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Winter Meetings Rumors Remain Pitching Heavy

Most of the chatter out of the MLB winter meetings has centered around elite pitchers like Max Scherzer and Cole Hamels.

Cole Hamels

Jon Lester has found a new home but there remains plenty of intrigue and action as the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings enter day three Wednesday.

The city of Chicago has been the big winner so far at the Winter Meetings with the Cubs and White Sox both making big splashes and improving their teams dramatically in the last couple of days.

The Cubs made the most recent headlines with the signing of Lester while the White Sox acquired starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija and starting pitcher prospect Michael Ynoa in a trade with the Athletics while also signing free agent closer David Robertson.

Pitching will remain the focus of the meetings over the next day and a half with the market for free agent Max Scherzer picking up and trade rumors for Philadelphia ace Cole Hamels continuing to swirl.

Lester signed a six-year, $155 million deal with the Cubs late Tuesday leaving the Giants, Red Sox, and Dodgers empty handed and any or all of those three teams could get in on Scherzer and Hamels. Scherzer is looking for even bigger money than Lester got but teams are well aware of that after he declined a six-year $144 million deal from the Tigers.

The Yankees, Cardinals, and Tigers are thought to be potential suitors for Scherzer as well.

Hamels is appealing because he is already under contract at what looks like a bargain compared to the numbers in the Lester deal and the ones floating around Scherzer. Hamels is around $95 million on a deal that runs through 2018 and he has won a World Series MVP and has stated he wants to pitch for a winner.

The doesn’t look like it will happen in Philly in the near future and the Phillies have been hamstrung in their rebuilding efforts by big contracts and no-trade clauses that have resulted in no deals for some of their aging stars. Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley appear to both be staying put and there is little to no market for Ryan Howard as the former slugger’s huge contract, age, decreased production, and injury history are scaring teams off.

Trading Hamels is Philadelphia’s one chance at bringing in a haul that could speed up the rebuilding process and the Red Sox are said to be interested but with a market that includes free agent James Shields and trade options in Doug Fister, Jordan Zimmermann, Andrew Cashner, Johnny Cueto, Rick Porcello, David Price, Mat Latos, and Mike Leake among others, Philadelphia may have to bide its time before a deal for Hamels materializes.

Free agent outfielder Alex Rios is garnering some interest with the Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, and Seattle Mariners reportedly among the teams interested in the 33-year-old outfielder.

Matt Kemp and Justin Upton are outfielders who could find new homes via trade while Melky Cabrera is considered the top free agent outfielder available.

The Houston Astros made a pair of moves early Wednesday to shore up their bullpen as they signed Pat Neshek to a two-year deal with $12.5 million and also inked Luke Gregerson for three years, $18.5 million.

It’s not an baseball offseason if there isn’t at least a mention of the New York Yankees and their spending money but so far GM Brian Cashman has been quiet. One move could be in the bullpen after losing Robertson and a name floating around is Phillies closer and former Red Sox stopper Jonathan Papelbon.

New York’s other team, the Mets are rumored to be looking to upgrade at shortstop and could move pitchers Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon and or Jon Niese to get a deal done.

A former closer with the Giants, right-hander Sergio Romo is reportedly talking to the Tigers and Giants about a deal while the Diamondbacks, in an attempt to shed more payroll, will listen to offers for 28-year-old starter Wade Miley with the Red Sox, Marlins, Rangers, and Blue Jays reportedly interested.

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