MLB rumors: Nationals, Craig Kimbrel progressing toward deal?; Marcus Stroman trade talks quiet for Blue Jays

Opening Day is three weeks and five days away and still five of our top 50 free agents remain unsigned, including two of the top 12. Manny Machado and Bryce Harper were paid handsomely in recent days and deservedly so. They are special cases though given their age and status. For other free agents, the market has not been so kind.

As we inch closer to Opening Day, expect to start seeing some minor trades as clubs finalize roster decisions, especially trades involving players who are out of minor league options. Those are players who can’t go to Triple-A without passing through waivers, so, rather than lose them for nothing when they don’t make the team, clubs trade them elsewhere. Here is the latest hot stove news.

Nats, Kimbrel progressing toward deal?

Negotiations between the Nationals and free agent closer Craig Kimbrel are “further down the road” than previously reported, hears ESPN’s Keith Law. Law clarifies that means the two sides are progressing toward a deal. The Nationals and Kimbrel have remained in touch throughout the winter and he would join a new-look bullpen that includes offseason pickups Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough. Kimbrel would presumably close with Sean Doolittle moving into a setup role.

The Nationals paid luxury tax each of the last two years and Cot’s Baseball Contracts has their current 2019 luxury tax payroll at $195.5 million. That is under the $206 million threshold, though a Kimbrel deal would surely push them over. As a three-time luxury tax offender, Washington would have to pay a 50 percent tax on every dollar over the $206 million threshold. Top free agent closers like Kenley Jansen, Wade Davis, and Aroldis Chapman all signed deals worth $17 million or so annually in recent years. Kimbrel is likely seeking similar money.

Stroman trade talks quiet

According to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, trade talks involving Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman are relatively quiet right now. The Blue Jays are listening to offers because they listen to offers for every player (as does pretty much every team), though so far no team has come close to meeting their asking price. Trade interest in Stroman could pick up once Dallas Keuchel, the only true difference-making starter sitting in free agency, comes off the board.

The soon-to-be 28-year-old Stroman battled shoulder trouble last year and is currently two years away from free agency. He and the Blue Jays have made conflicting comments about extension talks in recent weeks — Stroman says there haven’t been any while the team says there have — though Toronto seems to be planning for 2020 and beyond at this point. Dealing Stroman (and Aaron Sanchez, for that matter) for younger pieces who fit that timetable is possible, if not likely.

Chatwood not a lock to make Cubs

Veteran righty Tyler Chatwood is not a lock to make the Cubs‘ Opening Day roster and could become trade bait, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. “I can’t control what they do,” Chatwood said. Manager Joe Maddon added, “Guys like him in this situation, hopefully you try not to be the manager or the general manager. Be the pitcher, be the player and nail down what you do on the field and make the discussion difficult.”

The first year of Chatwood’s three-year, $38 million contract was a disaster. He issued an MLB high 95 walks in only 103 2/3 innings last season and found himself banished to the bullpen at midseason. Chatwood is owed $25.5 million the next two years and the Cubbies would have to eat a chunk of that to facilitate a trade. Chicago is set to go into the season with Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, and Jose Quintana as their five starters in whatever order.

Angels considering record offer for Trout

In recent weeks the Angels have considered making Mike Trout a record 10-year, $350 million extension offer. That would be the largest contract in baseball history in terms of both total guarantee and average annual value. Trout has two years and $66.5 million remaining on his current contract, so the total package would be 12 years and $416.5 million. Given his career to date, even a record $416.5 million total guarantee seems light for Trout. Contract talks have to start somewhere though.

Categories: National Sports

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