MLB Rumour Roundup: Nationals offer Harper ‘much more’ than $300 million

A trip around the majors sees Yusei Kikuchi sign a three-year deal with the Mariners, plus Troy Tulowitzki signs a one-year deal with the Yankees, and power hitting Nelson Cruz settles on a one-year deal with the Twins.

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado appear to have kicked off the year with lofty offers, the New York Yankees will reportedly focus on improving their bullpen and Cleveland Indians aces Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber seem less and less likely to be moved.

With the start of a new calendar year and Spring Training just around the corner, here are some of the latest MLB rumours…

Big offers for Harper

Harper may have rung in the new year as a free agent, but he reportedly has multiple 10-year offers waiting for him.

According to The Athletic’s Jim Bowden, the Washington Nationals have made Harper an offer of “much more” than $300 million, as was first reported in December.

After adding Patrick Corbin, Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes this off-season, the Nationals currently have a projected payroll of nearly $192 million, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. That means that signing Harper would again put the team over the $206-million competitive balance tax threshold, leading to further costs. The Nationals and the Boston Red Sox were the only teams that exceeded the tax in 2018.

From a baseball perspective, bringing back Harper would round out the Nationals’ outfield with Juan Soto and Adam Eaton while prospect Victor Robles would have more time to develop after a solid 2018 season.

White Sox formally offer Machado a deal

The Chicago White Sox have gotten down to business and presented Machado with a formal proposal, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

The White Sox made “a serious offer, likely closer to $200 million than $300 million,” according to Nightengale. ESPN’s Jeff Passan wrote this week that the White Sox are willing to make a decade-long offer, while Bruce Levine of 670 The Score says the team would only go as high as seven years.

Nightengale adds that Chicago hasn’t yet extended a formal offer to Harper, a potential indication that the team’s more focused on Machado at the moment.

The infielder held meetings with the White Sox, Yankees, and Philadelphia Phillies last month, and his market could gain further clarity in the next few weeks. After signing David Robertson on Thursday, the Phillies are expected to turn their attention to Harper and Machado, and could make high bids for both.

Yankees turn to Britton

After losing Robertson to the Phillies, the Yankees may focus on bringing back reliever Zach Britton, according to Fancred’s Jon Heyman.

Britton and his agent, Scott Boras, are looking for a four-year deal, per The Athletic’s Jayson Stark. The 31-year-old left-hander joined New York last July in a trade that saw the Yankees send three prospects back to the Baltimore Orioles. Britton had a 2.88 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 25 relief appearances after joining the Yankees in 2018.

The free agent bullpen market is still developing elsewhere, with names like Adam Ottavino and Craig Kimbrel also in pursuit of deals.

Market for Kluber and Bauer starting to shift

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the Indians aren’t likely to move starters Kluber and Bauer before Opening Day.

The team is reportedly searching for “cheap roster fillers” instead of a blockbuster trade at the moment, especially since the free-agent starter market includes notable names like Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson. Those pitchers might not be as flashy as Kluber or Bauer, but would still be effective without depleting prospect depth.

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