pat.
The Red Sox are slated to go into the regular season with Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier as their primary end-game tandem with Heath Hembree, Tyler Thornburg and Brandon Workman handling the middle innings. There is definitely something to be said for having confidence in your guys and expecting someone to emerge from within. Still, the Red Sox are the defending World Series champs and looking to repeat, so it's a bit surprising they are willing to go into 2019 with such an unproven relief crew.
After signing Aaron Hicks to a seven-year contract Monday morning, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said the team is working on extensions with other players, reports Jack Curry of the YES Network. MLB Network's Jon Heyman reports the Yankees are discussing a deal with impending free agent reliever Dellin Betances, though SNY's Andy Martino says nothing is close with Betances or shortstop Didi Gregorius, another impending free agent.
"We've been very vocal that we've engaged with a lot of players," said Cashman to Curry. The Yankees have no shortage of extension candidates. Aaron Judge is the big name, but others like James Paxton, Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres are candidates as well. Hicks was set to become a free agent after this coming season like Betances and Gregorius. Paxton is two years away from free agency, Judge and Sanchez are four years away, and Andujar and Torres are even further away than that. Betances, Gregorius and Judge figure to be atop the team's extension priority list.
Prior to signing Manny Machado, the Padres never did make Bryce Harper a formal offer, reports Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Acee says the club submitted a "proposal" that did not meet Harper's asking price, and his side never submitted a counter-proposal. There has been speculation the Padres could continue to pursue Harper even after signing Machado, though that never seemed all that likely. Two $300 million contracts in one offseason won't happen, and if Harper's asking price were to drop so much that San Diego could get involved, other teams would pounce.
Rockies extend Bud Black
The Rockies have signed manager Bud Black to a three-year contract extension, the team announced. The deal covers the 2020-22 seasons. Black's original contract with Colorado covered the 2017-19 seasons with a club option for 2020. Financial terms of the new deal are unknown. The Rockies are 178-147 (.548) in two years under Black and have gone to the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time in franchise history. Black managed nine years in San Diego before joining Colorado. He owns a 827-860 (.490) career managerial record.
The Cubs are not discussing contract extensions with infielder Javier Baez or right-hander Kyle Hendricks, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's proven to be more difficult than we expected in some cases," said president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, referring to signing core young players long-term. Anthony Rizzo, who inked a seven-year deal worth $41 million in 2013, is the only player to come up through the system in recent years to sign a long-term extension.
Baez, 26, broke out with a .290/.326/.554 with 34 home runs last season, earning him a second-place finish in the MVP voting. He is still three seasons away from free agency. The 29-year-old Hendricks has a 2.86 ERA in 528 2/3 innings over the last three seasons, and he finished third in the 2016 Cy Young voting. He is two years away from free agency, and because of that, Hendricks figures to be a greater extension priority than Baez at the moment.
The Blue Jays have quietly spent the winter picking up potentially useful bullpen pieces -- John Axford, David Paulino, Trent Thornton, Elvis Luciano. They might soon add another, in free agent Adam Warren. The Jays are one of multiple teams showing interest in Warren, per Emily Waldon and Robert Murray of the Athletic:
Warren, 31, has a 126 ERA+ over the last three seasons, but that doesn't tell the whole tale. He's split those years between the Yankees, Cubs and Mariners organizations, struggling during his time away from New York. Even last season, Warren had his strikeout rate plummet from 11.1 per nine with the Yankees to 6.2 per nine with the Mariners in nearly as many innings (30 versus 21 2/3).
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