Trevor Rosenthal

Cardinals likely to be even stronger in 2013

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It won’t take the sting out of Monday’s Game 7 loss to the Giants, but the Cardinals have a great chance of being a better team in 2013 than they were this year.

The Cardinals’ only key free agents are Kyle Lohse and Lance Berkman. Berkman didn’t contribute this year anyway, and the Cardinals have a full rotation without Lohse:

Adam Wainwright
Chris Carpenter
Jaime Garcia
Lance Lynn
Jake Westbrook

Top prospect Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal are all available as fallbacks should Garcia’s shoulder remain a problem. Rosenthal presents a particularly intriguing option; if he remains in the pen, he’ll be a dominant weapon in the eighth. However, he has a whole lot of upside as a starter.

The Cardinals will also bring back their lineup intact, with Rafael Furcal expected back at shortstop after missing the end of this season with an elbow injury. Matt Carpenter could get a look at second as a potential upgrade from Daniel Descalso. And top prospect Oscar Taveras should be ready to step in if Carlos Beltran misses more time than he did this year.

So, the Cardinals may have a quiet winter, but that’s probably for the best. Even if teams like the Dodgers and Nationals make more noise, the Cardinals have as good of a shot as any NL team to reach the World Series next year.

Report: Dodgers could pursue three-year deal with Rich Hill

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.

Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.

The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.

Yankees in, Red Sox out on Edwin Encarnacion

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on against the Cleveland Indians during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler AustinGreg Bird combo in 2017.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.

Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.