The Marlins just announced that they have acquired left-hander Wade LeBlanc from the Padres in exchange for catcher John Baker.
The Marlins have 11 players who are eligible for arbitration this winter and John Buck is already locked in as their primary starting catcher, so swapping Baker for LeBlanc makes plenty of sense.
LeBlanc, 27, went 5-6 with a 4.63 ERA and 51/28 K/BB ratio in 79 2/3 innings over 14 starts with the Padres this season. He will almost certainly miss pitching in the cozy confines of PETCO Park, as evidenced by his 2.97 career ERA at home and 6.16 ERA on the road, but he could be a decent fit in the back of Florida’s rotation. While they remain in the mix for C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle, adding a left-handed starter was a priority for the Marlins this winter.
Baker missed most of the season following Tommy John surgery, but batted .154 (2-for-13) after being activated from the disabled list in September. The 30-year-old backstop is a .271/.356/.401 hitter in the big leagues and has a .782 career OPS against right-handed pitching, so he could make for a nice little tandem with the right-handed hitting Nick Hundley.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.