Report: Randy Messenger and Matt Murton expected to remain in Japan

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We’ve heard some chatter about right-hander Randy Messenger and outfielder Matt Murton potentially giving the majors another try after enjoying great success in Japan, but the Japan Times reports that both players are likely to return to the Hanshin Tigers for another season.

Messenger, who previously pitched with the Marlins, Giants, and Mariners from 2005-2009, owns a 3.02 ERA over four seasons in Japan while averaging 7.5 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported earlier this week that the 32-year-old had set a November 15th deadline to field offers from MLB teams, but he apparently hasn’t found an offer to his liking. Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors previously reported that Hanshin was offering three years and $10 million guaranteed.

Murton, who played with the Cubs, Athletics, and Rockies from 2005-2009, bounced back from a disappointing 2012 to hit .314/.361/.484 with 19 home runs and 85 RBI in 143 games this year. The 32-year-old has led the Central League in hits in three out of his four years since coming over to Japan.

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.