In roughly five weeks pitchers and catchers will report to spring training camps across Arizona and Florida to begin preparing for the 2019 season. Despite that, 22 of our top 50 free agents remain unsigned, including four of the top seven. Eventually one side will blink and we’ll see a rush of signings.

So, with that in mind, we’re going to keep you updated on the day’s hot stove rumblings with this handy roundup post. Make sure you check back for updates throughout the day.

Braves discussing Pollock, others

The Braves are in discussions with A.J. Pollock and other free agent outfielders, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney. Atlanta has an open corner outfield spot, and while Pollock is a natural center fielder, either he or Ender Inciarte could slide over to a corner. Pollock has had some injury problems in recent years and he is 31. Center field is a young man’s position. Charlie Blackmon and Lorenzo Cain were the only 30-somethings to start more than 120 games in center field in 2018.

Pollock authored a .257/.316/.484 batting line with 21 home runs in 113 games for the D-Backs last season. He’s played in only 469 of 810 possible games the last five years due to various injuries. Adding Pollock to Inciarte and Ronald Acuna would give the Braves a monster defensive outfield, and a pretty good offensive outfield as well. Other potential free agent outfield targets could include Curtis Granderson, Adam Jones, and Denard Span. And that Bryce Harper guy too.

Marlins discussing Realmuto with six teams

Now that Yasmani Grandal is off the board, the J.T. Realmuto market is heating up. MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports six teams are “engaged in substantive discussions” with the Marlins about their All-Star catcher. Those six teams: Astros, Braves, Dodgers, Padres, Rays, and Reds. Miami continues to have a high asking price. They want a top prospect and more, and could also seek an experienced catcher to replace Realmuto in return.

The Braves (Tyler Flowers), Padres (Austin Hedges), and Reds (Tucker Barnhart) all have a catcher who could be part of a Realmuto trade package. The Dodgers could include Austin Barnes and the Rays could include Mike Zunino as well, then seek a backup for Realmuto in free agency. Realmuto has made it clear he will not sign with the Marlins long-term. He is under team control through 2020, so the Marlins have time on their side, but the sooner they trade him the more they can expect in return.

Mets reportedly add Lowrie

The New York Mets have reportedly agreed to terms with free-agent infielder Jed Lowrie on a two-year, $20 million contract. Go here read more on Lowrie and his likely role in the crowded Mets’ infield

Nationals sign Dozier

The Nationals continued their active offseason Thursday morning by signing Brian Dozier. The two sides agreed to a one-year contract worth $9 million. Dozier struggled with the Twins and Dodgers last season, hitting .215/.305/.391 with 21 home runs. He is a decent bounceback candidate because he’s not old (31) and because last year’s launch angle and exit velocity numbers were not wildly out of line with his peak years in Minnesota, including his 42-homer season in 2016.

Panik available, 2B market heats up

With Dozier off the board, the second base market is beginning to heat up. Jed Lowrie and DJ LeMahieu are the top free agents, and the Giants have made Joe Panik available, reports ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal mentions the Giants have interest in LeMahieu, which makes sense when combined with Panik’s availability. San Francisco could sign LeMahieu then flip Panik for prospects or another big league piece.

Panik, 28, has played in only 467 of 648 possible games the last four seasons due to various injuries. He authored a weak .254/.307/.332 batting line in 2018, though he is only a year removed from a league average .288/.347/.421 batting line. Panik is a solid defender who is under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2020. At his age, clubs could view the lefty swinger as a potential bounceback candidate. The Angels, Brewers, Dodgers, and Rockies stand out as teams that could import a second baseman.

Mets looking to add lefty reliever

According to SNY’s Andy Martino, the Mets are looking to add a left-handed reliever, though it does not appear they have a clear preference at this point. The club’s bullpen is very right-handed at the moment, with converted starters Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman joining Jeurys Familia and Edwin Diaz at the back end. Rookie Daniel Zamora is New York’s top in-house lefty relief option. He struck out 16 in nine innings as a late-season call-up in 2018.

Among the free agent lefty relievers on the market are Jake Diekman, Tony Sipp, Justin Wilson, and former Met Jerry Blevins. The Mets have been very busy this offseason but they are reportedly running out of money — or, more accurately, the Wilpons refuse to spend more money, as has been their M.O. the last few years — so any lefty reliever figures to come on the cheap. A low-cost one-year contract or even a minor league deal. Something like that.

Mariners add two infielders, want a reliever

The Mariners started a rebuild this offseason, but they also signed 27-year-old Yusei Kikuchi, and now they’ve added some infield depth. According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale and Fancred’s Jon Heyman, Seattle has signed infielders Tim Beckham and Dustin Ackley. Beckham gets a one-year deal worth $1.75 million. Ackley received a minor league deal.

The team isn’t done either. GM Jerry Dipoto told MLB.com’s Greg Johns he’s not done adding. Specifically, Dipoto wants to bring in a reliever. Here’s what Dipoto told Johns:

“We’re still very active, at least in our conversations, in the free-agent market,” Dipoto said. “We will sign somebody. We’re likely to sign both Major and Minor League contracts. I’d be shocked if we don’t sign at least one Major League reliever.”  

Seven of Seattle’s top nine relievers in innings pitched from last season are no longer with the organization, so it makes sense that Dipoto will add bullpen depth. Signing low cost free agent relievers to short-term contracts is a common move for rebuilding teams. They sign them, hope they perform well, then flip them for a prospect(s) at the trade deadline. The Mariners figure to do something similar.

Veteran lefty Garcia retires

Veteran left-hander Jaime Garcia has retired, reports MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. Garcia split the 2018 season between the Blue Jays and Cubs, throwing 82 innings with a 5.82 ERA in 14 starts and 19 relief appearances. His retires with a career 70-62 record and a 3.85 ERA in parts of 10 MLB seasons, and won a World Series ring with the 2011 Cardinals.

Garcia, 32, played most of his career with St. Louis and overcame several serious injuries to revive his career. He had Tommy John surgery, shoulder surgery, and thoracic outlet syndrome, a combination that is a career-killer for most. Garcia was able to return to the mound a few years ago and carve out a nice second phase of his career. Garcia is 14th all-time in career WAR among Mexican-born pitchers.


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