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MLB rumors: Latest free agent buzz on Yankees, Madison Bumgarner, Jose Abreu and more

MLB rumors: Latest free agent buzz on Yankees, Madison Bumgarner, Jose Abreu and more

The MLB offseason is underway, and the rumor mill has been in overdrive since the GM meetings began earlier this week in Arizona.

Some of the top pitchers in the sport, including Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Madison Bumgarner will dominate free agency headlines in the coming weeks. Several good hitters are available, too, setting the stage for what should be an exciting winter of player movement.

And, of course, the trade market is always fun to monitor. 

Here are the latest rumors from the GM meetings in Arizona.

Josh Donaldson, 3B
Donaldson rebounded from a disappointing 2018 to hit 37 home runs with 94 RBI and a .379 on-base percentage over 155 games for the Atlanta Braves in 2019. As you might suspect, he's drawing interest from several teams, per MLB Network's Jon Heyman.

USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale reports the Texas Rangers are in on Donaldson as well.

Madison Bumgarner, SP
Bumgarner should be one of the most sought after starting pitchers on the free-agent market, and one team keeping tabs on the veteran left-hander is the Philadelphia Phillies, per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.

"Yes, the Phils have checked in on Bumgarner, and likely are motivated to keep him away from the Braves, their NL East rivals. The Braves are the team closest to Bumgarner’s hometown of Hickory, N.C., and seem a more natural fit for him than the Phillies."

Bumgarner did his best to help the Giants contend for a postseason berth with a 4-2 record, a 3.75 ERA and 88 strikeouts over 96 innings after the All-Star break. He's no longer a No. 1 ace, but Bumgarner is still a quality pitcher and should be pursued by World Series contenders. His postseason résumé, which includes two championships and 16 total appearances, is really impressive.

The Phillies ranked 11th out of 15 National League teams with a 4.64 starters ERA in 2019, so Bumgarner absolutely would be a quality addition to their rotation in 2020.

New York Yankees
Another team to watch in the Bumgarner sweepstakes is the Yankees. Acquiring another top-of-the-rotation pitcher should be a top priority for Yankees general manager Brian Cashman this offseason, and he recently confirmed the team's interest in Bumgarner to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.

“I will definitely talk to Bumgarner’s agency,” Cashman told the Chronicle.

New York's lack of an ace was a problem in the 2019 playoffs, and the team's 4.51 ERA among starters ranked fourth among the five American League playoff teams during the regular season. The Yankees are interested in Gerrit Cole, too, but as the top free-agent starter on the market, he's going to receive a massive contract. Bumgarner would be a cheaper option for the reigning AL East champs.

Jose Abreu
Abreu is a great option for teams in need of more power in their lineup. He's averaged 29.8 home runs and 101.8 RBI over his six major league seasons, and at 32 years old, the veteran first baseman should still have a few really productive years remaining.

One team to keep in eye on with Abreu is the Miami Marlins, per Heyman.

The Marlins certainly could use another big bat in their lineup. Miami hit the fewest homers (146) of any NL team, in addition to having the third-worst batting average of those 15 clubs.

A Red Sox-Yankees trade? Bloom, Cashman won't rule it out>>>

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Travis Shaw says return to Boston Red Sox 'makes sense on paper'

Travis Shaw says return to Boston Red Sox 'makes sense on paper'

After being non-tendered by the Milwaukee Brewers, could a return to the Boston Red Sox be in order for Travis Shaw?

With Mitch Moreland hitting free agency, the Red Sox should be in the market for a left-handed-hitting first baseman. That makes Shaw an obvious fit, and the 29-year-old agrees a reunion with Boston would make sense.

Shaw discussed the situation with Rob Bradford on WEEI's Bradfo Sho podcast

"I got non-tendered this week. It was kind of a hard decision. The Brewers did offer me but I decided I kind of wanted a fresh start and was willing to risk to see what was out there free agent-wise," Shaw told Bradford. "Just wanted a fresh start after everything that happened last year. Like you said, [signing with the Red Sox] makes sense on paper now we’ll see with who else call or what other teams call. That’s kind of what we’re sorting through now. We’ve had quite a bit of interest so far over this week which is an encouraging sign for me. We’ll just go from there."

Before the 2017 season, the Red Sox traded Shaw to the Brewers in the deal that brought reliever Tyler Thornburg to Boston. In his first two years with Milwaukee, Shaw was an integral part of the offense with 30+ home runs and an OPS well above .800. Last season, however, Shaw missed some time with a wrist injury and saw his production dip significantly.

Assuming Shaw can return to the type of player we saw in '17 and '18, he makes for an intriguing option for Boston in free agency. Along with his potential at the plate, Shaw brings versatility to the table as he can adequately play multiple positions.

Right-handed sluggers Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec currently are the Red Sox' options at first base. Chavis was solid in his 2019 rookie campaign, and Dalbec enters 2020 as one of the organization's top prospects.

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MLB rumors: Winter meetings preview - Five Red Sox moves to watch as offseason begins in earnest

MLB rumors: Winter meetings preview - Five Red Sox moves to watch as offseason begins in earnest

The start of baseball's offseason has included some thank-the-lord movement, with a second-tier starter (Zack Wheeler) landing a $118 million deal from the Phillies and the hyperactive Rays dealing away a stalwart outfielder (Tommy Pham), much to the chagrin of ace Blake Snell.

With baseball's annual winter meetings beginning on Sunday at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, all eyes will be on Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox, who have yet to make a major move, but will soon be on the clock.

So, what can we expect? Here are five areas of focus.

1. IS THERE A MOOKIE BETTS TRADE?

The Red Sox would be crazy not to consider deals for Betts if they believe he intends on reaching free agency, which he has made clear both publicly and privately over the last two years. They'd be crazier to give him away for nothing, however, and thus begins the dance of the offseason. The question they must answer is, "How much is too little?" and then draw a line in the warning-track sand. Potential trade partners like the White Sox and Braves have already spent aggressively, which means a Betts deal likely needs to happen sooner than later, since whomever acquires him must fit $28 million into their 2019 payroll and pretty soon that money will start disappearing. One team to watch: the Dodgers, who have money to spend, prospects to trade, and a World Series hill to climb after three straight near-misses.

2. DEALING DAVID PRICE

Chris Sale just started throwing, per WEEI.com, and his five-year, $145 million extension kicks in on Opening Day. Selling low on the potentially dominant left-hander is a recipe for regret, especially since his contract could end up being pretty reasonable if he returns to health. The better trade candidate is Price, who turns 35 in August and has three years and $96 million remaining on a contract that's more likely to provide diminishing returns, but paradoxically includes fewer short-term questions. We laid out the case for Price being an actual trade asset on Thursday; as free agent pitchers leave the market, someone will be left short, and maybe Price becomes a target.

3. FINDING A STARTER (OR TWO)

Trading Price may ease the financial crunch on a team hoping to drop below the $208 million luxury tax threshold, but it will blow another hole in a rotation that's already down one starter with the presumed departure of free agent Rick Porcello. The Red Sox obviously won't be in on Astros ace Gerrit Cole or Nationals World Series hero Stephen Strasburg. They also can't afford Madison Bumgarner or maybe even old friend Wade Miley. Will they go the opener route? Take a flier on a reclamation project like Felix Hernandez or Michael Wacha? Try to turn center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. into a starter? Here's where Bloom's creativity will be put to the test.

4. SURPRISE US

Until he starts dealing, Bloom remains an enigma. He's beholden to no one on the roster, a position which allowed predecessor Dave Dombrowski to cut ties with Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez while they were still owed money. Could Bloom decide a roster overhaul is in order and use a supposed foundational piece like All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts or outfielder Andrew Benintendi to swing a larger deal? We may start to get some clarity on his thoughts next week.

5. RIGHT SIDE OF THE INFIELD

At this time last year, the Red Sox were foolishly counting on 125 games out of second baseman Dustin Pedroia (he played six) and 162 out of a first base platoon of Mitch Moreland (91) and Steve Pearce (29). While some portion of either job could go to second-year slugger Michael Chavis, the Red Sox will be in the market for help at first and second, and this is a spot where Bloom helped unearth some legit finds in Tampa, from Carlos Pena to Logan Morrison to Ji-Man Choi. There should be no shortage of affordable options at first, in particular, from Justin Smoak to Travis Shaw to C.J. Cron.

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