The fairly quiet 2018 winter meetings came to a close Thursday. There were some second-tier free-agent signings (, , ) and trades ( , , ), but that’s about it. No blockbusters at the winter meetings this year.
The winter meetings will unofficially wrapped up following. Everyone headed home after that. There was still a healthy dose of news and rumors throughout the day, of course. Here are all of Thursday’s hot stove rumblings and activity.
Angels targeting Ramos
The Angels need a catcher, and if they have their druthers free-agent Wilson Ramos will be the one who takes the job. According to Jerry Crasnick, Ramos is the Angels top target this winter. It makes sense. Ramos is coming off an All-Star season and figures to be cheaper than Yasmani Grandal due to his injury history. The Dodgers and others have also been linked to Ramos, so the Angels will have to pony up to land their man.
It’s worth noting the Angels added Justin Bour on Wednesday, so it seems like they’re starting to gain some momentum this winter.
Machado willing to play third for right contract?
Although it’s no secret he wants to play shortstop, Manny Machado would be willing to move back to third base for the “right contract,” his longtime friend and coach Bobby Dickerson told Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I think if the contract is right, he would [move to third]. It may have to go an extra $5 million, or more, or whatever to get him out of [shortstop]. But if the contract is right, I think he would go to third,” Dickerson told Lauber.
Machado was drafted as a shortstop and he came up through the minors as a shortstop before moving to third base as a big league rookie. He played some shortstop in previous years, mostly while J.J. Hardy was hurt, before moving back to the position full-time in 2018. The defense numbers say Machado is a good enough defender at short and a fantastic defender at third base. Chances are Machado will go to whichever team offers the most money. If that team wants him to play third, he will.
Phillies after Britton, Miller
The Phillies are “right in the thick of the chase” for free-agent relievers Zach Britton and Andrew Miller, reports Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. The free-agent reliever market is expected to start moving in the coming days and the Phillies, after losing out on starting pitching targets Patrick Corbin and J.A. Happ, seem to be itching to do something to improve their run prevention. Adding a high-end reliever sure would help.
Both Britton, 30, and Miller, 33, are coming off injury-shortened 2018 seasons. Britton’s season started late following offseason Achilles surgery, and he threw 40 2/3 innings with 3.10 ERA and 34 strikeouts. Miller dealt with knee, hamstring, and shoulder trouble that limited him to 34 innings with a 4.24 ERA and 45 strikeouts. Both Britton and Miller finished the season healthy, but you can be sure their medicals will be scrutinized before a team signs them.
Mariners have checked in on Kikuchi
According to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, the Mariners have interest in Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi and they spoke to his representatives earlier this week. “It was just sort of getting the lay of the land and the parameters for how they want to handle the process and making sure we understood the best way moving forward if we wanted to pursue it,” said Mariners assistant GM Justin Hollander to Divish.
Dodgers, Pirates have talked Cervelli
The Dodgers have been in touch with the Pirates about catcher Francisco Cervelli, reports MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. Los Angeles is poised to lose Yasmani Grandal to free agency and they’re looking for a short-term stopgap catcher to pair with Austin Barnes until top catching prospects Will Smith and Keibert Ruiz are deemed ready. They’ve been connected to Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto and Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart this winter in addition to Cervelli.
Cervelli, 32, authored a .259/.378/.431 batting line with 12 home runs and strong defensive numbers in 2018. He is owed $11.5 million next season, the final year on his contract, and the Pirates are said to be open to moving him because they have Elias Diaz ready to step in behind the plate. The 28-year-old Diaz hit .286/.339/.452 with 10 home runs as Cervelli’s backup this past season. Trading Cervelli would give the Pirates some payroll flexibility to do other things.
Orioles have made Cobb available
The Orioles have let teams know veteran right-hander Alex Cobb is available, reports Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. Baltimore is in full blown “tear it down and rebuild” mode right now and Cobb is one of the few veterans still with the team, joining Andrew Cashner, Mychal Givens, and Jonathan Villar. There are three years and $43 million remaining on Cobb’s contract and it’s likely the Orioles will have to eat some of that money to facilitate a trade.
Cobb, 31, joined the O’s late in spring training this year and pitched to a 4.90 ERA with 102 strikeouts in 152 1/3 innings. He was much better in the second half (2.56 ERA) than the first (6.41 ERA) and that could stand out to teams willing to chalk up his slow start to the season to not having a proper spring training. Once the free-agent starting pitching cupboard has been cleaned out, teams could turn to Cobb as an alternative.
Mets sign Familia, Dodgers sign Kelly
. The two free agent righty relievers struck deals late Wednesday night. Familia received a three-year contract worth $30 million while Kelly received three years and $25 million. These two deals could open the free-agent reliever floodgates.