The Nationals and Rays are talking about Mike Morse, Danny Espinosa

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The Rays just got James Loney, but ESPN’s Jim Bowden reports that the team is talking to the Nationals about a trade for Mike Morse and Danny Espinosa in exchange for pitching.

Just because Loney is in the fold doesn’t mean this makes zero sense — after all, Loney is actually a downgrade from Carlos Pena if that’s possible, and Morse can play a corner — but Bowden’s ESPN colleague Jayson Stark says that while talks are happening a deal “is not very likely.”

But even if it isn’t it reinforces a couple of notions that will inform other deals at the Winter Meetings: (1) that the Rays are willing to deal starting pitching to fill holes; and (2) that the Nationals are leaning toward dealing Morse and re-signing Adam LaRoche to cover first base rather than merely handing the position to Morse.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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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.