Thursday's MLB hot stove trade and free-agency buzz

The Major League Baseball hot stove season is going strong, and speculation is heating up across baseball. Here is what our writers are hearing today:

Complete hot stove coverage

MLB Free-Agent Tracker | Rumors

Rubin's take: Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes helped the New York Mets reach the World Series in 2015, but it remains unlikely that the Mets will re-sign the slugger. The Mets have maintained dialogue with Cespedes' representatives in case he is interested in a short-term deal. However, it is widely expected that Cespedes will receive a deal elsewhere for a longer duration or for a higher average annual value.

The Mets have signed free agent Alejandro De Aza to complement Juan Lagares in center field. Michael Conforto, who rarely faced left-handed pitching after reaching the majors last season, now is expected to become a full-time starter in left field. Curtis Granderson will continue to regularly man right field.

The Mets still are searching for a backup, righty-hitting outfielder to offset the retirement of Michael Cuddyer.

Crasnick's take: Brandon Phillips is most likely staying put after invoking his 10/5 service time rights to help scuttle a trade to the Nationals. But sources say the Reds are still listening on Jay Bruce.

"We are still evaluating options," general manager Dick Williams said in an email. "We do not consider our offseason to be finished. Deciding to focus on the long-term means you have to constantly evaluate opportunities. Trading Frazier and Chapman certainly begins to move us in the direction we need to go, as a small market team. Once you start down this road, it is important to continue with the tough decisions and not pull up in the middle of the project. That being said, we cannot force deals, so I cannot guarantee we will do more."

Three potential impediments to a Bruce trade: 1) He's coming off two straight subpar years, so his value isn't exactly high right now; 2) he can block trades to eight clubs; and 3) Colorado has a surplus of lefty-hitting outfielders and might be poised to trade one of them, so teams with an interest in that commodity have another place to turn beyond Cincinnati.