Hot Stove Roundup 1/19

It appears one of the most high-profile relief arms still on the free-agent market could end up in the Beltway, after all.

After his deal with the Orioles fell through because of issues with his physical, Grant Balfour is reportedly on the Nationals’ radar. Washington has no shortage of reliable late-innings arms — Rafael Soriano, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, for starters — but FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal wrote on Sunday that Balfour is a viable option for Washington. MLB.com’s Bill Ladson confirmed the Nationals’ interest in Balfour and notes that Storen would become available in that scenario.

It makes sense, Rosenthal says, in order for the Nationals to keep Soriano from vesting his option, Clippard in the setup role and Storen on the trading block.

That’s just one bit of news in baseball’s Hot Stove on Sunday. Here are a few more items as teams continue to prepare for pitchers and catchers to report to Spring Training:

• Ladson also writes that Washington would like to acquire a backup catcher behind Wilson Ramos and will look to do so via the trade market. The Nats were linked to Jose Molina and John Buck, but both signed elsewhere.

• The Reds are “still working” to sign former Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore, according to general manager Walt Jocketty. Rosenthal reported Sunday that Cincinnati has had “advanced talks” with the 31-year-old’s agent. MLB.com first reported the Reds’ interest in Sizemore, who hasn’t played in the Majors since 2011.

• Rafael Betancourt hasn’t pitched since Aug. 22 and will miss the early part of the 2014 season because of Tommy John surgery, but he’s reportedly still active in talks with the Rockies for a contract.

Betancourt, a free agent, earlier told the Denver Post’s Troy Renck he “can’t see [himself] anywhere else at this point in his career,” and Chris Cotillo has also reported the two sides are “in talks” for a new deal. The 38-year-old has spent the last five seasons in Colorado as a reliable late-innings reliever.

• Speaking of the Rockies, former Colorado starter Aaron Cook is looking to land on his feet in the big leagues after missing most of last season with a tired arm.

Cook did not pitch in the big leagues in 2013, and he ran up an 8.15 ERA in eight games (all starts) with Colorado’s Triple-A Colorado Springs affiliate. His last big league appearance came with the Red Sox in 2012, and the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reports, “Cook is fine now and looking for another chance.”

• The Marlins took care of slugger Giancarlo Stanton’s short-term future with a one-year, $6.5 million contract, but it didn’t do a whole lot to solidify his long-term future.

MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro wrote this weekend the two sides have been focused on the one-year deal to avoid arbitration and, for now, the two sides’ partnership is “on a year-to-year basis.”

“From the outset, I think it was in everyone’s interest to try [to] reach a fair and amicable settlement on a one-year contract,” Stanton’s agent, Joel Wolfe, told MLB.com. “We accomplished that. Now, Giancarlo can focus exclusively on getting ready for the season. He is pleased with the result and [is] looking forward to Spring Training.”

• Teams are “staying away” from free-agent slugger Nelson Cruz, Cafardo reports, because his asking salary has not come down enough. Cafardo cites a National League general manager as saying Cruz “may have to settle for a pillow contract of one year to re-establish his value.”

• The Yankees, D-backs, Cubs, Dodgers and White Sox have submitted a formal contract offer for free-agent pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, according to Nikkan Sports. Tanaka was posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles in December and has until Friday to reach a deal with a big league club.

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