MLB hot stove rumors: Corey Kluber trade market heating up; Blue Jays …


Baseball’s winter meetings are newly behind us, and the free agent and trade markets look quite different after a highly active few days. That said, there’s plenty of activity yet to come, and the crop of Saturday rumors makes that readily apparent. And of course you can get fully up to speed with our updated Free Agent Tracker. As for Saturday’s rumors, let’s dig in.

Kluber’s market heating up

The trade market for Indians right-hander Corey Kluber is heating up, reports The Athletic’s Robert Murray. The Padres are among the teams in the mix but the Angels are out, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Cleveland is said to be looking to cut payroll and Kluber is owed $17.5 million in 2020. Trading Kluber could potentially allow the Indians to keep Francisco Lindor.

The Padres had some interest in San Diego native Stephen Strasburg before he returned to the Nationals. At this point, trading prospects for two years of Kluber (his contract includes a club option for 2020) may be preferable to spending big on a second tier free agent like Hyun-Jin Ryu or Madison Bumgarner.

Blue Jays serious contenders for Ryu

The Blue Jays added to their pitching staff with the signing of right-hander Tanner Roark to a two-year deal. But the club is still looking to improve their rotation for 2020. According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, Toronto is very serious about free agent lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu. Along with the Jays, the Dodgers and Twins are also interested in Ryu.

Ryu’s coming off a career season where he finished with a 14-5 record with the Dodgers to go along with a league-best 2.32 ERA. In his sixth year in the big leagues, after having trouble staying healthy in his career, Ryu was voted to his first All-Star team. The 32-year-old finished second in the National League Cy Young voting after leading the NL in ERA (2.32) and ERA+ (179), both career-best marks.

As of now, the Blue Jays rotation will include Roark with right-hander Chase Anderson, a November acquisition, at the top of the rotation. Veteran right-hander Matt Shoemaker should return to the rotation after missing most of the 2019 season with a torn ACL, and youngsters Trent Thornton, 26, and/or Ryan Borucki, 25, are likely to be regular starters next season. 

Brewers working on deal with Garcia

The Brewers are working to sign free agent outfielder Avisail Garcia, reports The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, though there is no deal yet. Garcia, 28, hit .282/.332/.464 with 20 home runs for the Rays last season. He worked on a one-year deal worth $3.5 million after being non-tendered by the White Sox.

Milwaukee traded Trent Grisham to the Padres earlier this offseason and they may move Ryan Braun to first base full-time after declining Eric Thames’ option. Garcia would presumably join Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich in the outfield, with Ben Gamel settling into a platoon/fourth outfielder’s role.

Padres continuing pitching search

The Padres were quiet at this year’s winter meetings, but the club is continuing its search to add pitching depth this winter. We learned that San Diego was interested in free agent lefties Madison Bumgarner and Dallas Keuchel on Friday, but now the Padres are talking to the Cleveland Indians about pitching, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The focus on their discussions have most likely been about Indians right-hander Corey Kluber, Heyman notes.

With Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Zack Wheeler off the market, Kluber’s trade interest is likely to pick up in these coming weeks. The Angels were another team who expressed interest.

Kluber, who turns 34 in April, pitched just 35 2/3 innings (seven games) last season for the Indians after suffering a broken forearm, which was then followed by an oblique strain while he was rehabbing. The two-time AL Cy Young winner looks to be a strong rebound candidate for next season. The Indians picked up Kluber’s $17.5 million club option for 2020 and the team will have another option for $18 million for the 2021 season.

Meanwhile, the Padres have added right-hander Zach Davies this winter and should receive a full season from right-hander Garret Richards. Chris Paddack will be San Diego’s top starter in 2020, and top pitching prospects MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patino could join him in the rotation as early as next season.

“We’ve talked about having depth and quality,” Padres general manager A.J. Preller told’s AJ Cassavell. “And we’re getting closer to that point. … We’re always open to talking about trades, free agents on the starting pitching front, but honestly, I think I feel really confident with the group we have.”


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