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David Schoenfield ESPN Senior Writer 

Mariners manager Scott Servais says he's fully "on board" as the team takes a step backward with this year's offseason moves. He says the strength of the Red Sox, Yankees and Red Sox was a factor in the decision-making process for the organization.

Coley Harvey ESPN Staff Writer 

How does Aaron Boone view the distance between his Yankees and the World Series champion Red Sox? "Obviously they were an unbelievable team this year and roster. But we also understand that although we're very much on level ground, we've obviously got areas that we need to improve to close that gap. We feel like when we're at our best, we're as good as any team there is."

David Schoenfield ESPN Senior Writer 

Peter Alonso hit 36 home runs in the minors for the Mets and Mickey Callaway says the big first baseman has a chance to make the Opening Day roster — suggesting the Mets maybe won't worry about service time: "He's put himself in a position to make the team and maybe hit in the middle of the lineup."

Alden Gonzalez ESPN Staff Writer 

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he is "very hopeful" that Clayton Kershaw can regain some velocity after sitting in the low 90s this past season. Kershaw is determined to this winter.

David Schoenfield ESPN Senior Writer 

Mets manager Mickey Callaway says there won't be anything fancy with the way the team uses Edwin Diaz: "He's our closer. ... It makes the most sense to keep him in that role." Diaz recorded 57 saves for the Mariners but entered before the ninth inning just three times. So expect to see him remain as strictly a one-inning guy.

Coley Harvey ESPN Staff Writer 

Aaron Boone, speaking at the Winter Meetings about Gary Sánchez: "This is going to be a huge year of growth for him. The adversity he went through will help him." Sánchez, who had been rehabbing in Tampa from a recent shoulder surgery, is back training in the Dominican Republic. According to Brian Cashman, the "heavy lifting" portion of his rehab has concluded.

Alden Gonzalez ESPN Staff Writer 

Rockies manager Bud Black was asked if Adam Ottavino would strike out Babe Ruth. "You know, Babe was pretty good down and in," Black said. "That breaking ball coming down and in to him, he might be able to get that at Yankee Stadium — or Coors Field, if Babe played at Coors."

Bradford Doolittle ESPN Staff Writer 

Astros manager A.J. Hinch was asked about ace pitching prospect Forrest Whitley. He answered by pointing out that Whitley was mowing down hitters in his Arizona Fall League debut in October while the Astros were still playing in the postseason. After Whitley's outing, a scout texted Hinch, saying, "I've got your starter for Sunday." Suffice to say, the Astros are excited about Whitley.

Coley Harvey ESPN Staff Writer 

These are the Yankees that Brian Cashman (off the top of his head, so could be others) cited as players who have drawn interest this winter from other clubs: Andújar Sánchez Torres Voit Hicks Ellsbury Betances Holder Green Gray Paxton Gardner Frazier

Coley Harvey ESPN Staff Writer 

Brian Cashman says the Yankees are currently "very engaged" with other teams and agents. But "where this leads? I couldn't tell you." Naturally, isn't discussing the reported pending multi-team trade, but did add he "likes to think we're aggressive and open-minded" to offers sent their way.

David Schoenfield ESPN Senior Writer 

Alex Cora said his plan is to switch Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi in the lineup in 2019, with Benintendi moving to the leadoff spot and Betts batting second. Makes sense. Betts hit .325 and slugged .714 with runners in scoring position, but finished with "just" 80 RBIs since the bottom of the Boston lineup wasn't getting on base. This arrangement should offer him more RBI opportunities.

Bradford Doolittle ESPN Staff Writer 

White Sox manager Rick Renteria was asked what his club's best selling point was in the chase for the winter's top free agents. "The future," he said, which about sums it up.

Coley Harvey ESPN Staff Writer 

When he was Tampa Bay's bench coach, Charlie Montoyo organized and called the Rays' various defensive shifts. He's bringing some of them — and the "opener" — to Toronto. "I've seen it work, so we're going to use all this stuff." We'll see how much. Oh, and as a shift proponent, he's all about keeping the defensive rules the way they are. "They're big-league players. They should make an adjustment; and I think they will."

David Schoenfield ESPN Senior Writer 

A's manager Bob Melvin laughed that he watched a lot more Oklahoma football than he usually does. "We're big Oklahoma fans right now," he said, referring to Heisman-winning quarterback Kyler Murray, Oakland's first-round pick in the 2018 draft. "It's kind of tough watching him scramble around sometimes," he did admit.

Coley Harvey ESPN Staff Writer 

Blue Jays first-year manager Charlie Montoyo on the biggest difference he's had since taking over in Toronto: "I had a lot of friends before. I have even more now." That quip brought a lot of laughter from reporters. One of his newest friends is Jays CF Kevin Pillar, who Montoyo called just after he took the job. Pillar was on his way to Japan at the time. Said Pillar during the brief mid-air phone conversation: "I can't wait to throw champagne on your head."

Coley Harvey ESPN Staff Writer 

Blue Jays first-year manager Charlie Montoyo on the biggest difference he's had since taking over in Toronto: "I had a lot of friends before. I have even more now." That quip brought a lot of laughter from reporters. One of his newest friends is Jays CF Kevin Pillar, who Montoyo called just after he took the job. Pillar was on his way to Japan at the time. Said Pillar during the brief mid-air phone conversation: "I can't wait to throw champagne on your head."

Charles Moynihan ESPN Producer 

Joe Maddon says the "National League Central Division is the best in all of baseball."

Dan Mullen ESPN.com 

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo had some strong praise for his star hitters from this year's team, saying now Cardinal Paul Goldschmidt "will win a World Series" in his career and free agent A.J. Pollock was "the best player in the National League" before he got hurt last year.