Day one of the winter meetings is off to an uneventful start, with Garrett Jones' two-year deal with the Miami Marlins, Felipe Paulino's one-year deal with the Chicago White Sox and Roy Halladay's retirement announcement the biggest news items of the day that were actually facts and not just rumors.
There was plenty of new gossip to get us through the day, though. Here's a recap.
First Basemen Free Agents and Trade Targets Dominate Rumor Mill
The Brewers are making first baseman/outfielder Corey Hart (pictured) their top priority, as told by agent Jeff Berry to Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel. The 31-year-old, who had an .830 OPS with an average of 24 homers and 33 doubles per season from 2007-2012, is likely to come at a discounted rate after he missed the entire season recovering from surgeries to each of his knees.
After agreeing to terms with first baseman Garrett Jones, the Marlins were telling teams later in the day that they would be trading Logan Morrison shortly, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN. Joel Sherman of the New York Post later tweeted that the Rays weren't close to acquiring the 26-year-old while Haudricourt reported the same on the Brewers front.
Other teams connected with Morrison have been the Pirates, who have mild interest, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Blue Jays, as was reported by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports along with news of the Brewers' interest and the Orioles, who Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reported as having checked in.
In addition to Morrison, the Pirates also have trade interest in Adam Lind of the Blue Jays and Mitch Moreland of the Rangers, according to a tweet from Stark last week, while Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times wrote that free agent James Loney was a top target.
Another target for the Brewers is Ike Davis, who the teams discussed today, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. The 26-year-old, who finished strong (.872 OPS in last 48 games) after struggling for most of 2013, could be the team's "Plan B" in case they can't re-sign Hart.
One of the lone right-handed-hitting first basemen remaining on the free agent or trade markets is Michael Morse, who is not being pursued by the Marlins, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. With his value down after a poor season, the 31-year-old could prove to be a great bargain if he can bounce back to his pre-2013 form (.861 OPS, 64 HR in 346 games).
One team who has checked in on Morse, according to Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area, is the Giants, who are also interested in Hart. Moving Brandon Belt to left field would be an option in either scenario, especially with Hart coming back from knee surgeries.
Trumbo Available On Trade Market
Despite the Los Angeles Angels already trading away one of their major league outfielders, Peter Bourjos, earlier in the offseason, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the team was discussing trade possibilities with other teams involving slugger Mark Trumbo (pictured).
Depending on which team acquired him, the 27-year-old would play either first base or a corner outfield spot while likely logging some at-bats in the designated hitter spot if he remained in the American League.
Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports tweeted an update on a possible trade with the Diamondbacks, mentioning pitchers Trevor Cahill and Tyler Skaggs as possible pieces to a deal, while Jayson Stark mentioned the Royals as a potential trade partner.
The D'backs have been known to be looking for a corner power bat since Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reported it back in September, which explains the team's interest in Trumbo, who has averaged 32 homers in his first three big league seasons.
Any deal bringing Trumbo to the D'backs, however, would mean that one of Adam Eaton, A.J. Pollock, Gerardo Parra or Cody Ross would very likely be shipped off in a separate deal. And even then, the team's outfield depth would be relatively strong. The additional power is what general manager Kevin Towers is seeking, though. His team was tied for 25th in the majors in home runs last season.
Choo the Next Biggest Name To Sign?
Shin-Soo Choo (pictured), the free agent expected to net the third-largest contract of the offseason behind Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury, is reaching a "critical stage" in contract talks, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, who named the Rangers and Diamondbacks as two of the clubs making a push for the 31-year-old.
Any team interested in signing Choo should be ready to offer him a contract well over $100 million, though. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the total will likely fall between Jayson Werth's $126 million deal with the Nationals and Ellsbury's $153 million deal with the Yankees.
The Diamondbacks, previously mentioned as in the hunt for some power in a corner outfield spot, and the Rangers, who are looking to replace free agent Nelson Cruz, make sense for Choo, who posted an .885 OPS with 21 homers, 34 doubles, 20 stolen bases and 107 runs in 2013.
With Ian Kinsler having been traded to the Tigers earlier in the offseason, the Rangers could even utilize him in the leadoff spot, where he flourished in 2013. Of course, the on-base machine fits well anywhere in the order due to his assortment of skills at the plate.
Second Base Options?
Omar Infante, the top second baseman on the free-agent market now that Robinson Cano has agreed to a deal with Seattle, is being pursued by the Royals and Yankees, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, while the Mets are trying to move Daniel Murphy (pictured), according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
Infante, who is coming off of a strong season with a .795 OPS and 10 homers, would appear to have some big shoes to fill in New York, although the additions of Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann will ease the pressure on whoever ends up being Cano's replacement.
The Orioles are a legitimate suitor for Murphy, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, although the Royals and Yankees could also make a push if either or both miss out on Infante.
In moving Murphy, who had a .733 OPS with 13 homers, 38 doubles and 23 stolen bases last season, the Mets would create an opening for Eric Young Jr. to move back to second base. He was recently displaced from the projected starting outfield with the signing of Curtis Granderson.
It also appears that the Mets could add some veteran insurance at the position after Mike Puma of the New York Post reported that the team has had discussions with Cesar Izturis.
The Yankees have already brought in Kelly Johnson as insurance at second base, although his presence could help more at third base, where there aren't players available on either market in the class of Infante or Murphy.
Kansas City is happy with the production they got from Emilio Bonifacio after he was acquired from the Blue Jays late in the season (.700 OPS, 16 SB in 42 games), but are likely concerned he'll revert back to his pre-trade form (.579 OPS in 94 games).
Brett Gardner Trade Bait?
With a crowded outfield that includes Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ichiro Suzuki and Alfonso Soriano, the Yankees are apparently looking to find out what they could possibly get in a trade for Brett Gardner (pictured), who is entering his final year before becoming a free agent.
According to Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger, the Yankees would likely have to settle for a No. 4 starter. With the unstable state of their rotation, they might have to consider that possibility.
In the meantime, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Giants are interested in the 30-year-old outfielder, but a trade doesn't appear likely.
The Giants don't really have major league pitching to spare, which is probably why they don't appear to be a match. The Yankees, however, could potentially have interest in a Giants reliever. Closer Sergio Romo, also in his last year before free agency, could be a fit, as well as setup man Santiago Casilla.
With Mariano Rivera retiring and Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain free agents, the Yankees have some holes to fill in the 'pen, as well.
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