MLB Rumors: Latest on A's, Mark Kotsay, Kevin Kiermaier Trade Buzz and More

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2021

MLB Rumors: Latest on A's, Mark Kotsay, Kevin Kiermaier Trade Buzz and More

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    The Major League Baseball lockout continues to limit offseason activity, much to the chagrin of hot-stove enthusiasts. With baseball in a work stoppage, movement has been limited to minor league deals and front-office hirings.

    Over the weekend, for example, the New York Mets announced Buck Showalter as their new baseball manager.

    "This is a significant day for the organization," Mets general manager Billy Eppler said, per Anthony DiComo of "Buck is one of the most experienced and accomplished managers in the game."

    Aside from the Showalter hiring, the offseason action has largely been confined to the rumor mill in recent weeks. Here, we'll dive into some of the latest buzz, starting with another managerial hiring that could become official soon.

A's Set to Hire Mark Kotsay as Manager

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    Like the Mets, the Oakland Athletics were in the market for a new manager this offseason. Also like the Mets, the A's seem to have found their man.

    According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, Oakland is set to promote third base coach Mark Kotsay to manager.

    Kotsay emerges from a group of candidates that also included Joe Espada, Matt Quatraro, Will Venable, Marcus Jensen and Darren Bush, according to Britt Ghiroli and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Kotsay joined the Athletics in 2015 after a stint as a special assistant and later hitting coach for the San Diego Padres.

    In Oakland, Kotsay has also served as the bench coach and quality control coach.

    Before coaching, Kotsay spent 17 years in the majors as an outfielder and first baseman. He played for the A's from 2004-07.

    While Quatrano, the Tampa Bay Rays' bench coach, and Espada, the Houston Astros' bench coach, didn't land the Oakland job or the Mets gig, both could become managers within the next couple of years.

    "If I were a betting man, I would wager that the other two finalists for the Mets' managing position—Joe Espada and Matt Quatraro—will be managers in the next 12-24 months," Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote.

    For now, Espada and Quantaro will have to wait until another hiring cycle.

Rays Have Had Talks About Moving Kevin Kiermaier

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    While New York and Oakland have been busy filling manager vacancies, other clubs have been focused on resuming post-lockout. The Tampa Bay Rays, for example, are looking to have financial flexibility once the free-agent and trade markets resume.

    "With so many unsigned free agents and the avalanche of player movement inevitable, the Rays—like other teams—have talked internally about being in the best position possible to react quickly to acquisition opportunities, as needed," ESPN's Buster Olney wrote.

    Trading center fielder Kevin Kiermaier is one way that Tampa could create cap space. The three-time Gold Glove winner is set to earn $12.2 million in 2022, according to Spotrac. Tampa has had talks about trading him in the past.

    The Philadelphia Phillies were reportedly interested prior to last year's trade deadline.

    "Managing payroll is a constant challenge for the Rays, given the front office's budget limitations, and before the trade deadline, Tampa Bay was engaged in talks with the Phillies (and perhaps other teams) about center fielder Kevin Kiermaier," Olney wrote.

    While the Rays have plenty of reasons to keep Kiermaier around in 2022, he is a name to watch on the trade market whenever the work stoppage ends.

Marlins Have Eyed Michael Conforto

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    While the Mets have their new manager in Showalter, they're likely to lose outfielder Michael Conforto after the lockout. According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, Conforto declined his one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer.

    While Conforto did have an underwhelming on-base percentage of .344 in 2021—his lowest rate since 2016—he did knock 14 home runs and 55 runs. As hitters go, Conforto should be one of the best available post-lockout.

    According to Joe Frisaro of Man on Second Baseball, the Miami Marlins are interested.

    "The reality is, the Marlins have had discussions with Conforto's camp, and he remains a possibility," the longtime reporter wrote.

    The question is whether Miami would be willing to meet Conforto's price point. Newsday Mets beat reporter Tim Healey told Frisaro that it could require a long-term $80-100 million deal for the Marlins to land Conforto. There's no guarantee that Miami or any other team is adamant about locking up the 28-year-old long-term.

    MLB Trade Rumors predicted a one-year, $20 million contract for Conforto this offseason. That's obviously more than the Mets' qualifying offer—but not substantially so.

    If Conforto's market is cool when the offseason resumes—and he cannot land multiyear security—there's a chance that he could still return to New York. The potential roadblock there is that the Mets added first baseman and outfielder Mark Canha on a two-year deal just before the lockout.