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2018 Baseball Winter Meetings Recap (Monday/Tuesday)


MLB Winter Meetings have started in Las Vegas, Nevada and the headlines thus far have been more about what has been rumored to happen rather than what has happened. There have been some relatively minor moves thus far (including the signing of a former stolen base leader), but most of the stories have revolved around rumors rather than action.

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are the hot names on everyone's lips in regards to free agents, while a potential three-team trade between the Yankees, Mets, and Marlins (with JT Realmuto going to the Mets and Noah Syndergaard to the Yankees) has also topped headlines.

Here are the top stories of the first two days of Winter Meetings.

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Winter Meetings Recap

Philadelphia Phillies Sign Andrew McCutchen

While still supposedly interested in Bryce Harper or another big-name free agent, the Phillies didn't wait to make a headline by inking former MVP Andrew McCutchen to a three-year, $50 million deal. The former Pirate and 2013 NL MVP bounced between San Francisco and New York last year before entering free agency. He is no longer the power-speed dual-threat of his prime but Cutch still combined for 20 HR and 14 steals in 2018. He also ranked 20th among qualified hitters with a .368 on-base percentage. Cutch could still be a valuable piece for fantasy owners, albeit in the OF3 range these days.

Chicago White Sox Acquire Ivan Nova

The Chicago White Sox are acquiring starting pitcher Ivan Nova from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday, according to sources. It's unclear what the White Sox are sending to Pittsburgh. Nova will bring a veteran presence to a young and rebuilding Chicago team. The right-hander will turn 32 next month and went 9-9 with a 4.19 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and mediocre 6.4 K/9 over 29 starts. Nova doesn't miss many bats, so he'll have less room for error in a hitter's park in the American League in 2019. There's little fantasy upside here.

Billy Hamilton Agrees With Kansas City Royals

Free-agent outfielder Billy Hamilton agreed to a deal worth close to $5 million with the Kansas City Royals on Monday. Hamilton has world-class speed but has trouble stealing first base (.299 on-base percentage last year) and has very little power with the stick. He does play All-Star defense in center field, though, and he should see regular playing time with the rebuilding Royals. Hamilton will be useful for stolen bases and that's about it in 2019.

New York Yankees May Be Willing to Trade Miguel Andujar

The New York Yankees are open to moving third baseman Miguel Andujar, according to rival executives. This could be part of the rumored three-team trade involving the New York Mets and Miami Marlins that would also send catcher J.T. Realmuto to the Mets. If the Yanks get rid of Andujar, it'd make them more active in trying to sign free-agent shortstop Manny Machado while then moving him to the hot corner. In that scenario, starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard could go to the Yankees, although this could be a long shot three-way blockbuster. The Yankees are pushing the Mets to make a deal and the Marlins are coming down a bit on their demands for Realmuto. Something is likely to happen at the winter meetings this week. Stay tuned. Andujar was excellent in his rookie season and was nominated for the American League Rookie of the Year. He hit a cool .297/.328/.527 with 27 home runs, 83 runs and 92 RBI in his first year in the Bronx.

Colorado Rockies Could Be Interested In Carlos Santana

The Colorado Rockies were interested in trading for Seattle Mariners first baseman Carlos Santana when he was still with the Phillies, according to general manager Jeff Bridich. The idea of trading for Santana isn't dead. Santana isn't your prototypical big-time power-hitting first baseman (24 homers in 2018 with Philly), but he does get on base frequently (.352 on-base percentage last year), and he'd be a little more intriguing at hitter-friendly Coors Field. If he joins the Rockies, Ian Desmond would likely move to the outfield full time next year.

Mutual Interest Between Nelson Cruz, Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays have "running dialogue" and have discussed parameters with free-agent designated hitter Nelson Cruz. Cruz's agent, Bryce Dixon, said Cruz is interested and calls it "a perfect fit." Three to four other teams are also interested in the power-hitting veteran. Cruz will be 39 next July, but he's managed to stay relatively healthy with at least 144 games played in each of the last five seasons as a DH. He's also had at least 37 home runs in each of the last five years, which will continue to make him an attractive power bat for fantasy owners.

Philadelphia Phillies To Meet With Bryce Harper & Manny Machado This Week

The Philadelphia Phillies are expected to meet with the agents for free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper and shortstop Manny Machado at the winter meetings this week, according to general manager Matt Klentak. The Phillies have plenty of money to spend this winter and plan to do so. While it's unlikely that they land both superstars, it's not out of the realm of possibility. Citizens Bank Park would be a great hitting environment for both sluggers and would make them even more attractive fantasy picks in the early rounds.

Boston Red Sox Not Expected To Re-Sign Craig Kimbrel

Boston Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski doesn't expect the team to re-sign closer Craig Kimbrel, as they aren't expected to spend big on a ninth-inning man for 2019. Kimbrel is one of the most dominant closers in the game after posting a 2.74 ERA, 13.9 K/9 and 42 saves in 2018 with the BoSox, and he'll be paid handsomely on the open market. The hard-throwing righty had 108 saves over three years in Beantown. With Kimbrel and Joe Kelly possibly departing in free agency, Boston's bullpen would have a completely new look next year. Whichever reliever they sign in free agency would see a big fantasy boost closing out games for a really good team.

New York Yankees Talking About Scooter Gennett

The New York Yankees have had talks about Cincinnati Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett, according to sources. However, there may not be much to it, although the Yanks are in need of a middle infielder with Didi Gregorius expected to miss at least half of next year after having Tommy John surgery. Gennett has one year left on his current deal, but the Reds seem to be content on holding onto him despite not being willing to extend him to a long-term deal. The left-handed hitter proved in 2018 that his breakout 2017 campaign wasn't a fluke, and he has an impressive 50 home runs in the last two years. Yankee Stadium's short porch in right field would be very inviting for Gennett's power stroke from the left side.

Oakland Athletics Talking To DJ LeMahieu

The Oakland Athletics have shown interest in free-agent second baseman DJ LeMahieu, according to an industry source. The A's have interest in re-signing Jed Lowrie, but his asking price might be too high. LeMahieu is a two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner and is four years younger than Lowrie at 30 years old. Should the A's sign LeMahieu or another right-handed hitting second baseman, they could decide to trade infielder Franklin Barreto for rotation help. LeMahieu sacrificed some average for a career-high 15 home runs with the Rockies in 2018, but a move to a pitching-friendly environment like Oakland would make him less attractive in fantasy for his bat.

Detroit Tigers Sign Tyson Ross

The Detroit Tigers signed free-agent starting pitcher Tyson Ross to a one-year, $5.75 million deal on Monday, according to a source. Ross had a successful year in 2018 after coming off thoracic outlet surgery the year prior, going 8-9 with a 4.15 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 7.3 K/9 in 31 outings (23 starts) between the Padres and Cardinals. He was more useful as a fantasy player in a starting role with the Padres (22 starts) in the first half of the year before being traded to St. Louis, where they mostly used him out of the bullpen. He was useful in the right matchups in a starting role for San Diego, and he should have a decent shot to be in the starting rotation for the rebuilding Tigers. He could be a late-round sleeper in deep mixed leagues next year.

St. Louis Cardinals Pursuing Will Smith

The St. Louis Cardinals have been among the most aggressive suitors in a potential trade for San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Will Smith, according to a source. However, it won't be easy, as the Giants aren't really looking to move him. With the Cardinals expected to move Carlos Martinez back to a rotation post next year, they won't have a clear closing option for 2019, although Jordan HicksBud Norris and Dakota Hudson are options. Smith finished last season as San Fran's ninth-inning stopper and finished with a strong 2.55 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 14 saves and 71 strikeouts in 53 innings.

Yasiel Puig In Play For Cincinnati Reds

The Cincinnati Reds continue to talk to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and outfielder Yasiel Puig is in play in a possible trade, according to sources. The Dodgers would like to clear some salary for some other acquisitions, and Puig is projected to make $11.3 million in arbitration. Starting pitcher Alex Wood is another option, and he is slated to make around $9 million next year. This could finally be the offseason where the Dodgers trade Puig, who is believed to be skeptical of ownership and unhappy with his playing time in 2018. The outspoken and controversial outfielder hit .267/.327/.494 with 23 home runs, 63 RBI, 60 runs and 15 steals last year, but his struggles against left-handed pitching continue to be perplexing. A change of scenery and a full-time role would be much better for his fantasy value and upside in 2019, especially if he were to land in hitter-friendly Cincinnati.

More 2019 MLB Advice and Analysis