MLB Rumour Roundup: Yankees doing ‘extensive’ work on Manny Machado

Sportsnet Blue Jays insider Ben Nicholson-Smith joined Jeff Blair in studio to discuss where free agents Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson might end up.

With the GM meetings in the rear-view, the countdown to Dec. 10 and the beginning of the Winter Meetings is on in the baseball world.

There’s sure to be plenty more buzz in the leadup to the festivities in Las Vegas three weeks from now, but in the meantime here’s some of the latest hot stove news…

Yankees taking a good, hard look at Machado

The New York Yankees are doing “particularly extensive” background work on free agent slugger Manny Machado, The Athletic’s Jayson Stark is reporting.

All teams do their homework on just about every available player, but the Yankees are going the extra mile and really narrowing in on the 26-year-old four-time all-star, with The Athletic reporting that New York manager Aaron Boone and other front-office staff are “among those calling around about Machado.”

Machado, though certainly among the top free agents this winter, may have seen his value sink a bit after deciding not to run out some ground balls during the 2018 playoffs and later admitting that he’s not “Johnny Hustle.”

That the Yankees appeared to be showing particular interest in Machado isn’t all too surprising seeing as they have a history of pursuing the biggest names in free agency. Machado hit .297/.367/.538 with 37 home runs and 107 RBI in 709 plate appearances split between the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers last season.

Astros in on Paxton

The Houston Astros are among the teams speaking to the Seattle Mariners about a potential trade for left-handed pitcher James Paxton, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports.

Houston needs starting pitching because Lance McCullers Jr. may miss all of 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton are now free agents.

The Mariners have already said they could trade some established players this off-season and Paxton would be among their best assets as the 30-year-old B.C. native won’t be a free agent until after the 2020 season and just struck out a career-best 11.7 batters per nine innings.

All of that equates to a hefty price tag for Paxton that will almost assuredly mean prospect capital. Houston does boast two of baseball’s top prospects in Kyle Tucker (No. 5) and Yordan Alvarez (No. 42) plus a system that recently ranked ninth in baseball, according to FanGraphs. In that sense, they’re better-positioned than most teams to land a top arm like Paxton.

Brantley’s time in Cleveland over?

Free agent outfielder Michael Brantley’s time in Cleveland is over, it would appear.

As The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto reports, “there is nearly a zero chance Michael Brantley will return to the Tribe.”

A three-time all-star, Brantley has spent his entire 10-year big-league career in Cleveland. Last season, the 31-year-old hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs and 76 RBI in 631 plate appearances after battling shoulder problems the previous two years.

Among teams reported to be interested in Brantley, the Atlanta Braves have him among their top free-agent targets, according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman.

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