From FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal comes this:
The Cardinals did extensive background work on free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran last week and maintain strong interest in him, according to major league sources.
Rosenthal goes on to say that other teams “remain in the mix” and that Beltran is considering “two- and even three-year” offers, but the Cardinals may have become the front-runner with the Rockies’ recent acquisition of Michael Cuddyer and the Blue Jays’ heavy involvement in the Yu Darvish bidding.
Beltran batted .300/.385/.525 with 22 home runs, 39 doubles and 84 RBI in 598 plate appearances for the Mets and Giants in 2011. The 34-year-old would likely to be asked to play right field in St. Louis until Allen Craig heals from his knee surgery, then he could be shifted to center in place of Jon Jay.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Indians and Padres are still discussing a potential trade for a starting pitcher, namely Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. Rosenthal adds that a deal isn’t close and is unlikely to occur before Opening Day. The Padres are balking at the Indians’ asking prices for the two starters.
The Padres could certainly use an ace at the top of the rotation. With the addition of Manny Machado, the lineup is looking decent, but beyond Joey Lucchesi, the starting pitching doesn’t inspire confidence.
Kluber, who turns 33 years old next month, has club options for the next two seasons at $13.5 million and $14 million with $1 million buyouts each. Last year, the right-hander finished third in AL Cy Young balloting, finishing 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA and a 222/34 K/BB ratio in 215 innings.
Bauer, 28, is earning $13 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration heading into 2020. Last year, Bauer went 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA and a 221/57 K/BB ratio across 175 1/3 innings.
The Indians are the prohibitive favorites in the AL Central once again, but that has as much to do with the mediocrity of the rest of the division as the Indians’ commitment to competing. If the Indians were to trade either or both starters, that would be good news for the Twins, who are projected to be 15 games worse than the Indians but still finish in second place, according to PECOTA from Baseball Prospectus.