George Kottaras avoids arbitration with Cubs

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The Cubs and catcher George Kottaras have agreed to a one-year, $1.075 million contract to avoid arbitration, reports CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.

Kottaras was acquired from the Royals last week in exchange for cash considerations. The 30-year-old earned $1 million this past season while batting .180/.349/.370 with five home runs and 12 RBI over 126 plate appearances. He was arbitration-eligible for third time this winter and remains under team control through 2015.

With Dioner Navarro now in Toronto, Kottaras is expected to serve as Welington Castillo’s backup next season.

Report: Giants showed some interest in Phillies’ Maikel Franco at Winter Meetings

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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that the Giants were “sniffing around” on Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco at the recently completed Winter Meetings.

Franco, 25, would be a nice buy-low candidate for the Giants, who don’t have a reliable third baseman yet. Currently, Pablo Sandoval would get the lion’s share of starts at the hot corner. Franco was a consensus top-100 prospect going into the 2014 and ’15 seasons, but hasn’t lived up to the hype over the last two seasons. In 2017, he hit .230/.281/.409 with 24 home runs and 76 RBI in 623 plate appearances.

Moving Franco wouldn’t necessarily solve any problems for the Phillies. After signing first baseman Carlos Santana, Rhys Hoskins is expected to play in the outfield full-time. As a result, the Phillies have too many outfielders with Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams, and Aaron Altherr. Technically, the Phillies could move Santana to third base as he has experience there, but he hasn’t played the hot corner since 2014.

Franco is arbitration eligible over the next four seasons, which might be the most attractive thing about him to other teams.