As we mentioned here yesterday, the Washington Nationals are reportedly interested in free-agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Today, it appears that interest is legitimate, as the Nats have a contract offer on the table for the 30-year-old slugger, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports.
According to Rosenthal, the deal Washington has presented Cespedes with is said to be for less than what the Detroit Tigers gave Justin Upton this week (six years, $132.75 million). While the length of the offer remains unclear, it's likely that Cespedes is at least looking to make more than Upton in terms of monetary value, which means a deal might not be close.
Of course, the obvious question mark regarding Washington's pursuit of Cespedes is where he would play. The team already has National League MVP Bryce Harper in right field, Jayson Werth in left field and a platoon of Ben Revere and Michael A. Taylor in center. Although signing Cespedes and putting him in left would be a clear upgrade, Werth has two years and $42 million remaining on his contract. Not only is it unlikely that the Nats would bench a player making that kind of money, but the value remaining makes Werth nearly impossible to move in a trade (the 36-year-old also has a full no-trade clause). Werth played in only 88 games last season but is expected to enter the 2016 season healthy.
As for playing Cespedes in center, that, too, appears unlikely given his questionable defense at the position. Not to mention, the Nats acquired Revere in part for his left-handed bat balancing their lineup and have high hopes for Taylor, who showed both power and speed in his rookie season last year.
Despite the unclear fit, this is the Nationals we're talking about. Just last year, the team went out and inked Max Scherzer to the largest contract in the franchise's history despite already having five clear starters in its rotation. Washington GM Mike Rizzo covets depth and finds room for talent to create it, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post writes.
In his report, Rosenthal mentions that the Nats made a late run at Upton, which seems to indicate their interest in adding an outfielder is serious. The Chicago White Sox and New York Mets also remain interested in Cespedes, so the market for the slugger could start to move quickly with an offer on the table.
Here are a few other rumors making their way around the league today:
Arizona Diamondbacks: The D-backs are "active in trade talks" to move one of their second basemen, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. Such a move could presumably clear a roster spot for free agent Howie Kendrick, whom Arizona is said to covet. On their 40-man roster, the Diamondbacks have Chris Owings, Aaron Hill and Brandon Drury as potential options to play the position. If the team is pushing to deal any of those players, Hill is likely the preferred option, seeing as he doesn't carry the upside that younger players like Owings and Drury have. Although the D-backs like Kendrick, they remain reluctant to give up a draft pick in order to sign him, sources tell Rosenthal. Also, the team likes what it has in Owings, which means the trade talks could be just to clear roster space for additional depth elsewhere.
Miami Marlins: Despite signing Wei-Yin Chen last week, the Marlins remain interested in adding another veteran starter to their rotation, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports. Among the potential names listed by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald are Tim Lincecum, Doug Fister, Cliff Lee and Alfredo Simon. According to Jackson, Miami is only willing to ink one of those four if they agree to a low-money deal. That said, the likeliest of the bunch to do so would be Simon, given his lack of pedigree compared to the three other names listed. Another potential target could be Kyle Lohse, Heyman mentions in a separate tweet. If the Marlins don't add another pitcher, they're content to enter the season with Edwin Jackson, Adam Conley and others competing for the No. 5 job, Jackson writes.
New York Yankees: In case it wasn't clear by now that the Yankees don't intend to spend big money this offseason, principal owner Hal Steinbrenner confirmed as much on Wednesday. "I'm not comfortable with the payroll being too much higher than it is now," Steinbrenner told Heyman. GM Brian Cashman has said numerous times this winter that New York wouldn't be involved in the bidding for big-name free agents, which has been true so far. However, given Steinbrenner's comment, it'll be interesting to see how active the Yanks can be at this year's trade deadline, seeing as their payroll won't likely decrease before then. In fact, New York's 2016 contracts for arbitration-eligible players Ivan Nova and Aroldis Chapman still remain unresolved, so the team's salary commitments will be even higher than it is now once those deals are taken care of.
Tigers: Even with Upton now in tow, Detroit might not be done yet this winter. "I'd still like to have more depth in pitching," GM Al Avila told reporters, including Jason Beck of MLB.com. "We're adequate right now." The Tigers have overhauled their bullpen this offseason and added Jordan Zimmermann to their rotation, but if any team knows there is no such thing as enough pitching, it's Detroit. If the team does make another signing, don't expect anything major, as the Upton signing has likely already pushed the Tigers over the luxury tax threshold.
Yovani Gallardo: The Baltimore Orioles and Houston Astros are among the teams still looking at Gallardo, Heyman reports. The 29-year-old right-hander is clearly the top remaining starter on the market and is expected to land a multiyear deal. ESPN.com's Jim Bowden sees both the O's and Stros as a good fit for Gallardo, in addition to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Trevor Rosenthal: The St. Louis Cardinals' closer has yet to discuss a multiyear extension with the team, Ben Frederickson and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Disptach report. "As far as contractual, multiyear type things, I guess we haven’t had any talks," Rosenthal said. "I don’t know what they’re thinking, what we’re thinking. I don’t know how any of that looks because I haven’t gone through it." Rosenthal was eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter and received a one-year, $5.6 million contract for 2016 as a result. While locking up the 25-year-old to an extension would seem like a no-brainer, the Cardinals typically avoid long-term deals with relievers, Frederickson and Goold point out.