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How will Tomas signing impact Cruz?

Now that the D-backs have reportedly signed Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, the market for Nelson Cruz could begin to take shape in the coming days.

With Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez and Tomas all inking deals within the past week, Cruz — and Melky Cabrera, to an extent — now sit atop a relatively thin free-agent class as the top available power-hitters. Cruz, keep in mind, declined a qualifying offer from the Orioles, meaning any team looking to sign him would need to surrender a draft pick, in order to do so.

Cruz remains a good fit for a Mariners team that is known to be in the market for a right-handed, power-hitting outfielder. Seattle had interest in Cruz last offseason, but concerns over his 50-game suspension the previous season for violating the Basic Agreement and its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program ultimately steered the Mariners away. He went on to hit a career-best — and Major League-leading — 40 home runs after signing a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles.

The Mariners have been tied to a number of big-name outfielders as potential trade targets and they were also believed to have had some interest in Victor Martinez, Hanley Ramirez, Michael Cuddyer, Billy Butler and Tomas — all of whom have already signed elsewhere. Though they’re kicking the tires on various trade possibilities, signing Cruz would allow them to fill their needs without giving away any of their young Major League talent or top prospects.

The Blue Jays could be another team that ramps up their pursuit of Cruz, though that will likely depend on what happens with Cabrera. If Cabrera signs elsewhere, then Cruz would make sense as a potential replacement, considering the draft pick that the Jays would lose by signing Cruz would be somewhat off-set by the pick gained from whoever inks Cabrera.

A return to the Orioles is also still an option for Cruz, though the O’s focus right now seems to be on wrapping up a deal with fellow outfielder Nick Markakis.

A number of other teams could enter the picture as the market continues to thin, but those seem to be the most likely landing spots, as of right now, for the defending home run champion.

– Paul Casella

Source: Tomas to sign with D-backs

The D-backs have reportedly reached a six-year, $68.5 million deal with Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The deal is believed to have opt-out and is pending a physical, sources said.

The D-backs have not confirmed the agreement.

The Tomas sweepstakes had heated up in recent days with the Braves, Giants, Padres and D-backs all believed to have offers on the table.

Atlanta had sent personnel, including manager Fredi Gonzalez, to watch Tomas train in the Dominican Republic as recently as Tuesday. The Giants, meanwhile, were expected to ramp up their pursuit of Tomas with Pablo Sandoval departing for Boston and the Padres had reportedly had their offer on the table to Tomas for quite some time.

Instead, Tomas, who turned 24 earlier this month, ultimately chose to sign with the D-backs.

With Tomas becoming the latest free agent to come off the board, trade talks could heat up over the next couple weeks heading into December’s Winter Meetings. Now that an already thin free-agent class has lost Sandoval, Tomas and Hanley Ramirez, teams still hoping to upgrade offensively — such as the Padres and Mariners, among many others — could begin to pursue potential trade targets more seriously.

– Paul Casella

Padres have discussed Kemp trade with Dodgers

The Padres have reportedly had discussions with the Dodgers regarding Matt Kemp, though there is no deal close nor have they made any progress recently, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

San Diego is leaving no stone unturned this offseason as it attempts to upgrade its offense after a disappointing year at the plate in 2014. The Padres are one of at least four teams with an offer still on the table for Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, but after missing out on Pablo Sandoval earlier this week, the club has turned its focus largely toward the trade market.

Along with their interest in Kemp, the Padres have also been linked to the Red Sox and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, as well as the Reds and outfielder Jay Bruce. Other rumors in recent weeks have also tied the Padres to potential trade targets such as Justin Upton, Evan Gattis, Michael Saunders, Dexter Fowler and Allen Craig, among others.

Again, the talks with the Dodgers don’t seem to be anything serious at this point, but they serve as yet another reminder that the Padres certainly are intent on adding a power bat to the middle of their order this offseason.

– Paul Casella

Yanks called about Rollins, nothing there

The Yankees reportedly talked to the Phillies about a potential trade involving shortstop Jimmy Rollins, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, but the asking price was too high for the Yankees’ liking.

Rollins, who turns 36 on Thursday, posted a .243/.323/.394 batting line with 17 home runs and 55 RBIs over 138 games with the Phils this past season. It’s widely known that the Phillies are willing to listen to offers for just about anyone this offseason, but it does not appear as if Rollins will be the Yankees’ next shortstop.

As for Jeter’s replacement, the Yankees continue to leave no stone unturned, though MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports that a reunion with free agent Stephen Drew is very much a possibility.

– Paul Casella

Tomas update: Braves, D-backs, Padres, Giants still in pursuit

Though MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports that the Braves have shown an increased interest in Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas in the wake of trading away Jason Heyward, a number of other teams still remain very much in the mix.

The Braves got their most recent look at Tomas during a Tuesday workout in the Dominican Republic, a session attended by Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, assistant general manager John Coppolella and top international scout Gordon Blakeley. With Heyward now in St. Louis and the Braves still listening to trade offers for Justin Upton, Atlanta’s need for a corner outfielder is more than apparent.

The Padres, meanwhile, have had an offer on the table for Tomas for some time now, though it’s not believed to be the highest one the 24-year-old Cuban has received. That said, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted on Wednesday that Tomas is considering both short- and long-term deals at this time, something that could ultimately bode well for the Padres.

The Giants are still expected to ramp up their pursuit of Tomas after losing Pablo Sandoval to the Red Sox this week and the D-backs are also believed to have a legitimate interest. Rosenthal adds that a mystery team swooping in and signing Tomas can’t be ruled out in these situations.

Though it remains unclear right now where exactly Tomas will end up, it’s certainly a fluid situation worth monitoring on a daily basis.

– Paul Casella

Marlins pursuing first base upgrade via trade

The Marlins have reportedly inquired about potential trades involving the Braves’ Evan Gattis and the Orioles’ Chris Davis, according to Barry Jackson and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.

Miami seems intent on upgrading at first base after incumbent first baseman Garrett Jones posted a .246/.309/.411 batting line with 15 home runs and 53 RBIs over 146 games this past season.

Though used primarily as a catcher and outfielder, Gattis could presumably make the transition to first base if a trade comes to fruition. Gattis, a right-handed hitter who isn’t even arbitration-eligible until after next season, would also make for a good complement to the left-handed hitting Jones.

Davis, meanwhile, is a left-hander coming off a disappointing season in which he hit just .196/.300/.404, though he still chipped in 26 homers and 72 RBIs. In 2013, Davis led the American League with 52 homers and 138 RBIs, finishing third in AL MVP voting.

In order to land either player via trade, the Marlins would likely need to offer a package that includes top pitching prospects — possibly even their No. 1 overall prospect Andrew Heaney. The Marlins do have their share of pitching depth within the organization, however, so they could be willing to part with certain prospects if they deem the return is worth it.

– Paul Casella

Padres reportedly called Red Sox about Cespedes

The Padres are believed to have reached out to the Red Sox regarding a potential trade for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, according to MLB.com’s Corey Brock.

Cespedes has been a popular name in trade talks after Boston signed Hanley Ramirez earlier this week, with the intention of moving him to the outfield. The addition of Ramirez certainly leaves the Sox with a surplus of outfielders, making Cespedes expendable for the right price. In addition to Ramirez and Cespedes, the Red Sox currently have outfielders Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, Shane Victorino and Jackie Bradley Jr. all on the roster, along with Allen Craig, who could also play a corner outfield spot if necessary.

As for as a return, the Padres could send Ian Kennedy to the Red Sox. Kennedy would serve as a consistent option in the middle of the Red Sox rotation and would become even more valuable to the Sox if they are able to land Jon Lester to put at the top of the rotation.

It’s unclear at this point just how serious the trade talks are, but the Padres certainly seem intent on upgrading their offense — and they could soon be running out of free agent targets. After missing out on Pablo Sandoval and with Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas still undecided on where he will sign, the Padres’ best bet for improvement may need to come via the trade market.

– Paul Casella

Yankees have no plans to enter bidding war for Headley

Though many have expected the Yankees to ultimately bring back Chase Headley next season, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports that the club has no interest in entering a potential bidding war for Headley, if it eventually comes to that.

It’s an interesting turn in the situation, given the fact that other teams are likely to ramp up their pursuit of Headley in the wake of Pablo Sandoval signing with the Red Sox. It’s possible that the Giants will go after Headley as a potential replacement for Sandoval, while the Indians have been mentioned as another team that has some interest.

Adding yet another curveball, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the Yankees are only willing to offer Headley a three-year deal — something that could be a dealbreaker. With Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez gone from what was already a thin market of potential third basemen, it’s not unreasonable to believe that Headley could land a four-year deal elsewhere.

The Yankees, meanwhile, could turn over third base duties to in-house replacement candidate Martin Prado. That would leave the Bronx Bombers with prospects Robert Refsnyder or Jose Pirela for second base, unless they pursue an outside option.

The Yankees, of course, could simply be posturing in this case and ultimately decide to match any offer to Headley down the road. That said, if they truly feel confident enough in Prado as their starting third baseman, it could make sense to use that money elsewhere.

– Paul Casella

Indians showing interest in Morales, Denorfia

The Indians reportedly have some interest in designated hitter/first baseman Kendrys Morales and outfielder Chris Denorfia, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Though the Indians have also had discussions about pursuing Chase Headley, Hoynes adds that the club is unlikely to land the third baseman.

Instead, Hoynes reports that the Indians’ focus is currently on the likes of Morales and Denorfia. Morales would provide a potential replacement in the event that the Indians trade Swisher or that he isn’t ready to start the season after undergoing surgery on both knees back in August. Denorfia, meanwhile, would provide similar insurance in right field for Ryan Raburn, who is coming off left knee surgery and currently serves as a platoon partner with David Murphy.

Morales had a whirlwind offseason last year after rejecting Seattle’s $13.1 million qualifying offer. He went unsigned through the offseason due to the fact that teams did not want to surrender a draft pick in order to bring him aboard. It wasn’t until June 8 — once the First-Year Player Draft had passed and teams no longer had to lose a draft pick — that Morales finally signed a one-year deal with the Twins.

The 32-year-old designated hitter hit just 234 with one home run over 39 games with the Twins before being traded back to Seattle where he hit only .207 with seven homers over 59 games.

Neither signing would be nearly as flashy as reeling in Headley, but both could fill a need and provide a bit of insurance to the Indians entering the 2015 season.

– Paul Casella

Report: Cubs make substantial offer to Lester

The Cubs have reportedly extended a six-year offer to Jon Lester that is worth an amount “north of” $135 million, according to CSNChicago.com’s David Kaplan.

The Cubs’ reported offer exceeds the current six-year offer from the Red Sox that is believed to be in the $110-120 million range. It was reported earlier in the day that Lester could ultimately strike a deal with an average annual value exceeding $25 million. This latest news suggests that’s certainly a possibility as the market for Lester begins to really heat up.

Lester is expected to meet with the Cardinals and Giants at some point next week, while the Braves also remain interested in the left-hander. All three teams, in addition to the Cubs and Red Sox, could use another top-end starter. The Cardinals could use Lester to off-set the loss of Shelby Miller, while the Giants’ rotation remains extremely unclear behind ace Madison Bumgarner and the Braves continue to try and bolster their rotation.

The Cubs certainly remain a front-runner in the Lester sweepstakes and extending an offer such as this one could put some pressure on the other teams in pursuit.

– Paul Casella

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