Author: Bill Baer

Yoenis Cespedes
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Angels may make a run at Yoenis Cespedes

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Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News hears that the Angels may make a run at free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

Cespedes hasn’t been mentioned often in the rumor mill so far this offseason, as the Angels and Giants have been the only teams linked to him thus far. However, the slugger should draw plenty of interest as the year draws to a close.

Cespedes, 30, pieced together a career year between the Tigers and Mets in 2015. He hit .291/.328/.542 with 35 home runs and 105 RBI in 676 plate appearances.

Giants in search of a “big bat” and more starting pitching

Mike Leake
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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The Giants inked starter Jeff Samardzija to a five-year, $90 million deal on Saturday afternoon, but they’re not done yet. We learned earlier that the club is scheduled to meet with free agent super-utility man Ben Zobrist.

Additionally, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes that the Giants are still in on free agent starter Mike Leake and “still like” starter Hisashi Iwakuma. They’re also looking to add a “big bat” such as Yoenis Cespedes or Justin Upton, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY.

The Giants finished six games above .500 during the 2015 season and all of their important players will be returning. One or two more big adds could make them a legitimate National League powerhouse.

After signing Samardzija, the Giants have $137.5 million committed to 12 players, leaving them about $35 million shy of last season’s Opening Day payroll. Ostensibly, they have plenty of wiggle room with the payroll.

Report: Dodgers making a push for Hisashi Iwakuma

Hisashi Iwakuma
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is hearing from sources that the Dodgers are making a push for free agent starter Hisashi Iwakuma. He adds that the Dodgers have particular interest in Iwakuma because he would not require as long of a contract due to his age (34).

The Dodgers have thus far come up empty in free agency, as David Price, Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmermann, John Lackey, and Jeff Samardzija — among others — are all off the board.

Iwakuma turned down the Mariners’ $15.8 million qualifying offer, so the Dodgers would forfeit a draft pick in 2016 to sign the right-hander. Iwakuma made only 20 starts this past season as he dealt with a strained lat muscle. He compiled a 3.54 ERA with a 1.064 WHIP and a 111/21 K/BB ratio over 129 2/3 innings.

Twins, Cubs, Padres showing interest in Fernando Rodney

Fernando Rodney
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
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Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the Twins, Cubs, and Padres have expressed interest in free agent reliever Fernando Rodney.

Rodney, 38, had a miserable 2015 campaign, finishing with a 4.74 ERA and earning the save in only 16 of 23 opportunities. The Mariners traded him to the Cubs near the end of August, and he succeeded in a set-up role, allowing just one earned run on eight hits and four walks with 15 strikeouts in 12 innings.

Due to his age and poor performance throughout most of the past season, Rodney will likely have to accept a set-up role and a one-year deal.

Cardinals have interest in Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija
AP Photo/David Banks
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The Cardinals are interested in free agent pitcher Jeff Samardzija, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY is reporting. They finished as the runner-up for the services of David Price, so they have turned their attention elsewhere.

Samardzija joined the White Sox last winter as the centerpiece of a trade with the Athletics. He struggled mightily, compiling a 4.96 ERA with a 163/49 K/BB ratio over 214 innings. He led the league, allowing 228 hits, 118 earned runs, and 29 home runs. Samardzija turns 31 in January, but pursuing teams are hopeful he can turn things around and recapture the performance he showed in 2014, when he posted a combined 2.99 ERA between the Cubs and Athletics.