If posted, Japanese righty will be among most coveted arms on market
By Joey Nowak
Today's MLB rumor mill includes some news about potential newcomers, as well as about some long-standing veterans. Here is a collection of some of the top Hot Stove stories around baseball:
• This year's free-agent class features a wealth of pitching depth, and one of the premier talents has never pitched an inning of a Major League game.
Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda, who has spent the past eight seasons with the Hiroshima Carp of the Japan Central League, figures to draw a ton of MLB interest -- if and when the Carp decide to post him. But FOX Sports' Jon Morosi indicates that may still be a while.
According to Morosi's report, the Carp are likely to post Maeda, but a "formal decision isn't expected until after Maeda and Team Japan complete their participation in the WBSC [World Baseball Softball Confederation] Premier 12 international tournament, which concludes Nov. 21."
Maeda has won double-digit games in each of the past six seasons, and he has a 2.39 career ERA in 218 games (217 starts). Morosi points to the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodger and Giants as potential suitors.
"I love Maeda," Arizona GM Dave Stewart said. "I love him. We have a lot of video and film, and we have people who have seen him. We think that he's got a chance to be very successful in Major League Baseball. We're going to try to be in on the market when he does post, if he does post."
• Maeda may not be the only Japanese newcomer on the market, as CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweeted that infielder Nobuhiro Matsuda has declared free agency and is looking for a Major League deal.
Japanese 3B-2B Nobu Matsuda, 32, has declared for free agency with hopes of MLB deal. Hit 35 HR for softbank.
The 32-year-old has played primarily third base in his career with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, posting six seasons of double-digit home runs (including 35 this year) since 2006.
• The Chicago Sun-Times is saying the market for starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija could be "robust," with teams like the Cubs, Giants and Dodgers looking like a possible fit.
According to the Sun Times' Gordon Wittenmyer, there has been some indication that Samardzija's issues this past season can be traced to a "less-than-ideal fit" with White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, and that some of his problems were mechanics-related and fixable. In a full, healthy season, Samardzija went 11-13 with a 4.96 ERA.
"It's a [bit] of a head scratcher, especially since he was healthy all year and was able to take the ball every fifth day," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told the Sun-Times. "He certainly gave us the innings we were counting on getting from those starts, and occasionally he showed flashes of what he had done in the past and what he's capable of doing going forward."
• The Royals and left fielder Alex Gordon have expressed mutual interest in each other, but the three-time All-Star still figures to generate a lot of interest on the free-agent market this offseason.
According to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, the Cubs, Orioles and Astros appear to be the most interested parties early on at this week's GM Meetings in Boca Raton, Fla.
Hearing a lot of early #Cubs, #Orioles and #Astros chatter on free agent OF Alex Gordon at the GMs meetings.
Gordon is the longest-tenured player on the World Series champion Royals. He turned down his $13.75 million player option for 2016 (as expected) and the Royals offered him a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer. He has until 5 p.m. ET on Friday to accept or decline the offer.
"There's no doubt in any of our minds that we want Alex, and Alex wants to be here," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "Alex has done everything for us each and every day, and we've given him everything we possibly could."
• According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, veteran Mark Buehrle has not yet indicated if he'll return in 2016. But if he does, he should draw some attention.
• And speaking of returning, two-time American League Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana is reportedly still pushing for a comeback from injury.
Johan Santana, who last pitched in #MLB in 2012, hopes to play in 2016, according to agent Peter Greenberg.
• Daniel Murphy is one of the hottest names on the free-agent market this offseason thanks to his outstanding postseason, when he helped to power the Mets to the World Series.
The Mets extended Murphy a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer, but he is expected to explore other options. Could one of those be with another team not so far away? According to a report from ESPN.com's Adam Rubin, the Yankees can essentially be taken off the list of potential Murphy suitors.
The reason is a much-talked-about one: Murphy's defense.
"I think if we're going to pursue something … we have two offensive-profile players already at that position," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said, according to ESPN.com. "So, I think if we did any changing there, it would be seeking more balance of both sides of the ball."
Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.