Viciedo not a fit for Reds

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty downplayed a report that his club was pursuing free agent outfielder Dayan Viciedo, who was released by the White Sox earlier this week.

“We talked to his representative but I don’t know if we have a fit for him,” Jocketty said on Saturday. “They’re looking for more playing time. With our outfield the way it is, I don’t see it as a good fit.”

Viciedo, 25, could have been a fit in other ways. He would still under club control for three more years and would be a right-handed power bat off the bench that hit 25 home runs in 2012. He hit 21 homers last season for Chicago but batted .231/.281/.405 in 145 games.

*Also — talks are continuing with the two remaining Reds arbitration players — 3B Todd Frazier and closer Aroldis Chapman.

“We’re going to keep working on it this weekend and see if we can make some progress,” Jocketty said. “Until it’s over, we don’t really know.”

— Mark Sheldon

Shields Nearing A Decision

It took nearly the entire off season, but it appears James Shields is nearing a decision.

According to USA Today, Shields will “sign soon,” but the San Diego Union-Tribune took that a step further and said a decision is expected within 24 hours.

Earlier Saturday it was reported that although the Padres are the favorites to land the right-hander, several teams are still in the race.

When Shields ultimately does decide to sign, it looks like his price will have dropped again. The finals numbers are expected to be below 4-years and $80 million, according to ESPN.

Shields, 33, went 14-8 with a 3.21 ERA in 34 starts last season.

– William Boor

Shields to San Diego ‘gaining momentum’

The Padres are the favorite to land free-agent right-hander James Shields, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tweeted Saturday afternoon, while USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets several teams remain in the race.

San Diego has been the main team linked to Shields in the last few days, and talks between the two sides were “gaining momentum,” according to Scott Miller of Bleacher Report on Saturday morning.

Miller notes Shields likes the idea of pitching in San Diego and Petco Park, a notorious pitcher’s park. Shields has spent his entire nine-year career in the American League and has only pitched in San Diego once — throwing seven shutout innings.

Shields was 14-8 with a 3.21 ERA in 34 starts for the Royals last season and has logged at least 200 innings in each of the last eight years.

— Cash Kruth

Cliff Lee on the move this spring?

It’s been no secret that the Phillies have been trying to move veterans this offseason. They’ve already traded SS Jimmy Rollins and they’re reportedly open to dealing starting pitcher Cole Hamels and closer Jonathan Papelpon.

On Friday, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported that lefty starter Cliff Lee could also be on the move as soon as Spring Training, if Lee is healthy.

MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reported earlier this month that Lee could be a valuable trade chip for Philadelphia around the July 31 Trade Deadline. But it seems possible that the timetable has moved up.

Lee was limited to 13 starts last season because of a left elbow injury. He is owed $25 million in 2015 and has a $27.5 million vesting option for 2016 with a $12.5 million buyout. The option becomes guaranteed with 200 innings pitched in 2015.

— Mark Sheldon

Shields to San Diego?

The Padres might have one big move left in an eventful offseason.

A day after Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler told MLB.com via email there is room to add payroll, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted there is growing speculation that free-agent right-hander James Shields will land in San Diego.

The Padres’ current payroll currently sits just shy of $90 million, which was their 2014 Opening Day payroll and a franchise record.

Shields was believed to have been seeking a contract in excess of five years and $100 million earlier in the offseason, but as time wears on his price tag appears to have dropped.

Shields, 33, was 14-8 with a 3.21 ERA last year and has been one of the game’s most durable pitchers over the past several seasons.

— Cash Kruth

Brewers still considering K-Rod, negotiating for Papelbon

The Brewers are still talking to the Phillies about potentially acquiring Jonathan Papelbon, though Milwaukee is also considering a contingency plan that would involve re-signing Francisco Rodriguez, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The Brewers have been linked to Papelbon for weeks, but Heyman reports that any potential trade continues to be hung up by the Phillies’ desired return. Philadelphia is apparently unhappy with the Brewers’ current offer for Papelbon, who is due  $13 million this season and also has a vesting option for 2016 worth same amount, assuming he finishes 48 games in 2015.

Papelbon is coming off another strong season in which he racked up a 2.04 ERA while saving 39 games for the Phils. The 34-year-old reliever has posted a sub-3.00 ERA in nine of his 10 big league seasons and has a 2.37 career ERA overall.

As for Rodriguez, who just turned 33 last month, he’s also coming off an impressive 2014 campaign. He notched a 3.04 ERA and 44 saves for the Brewers, while finishing an NL-best 66 games. Rodriguez also posted a 1.09 ERA over 25 appearances with the Brewers in 2013 before being traded to the Orioles and later re-signing with Milwaukee in the offseason.

— Paul Casella

Cubs ‘kicking the tires’ on Shields

The Cubs significantly upgraded their starting rotation earlier in the off season when they signed Jon Lester, but it turns out the club is considering signing another top-flight arm.

According to a report from Comcast Sports Net Chicago, the Cubs are ‘kicking the tires’ on James Shields.

Multiple reports have suggested Shields is likely to make a decision by the end of the week, with multiple teams in contention.

Shields, 33, posted a 3.21 ERA last season while going 14-8.

The right-hander was believed to have been seeking a contract in excess of five years and $100 million earlier in the off season, but as time wears on his price tag appears to have dropped.

Shields is now expected to sign a four-year deal worth roughly $70 to $80 million.

– William Boor

Marlins among the teams still pursuing Shields

Though it’s unclear whether or not they are a frontrunner in the James Shields sweepstakes, the Marlins at least “remain in talks” to potentially sign the free agent right-hander, according to MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro.

Shields’ market has started to develop rapidly this week, with FOX Sports’ Jon Heyman even reporting that Shields has “multiple offers in hand” and could sign somewhere by the end of the week. It obviously remains unclear which teams exactly have extended those offers, though reports have suggested that neither the Red Sox nor the Royals are among those suitors.

Along with the Marlins, the Padres and Blue Jays have both been mentioned as potential landing spots. There have also been conflicting reports regarding the Yankees’ interest, with Joel Sherman of the New York Post saying they are “not in play” for Shields and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweeting that he is hearing the Yanks are “now actively pursuing” him.

It should also be noted that Shields apparently prefers to play on the West Coast near his home in San Diego. That report would obviously suggest that the Padres have an advantage in that regard, but it’s unclear whether or not that will factor into Shields’ final decision.

Though there may not be a frontrunenr as of right now, Shields’ situation should continue to come into focus in the coming days.

— Paul Casella

Moncada hoping to sign somewhere soon

Now that he’s officially been declared a free agent, top Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada told MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez that he hopes to “sign with a team soon.”

The 19-year-old Moncada has already held private workouts for the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Rangers, Rays, Tigers and Brewers. Other teams could also make a push to sign Moncada now that he’s actually allowed to sign a deal.

“My goal is to sign with a team soon, start training with them, and make it to the Major Leagues as fast as I can with whichever team that might be,” Moncada said in Spanish to MLB.com in his first interview since arriving in the United States in late November. “I know I’m going to do the best I can for as long as I can in this sport.”

Naturally a shortstop, Moncada can also play second or third base. The Yankees and Red Sox have long been mentioned as the potential favorites to sign Moncada, but the Dodgers have also been floated as one of the most likely landing spots.

— Paul Casella

Yankees “not in play” for Shields

Free agent starting pitcher James Shields is reportedly close to signing with a team this week, but the Yankees are not one of those clubs, according to multiple reports.

The Yankees are “not in in play” for a significant free agent starting pitcher such as Shields, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports confirmed that information, adding that the Bronx Bombers preferred Max Scherzer and never seriously pursued him in free agency this winter.

The Yankees already have a number of starters on their roster, including: CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Capuano and Adam Warren.

Shields is mulling a number of options and is expected to sign a contract by the end of this week, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

Shields was initially expected to command a contract of at least $100 million, but his price tag appears to have dropped as the offseason has progressed. The 33-year-old is now expected to sign a deal in the $70 to $80 million range, which could bring more teams back in on the bidding.

But the Yankees apparently are not one of the bidders.

–Austin Laymance

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