The MLB hot stove season is going strong, and speculation is heating up across baseball. Here is what our writers are hearing today:
I've now heard from 3 teams in the last few days that Nationals want to deal both Papelbon & Storen, while chasing O'Day, Chapman & others— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) November 23, 2015
Stark's take: On the heels of Jerry Crasnick's report that Washington has strong interest in free-agent reliever Darren O'Day and rumblings that Aroldis Chapman is also on its radar, clubs who have talked to the Nationals say they're trying to remake the back of their bullpen by trading both of the men who closed for them last year, Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen.
An official of one team in the bullpen market says the Nationals have been dangling both relievers, and he laughed about Washington general manager Mike Rizzo's recent quotes saying he doesn't feel any pressure to trade Papelbon in particular.
"Everyone knows the situation," the official said. "They're saying they don't have to move him. But after the guy chokes [Bryce] Harper, they've gotta do something. And they've got to eat some money, because nobody's taking $11 million."
Papelbon reworked his contract last July as part of the trade that sent him from Philadelphia to Washington, giving up a $13 million option that was about to vest in exchange for an $11 million guaranteed salary for 2016. He will be a free agent after next season, has a no-trade clause that allows him to block deals to 12 teams and has scared off several teams because of his often-tempestuous personality. An exec of an American League team speculated the Nationals shouldn't expect to get more than "a very minor prospect" in return for Papelbon.
Storen also has a year left before he can be eligible for free agency. At the time the Nationals traded for Papelbon last July, Storen had a 1.69 ERA and 29 saves in 31 opportunities. But after losing his closer job, he had a 7.56 ERA after the end of July and gave up at least one run in nine of his last 15 appearances.
While Storen still could have a limited market as a closer, one National League exec said he'd be wary of Storen's late-season issues and the Nationals' clear lack of confidence in him that "right now, I'd put him in the eighth inning every day and pay him good money to do it." The same exec called Storen "a classic change-of-scenery guy."
#Orioles need a RF, LF, 1B and DH. It'll be hard for Dan Duquette to add all four through trades or free agency.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 23, 2015
Orioles owner Peter Angelos personally involved in the team's effort to re-sign Chris Davis -- which must happen for O's to have a chance.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 23, 2015
Crasnick's take: As ESPN's Buster Olney has reported, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is trying to get involved in the team's effort to bring back Chris Davis.
If the Orioles can't pull that off, they might go young at the position and allow Christian Walker and Trey Mancini to compete at first base in spring training. Mancini, a 2013 eighth-round draft pick out of Notre Dame, has produced at every level in the system (.315/.356/.478 in 341 minor league games), and some people in the organization think he deserves a chance.
With Davis, Steve Pearce and Gerardo Parra all free agents, GM Dan Duquette has a major challenge in front of him trying to fill spots at first base, DH, left field and right field this winter. The challenge is compounded by a lack of talent in Baltimore's farm system.
The Orioles have examined the market for Jay Bruce and other impact hitters. But most teams bring up Kevin Gausman or second baseman Jonathan Schoop (who has 32 homers in 774 big league at-bats) in trade talks, and Duquette is hesitant to move either player because he would just be weakening one position to strengthen another. Shortcomings in the draft and player development have really caught up with the Orioles this offseason.