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MLB Rumors: Latest on Bryce Harper, Potential Carlos Santana Trade and More

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 9, 2018

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 30: Carlos Santana #41 of the Philadelphia Phillies in action against the Atlanta Braves during of a game at Citizens Bank Park on September 30, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Rumors continue to swirl now the MLB offseason is in full swing.

The annual general manager meetings have concluded, and while there's rarely much significant free-agent or trade activity in early November, it's the conversations that are taking place now that will be the foundation for deals made later in the offseason.

As such, it's worth putting at least some stock in the rumor mill, so ahead we've taken a closer look at some of the notable rumors floating around recently.

             

Giants' Interest in Bryce Harper Is "Overblown"

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 30:  Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals hits a ninth inning double against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 30, 2018 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants have long been viewed as a potential landing spot for Bryce Harper.

It sounds like they might not be a realistic landing spot after all, though, as Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reported:

"After two years of whispers about their chase for Harper, the Giants appear to have cooled off. Sources familiar with their thinking said any interest in Harper has been overblown. 'We're shocked' by some of the rumors, one person said, noting that Harper would have to 'really, really want to come' to San Francisco and pass on more lucrative opportunities elsewhere."

The Giants made a strong push to acquire Giancarlo Stanton last offseason before he ended up with the New York Yankees, so it stands to reason that Harper would fill a similar role while eating up a similarly massive chunk of the payroll.

Hiring Farhan Zaidi as the new president of baseball operations could have something to do with their cooling interest, as Pavlovic explained:

"In Los Angeles, [team president Andrew] Friedman and Zaidi didn't give out a deal larger than Kenley Jansen's five-year, $80 million contract. Jansen already was a Dodgers star and fan favorite. Justin Turner, another All-Star already in-house, got $64 million over four years. When Clayton Kershaw threatened to opt out, the front office tacked on just one year, bringing him to three years and $93 million. Rich Hill got $48 million over three years. Brandon McCarthy got $48 million over four years."

Realistically, the Giants are probably better served rebuilding—or at least retooling.

After throwing a couple high-priced Band-Aid's on the roster last offseason in the form of Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria, only to finish 73-89, it's time for a shift in organizational approach.

That shouldn't include spending $300 million-plus on Harper.

              

Phillies Open to Trading Carlos Santana

TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 09:  Infielder Carlos Santana #41 of the Philadelhia Phillies celebrates hitting a three-run home run to make it 4-1 in the top of 5th inning during the game one of the Japan and MLB All Stars at Tokyo Dome on November 9, 2018 in T
Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Phillies are expected to be major players for the top-tier names on the free-agent market.

However, they also have some housekeeping to do with the incumbent roster—namely finding a way to get Rhys Hoskins back to his natural position at first base.

Hoskins, 25, shifted to left field last season following Carlos Santana's signing, and the defensive metrics (-24 DRS, -13.7 UZR/150) were nothing short of brutal.

Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philly offered up the following as a potential solution:

"Carlos Santana, owed more than $40 million over the next two seasons, is available for a trade.

"An industry source familiar with the Phillies' thinking said the team was not in a hurry to eat salary because it would be akin to admitting that signing Santana was a mistake, but it would do so to facilitate moving Rhys Hoskins back to first base full time."

Santana did see some time at third base down the stretch last season, but that opens a similar can of worms, as it's unlikely he will be even an average defender there over a full season.

Potentially adding Manny Machado to the mix would further muddy the waters, as he would either man the hot corner or push someone like J.P. Crawford or Scott Kingery to third base.

Santana showed his usual mix of strong on-base ability (110 BB, .352 OBP) and power (24 HR) in his first season with the Phillies, though his OPS+ dipped to 105 as he hit a career-low .229.

That will make moving him difficult, to say the least.

                 

Catching Market Taking Shape

Yasmani Grandal
Yasmani GrandalEzra Shaw/Getty Images

It's usually slim pickings on the free-agent catching market, as there's always a lack of quality backstops, and teams tend to cling tightly to quality options.

However, a pair of top-tier performers are available this winter:

  • Yasmani Grandal: 121 OPS+, 24 HR, 68 RBI, 28% CS, 3.3 WAR
  • Wilson Ramos: 130 OPS+, 15 HR, 70 RBI, 29% CS, 2.7 WAR

There will be no shortage of teams vying for their services, either, as Jeff Todd of MLB Rumors offered up the following overview of the catcher market:

"Quite a few organizations will be interested in finding new options to take the lion's share of the time behind the dish. The Angels, Astros, Athletics, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Nationals, and Rays all plainly lack clear-cut, number-one options behind the dish and could be interested in significant upgrades.

"Other teams could mostly roll with what's already on hand but will likely at least dabble in the market for regulars. The Braves, Brewers, Mets, Phillies, Red Sox, and Rockies could justifiably go after top backstops, for instance, and are also among the teams that will be eyeing part-time contributors."

With such widespread interest expected, it should come as no surprise that rumors have already begun to trickle out surrounding both players.

Jon Morosi of MLB Network linked to prominent teams to Grandal.

Jon Morosi @jonmorosi

#Mets and #Astros among the teams with interest in free agent Yasmani Grandal, source says, although qualifying offer is one potential barrier. @MLB @MLBNetwork

Meanwhile, Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times recently wrote: "The Los Angeles Angels are among five teams interested in signing free-agent catcher Wilson Ramos, according to a person familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak on it publicly."

Wilson Ramos
Wilson RamosRich Schultz/Getty Images

The availability of Miami Marlins All-Star J.T. Realmuto will have an impact on the market for both players.

Still, when the dust settles on the offseason, expect both Grandal and Ramos to have secured lucrative multiyear deals.

                   

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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