Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the story from Cardinals spring training in Jupiter, Florida …
Long after the clubhouse emptied, general manager John Mozeliak and his chief lieutenants, manager Mike Matheny and coaches from both sides of camp attended a workout of Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz, who is expected to sign a major-league contract with a club within days.
The Cardinals are expected to follow up on their longstanding interest in the 23-year-old by extending a formal offer to his agent, Jaime Torres, within the next 24 hours.
The Cardinals signed shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a four-year, $53 million free agent contract in November and are set at third base with Matt Carpenter and at second base with Kolten Wong. But the word on Diaz is that his defense needs fine tuning, so the St. Louis front office could be thinking long term with this move.
The Yankees, Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres, and Giants are also known to have interest in Diaz, who hit .315/.404/.500 with 12 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 313 plate appearances his final year in Cuba.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.