The Arizona Diamondbacks have effectively proclaimed themselves as serious contenders in the National League West, so how will their chief rivals respond to the acquisitions of Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller?
Arizona spiced up the winter meetings Tuesday night when they sent a three-player package highlighted by shortstop prospect Dansby Swanson, the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft draft, to Atlanta in exchange for Miller, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark. The Braves also will receive outfielder Ender Inciarte and pitching prospect Aaron Blair, while the Diamondbacks will also receive a minor-league player.
As for the challenge up north in San Francisco, the Giants already have signed starter Jeff Samardzija, and “their quest for another starter and outfielder continues,” reports John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Diamondbacks were interested right-hander Mike Leake, but that ship has now sailed after Arizona pulled off the Miller deal. That could be good news for the Giants, who remain interested in re-signing Leake.
Meanwhile, the ripple affect of the Miller deal will be felt all the way across the country in Miami, where the Marlins are believed to be at least considering a deal for ace right-hander Jose Fernandez.
Miller and Fernandez are both first-time arbitration-eligible pitchers three years from free agency. “That deal theoretically presents a reasonable starting point for what a Fernandez trade might look like. However, sources say that the package the D-backs gave up for Miller wouldn't be nearly enough to land Fernandez,” writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro.
A prime suitor for Fernandez could be the NL West champion Dodgers, who are desperate to replace Greinke in their rotation and reportedly have agreed to a deal with Hisashi Iwakuma. MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick says the Dodgers continue to be “aggressive pursuers” of Fernandez and have thoroughly scouted right-hander Kenta Maeda, who was posted by his Japanese club on Tuesday. Any deal for Fernandez would presumably include top pitching prospect Julio Urias.
While the Dodgers and Giants prepare their response, here are more rumors floating around Nashville:
Andrew Miller: The Houston Astros are actively pursuing a closer and a solid option would be Miller, who has three years and $27 million left on a team-friendly deal. George King of the New York Post reports the Yankees are interested in Astros right-hander Vincent Velasquez, but a straight deal for a pitcher with just 19 games of big league experience would be risky. King adds the Yankees could be planning to acquire Velasquez and deal him to the Marlins for outfielder Marcell Ozuna.
Daniel Murphy: The New York Mets put a lot of time and effort into pursuing Ben Zobrist, who agreed to a deal with the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. The Mets have not ruled out bringing back Murphy as their second baseman, but only on a one or two-year deal, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post. That appears unlikely since Murphy is seeking a four-year contract. Puma says the Mets are “lukewarm” on free-agent options Howie Kendrick and Asdrubal Cabrera.
Jimmy Rollins: The Washington Nationals have not made contact with the veteran free-agent shortstop, who some view as a possible stopgap option until Trea Turner is ready, reports the Washington Post. GM Mike Rizzo has not ruled out playing Turner every day in 2016.
Javier Baez: The acquisition of Zobrist could make the 23-year-old Baez expendable, suggests ESPN.com’s Jonah Keri. Baez, who spent most of last season in the minors, has been linked to several teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays, although those talks seem to have cooled. Chicago is still looking for a center fielder to fill the void left by free agent Dexter Fowler.
Brett Lawrie: As of late Tuesday night, the Athletics were close to moving Lawrie to the White Sox for two minor leaguers, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Lawrie has been deemed expendable following Oakland’s acquisition of Jed Lowrie from the Astros.
Doug Fister: The Phillies are looking at the free-agent right-hander as a “buy low candidate,” tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Fister posted career worsts in ERA (4.19) and WHIP (1.40), losing his spot in the Nationals’ rotation along the way.
Mike Napoli: The Pittsburgh Pirates, who are exploring options at first base after non-tendering Pedro Alvarez, have expressed interest in Napoli, claims MLB.com’s Adam Berry. Napoli, who spent last season in Boston and Texas, could be part of a platoon with Michael Morse.
Danny Hultzen: The Seattle Mariners are looking for bullpen help and have found an internal option in left-hander Hultzen, who will be converted to a reliever, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Hultzen, the second overall pick in the 2011 draft, has made just 10 minor league starts over the last three seasons due to shoulder problems.
Adam Lind: The Mariners are close to acquiring the veteran first baseman from Milwaukee, according to Ken Rosenthal. The Mariners would be a logical fit after trading away Mark Trumbo and Logan Morrison.