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MLB Free Agents 2019: Top Rumors on Gerrit Cole, Howie Kendrick, Marcell Ozuna

mandela namaste@@mandiba13Contributor INovember 12, 2019

St. Louis Cardinals' Marcell Ozuna can't catch a ball hit by Washington Nationals' Anthony Rendon during the third inning of Game 3 of the baseball National League Championship Series Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Washington. Adam Eaton scored on the play. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

We're now less than three weeks away from the start of free agency, and the rumor mill is picking up more and more steam each day. 

The 2019 free-agent class is fairly strong up top, headlined by the likes of World Series champions Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg as well as other All-Stars such as Gerrit Cole, Madison Bumgarner, and Hyun-Jin Ryu. However, most current rumors do not revolve around them as much as middle-tier starters with a chance to be value signings for potential contenders. We've rounded up a few such rumors here.

Gerrit Cole Going North?

Fresh off a dominant 2019 season and on the verge of perhaps winning his first Cy Young Award, Gerrit Cole is primed to receive a record-setting payday this winter. There have been reports of interest everywhere from the Yankees to the Dodgers, but the Philadelphia Phillies would like to enter the bidding as well. 

Per the Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Breen, Cole is at the top of Philly's offseason signing list. This marriage would make a lot of sense from the Phillies' perspective, not only because he is a generational talent but because starting pitching is a serious area of need. Philadelphia's starting pitchers managed a poor 4.64 ERA last season, and only Aaron Nola made at least ten starts and recorded an ERA less than 4.00. 

After a relatively disappointing year where they failed to make the playoffs, the Phillies might be in desperation mode. Signing a big-time free agent like Cole this winter after landing Bryce Harper last winter could re-route them towards contention.

Reds Interested in Kendrick

Howie Kendrick's late-career renaissance has been one of the more surprising stories in baseball these past few years, and one of last season's most surprising teams is looking to snag his veteran leadership. Per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, the Cincinnati Reds are making a bid to land the championship-winning second baseman. 

Though the Reds finished 12 games below .500 last year, breakout seasons from the likes of Eugenio Suarez, Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray made them a fun team to watch despite never seriously competing for a postseason berth. 

With second base being perhaps Cincinnati's biggest positional need thanks to subpar seasons from Jose Peraza and Derek Dietrich, Kendrick's still-live bat combined with his postseason experience could make him a good fit in the Queen City. 

Ozuna Out of St. Louis?

In what would be a big blow to their continued postseason chances, the St. Louis Cardinals look to be on the verge of losing one of their heaviest hitters.

Per MLB Network's Jon Heyman, there appears to be a big market for outfielder Marcell Ozuna, and as such, Heyman reports the 29-year old is likely to decline his qualifying offer from the Cardinals and become an unrestricted free agent. 

Ozuna slugged just .243/.330/.474 in the 2019 regular season but came alive in October, leading regular Cardinal hitters with a .324 batting average and .954 OPS despite the team's dreadful hitting in the NLCS against the Washington Nationals. Teams with subpar outfield depth include the Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants, and Oakland Athletics, and all of them could use Ozuna's services if he indeed follows through and rejects St. Louis' qualifying offer.

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