- After having one of the worst bullpens in baseball in 2016, the San Francisco Giants main target this offseason was to add a top-notch reliever via trade or free agency. That’s exactly what they did on Monday as the Giants were able to sign right-handed closer Mark Melancon for four-years, $62MM per Buster Olney of ESPN. It represents the largest free-agent deal for a relief pitcher. Melancon was one of the three top relief pitchers on the free agent market along with lefty Aroldis Chapman and righty Kenley Jansen. He began 2016 with the Pittsburgh Pirates but ended up getting traded to the Washington Nationals at the deadline. Throughout the entire season he appeared in 67 games, posted a 1.64 ERA through 71.1 innings of work and notched 47 saves throughout the year. Now that Melancon is no longer on the market, things should heat up quickly for Chapman and Jansen as they are now the top two talented relievers available in free agency.
- The Cleveland Indians are in talks with free agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion on a multi-year deal per Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Talks are reportedly serious but it is far from a given that a deal gets done. The Indians had been searching for a power bat to plug into the designated hitter’s spot with beloved slugger Mike Napoli being a free agent. The Indians had reportedly been in contact with Napoli but recent reports indicated that he was looking for a multi-year deal and the Indians were not on board with that. Should the Indians pull off signing Encarnacion, then they would be sacrificing their first-round draft pick in the 2017 Amateur Draft as he is tied to draft-pick compensation. He would certainly be a huge boost to the Indians lineup and provide plenty of power and production at the cleanup spot.
- The Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to a two-year, $12.5MM deal with utility man Steve Pearce per Olney. Pearce is known for being an excellent hitter against lefties and also offers fielding versatility as he is capable of playing first base, second base, third base, and the corner outfield positions. The signing of Pearce all but ensures Encarnacion will not be returning to the Blue Jays.
- The Nationals and Chicago White Sox are in serious discussions regarding a blockbuster deal around lefty ace Chris Sale per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It has been widely speculated the White Sox are ready to undergo a rebuild and the first to go may be their coveted ace pitcher. The Nationals are trying to take advantage of their window of contention and are willing to part with young talent in order to get Sale. Reports indicate the Nats are willing to trade top prospects Lucas Giolito and Victor Robles in order to land the southpaw.
- Things between the Nats and Pirates have stalled in regards to an Andrew McCutchen blockbuster deal per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Nats found the Pirates asking price of both Robles and Giolito too high as a price to pay for McCutchen. Things could always pick up but it appears the Nats are focusing their efforts right now on a Chris Sale deal.
- The Los Angeles Dodgers have re-signed left-hander Rich Hill to a three-year, $48MM deal per Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports. Hill was acquired in a deadline deal along with Josh Reddick from the Oakland Athletics and provided key innings down the stretch. Despite his age, his effectiveness at throwing quality games made him too valuable of an asset for the Dodgers to risk letting go.
- The Baltimore Orioles are reportedly moving on from re-signing slugger Mark Trumbo per Olney. They offered Trumbo a four-year deal and he reportedly wanted a deal worth $80MM and a no-trade clause. The Orioles are ready to look at other options rather than focus all of their efforts on a deal that seems to have little hope of getting done. Trumbo does have draft-pick compensation attached to him so even if he signs somewhere else, the Orioles will get a draft pick in the compensation round in 2017.
- The Seattle Mariners are taking offers on outfielder Seth Smith per Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Smith would be a nice complimentary left-handed bat for a team seeking a left-handed hitting outfielder but is in the last year of his deal before he becomes a free agent.
- The Texas Rangers are casting a wide net in search of right-handed hitting batters. The club has reached out to Carlos Gomez, Trumbo and also showing some interest in a potential trade with the Chicago Cubs in regards to Jorge Soler per Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports and T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Gomez seems like the best bet for them to get as he did play with the Rangers down the stretch after signing with them when the Houston Astros released him. Trumbo seems like a long shot but a Soler deal could happen as he is about to be the odd man out with Kyle Schwarber recovering from his injuries.
- The Kansas City Royals may be primed to sell off some veteran pieces at the winter meetings. They appear willing to package Wade Davis and Lorenzo Cain in a deal in order to get back some young talent per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The St. Louis Cardinals have reportedly shown interest in a potential deal involving the pair. With the new CBA rules to take effect in 2017, the Royals find themselves with little choice but to consider trading some veterans away in order to gain more value for them now than risk losing them next offseason in free agency.
- The Boston Red Sox have exercised their 2018 option on manager John Farrell per a team announcement. Despite some rocky roads during his tenure, the Red Sox front office clearly believes in Farrell and is putting to bed any potential rumors about him being on the hot seat.
- The New York Yankees remain interested in signing left-handed closer Aroldis Chapman per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. The flame-throwing southpaw is seeking a six-year deal and that may be more than the Yankees are willing to go. Despite being notoriously known for giving out lucrative contracts, the Yankees are attempting to curb their free-spending and take a smarter approach to building a team via both trades and smarter drafting.