MLB rumors: Royals shopping Hunter Dozier, Nicky Lopez after Red Sox trade; Marlins halt Yuli Gurriel pursuit

We are less than a month away from spring training, baseball fans. Here is each team’s spring training reporting date. Now here are Monday’s hot stove rumors as you await baseball’s return in a few weeks.

Red Sox acquire Mondesi

The Red Sox have acquired oft-injured infielder Adalberto Mondesi from the Royals for lefty reliever Josh Taylor, according to MLB.com. Boston will also receive a player to be named later in the trade. Even with Enrique Hernández shifting from center field to shortstop, the Red Sox need infield depth following Xander Bogaerts’ departure and Trevor Story’s elbow surgery.

Mondesi, 27, has played only 50 games the last two seasons due to multiple injuries, including a torn ACL. He flashed five-tool ability earlier in his career, including hitting .276/.306/.498 with 14 homers and 32 steals in 75 games in 2018, although injuries have hampered his development. Mondesi will be a free agent after 2023. Taylor, 29, did not pitch in MLB last season and made only a handful of minor league appearances due to a back injury.

Royals discussing other trades

But wait, there might be more movement coming from the Royals, who have now dealt Mondesi and outfielder Michael A. Taylor in the past 24 hours. According to ESPNthe Royals have also discussed trades that involve utility player Hunter Dozier and infielder Nicky Lopez.

Dozier, a 31-year-old potentially signed through the 2025 season, has failed to make good on what appeared to be a breakout season in 2019. He’s posted an 89 OPS+ over the last three years while bouncing around the corner positions. Lopez, 27, is under team control through the 2025 season. He too failed to build upon what was a banner season in 2021. His OPS+ dipped from 104 to 58. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic notes that the White Sox are one of the teams interested in Lopez.

The Royals have a glut of young position players either in the majors or on the way, making them an obvious candidate to ship out at least one more hitter between now and Opening Day.

The Athletics have signed first baseman Jesús Aguilar to a one-year contract worth $3 million, reports USA Today. Oakland has spent nearly $30 million on six free agents this offseason (Aguilar, Aledmys Díaz, Shintaro Fujinami, Trevor May, Jace Peterson, and Drew Rucinski), although their estimated 2023 payroll sits at only $58.5 million, per FanGraphs. That is one of the lowest in baseball.

Aguilar, 32, hit .235/.281/.379 with 16 home runs in 129 games with the Marlins and Orioles in 2022. He was an above-average hitter as recently as 2021 though, plus he is regarded as an excellent clubhouse presence . Aguilar can platoon with Seth Brown at first base, and also take DH at-bats. And, if he performs well, the A’s could perhaps flip him for a prospect at the deadline.

Marlins halt pursuit of Gurriel

The Marlins have halted their pursuit of free agent first baseman Yuli Gurriel, reports the Miami Herald. Miami is currently slated to play Garrett Cooper at first base and Jorge Soler at DH, but if they’re willing to live with Cooper or Soler in the outfield defensively, there’s still room in the lineup for Gurriel. Jazz Chisholm is shifting to center in the wake of the Luis Arraez trade.

Miami has sought high contact hitters all offseason and Gurriel would certainly fit. He’s posted one of the lowest strikeout rates in baseball since arriving in 2016, although he had the worst season of his MLB career in 2022, and at age 38, it’s possible his days as an above-average hitter are over. For now though, the Marlins have paused their pursuit. It’s unclear if they’re focusing elsewhere.

Rays still looking for offense

The Rays are still looking to upgrade their offense, though GM Erik Neader conceded “there aren’t that many (difference-making bats) out there that are available,” reports the Tampa Bay Times. Jurickson Profar is the best free agent position player still on the marketalthough others like Miguel Sanó, Franmil Reyes, Luke Voit, and former Ray David Peralta remain unsigned as well.

Last season the Rays ranked 21st in runs scored, and they scored no more than one run in nine of their final 16 regular season games. Tampa was then held to one solo homer in 24 innings in its Wild Card Series loss to the Guardians. The Rays haven’t added any offense this offseason. If anything, they subtracted from their offense with the Ji-Man Choi trade.

Orioles still seeking rotation help

Orioles GM Mike Elias hopes to add another starting pitcher before spring training, he said during an interview with 105.7 FM The Fan over the weekend (via the Baltimore Sun). The O’s signed Kyle Gibson to a one-year contract earlier this winter. Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer, Tyler Wells, and Austin Voth figure to round out the rotation until top prospect Grayson Rodriguez is called up.

Baltimore has been connected to Michael Wacha, the best available free agent starter, the last few weeks. Other unsigned starters include Zack Greinke, Mike Minor, and Michael Pineda. If nothing else, the O’s could use another veteran just to chew up innings and spare the bullpen a bit, and avoid asking the kids to carry too much of a workload too soon.

Reds not expected to make further additions

The Reds are not expected to make any more additions before spring training and the roster is “pretty much set,” GM Nick Krall said at the team’s caravan event Monday (via the Cincinnati Enquirer). “Obviously, we tore it down (after making the postseason in 2020). We traded some players off last year. It’s something we needed to go through. We’re trying to build it back up,” Krall added.

It has been a fairly uneventful offseason for the Reds. They traded away Kyle Farmer, added Wil Myers and Luke Weaver, and that’s about it. Cincinnati opened 2022 with a $114.1 million payroll. Their estimated 2023 payroll currently sits at $81.5 million, per FanGraphs. In terms of percentage of 2022 payroll, the Reds are projected to have the largest payroll cut in baseball this year.

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