So far, the 2020 MLB off-season has lived up to every expectation.
With a whirlwind of moves in the San Diego winter meetings, many of the top-free agent names have now found new homes. Notably, Gerrit Cole snubbed his home SoCal teams and chose the New York Yankees. The Los Angeles Angels, on the other hand, recovered fast from missing out on the Cy Young runner-up, signing World Series Champion Anthony Rendon shortly after.
But there are still plenty of names and rumours running around MLB. Star pitchers Hyun-Jin Ryu and Madison Bumgarner, for instance, remain unsigned. On the trade front, names like Yu Darvish have also been heavily mentioned.
Here is a roundup of the latest and most notable rumours in the MLB off-season.
Dodgers-Bumgarner courtship intensifies
What started out as a “will they, won’t they” now looks closer and closer to a signing.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Bumgarner have “mutual interest” in a deal, according to NBC Sports’ Alex Pavlovic. The team reportedly met with the left-hander’s representatives during the winter meetings in San Diego.
The San Francisco Giants, Bumgarner’s home for the past 11 seasons, have been active in the off-season, pulling ingenious trades and adding to their rotation, and president Farhan Zaidi would most likely strive to work toward re-signing his ace as the team tries to make it back to the post-season for the first time since 2016.
After striking out on Cole and Rendon and still at risk of losing Cy Young nominee Hyun-Jin Ryu in free agency, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Los Angeles make an aggressive push towards acquiring Bumgarner, but according to Pavlovic it’s unclear whether the Dodgers or the Giants would be willing to meet Bumgarner’s salary expectations.
The 30-year-old is a three-time World Series champion, former World Series and NLCS MVP, a two-time Silver Slugger and four-time all-star.
The Castellanos sweepstakes
The Giants’ off-season mission doesn’t stop at Bumgarner.
Nicholas Castellanos may just be one of the most interesting names in free agency in terms of value, and according to NBC Sports’ Tim Stebbins, San Francisco has recently surged as a top bidder for the former Detroit Tigers slugger.
While Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reported on Thursday that the Toronto Blue Jays are among the clubs that have checked in on Castellanos, that list also includes the Giants, Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds.
Castellanos is a reliable outfielder with tremendous upside on his bat, so it’s no surprise that several teams have shown interest in the 27-year-old. He finished last season with the Chicago Cubs after a trade-deadline deal.
Cardinals show interest in Ryu
After an aggressive move in last year’s off-season to acquire Paul Goldschmidt from the Arizona Diamondbacks, the St. Louis Cardinals might be ready to make waves again.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Cardinals are “showing interest” in left-handed free agent Ryu.
The Cy Young nominee would join a rotation with Jack Flaherty and Adam Wainwright, immediately lifting St. Louis as one of the top teams in the NL.
Pursuing Ryu would especially make sense for the Cardinals since they lost starter Michael Wacha to the New York Mets. And St. Louis might stand a real chance if the rumours about Bumgarner and the Dodgers turn out to be solid.
Darvish wants to stay put
It took a while for the Cubs and right-handed starter Darvish to find their footing, but, after injury drama and multiple trade rumours, they finally seem to be on the same page.
And though the Cubs have reportedly received several inquiries about the Japanese starter during the winter meetings, he doesn’t seem willing to waive his no-trade clause.
Following a rocky start that included a 4.95 ERA in 40 innings in 2018 and a lingering arm injury, Darvish returned to form last season, showing flashes of the pitcher he was when he made the World Series with the Dodgers in 2017.
In the second half of the 2019 regular season, the 33-year-old had a 2.76 ERA with 118 strikeouts and seven (!) walks over 81.2 innings. Darvish, who reportedly loves playing in Chicago, has recently opted into the final four years of his six-year contract.