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Thursday's MLB hot stove trade and free-agency buzz

The MLB hot stove season is going strong, and speculation is heating up across baseball. Here is what our writers are hearing today:

Complete hot stove coverage

MLB Free Agent Tracker | Rumors


Crasnick's take: Shelby Miller's name has been making the rounds in trade speculation of late, but it might be time to put that rumor to bed. The Braves have received calls from as many as 20 teams with interest in discussing Miller, but they've made it clear they're more in "listening'' than "shopping'' mode with the 25-year-old All-Star. And in the discussions they've had, they've failed to make much headway in finding a match.

Atlanta is looking for an impact, up-the-middle bat in exchange for Miller. But Arizona has no interest in dealing A.J. Pollock, and it's the same for the Cubs and Addison Russell. The Braves are known to like Jorge Soler. But since Atlanta is committed to more than $60 million in long-term obligations to Nick Markakis in right field and Hector Olivera in left, the Braves would prefer to add a center fielder rather than a corner guy. The speedy Mallex Smith, who came over from San Diego in the Justin Upton trade in December 2014, hit .306 in two minor league stops this year, and it probably won't be long until the Braves give him a crack at their starting center field job.


Stark's take: The Padres represent yet another West Coast option for Chase Utley, who has told friends he prefers to play in California. But there's no clear fit for Utley with the Padres, who just dealt for Yankees second base prospect Jose Pirela and have Jedd Gyorko signed through 2019. So there is speculation among teams that have spoken with the Padres that the signing of Utley could be a prelude to a trade.

Utley, who turns 37 this month, hit just .202/.291/.363 in 141 plate appearances for the Dodgers after waiving his no-trade rights to accept a trade there last August. But he could fit in L.A. as a short-term solution at second base until the arrival of prospect Jose Peraza, who was obtained in a deal with Atlanta in July.

The Angels have had longstanding interest in Utley and nearly pulled off a deal for him last summer before he went to the Dodgers. Although their incumbent second baseman, Johnny Giavotella, would still project to get the majority of playing time at second, the Angels could find playing time for Utley as a DH and part-time second baseman.

Utley currently lives in Northern California but grew up outside Los Angeles and went to college at UCLA. And his parents still live in Long Beach. So his preference to land with one of the Southern California teams makes both geographical and baseball sense.