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Astros could enter mix for Hamels

The Astros are reportedly being considered a “sleeper team” in trade talks regarding the Phillies’ Cole Hamels, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

The Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres, Rangers and Giants have all been linked to Hamels this offseason, though Cafardo believes the Astros could swoop in and make a push to work out a deal with the Phils. That said, Hamels does have a no-trade list and it’s unclear at this point whether or not the Astros are on it.

Either way, there is speculation that Hamels might be willing to waive his no-trade clause for any of the aforementioned teams, if said team agrees to pick up his $20 million club option for 2019. He’s currently owed $90 million over the next four seasons before that option year comes into play.

The Giants’ interest likely depends on whether or not they’re able to sign James Shields, while the Cubs could fall out of the race as well after signing top free agent starter Jon Lester last week. The Red Sox and Dodgers are widely believed to still be the frontrunners for Hamels, but it appears they may have more competition than initially expected.

– Paul Casella

Headley reportedly nearing decision

Free agent third baseman Chase Headley is on the verge of making his decision, which could come as soon as Monday, according to WFAN’s Sweeny Murti. He was previously expected to reach a decision by the end of last week’s Winter Meetings, though he instead continued to field offers through the weekend.

The Yankees and Giants are believed to be strong favorites for landing Headley, while the Marlins and Astros have also expressed interest. He’s been believed to have a four-year, $65 million offer on the table for some time now, though it’s unclear which team extended that particular offer.

The 30-year-old third baseman posted a .243/.328/.372 batting line with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs over 135 combined games between the Padres and Yankees.

– Paul Casella

Report: Dodgers acquire Rollins

The Dodgers have reportedly acquired veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins from the Phillies, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Though numerous other reports confirmed the deal, including ESPN’s Buster Olney and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports claims that the deal is “close,” but adds that the two sides are still working out terms of the deal and says it could ultimately involve a third team.

Neither club has confirmed any reports.

Talks seem to have materialized quickly after reports surfaced earlier Wednesday that Rollins would be willing to waive his no-trade clause for a potential deal involving the Dodgers. The 36-year-old shorstop had a decent year at the plate this past season, notching 17 homers, 55 RBIs and 28 stolen bases, while still turning in above average defense.

The move seems to be a perfect fit for the Dodgers, who were looking for a short-term solution after losing Hanley Ramirez to the Red Sox earlier this offseason. Not only does acquiring Rollins seemingly provide an immediate fix, but it also won’t block top prospect Corey Seager from assuming the role in the near future once he becomes ready to make the jump to the Major Leagues.

– Paul Casella

Rockies among the teams interested in Gee

The Rockies are the latest team to be mentioned as a potential landing spot for Mets right-hander Dillon Gee, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. The Rangers, Padres, Twins, Giants, and Royals have all also been linked to Gee.

It’s no secret that Colorado is in pursuit of some much-needed pitching help after its staff suffered numerous injuries this past season en route to compiling a Major League-worst 4.84 ERA. Aside from left-handers Jorge De La Rosa and Tyler Matzek, the Rockies starting rotation is currently filled with question marks.

Former staff ace Jhoulys Chacin (rotator cuff fraying) has an uncertain future, while right-handers Jordan Lyles and Christian Bergman both suffered broken left hands in freak incidents last season. Making matters worse, right-handed prospect Eddie Butler suffered a rotator cuff strain in his big league debut and 2013 first-round pick Jon Gray was hampered by right biceps tendinitis throughout his first full professional season.

The 28-year-old Gee posted a 4.00 ERA over 137 1/3 innings in 22 starts this past season for the Mets, but would come with two more years of arbitration eligibility.

– Paul Casella

Giants set to meet with Santana’s agent

The Giants are expected to meet with representatives for free agent right-hander Ervin Santana on Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick.

After missing out on marquee free agent Jon Lester, the Giants are now beginning to pursue alternatives in their need to bolster the starting rotation. It was also reported earlier in the day that the Giants were interested in potentially working out a deal for Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels.

The Giants certainly have money they’re willing to spend after losing Pablo Sandoval to the Red Sox earlier this offseason and missing out on Lester.

Santana, who turns 32 this week, has also garnered interest from the Twins this offseason. Other teams could also enter the picture as the starting pitching market contiunes to heat up in the wake of Lester finally making his decision.

– Paul Casella

Angels looking to deal for middle infielder

The Angels are still engaged in trade talks to acquire middle infield depth, with MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reporting there’s a “good chance they get something done today.”

Gonzalez previously reported that the Angels have interest in both the Rockies’ Josh Rutledge and the Twins’ Eduardo Escobar. They are also said to like Boston’s Brock Holt, though the Red Sox are apparently asking too much in return for the Halos’ liking.

As far as potential trade pieces, Angels relievers Vinnie Pestano and Fernando Salas have both been mentioned in rumors, while Gonzalez adds that fellow reliever Kevin Jepsen is also in play.

It’s still possible that the Angels re-sign backup second baseman Gordon Beckham, but that wouldn’t stop them from pulling the trigger on adding further infield depth. Starting second baseman Howie Kendrick and third baseman David Freese are both set to become free agents after next season, while shortstop Ercik Aybar can hit the market after the 2016 campaign.

– Paul Casella

O’s among the teams interested in Cespedes

The Orioles reportedly view Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes as a potential fit in Baltimore, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, though Bradford adds that there is “nothing remotely imminent” at this point.

It’s unclear at this point who the Red Sox would target in return, but Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen would have to be considered a possibility. Chen, like Cespedes, is set to become a free agent following next season.

The Red Sox are also said to still be discussing a potential deal with the Tigers, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, that would involve swapping Cespedes for Rick Porcello, another starter entering the final year of his contract.

Boston doesn’t appear to be close on any potential trade involving Cespedes, but it’s starting to seem more and more likely that the Red Sox will solve their logjam in the outfield by moving Cespedes in exchange for starting pitching.

– Paul Casella

Cubs reportedly pursuing Gomes

The Cubs are reportedly interested in free agent outfielder Jonny Gomes, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

With Jon Lester now in the fold, one of the Cubs’ next moves is apparently to target Gomes, a teammate of Lester’s on the 2013 World Series champion Red Sox. The 34-year-old Gomes struggled to a .234/.327/.330 batting line this past season with just six home runs and 37 RBIs over 112 combined games between the Red Sox and Athletics.

Gomes has also been linked to the Orioles, Rangers and Mariners over the past week.

– Paul Casella

Braves getting plenty of calls on J. Upton, Gattis

The Braves are continuing to receive calls from a number of teams regarding both outfielder Justin Upton and catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

The report indicates that the Giants, Rangers, Royals and Padres are interested in both players, while the Mariners have been in contact solely about Upton.

Given the apparent market interest, coupled with the Braves’ willingness to move Upton, it seems inevitable that Upton will be moved somewhere this offseason. Though Atlanta already traded away outfielder Jason Heyward earlier this offseason, they were still interested in finding a new home for Upton even before signing fellow outfielder Nick Markakis last week.

The Padres have been closely linked to Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, but they could turn their focus toward Upton or Gattis if those talks fall through. The Rangers and Mariners, meanwhile, were interested in Kemp initially, but are reportedly no longer part of those discussions.

– Paul Casella

Drew garnering broad interest

Free agent shortstop Stephen Drew is drawing varying amounts of interest from at least 10 teams, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The list of teams that have tossed around the idea of signing Drew reportedly includes the Yankees, Mets, Astros, A’s, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Nationals and Marlins. The lack of shortstop depth on the free agent market this offseason has certainly played a part in the vast amount of interested teams.

Despite his struggles this past season, Drew is garnering significantly more interest this offseason than he did a year ago due to the fact that he is not tied to a compensatory draft pick this time around. He went unsigned last winter after rejecting a qualifying offer from the Red Sox before ultimately returning to Boston in late May.

– Paul Casella

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