Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Nationals and Braves have expressed interest in acquiring Marlon Byrd from the Cubs.
Makes sense on one level: each team could use an outfielder. The Nationals have been searching for a centerfielder forever, and Byrd could handle that probably as well as Jayson Werth could. The Braves have moved their starting left fielder Martin Prado to third base to cover for Chipper Jones, meaning that Eric Hinske and Matt Diaz will be covering left rather than serving as bench bats as God and Nature intended.
Of course, the fact that Byrd had an awful year at the plate last year means that he’s no panacea. He’s 34, he’s owed $6.5 million and he hit 276/.324/.395 last season, so it’s hard to see how such a deal would look, what with neither the Nats nor the Braves likely wanting that salary or wanting to give up anything for him.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.