17 Dec Lazar Cartu Supports: MLB rumors: Nationals remain aggressive on Josh Donaldson; …
Baseball’s Winter Meetings are now well behind us, and. That said, there’s plenty of activity yet to come, and the crop of Monday rumors makes that readily apparent. Now let’s see what’s buzzing as we barrel toward the holidays.
Nationals remain aggressive after Donaldson
The Nationals — after losing Anthony Rendon to free agency — have been heavily connected to free-agent third baseman Josh Donaldson. Rumors about the two sides were swirling again on Monday evening. Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Nats are “heavy” on Donaldson, though the Braves “likely get last call.” The Braves probably aren’t going to outbid the Nationals, knowing the recent history of the two franchises, so it certainly feels like the Nationals are the favorite. Heyman names the Rangers, Dodgers, Twins and Phillies as other teams that have been connected to Donaldson.
Yankees bring back Warren on MiLB deal
The Yankees have agreed to a minor-league deal with veteran pitcher Adam Warren, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Warren, 32, had a 5.34 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 25 strikeouts against 12 walks in 28 2/3 innings last season with the Padres. He was traded in 2018 by the Yankees for international bonus slot money in front of the trade deadline to the Mariners. This marks his third stint in the Bronx. However, as MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand notes, Warren signed a two-year deal with New York. He had Tommy John surgery in September and is unlikely to pitch in 2020.
What’s funny about Warren is all of his success has come with the Yankees. In 246 appearances with the Yankees over parts of seven seasons, he’s got a 3.18 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. In parts of three seasons for the Cubs, Mariners and Padres, he’s got a 5.16 ERA and 1.41 ERA.
The Yankees bullpen right now features Aroldis Chapman at closer with Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle as setup men. Names like Ben Heller, Luis Cessa and Stephen Tarpley fill it out.
Brewers sign Garcia to two-year deal
Garcia, 28, is coming off an uncharacteristically productive season with the Rays. He hit .282/.332/.464, good for a 111 OPS+ that marked the second-highest figure of his career. We ranked him as the 49th-best free agent available entering the winter. Here’s what we said:
Someone is going to find out if Garcia can put together consecutive productive seasons. The answer is probably going to be “nah.” He has impressive physical skills — it’s not baseball season until someone realizes he can run despite his solid build — yet there isn’t much difference between him now and at any point in recent years when he’s been a limited, substandard hitter. Garcia hits the ball hard and will pitch in 15-plus homers, but otherwise he’s at the mercy of his grounders finding holes because he doesn’t walk and won’t add value elsewhere.
The Brewers can certainly use the depth. As it stands, they’re projected to start Ryan Braun at first base, which means some kind of timeshare involving Garcia and Ben Gamel in left field would seem preferable.
Astros re-sign Smith
The Astros have announced that they’ve re-signed reliever Joe Smith to a two-year deal. It’s worth $8 million, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Smith, 35, missed a portion of the 2019 season while recovering from an Achilles injury, but once he returned, he was great. In 25 innings, he pitched to a 1.80 ERA and 0.96 WHIP with 22 strikeouts against five walks. It was good for 0.7 WAR, which is pretty amazing in fewer than 30 innings.
For now, Smith would be in the late-inning mix for the Astros behind closer Roberto Osuna along with the likes of Ryan Pressly and Chris Devenski. Of note, 2019 setup man Will Harris remains a free agent.
Nationals had Bumgarner in sights
Of course, it wasn’t a longstanding Plan B. The Nationals instead re-signed Strasburg to a seven-year pact to kick off last week’s Winter Meetings. The Nationals were unable to keep Anthony Rendon in town, and we’ll find out soon enough if they had Josh Donaldson (or someone else) down as their second choice at third base.
Rangers sign Swihart, more to minors deals
Swihart is the most notable of the bunch. The 27-year-old began his career with the Red Sox but Boston parted ways with him after he struggled to start the 2019 season. Swihart was picked up by the Diamondbacks, but his woes continued. Swihart hit .136/.186/.273 in 31 games with Arizona.