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MLB rumors: Rays swimming in Brandon Nimmo free agency pool; Padres looking at shortstops, even with Tatís

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MLB rumors: Rays swimming in Brandon Nimmo free agency pool;  Padres looking at shortstops, even with Tatís

Thanksgiving week tends to make for a slow one when it comes to hot stove season. Still, the day after the holiday is likely to restore some from their slumber, resulting in a new influx of rumours, news, and notes. With that in mind, you’ll find all the highlights from Friday below.

Rays pursuing Nimmo

Count the Rays among the teams with interest in free-agent center fielder Brandon Nimmo, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post. Heyman also mentions the Giants, Blue Jays, and Mets as interested parties.

Nimmo is, by far, the top center-field option available in a barren market. CBS Sports ranked him as the seventh best free agent, writing the following:

Juan Soto. Freddie Freeman. Bryce Harper. Aaron Judge. Paul Goldschmidt. What do those five players have in common? They’re the only batters with at least 1,000 plate appearances during the Pandemic Era to reach base more frequently than Nimmo did. He’s more than a pretty on-base: he’s made improvements both as a center fielder and as a platoon-disadvantaged hitter, as the last two seasons have represented two of his three best single-season performances versus southpaws. If there is a stain on his T-shirt, it’s his durability. Nimmo has appeared in more than 100 games just twice (thrice if you prorate his 2020 campaign over 162 games). The body doesn’t tend to grow more durable as one ages, but Nimmo’s top-of-the-order bat and middle-of-the-field glove should net him a lucrative long-term deal anyway.

The Rays, who bid farewell to their long-time centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier earlier this winter by declining a club option, would nevertheless appear to be an unlikely candidate to land Nimmo. They rarely hand out the kind of long-term deal that Nimmo seems in line to receive, and a loaded short-term deal would presumably be matched (or toppled) by one of those larger-market teams also in the running for his services. Yet the Rays were reportedly one of the finalists on Freddie Freeman last offseason, so who knows.

Padres interested in shortstops, Bogaerts included

You can never count out Padres general manager AJ Preller from making a splash. That’s why it shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise that Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported on Friday that Preller and the Padres are interested in adding a shortstop, with Xander Bogaerts emerging as a potential candidate.

CBS Sports recently ranked Bogaerts as the fifth best free agent available this offseason:

Bogaerts is the Max Martin of shortstops, a consistent hitmaker with a sparkling trophy case. In each of the last five seasons, he’s appeared in at least 84 percent of his team’s games and has produced an OPS+ north of 125. He can hit for average, he can walk, and he’s mostly hit for power. This season proved to be an exception on that last note, although a late May collision with Alex Verdugo that resulted in wrist and shoulder discomfort might be to blame. Defensively, Bogaerts has been a few years away from moving off shortstop for, oh, a decade now. Statcast data confirms that he still doesn’t have top-end speed or arm strength relative to his peers. It’s not easy to convince a big-league team you’re playable at six for this long unless you’re doing something right. Even if Bogaerts is asked by his next employer to shift elsewhere, you have to give him credit for the hard work he put into improving his defense. Do note that Bogaerts opted out of his contract with three years and $60 million remaining, suggesting he’s looking to improve on an AAV of $20 million. He should, easily.

The Padres would seem to be an unrealistic candidate for Bogaerts. After all, they already employ Fernando Tatis Jr. and Ha-Seong Kim. San Diego could slide Tatis to the outfield and Kim to a reserve role, in Heyman’s estimation. Of course, the most likely outcome has the Padres ending their pursuit once bidding ticks up, or after they make another notable addition. San Diego has already been linked to José Abreu.

Adames, Brewers have discussed extension

Shortstop Willy Adames, two seasons away from free agency, had broached the extension topic with David Stearns before the latter stepped down from his position at the top of Milwaukee’s baseball operations department, according to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy.

“We’ve had conversations about that, and I let them know that obviously I want to stay,” Adames said. “I like it here. I just have to do my job and let my agents handle that.”

The Brewers have already cut ties with Hunter Renfroe and Brent Suter this winter, leading to speculation they may continue to disassemble their roster to cut payroll. Adames, then, would make for an obvious trade candidate given his track record of performance and his relatively low cost versus the top free-agent shortstops.

Presuming the Brewers remain interested in extending Adames, though, it seems more likely than not that he would remain in town until the completion of those talks.

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