Hot Stove Tracker: Gerrit Cole expected to receive well over $300 million

It’s Hot Stove season in baseball, meaning the offseason rumors are flying around. We’ll give you all the signings, trades and rumors you need to know in this post. Keep coming back every day.

Gerrit Cole will likely shatter record contract

The Washington Nationals re-signing Stephen Strasburg to a record-breaking seven-year, $245 million contract for a pitcher was music to the ears of free agent Gerrit Cole.

It was already expected that Cole would become the highest paid pitcher in MLB history when he signs this winter. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the numbers could well surpass $300 million, which would shatter the previous record of $217 million held by David Price.

It's been reported all week that the New York Yankees were prepared to offer Cole a record-setting deal, with some adding New York wouldn't be denied in its pursuit. That's certainly going to be tested now given the money Strasburg received. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels are also reportedly in the mix to sign the dominant right-hander.

Gerrit Cole is about to get paid. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Cole, 29, is coming off his best season in MLB. In 33 starts, he produced a league-best 2.50 ERA and an Astros single-season franchise record of 326 strikeouts. He also had a 25-start unbeaten streak that was snapped in the World Series.

Rangers sign Joely Rodríguez

The Texas Rangers have been busy adding pitching depth this winter. In addition to Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports they’re also signed left-hander Joely Rodríguez to a two-year, $5.5 million deal.

The 28-year-old posted a 1.85 ERA over 90 appearances in Japan the last two seasons.

He made 38 appearances for the Philadelphia Phillies between 2016 and 2017. His 5.40 ERA during that time was not notable. However, his 58.3 groundball rate did open some eyes. Rodríguez also spent time in Triple A with the Rangers in 2017, so there’s familiarity here on both sides.

Red Sox actively trying to trade Jackie Bradley Jr.

There's been speculation that the Boston Red Sox would seek to trade former MVP Mookie Betts this winter. While nothing seems to be cooking on that front right now, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe is reporting another Red Sox outfielder, Jackie Bradley Jr., could be on the move.

One of the Red Sox main goals this winter is to reduce payroll. They’re about $10 million above the competitive balance tax threshold at the present time. With Bradley expected to receive at least that much in his final year of arbitration eligibility, trading him would help in that department.

Bradley disappointed at the plate in 2019, hitting .225/.317/.421 with 21 home runs and 62 RBIs in 567 plate appearances. He does remain a strong defender in center field, which is sure to appeal to some teams.

Brewers have interest in Didi Gregorius

Having already lost key free agents like Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas this winter, the Milwaukee Brewers are reportedly looking for pieces to help boost the offense.

According to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, that includes free agent shortstop Didi Gregorius.

The soon-to-be 30-year-old veteran was limited to 82 games last season after undergoing offseason Tommy John surgery. He never quite looked like himself, hitting just .238/.276/.441 with 16 home runs and 61 RBIs in 344 plate appearances. That's why many believe he'll seek a one-year deal to help rebuild his value.

Milwaukee is currently very thin on the infield with Keston Huira and Orlando Arcia as the only proven options. That makes Gregorius a logical fit. The Cincinnati Reds are also reportedly in the mix.

Nationals not closing door on Anthony Rendon

Before the winter meetings began, Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner claimed his team wouldn’t be able to afford re-signing both Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg in free agency.

However, now that Strasburg has been locked in to a seven-year, $245 million contract that will allow the team to defer money until after the contract expires, general manager Mike Rizzo believes their could be a path to bring back Rendon as well.

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

“I don’t see this in any way hindering us from the elite players in the game,” Rizzo said. “When you look at those comments and then you look at the structure of this particular deal, Mark realizes there are ways to fit players in.

“There are ways to field a championship roster. The resources have always been there. I don’t expect that to change.”

The Nationals have had a top seven payroll in four of the last five seasons, so Rizzo is correct about the availability of resources.

The question now is just how large Rendon's market will be. He's reportedly drawing significant interest from the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers. That could still push his price tag beyond what the Nationals are willing to pay, but for now it seems foolish to count them out.

Adam Jones could he headed to Japan

The market for veteran outfielder Adam Jones is apparently not developing as he’d hoped. According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the 34-year-old is now considering a move to Japan.

Jones also struggled to find a deal last season, waiting until March to sign a one-year, $3 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He appeared in 137 games for Arizona, hitting .260/.313/.414 with 16 homers and 67 RBIs over 528 plate appearances. That’s right in line with his final season in Baltimore one year earlier.

As a five-time MLB All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner, Jones would immediately become one of the biggest stars we’ve seen make the late-career move to Japan.

Dec. 8: Yankees to make record-setting offer to Gerrit Cole

All signs have pointed to the New York Yankees making Gerrit Cole their primary focus in free agency this winter. Terms such as “won’t be denied” have been thrown around to describe their determination to get a deal done.

According to Bob Klapisch of the New York Times, those words will be backed up by the Yankees first offer to Cole. Klapisch reports the Yankees are prepared to put a record-setting seven-year, $245 million contract on the table.

As noted, the deal would surpass Zack Greinke’s $34.4 million annual average and David Price’s overall $217 million contract as the highest ever for a pitcher. It’s expected the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels will make initial offers at this week’s winter meetings.

Dec. 7: Mets are talking to Rick Porcello

The New York Mets are expected to have a lot more spending money once Steven A. Cohen becomes the franchise’s majority owner. In the meantime, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen is looking to make a mark this winter by targeting a former Cy Young award winner in free agency.

According to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, that pitcher is Rick Porcello.

Porcello's 22 wins and 3.15 ERA were enough to net him the Cy Young in 2016, which was his second season with the Boston Red Sox. The three seasons since have looked a lot like the seven seasons prior in Detroit — inconsistent and uneven. The 30-year-old right-hander is coming off his worst season after posting a 5.52 ERA over 174.1 innings.

Even if the 2016 is an outlier, Porcello does have one thing going for him — his durability. He’s made at least 27 starts in each of his 11 MLB seasons. The price tag isn’t expected to be high either as Porcello attempts to rebuild his value. As Heyman notes, a move to the National League could help in that regard.

If the Mets land Porcello, he would slide into the rotation spot vacated when Zack Wheeler signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Yankees won't be denied in pursuit of Gerrit Cole

If the New York Yankees don't sign Gerrit Cole this winter, it will undoubtedly go down as a major disappointment for the organization and the fans.

According to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, the Yankees have put their "total focus" on signing the free agent right-hander and are determined to not be denied.

This backs up Thursday's report from ESPN's Jeff Passan, which stated Yankees ownership has given general manager Brian Cashman permission to offer a record-setting contract if necessary to sign the 29-year-old flamethrower. As Heyman notes, several big-spending teams are also in pursuit of Cole, which could send his price tag skyrocketing.

On Saturday, Passan added we’re nearing the point where teams will make their initial offers to Cole.

Dec. 7: Trevor Rosenthal reunites with former manager in KC

Trevor Rosenthal was never expected to be a hot commodity this offseason, but he may have landed in the one spot best suited to turn his career around.

The Kansas City Royals announced on Saturday that they signed the 29-year-old right-hander to a minor league deal on Saturday that includes a non-roster invitation to spring training. Notably, Rosenthal will be reunited with manager Mike Matheny, who he played under with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Rosenthal is well known for his historically bad 2019 season at this point — infinite ERAs are hard to forget — but he’s not that far removed from being one of the game’s dominant relievers. Before missing the 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery, Rosenthal saved 121 games over the previous six seasons with a 2.99 ERA and 435 strikeouts in 325 innings.

The Royals could use all the bullpen help they can get, as well. Their 5.07 ERA last season ranked 27th in baseball, and they only had one reliever with at least 40 innings and an ERA under 4.

Dec. 6: Rangers reach two-year agreement with Jordan Lyles

The Texas Rangers will make another notable addition to their starting rotation after reaching two-year, $16 million agreement with veteran right-hander Jordan Lyles.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal was the first to report a deal was reached. ESPN’s Jeff Passan confirmed the financial details.

Lyles will join Kyle Gibson — who was signed to a three-year, $30 million deal earlier in the offseason — as the newest Rangers hurlers. The rotation is also expected to include Mike Minor and Lance Lynn.

It was a tale of two halves for the 29-year-old right-hander in 2019. Lyles posted a 5.36 ERA in 17 starts for the Pittsburgh Pirates before turning his season completely around after a trade to the Milwaukee Brewers. In 11 starts for Milwaukee, Lyles went 7-1 with a 2.45 ERA.

Phillies make Anthony Rendon top priority

The Philadelphia Phillies are prepared to keep spending after signing Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million.

According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Phillies would even be willing to exceed the league's luxury tax threshold if it means signing Anthony Rendon.

Though the Phillies have not yet held a face-to-face meeting with Rendon, Nightengale's sources tell him that signing the free-agent third baseman has become the team's top priority. It's also noted that Josh Donaldson could be the Phillies fallback option if they fail to sign Rendon.

From USA Today Sports:

Rendon, the marquee position player on the free-agent market, is expected to demand a contract that pays close to the eight-year, $260 million extension Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado received last spring. It may be a shorter deal, but likely would be for at least $35 million a year. Donaldson, who will be 34 on Sunday, would come at a cheaper cost, but he also likely will receive at least a three- or four-year contract paying him more than $25 million a season.

The Phillies have remained aggressive after handing out big deals the last two offseasons. That obviously includes Bryce Harper's 13-year, $330 million deal.

Signing Rendon would also take another key player away from the division rival Washington Nationals. The Nationals were able to thrive without Harper, winning the franchise's first-ever World Series championship in 2019. But it would be a much tougher road without Rendon.

Dec. 5: Yankees make Gerrit Cole their top priority

Money will not be an issue in the New York Yankees pursuit of Gerrit Cole.

According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, Yankees' ownership has given general manager Brian Cashman permission to offer a record-setting deal if that's what it takes to bring Cole on board.

Passan adds that Yankees executives believe the bidding war will go beyond $250 million, but that signing Cole is clearly the team's biggest priority this winter.

The commitment from owner Hal Steinbrenner to strongly pursue Cole has emboldened the Yankees, who sent GM Brian Cashman, manager Aaron Boone, pitching coach Matt Blake and longtime Yankees star Andy Pettitte to their meeting in California. The attention paid by New York to embracing modern pitching analysis could appeal to Cole, whose thirst for knowledge and intelligence are among the qualities teams appreciate about him the most, according to sources.

This development would seemingly position the Yankees as favorites to sign Cole.

It was previously unclear how much the Yankees would be willing to spend in free agency this winter. For Cole, they will dig deep. For everyone else, it remains to be seen.

Padres to acquire outfielder Tommy Pham from Rays

Another busy day on the MLB Hot Stove was capped with a trade.

The San Diego Padres will acquire veteran outfielder Tommy Pham from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for slugging outfielder Hunter Renfroe and infield prospect Xavier Edwards.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal was the first to report a deal was close. ESPN’s Jeff Passan says the deal is agreed to and adds that another prospect will be headed to the Rays.

The deal will be finalized once the involved parties pass their physical.

Pham, 31, is coming off a solid campaign in which he produced a .273/.369/.450 batting line to go along with 21 home runs and 25 stolen bases. The Padres covet Pham’s ability to get on base, which is an area they struggled with in 2019. Pham is expected to bat second, between Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado.

Renfroe, 27, is expected to bring a power boost to the Rays lineup. He's slugged 85 home runs over the last three seasons, but only has a .231 batting average during that time. Edwards figures to be the more intriguing name in the deal. The 20-year-old shortstop is the No. 5 prospect in San Diego's highly regarded minor league system.

Twins re-sign Michael Pineda for two years

The Minnesota Twins are bringing back a key member of their starting rotation.

Veteran right-hander Michael Pineda has agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal, according to Pierre Noujaim of Fox 9 Minneapolis.

The Athletic’s Dan Hayes adds that the deal is pending a physical.

Pineda, 30, received a 60-game suspension on Sept. 7 for violating the league’s PED policy. The suspension will keep him out for the first five weeks of the 2020 season.

Due to injuries and a 2014 suspension for having pine tar on his neck, Pineda has only completed one full season since his debut in 2011. He most recently missed the entire 2018 season with a torn meniscus in his right knee. He was pretty effective in 26 starts last season, posting a 4.01 ERA.

If, and it’s a big if, Pineda can stay on the field for the duration of this contract, it could be a nice bargain for Minnesota.

Mets acquire Jake Marisnick from Astros

The New York Mets first move since the announcement that the Wilpons will sell the team was ... underwhelming. New York reportedly traded two prospects in exchange for Houston Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick on Thursday, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

The 28-year-old Marisnick hit .233/.289/.411, with 10 home runs, over 318 plate appearances with Houston in 2019. He’s been used as a fourth outfielder throughout his career, and is regarded for playing strong defense. Marisnick is expected to make around $3 million in 2020. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the season.

Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen praised Marisnick’s defensive ability in a release, saying Marisnick is “an elite defender who is an incredibly smart base runner.”

In exchange for Marisnick, Houston received pitcher Blake Taylor and outfielder Kenedy Corona, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Neither player ranked highly in the Mets’ system.

Brewers pick up Omar Narvaez after trade with M’s

The Milwaukee Brewers have found Yasmani Grandal’s replacement. Two weeks after Grandal signed a four-year, $73 million deal with the Chicago White Sox, the Brewers have acquired Omar Narvaez in a trade with the Seattle Mariners.

Narvaez, 27, is regarded as an offense-first catcher. He hit .278/.353/.460, with 22 home runs, in 2019. Narvaez’s wRC+ — an advanced stat that measures offensive performance — wasn’t much worse than Grandal’s last season. Grandal had a 121 wRC+. Narvaez came in at 119.

The two players differ greatly when it comes to defense, however. By many measures, Grandal is considered one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. Narvaez is viewed as one of the worst.

Narvaez is projected to make around $3 million next season. He’s under team control through 2022, giving the Brewers multiple years to turn Narvaez’s defense around.

Dec. 4: Yankees meet with Stephen Strasburg

Stephen Strasburg’s free agency tour made a notable stop on Wednesday.

The 31-year-old right-hander reportedly paid a visit to the New York Yankees in a meeting that's Mark Feinsand says went 'well.'

The starting pitching market started moving Wednesday after Zack Wheeler agreed to a five-year, $118 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies and Cole Hamels landed a one-year, $18 million contract with the Atlanta Braves.

That news, coupled with Strasburg's meeting, doesn't necessarily mean a deal is imminent. But it does indicate the process is moving much quicker than last winter.

Strasburg is considered the second best free agent pitcher available behind Gerrit Cole. According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Yankees held a four-hour meeting with Cole on Tuesday in which he declared there would be “no west coast bias” in his decision.

The Yankees are clearly doing their due diligence. Though it’s unknown how much money they'll be willing to spend to land a premiere free agent.

The Los Angeles Angels are hoping they can turn around Dylan Bundy. (Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Los Angeles Angels trade for Dylan Bundy

The Los Angeles Angels, hungry to bolster their pitching staff this offseason, are hoping they can turn around pitcher Dylan Bundy, the once hyped Baltimore Orioles prospect.

The two teams have swung a deal for Bundy, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports:

Bundy, 27, is a former No. 4-overall pick who was pegged as the Orioles’ ace of the future at one time. Injuries slowed down his development and he’s never been all that great in the big leagues. In five seasons, he has a 38-45 record with a 4.67 ERA. Never has he finished a season with a sub-4.00 ERA. In 2018, he lost the most games in MLB and gave up the most homers.

He’ll get a fresh start now in Anaheim with new manager Joe Maddon and new pitching coach Mickey Callaway. The good thing is that Bundy is still young and could have a positive future ahead in a new uniform if he can reclaim some of what made him a top prospect.

Los Angeles Dodgers meet with Gerrit Cole

Gerrit Cole figures to command the biggest payday on the free-agent market this year, and he’s already met with one of the teams that will have no problem affording him, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Times’ Jorge Castillo reports that Cole and the Dodgers have met with Cole, as they try to square away their offseason plans:

The Dodgers met with the star right-hander, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, as they continue to evaluate their options to improve a roster coming off another disappointing finish. The Angels and New York Yankees reportedly have also met with Cole.

An Orange County native, the 29-year-old Cole was raised minutes from Angel Stadium and attended UCLA but grew up a Yankees fan.

The Times also reports that the Dodgers have met with other top free agents such as Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon, both of whom could also be fits in L.A.

The Dodgers have also met with Stephen Strasburg, the other top-tier right-hander on the market, and third baseman Anthony Rendon this offseason. They also have interest in third baseman Josh Donaldson, who could be had with a three- or four-year deal.

Zack Wheeler, the No. 3 pitcher in the free-agent rankings behind Cole and Strasburg, agreed to a $118 million deal with the Phillies on Wednesday, but Cole and Strasburg are expected to fetch much more than that.

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