MLB.com Columnist

Mike Petriello

Ed-when? One of these 10 should dig dEEp

146 wRC+ since 2012 is seventh-best mark in baseball

Ed-when? One of these 10 should dig dEEp

Edwin Encarnacion entered the offseason as one of the three best free agents available, but as stars like Yoenis Cespedes, Dexter Fowler and Aroldis Chapman fall off the board, Encarnacion is available as his market remains a moving target. How can that be? Well, in part it's because there's a glut of 1B/DH types looking for teams this year, and it's also because he's 34 in January with a qualifying offer weighing him down. So while he's an elite hitter, there are a lot of factors here.

But if the price really is falling, there's a certain point where more than a few teams ought to be interested in a player who can help it win immediately -- even teams that already have options at first base or designated hitter.

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Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. He has previously written for ESPN Insider and FanGraphs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

In need of more work: 10 contenders with holes

In need of more work: 10 contenders with holes

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Winter Meetings served their purpose, with some stunning swaps, some significant signings and the usual rounds of rumors, both ridiculous and realistic. But as we say every year when the executives, agents, media members, job-seekers and everybody else associated with this industry gathering filters through the exit doors, we're far from done here.

The Hot Stove will keep burning for weeks to come, and these are the 10 biggest holes contending teams still need to fill this offseason.

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Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Birds of a feather: Fowler a perfect fit for Cardinals

Veteran center fielder, leadoff hitter will also contribute in clubhouse

Birds of a feather: Fowler a perfect fit for Cardinals

The negotiations between Dexter Fowler and the Cardinals were nearing the home stretch this week when general manager John Mozeliak wanted to call the center fielder he was courting from the Winter Meetings. Fowler did not answer his phone, however.

"We were on a two-hour time difference, and Mo actually wanted to get in touch with me, but I was actually in the dentist chair," Fowler explained Friday. "So I couldn't answer my phone. I actually showed [my agent] the picture and he showed Mo. So [Mozeliak] knew I wasn't lying."

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Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Giolito excited to join White Sox talent haul

Top-ranked pitching prospect acquired in 4-player trade with Nationals

Giolito excited to join White Sox talent haul

CHICAGO -- A few moments existed on Monday when Lucas Giolito thought the White Sox stood as his next pitching destination as part of a high-level trade for Chris Sale.

Such is the world of social media, especially at the Winter Meetings.

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Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Foe finish: Free agents who signed with rivals

Fowler is the latest player to switch loyalties during Hot Stove season

Foe finish: Free agents who signed with rivals

When Dexter Fowler exchanged Cubs blue for Cardinals red Friday, he became the latest in a long line of Major Leaguers to move from rival to rival in free agency.

He's not even the first mover this offseason -- Carlos Beltran, for instance, left the Rangers for the Astros.

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David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Manfred showers Bronx family with gifts

Commissioner joins Boys & Girls Clubs' 12 Days of Giving campaign

Manfred showers Bronx family with gifts

NEW YORK -- After the successful Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, the Winter Meetings and many other pressing matters in recent days, this was a moment of special joy for Commissioner Rob Manfred. He welcomed a family of five into his Park Avenue offices at the end of the day on Friday and surprised them with many bundles of holiday gifts, part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America's 12 Days of Giving campaign.

"This is just a fantastic experience, to see these young people from the Boys & Girls Clubs and have an opportunity to make the holiday season special for them," Manfred said. "It's also an honor for us. A lot of great alums like CC Sabathia participated in this event, and we're glad to have an opportunity to do our part.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rodney excited to start anew with D-backs

Rodney excited to start anew with D-backs

PHOENIX -- New D-backs closer Fernando Rodney joked that he's already placed an order for 45 invisible arrows, one for every save he hopes to rack up in 2017, and he plans to launch them into the sky from the mound with his new teammates after each victory.

Rodney's postgame bow-and-arrow celebration is well known in baseball circles. It's also no secret that he'll be expected to fill the void at the back end of the bullpen left by veterans Brad Ziegler and Tyler Clippard, who were traded prior to last seaon's Trade Deadline.

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Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

All eyes to be on McCutchen at PirateFest

Annual two-day event runs noon-7 p.m. Saturday, noon-4 p.m. Sunday

All eyes to be on McCutchen at PirateFest

PITTSBURGH -- The 27th annual PirateFest is set to begin today, and after a busy week of trade rumors, all eyes will be on Andrew McCutchen.

McCutchen is among the large contingent of players and coaches scheduled to appear at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center during the two-day event. This year's PirateFest will begin with a season-ticket holder event from 10 a.m.-noon ET today then opens to the public from noon until 7 p.m. Season-ticket holders can return from 10 a.m.-noon on Sunday, with the general public hours running from noon to 4 p.m.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rumor Roundup: A Fowler followup for Cards?

Rumor Roundup: A Fowler followup for Cards?

The Hot Stove season is underway, and we're keeping you up to date with the latest free-agent news, trade buzz, rumors and more.

Hot Stove Tracker

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This young fan wrote a letter begging the Giants' GM to sign Mark Melancon

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This young fan wrote a letter begging the Giants' GM to sign Mark Melancon

On Friday, the Giants introduced their new closer, Mark Melancon, at a news conference. While it was a move that made a lot of sense for the Giants -- the team had a need at the back end of their bullpen and Melancon's affinity for inducing weak contact makes him a good fit in AT&T Park -- one young fan wasn't going to take any chances. He wrote to general manager Bobby Evans and begged him to sign the closer.

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Astros, Cuban lefty Perez agree to revised deal

After $5.15 million contract voided in October, elite prospect signs for $2 million

Astros, Cuban lefty Perez agree to revised deal

Cionel Perez once again has a deal with the Astros.

The Astros announced the signing Friday afternoon almost two months after Houston voided a deal with Perez worth $5.15 million -- the largest contract awarded to an international amateur prospect under the international signing guidelines in franchise history -- because of concerns with his physical. Earlier in the day Perez's agent issued a statement on his behalf in which he expressed frustration with the international free-agent process and MLB. The statement said Perez's contract is for $2 million.

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Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

Diversity, inclusion points of emphasis at Winter Meetings

Diversity, inclusion points of emphasis at Winter Meetings

Trades and free-agent signings garner most of the attention at Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings every year, but the four-day industry convention isn't limited to wheeling and dealing among front offices.

MLB has become increasingly visible as a proponent of social responsibility, and has taken measures to ensure awareness is as much a part of its year-round business efforts as anything baseball-related.

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Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Blue Jays to regroup with Fowler off market

Seeking outfielder, club must decide whether to go free-agent or trade route

Blue Jays to regroup with Fowler off market

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays went to a contingency plan when they decided to move on from slugger Edwin Encarnacion. Expect a similar move now that the club has missed out on Dexter Fowler.

Fowler was one of Toronto's top priorities this offseason, but he spurned its advances in favor of a five-year deal worth $82.5 million with the Cardinals. He would have been an ideal fit for a team looking for more speed and athleticism, but his decision means the Blue Jays are back to the drawing board.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs Trophy Tour makes first stop in Chicago

Cubs Trophy Tour makes first stop in Chicago

The celebration 108 years in the making continued on Friday as the Cubs Trophy Tour embarked on its first voyage in Chicago. Here is a look at the stops the Commissioner's Trophy has made, with a look ahead to the rest of the circuit:

Cubs Team Store, Dec. 9
The 24-inch, 30-pound crown made its first stop at the new official Cubs Team Store along the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Ave.

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Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Photo of the Day: Johnny Cueto and this donkey are definitely best friends now

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Photo of the Day: Johnny Cueto and this donkey are definitely best friends now

If there's one thing Johnny Cueto loves more than trolling Major League batters, it's befriending the entire animal kingdom. Last winter, for example, the Giants righty both casually rode a horse and headed over to SeaWorld to become some sort of whale whisperer.

So, now that the offseason is here again, Cueto has decided to become best friends with a local donkey. It seems to be going well.

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MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

What's next as dust settles after Winter Meetings?

8 free agents, 6 trade candidates to watch with teams still dealing

What's next as dust settles after Winter Meetings?

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Winter Meetings serve as a checkpoint of sorts for baseball's offseason. It's right about this time that free agents start to get antsy about how things will work out.

Maybe they're not going to get the deal they hoped to get. Maybe they're not going to end up where they thought they would. When is it time to recalibrate?

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @richardjustice. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Melancon, Giants see closer fitting in nicely

Melancon, Giants see closer fitting in nicely

SAN FRANCISCO -- At Friday's AT&T Park news conference to herald the Giants' signing of closer Mark Melancon, the right-hander remained exultant over joining his new team.

"From Day One," Melancon said, "I thought this was the best fit."

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Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

O's Tavarez, taken in Rule 5 Draft, headlines winter league performers

O's Tavarez, taken in Rule 5 Draft, headlines winter league performers

Aneury Tavarez put himself on the map with a breakout campaign in 2016, when he finished second in the Eastern League batting race with a .335 average in 106 games for Double-A Portland. He also established career highs in on-base percentage (.379) and slugging (.506) while tallying 39 extra-base hits and 18 stolen bases.

That success has followed the 24-year-old outfielder into the Dominican Winter League, and it's a big reason that the Orioles selected Tavarez -- the club's new No. 30 prospect -- in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday. In 35 games for Estrellas Orientales this offseason, Tavarez has produced a .302/.359/.405 batting line in 35 games, with six extra-base hits, 16 runs scored and five steals.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Baseball project set for 'Field of Dreams' site

Iowa court ruling paves way for 24-field complex to benefit youth baseball and softball

Baseball project set for 'Field of Dreams' site

"If you build it, they will come," or at least that's what will likely result following the Iowa Supreme Court's ruling on Friday to erect a baseball complex in Dyersville, Iowa, at the filming site of "Field of Dreams," the iconic movie about a man who plows his cornfield to build a baseball field where mythical players of the past come to play.

Development will now proceed on a 24-field All-Star Ballpark Heaven for youth baseball and softball, supported by Go the Distance LLC, which is led by Chicago investor Denise Stillman.

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Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sandoval primed for comeback? Sox optimistic

Sandoval primed for comeback? Sox optimistic

BOSTON -- After the two trades the Red Sox made earlier this week, one thing became clear: Third base is open for Pablo Sandoval, and he has a chance to emerge into one of the comeback stories of 2017.

Travis Shaw was sent to Milwaukee as part of the Tyler Thornburg trade. Yoan Moncada was the centerpiece of the mega-deal that brought Chris Sale to Boston. Those are the two main players Sandoval would have been in competition with to man the hot corner for the Red Sox.

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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bonifacio rejoins Braves on Minor League deal

Bonifacio rejoins Braves on Minor League deal

ATLANTA -- It is now accurate to say Emilio Bonifacio has agreed to return to the Braves for the third time within the past 366 days. The veteran utility man can only hope this reunion does not prove to be as odd as the one he experienced this past season.

A source with knowledge of the negotiations revealed that Bonifacio agreed to a one-year, Minor League deal with the Braves on Friday. This agreement, which has not been confirmed by the club, was made on the anniversary of Atlanta providing him a one-year, $1.25 million Major League contract that led to disappointment when he was designated for assignment on the final day of Spring Training.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Big deal: Cards reshuffle the Dex!

GM Mozeliak: 'This was always someone that we were hoping to sign'

Big deal: Cards reshuffle the Dex!

Though the Cardinals did not make any transactions during their four-day stay at the Winter Meetings, it did not take long after their return to St. Louis for them to complete their pursuit of a new center fielder.

St. Louis announced Friday morning that it had signed center fielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed, but MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported that it was for $82.5 million and includes a full no-trade clause.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Outfield, bullpen next on Rays' to-do list

Outfield, bullpen next on Rays' to-do list

ST. PETERSBURG -- Now that the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center is in the rearview mirror, as well as another Winter Meetings, the Rays can give themselves an attaboy for grabbing the catcher upgrade they so desired.

Wilson Ramos has not officially been announced by the team -- in fact, mum's the word around Tropicana Field regarding the signing. But everybody in the baseball world knows they agreed to a two-year, $12.5 million deal with the All-Star catcher that includes playing time incentives to make up to $18.25 million. Mission accomplished.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

3 Minor Leaguers receive suspensions

Three Minor League players were suspended by the Commissioner's Office on Friday for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Brewers farmhand Phil Bickford and Marlins Minor League outfielder Casey Soltis each received 50-game suspensions following second violations of testing positive for a drug of abuse. Blue Jays Minor League right-hander Pedro Loficial was suspended for 72 games after testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance.

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Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Infante returns to Tigers with spring invite

Veteran infielder among club's first round of Minor League signings

Infante returns to Tigers with spring invite

DETROIT -- Omar Infante is back in the Tigers organization. A.J. Achter, who grew up down Interstate 75 from Comerica Park, will soon be joining him.

The Tigers announced their first round of Minor League contracts Friday, a list of 14 players that includes a familiar name in Infante. The former Tigers and Royals second baseman will get a non-roster invitation to Major League Spring Training, where he'll try to win a roster spot 15 years after he made his Major League debut in Detroit.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Padres complete trade for Rule 5 pick Torrens

Friars send VanMeter, cash to Reds for catcher

Padres complete trade for Rule 5 pick Torrens

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Padres and Reds have finalized the trade that sent Rule 5 Draft pick Luis Torrens to San Diego -- and the details are quite telling.

On Friday, San Diego sent infield prospect Josh VanMeter to Cincinnati as the player to be named in the deal, which netted Torrens -- one of three acquisitions in an eventful Rule 5 Draft. VanMeter isn't a highly touted prospect by any means, but he showed plenty of promise at Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore.

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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dodgers outright Culberson to Triple-A

Dodgers outright Culberson to Triple-A

LOS ANGELES -- Charlie Culberson, whose walk-off home run clinched the National League West for the Dodgers this past season, was outrighted to Triple-A on Friday.

The 27-year-old infielder played in 34 games for the Dodgers in 2016.

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Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Baker invigorated after first season with Nats

Baker invigorated after first season with Nats

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Dusty Baker took his time packing. He was not quite ready to go home yet. Sure, he missed his family and his home outside of Sacramento, but he was not ready for this baseball season -- his first back in the game after two years away -- to end.

So Baker took a week to pack slowly after the Nationals were eliminated by the Dodgers in Game 5 of the National League Division Series. He usually solicits help, but he wanted to take his time, to drive by Nationals Park one more time and reflect on his first season in Washington.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jon Paul Morosi

5 things we learned at the Winter Meetings

Market taking shape after blockbuster deals, free-agent signings

5 things we learned at the Winter Meetings

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Winter Meetings are over. The Hot Stove still smolders.

Chris Sale, Aroldis Chapman, Adam Eaton, Ian Desmond and Mark Melancon have new teams ... but Edwin Encarnacion, Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Braun and Chris Archer do not.

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Jon Paul Morosi is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rangers pitchers, catchers to report Feb. 17

Rangers pitchers, catchers to report Feb. 17

ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training on Feb. 17, the club announced on Friday evening.

Those pitchers and catchers who are participating in the World Baseball Classic will be allowed to report on Feb. 14. The Classic rosters have yet to be set, but Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy is planning to catch for the United States and pitcher Martin Perez is hoping to play for Venezuela.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.