MLB Rumor Central: Who will be the Nats' closer?

February, 20, 2017
Feb 20
2:55
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Shawn KelleyGary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY SportsVeteran Shawn Kelley is one of three pitchers in the running for the Nationals' closer vacancy.

The Washington Nationals failed to land a high-profile closer during the offseason and are now considering their internal options.

In an appearance on Jim Bowden's Sirius XM radio show, GM Mike Rizzo said the Nats haven't had trade talks for a closer in "quite some time" and believe they can have someone emerge in spring training.

Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen and Koda Glover are all options to be Washington's ninth-inning man, according to Rizzo.

An eight-year veteran, Kelley has 11 career saves, seven of which came last season. The 32-year-old posted a 2.64 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 2016, striking out a career-high 80 batters over 58 innings while recording 14 holds.

Treinen, 28, recorded the first save of his career in 2016. He finished last season with a 2.28 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 22 holds.

Glover recorded a 5.03 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 19 appearances in the majors last year.

-- Alex Tekip

MLB Rumor Central: Giants to open with five outfielders?

February, 20, 2017
Feb 20
2:40
PM ET

Denard SpanJohn Hefti-USA TODAY SportsThe San Francisco Giants will likely deviate from their usual strategy and carry five outfielders to start the season.

With aging outfielders like Denard Span and Hunter Pence to account for, it appears San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy will be taking a different approach with his roster this year.

According to Chris Haft of MLB.com, Bochy told reporters on Sunday that he is "leaning toward" starting the season with five outfielders instead of adding extra pitchers like he's done in the past.

Though Span, 32, and Pence, 33, each played more than 100 games last season, both have dealt with injuries and have missed significant time over the past two seasons.

In 106 games last season, Pence batted .289 with 13 home runs and 57 RBIs. In 146 games, Span hit .266 with 11 home runs and 53 RBIs.

Mac Williamson, Jarrett Parker and Gorkys Hernandez are among the top options to fill out the outfield rotation.

--Isaac Chipps

MLB Rumor Central: Eric Hosmer, Royals discussing extension?

February, 20, 2017
Feb 20
2:25
PM ET

Eric Christian Smith/Getty Images Eric Hosmer has spent his entire career with the Kansas City Royals.

Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer says that he, his agent, Scott Boras, and the team are discussing an extension, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports.

According to Rosenthal, Hosmer indicated that he'll test the free-agent market if a deal with the Royals isn't in place by Opening Day.

“I don’t know if it’s going to heat up now in spring training,” Hosmer said. “But during the season, I don’t like being bothered with that stuff. If something doesn’t happen here, I don’t see anything during the season really happening.”

The 27-year-old is one of four key Royals set to reach free agency at the end of the 2017 season. The others are third baseman Mike Moustakas, outfielder Lorenzo Cain and shortstop Alcides Escobar. Moustakas and Cain aren't in extension talks at the moment, and Escobar isn't a high priority, Rosenthal writes.

Rosenthal reports that the Royals are anticipating Hosmer to aim for a 10-year-deal, "knowing that a number of high-revenue clubs ... could seek a first baseman next offseason." He mentions the Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies as examples.

Picked third overall in the 2008 draft, Hosmer has spent his entire career with the Royals, slashing .277/.335/.428 with 102 home runs and 472 RBIs in six major league seasons. The three-time Gold Glove-winner was named an All-Star last season and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2011.

-- Alex Tekip

MLB Rumor Central: Will Mets, Neil Walker reach extension?

February, 20, 2017
Feb 20
2:12
PM ET

Neil WalkerJim McIsaac/Getty ImagesNeil Walker and the Mets have yet to come to an agreement on a contract extension.

As the New York Mets come together for the first week of spring training, an important question continues to loom over the team's middle infield -- will second baseman Neil Walker agree to a contract extension?

According to Ed Coleman of CBS New York, "Walker [is] getting close to agreement on an extension [two years, plus an option]."

However, Newsday's Marc Carig reports that the negotiations have stalled, and the sides "are no closer to hammering out a contract extension."

"Sources said contract talks have hit a snag," Carig added. "While it’s still possible negotiations could heat up once more, a new deal as of Monday morning is not imminent."

Walker, who accepted a one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer from the Mets in November, told MLB.com's Anthony DiComo last week that "there's potential for a long-term deal" to stay with the team.

Last season, the 31-year-old batted .282 with 23 home runs and 55 RBIs in 113 games.

-- Isaac Chipps

MLB Rumor Central: Could Luke Hochevar re-sign with the Royals?

February, 17, 2017
Feb 17
12:40
PM ET

Luke HochevarEd Zurga/Getty ImagesLuke Hochevar did not allow run in nine appearances during the 2015 postseason.

Luke Hochevar is still looking for work after the Kansas City Royals declined to pick up his $7-million option last November. A return to Kansas City is not out of the question, but it would take the right circumstances, suggests Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star.

The 33-year-old Hochevar continues to work his way back from thoracic outlet syndrome that cut short his season in August.

“The Royals’ front office and coaching staff have a terrific relationship with Hochevar, and that’s not going to change,” Dodd writes. “A possible reunion would probably hinge on his health — and the organization’s needs later this summer.”

Hochevar, taken by the Royals with the first overall pick in the 2006 draft, had a 3.86 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 40 games last season. He missed all of 2014 following Tommy John surgery.

Given his injury history, any team looking at Hochevar right now will likely be offering only a minor league deal, Dodd writes.

-- Doug Mittler

MLB Rumor Central: Rangers to pass on Edwin Jackson?

February, 17, 2017
Feb 17
10:40
AM ET

Edwin JacksonJake Roth-USA TODAY SportsEdwin Jackson posted a 5.89 ERA for the Marlins and Padres last season.

Veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson has pitched for 11 teams, but the Texas Rangers apparently won’t make it an even dozen.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets the Rangers “do not have further interest” after watching Jackson throw a bullpen session on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old Jackson has limited leverage following a 2016 season in which he compiled a 5.89 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP in a combined 21 appearances for the Marlins and Padres.

The Toronto Blue Jays reportedly were interested in Jackson, but that option is likely off the table following the signing of Mat Latos on Thursday.

Jackson is best known for an eight-walk, 149-pitch no-hitter he threw for the Diamondbacks against the Rays in 2010.

-- Doug Mittler

MLB Rumor Central: Rays interested in Brian Wilson?

February, 17, 2017
Feb 17
10:20
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Brian WilsonRichard Mackson/USA TODAY SportsBrian Wilson, who has 172 career saves, last pitched in 2014 with the Dodgers.

The Tampa Bay Rays might be willing to take a chance on veteran reliever Brian Wilson, who has not pitched professionally since 2014 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Wilson is attempting to resurrect his career as a knuckleballer and the Rays are interested, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays traditionally are interested in low-cost options, and that would be the case with Wilson, who will be 35 next month and has undergone two Tommy John surgeries. Wilson is a three-time All-Star who saved 163 games for the San Francisco Giants between 2008-11.

Wilson, who no longer wears his trademark beard, is expected to make a transition to a starting pitcher in his comeback attempt, reports Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports.

-- Doug Mittler

MLB Rumor Central: Rays make offer to Matt Wieters

February, 16, 2017
Feb 16
1:15
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Matt WietersMitchell Layton/Getty ImagesMatt Wieters has yet to find a suitor in free agency.

Despite signing Wilson Ramos to a two-year deal back in December, the Tampa Bay Rays appear to have serious interest in another free-agent catcher.

The Rays have made an offer to Matt Wieters, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Topkin notes that the offer is likely for one year and less than the kind of money Wieters' agent, Scott Boras, is seeking for his client.

Wieters' market has been surprisingly cold this offseason. The 30-year-old was expected by many to land a multiyear deal, but might now have to settle for a one-year pact with spring training already underway.

Wieters is a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, but his production slipped to .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBIs in 124 games with the Baltimore Orioles last season.

With Ramos starting the year on the disabled list as he recovers after ACL surgery, the Rays are entering the season with Luke Maile and Curt Casali as their top options at the position.

Another name on Tampa Bay's radar, according to Topkin, is Brian Wilson -- the former San Francisco Giants closer who is attempting to comeback as a knuckleballer. Topkin notes that the Rays would only be interested in Wilson on a minor league contract.

-- Kyle Brasseur

MLB Rumor Central: Angels to pass on Matt Wieters?

February, 16, 2017
Feb 16
10:15
AM ET

Baltimore's Matt WietersNick Wass/APMatt Wieters posted a modest .243/.302/.409 slash line for the Orioles last season.

The Los Angeles Angels have not decided on a starting catcher, but they apparently will not pursue free agent Matt Wieters.

Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports the Angels "have not had any serious talks" about signing Wieters and are unlikely to be in the mix even as the asking price presumably declines.

Martin Maldonado and Carlos Perez are the two catchers expected to be on the Halos' 25-man roster. Manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday he has made no decision on who will get the bulk of the playing time.

Wieters is a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, but his production slipped to .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBIs in 124 games with the Orioles last season.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported Wednesday the Nationals are still interested in Wieters, but are unlikely to go beyond a one-year deal.

- Doug Mittler

MLB Rumor Central: No extension talks with young Mets starters?

February, 16, 2017
Feb 16
9:30
AM ET

Matt HarveyAP Photo/Kathy WillensMatt Harvey is among the Mets' starters who dealt with injury issues in 2016.

The New York Mets do not appear to be in a rush to seek contract extensions with any of their young starting pitchers.

Marc Carig of Newsday reports the Mets "likely wouldn’t hold discussions" during spring training with their talented crop of starters that includes Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.

Harvey is eligible for free agency after the 2018 season, and the others are under club control for at least three more years. All but Syndergaard are coming off surgery, giving the Mets an incentive to proceed with caution.

This month, young right-hander Carlos Martinez agreed to a five-year, $51 million extension with the Cardinals even though he was three years away from free agency. That deal reportedly did not prompt any of the Mets to seek a similar form of financial security. "None of the Mets' core starting pitchers have given any indication of starting a dialogue. Of course, the Mets aren’t particularly motivated to act, either," Carig writes.

This winter, ESPN’s Buster Olney ranked the Mets third on his list of the top 10 rotations in baseball.

Though the long-term status of the pitching staff remains in question, second baseman Neil Walker said Wednesday there was "potential" for a long-term deal.

- Doug Mittler

MLB Rumor Central: Blue Jays in talks with Mat Latos?

February, 16, 2017
Feb 16
9:23
AM ET

Mat LatosRon Vesely/MLB Photos/Getty ImagesMat Latos had a 4.62 ERA in 11 starts for the White Sox last season before being released.

UPDATE: A deal between the Blue Jays and Latos should be finalized Thursday, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports.

Looking to add pitching depth, the Toronto Blue Jays are "far along" in talks with free-agent right-hander Mat Latos, but there is "no guarantee" a deal will be completed, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca.

The 29-year-old Latos compiled a 7-3 record with a 4.89 ERA and an unsightly 1.486 WHIP for the White Sox and Nationals last season. Latos has pitched for five different teams, and compiled a career-best 2.92 ERA in 31 starts for the Padres in 2010.

There is no immediate opening in a Toronto rotation that includes Aaron Sanchez, J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada, Marcus Stroman and Francisco Liriano. The Jays likely are looking for rotation insurance and also could consider Latos for a bullpen role.

-- Doug Mittler

MLB Rumor Central: Nats still interested in Matt Wieters?

February, 15, 2017
Feb 15
7:07
PM ET

Matt WietersMitchell Layton/Getty ImagesMatt Wieters has yet to find a suitor in free agency.

The Washington Nationals are still interested in free-agent catcher Matt Wieters, but don't expect them to offer the Scott Boras client a multiyear contract.

According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, "a source who spoke with the Nationals was told they've maintained interested in Matt Wieters, but doubtful they'd go beyond a one-year deal."

The Nats acquired Derek Norris from the San Diego Padres in December, one week before former Washington catcher Wilson Ramos signed a free-agent deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. Following the trade for Norris, there were conflicting reports about the Nats' interest in Wieters, an eight-year veteran who turns 31 in May.

A four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, Wieters hit .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBIs in 124 games with the Baltimore Orioles last season. By comparison, Norris hit .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs in 125 games for the Pads.

The Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers have also expressed varying degrees of interest in Wieters.

-- Alex Tekip

Neil WalkerCharles LeClaire/USA TODAY SportsNeil Walker hit 23 homers in 2016, his first season with the New York Mets.

Second baseman Neil Walker isn't ruling out the possibility of staying with the New York Mets beyond his current contract.

The 31-year-old told MLB.com's Anthony DiComo that "there's potential for a long-term deal" to remain in Queens. Walker accepted a one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer from the Mets in November.

Walker, who spent the first seven years of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, was traded to the Mets in exchange for left-hander Jonathon Niese (who was eventually dealt back to New York at the trade deadline) in December 2015. He slashed .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBIs in 113 games during his inaugural season in New York.

--Alex Tekip

MLB Rumor Central: Athletics won't have a set closer?

February, 15, 2017
Feb 15
3:34
PM ET

Ryan MadsonJason O. Watson/Getty ImagesRyan Madson recorded 30 saves in 37 chances as the A's primary closer in 2016.

The Oakland Athletics' closer job might rest in the hands of multiple players this season.

"We might not have one particular closer," manager Bob Melvin said Wednesday, according to MLB.com's Jane Lee.

The A's had five different relievers collect saves last season: Ryan Madson, Ryan Dull, Sean Doolittle, John Axford and Zach Neal. Also in the mix this year is Santiago Casilla, who logged time as the San Francisco Giants' closer in four of his last five seasons.

Madson served as Oakland's primary closer in 2016, appearing in 63 games. The 36 year old was 30-for-37 in save opportunities and finished the year with a 3.62 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.

-- Alex Tekip

MLB Rumor Central: Rangers to let Yu Darvish test free agency?

February, 15, 2017
Feb 15
12:18
PM ET

Yu DarvishTim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsYu Darvish has spent his entire major league career with the Rangers.

The Texas Rangers enter the 2017 season with one of the best 1-2 punches in the American League behind staff aces Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish. But how long will that last?

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes that the early indicators suggest this could be Darvish's last year in Texas, and he'll hit the open market next offseason.

"Darvish will be a free agent after the season," Grant writes. "Though he's amenable to discussing a contract, there has been little in the way of actual conversation with the front office this winter."

The 30-year-old Japanese right-hander is set to make $11 million this year. If the Rangers let him walk to free agency, he'll probably be the top arm available, which could lead to a long-term deal elsewhere.

Darvish comes with injury history on his résumé. He missed all of 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery. He made his 2016 debut in late May and went 7-5 with a 3.41 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 17 starts.

He lost his only Division Series start in the postseason, getting rocked for five earned runs (including four homers) in Game 2 of a three-game Toronto Blue Jays sweep.

A three-time All-Star, Darvish is 46-30 with a 3.29 ERA in 100 career starts for the Rangers.

-- Brendan C. Hall

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