Count the Rays among the teams that chased second baseman DJ LeMahieu during his trip to the open market, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Before LeMahieu joined the division-rival Yankees on a two-year, $24MM guarantee, Tampa Bay was “very much in on” him, Topkin writes. Now, with spring training approaching, it’s possible the Rays’ roster may be set, suggests Topkin, who runs down the team’s options at each position. However, Topkin still doesn’t rule out further moves, including a trade for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, who has garnered serious interest this month from the Rays and several other teams.
More from the East Coast…
- With the Braves looking for help in the grass, general manager Alex Anthopoulos revealed Saturday that there are “probably” three outfielders available who fit what the club is seeking, David O’Brien of The Athletic tweets. Anthopoulos added one or more of those players has been in trade discussions but has not made it into the rumor mill, per O’Brien, who surmises that free agents A.J. Pollock and Nick Markakis and Diamondbacks outfielder David Peralta could make up at least a couple of the Braves’ targets. The Braves have been connected to all three throughout the winter, and the easiest to acquire would likely be Markakis, who capped off a four-year run in Atlanta with a solid showing in 2018. But as a 35-year-old corner outfielder with an unspectacular resume, it’s obvious Markakis – unlike Pollock – is not a candidate to land a long-term contract.
- Before he agreed to sign with the Twins on Saturday, left-hander Martin Perez drew interest from the Mets, Jon Heyman of Fancred relays. However, the Mets wanted Perez as a depth piece, which helped point him to a better opportunity in Minnesota, Heyman reports. Coming off a miserable 2018 in Texas, Perez wouldn’t have been a clear upgrade over anyone in the Mets’ rotation – a group that features reigning NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz and Jason Vargas. The Mets’ top depth starting possibilities include Seth Lugo, though he may be too important to their bullpen to move to the rotation if a need arises, and recent minor league pickup Hector Santiago.
- Back to the Braves, who should get back a couple of their own key pitchers in time for spring training. Both starter Mike Soroka and reliever Darren O’Day are on track to return after injury-shortened seasons, Gabe Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution details. The 21-year-old Soroka was terrific during a five-start, 25 2/3-inning major league debut in 2018, but he last took the mound June 19 on account of shoulder inflammation. He’s now a favorite to win a starting spot in Atlanta heading into 2019, Burns observes. O’Day, meanwhile, underwent season-ending hamstring surgery in late June, but the Braves nonetheless took him from the Orioles a month later in a deal headlined by Kevin Gausman. The 36-year-old O’Day had been amid another quality season before he went down, continuing a long run of effectiveness. With a $9MM salary, he’s currently the Braves’ most expensive reliever.