Could there be a future home for Yoenis Cespedes in the nation’s capital?
The market for elite free-agent outfielders stalled after Jason Heyward agreed to an eight-year, $184 million deal with the Cubs a few weeks ago, but that may be changing. ESPN's Jim Bowden hears the market has picked up for Cespedes, who reportedly is seeking a six-year deal in the $150 million range.
But the offseason is past the halfway mark, and executives will soon be looking for prices to drop. That brings us to the Nationals, who made a serious play for Heyward earlier this month. “Why couldn’t they do the same with Cespedes and try to unseat the Mets in the NL East by adopting their postseason Nos. 3-4 hitters – Daniel Murphy and Cespedes?” writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. “There is pressure to flush 2015 from the memory bank.”
Recent history suggests the Nationals are not afraid to make a bold move late in the offseason. They signed Max Scherzer to a $210 million deal last January and remain a team that is built to win now.
The Nats, however, have yet to be linked as a serious suitor for Cespedes. In fact, the Orioles and White Sox have emerged as the favorites to sign the Cuban outfielder, while the Angels, Giants and Rangers are monitoring the situation, reports MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez.
The timing of any deal for Cespedes or Justin Upton also could hinge on what happens in Baltimore. Bowden hears the agents for both players “are still dragging out the process” because the Orioles are a likely landing spot for one of the two outfielders if Chris Davis signs elsewhere. Meanwhile, Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun reports the Orioles have budgeted a big deal only for Davis. If Davis fails to sign, the Orioles would not necessarily spend it on someone like Cespedes.
Our rumors roundup continues with more buzz coming out of the Beltway:
Danny Espinosa: The Nationals added yet another client of Scott Boras on Tuesday night, agreeing to a one-year deal with Stephen Drew. The deal likely means that shortstop prospect Trea Turner will begin next season in the minors, reports James Wagner of the Washington Post. Espinosa is the logical choice to be the Opening Day shortstop with Murphy taking over at second base.
Alex Gordon: The free-agent outfielder told the Lincoln Journal Star there is no truth to a recent CBSSports.com report that the Kansas City Royals have “no chance” to re-sign him. The 31-year-old Gordon is reportedly seeking a four-year deal worth about $20 million per season, and it's unclear if the Royals would go that high.
Brandon Phillips: Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks talked to the Reds about a deal for Phillips that would have sent Aaron Hill to Cincinnati. That proposal might have been appealing to the Reds since Hill’s contract is up after 2016 while Phillips will earn another $14 million in 2017. Piecoro, however, hears the D-backs were uncomfortable taking on the additional salary for 2017. ESPN's Buster Olney says it might make sense for the Reds to revisit those conversations. Phillips invoked his no-trade clause to prevent a trade that would have sent him to Washington, so there is no guarantee he would have been open to a deal with Arizona.
Denard Span: Agent Scott Boras told MLB Network Radio that he expects to have a deal for the outfielder done in the "near future." Span posted a slash line of .301/.365/.431 in an injury-plagued 2015 season. The Mets have been considered a prime candidate for Span but likely dropped out after signing free agent Alejandro De Aza.
Alexei Ramirez: The White Sox have not closed the door on bringing back the free-agent shortstop, reports Bruce Levine. While the White Sox have added infielders Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie this offseason, their starting shortstop at this point is second-year pro Tyler Saladino.
Aroldis Chapman: The Miami Marlins also tried to acquire the hard-throwing reliever, but the Reds preferred the Yankees’ offer, tweeted Ken Rosenthal. The Yankees did not surrender any elite prospects in the deal for Chapman, so it's unlikely that the Marlins offered any top minor leaguers as well.