MLB Rumors: Updates on Clase, Martinez, Bellinger, and Other Free Agents

Yankees Eye Key Additions for Stronger Pitching Lineup

by Nouman Rasool
MLB Rumors: Updates on Clase, Martinez, Bellinger, and Other Free Agents
© Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Spring training is just around the corner, and with the full schedule unveiled, the MLB landscape is abuzz with free agency and trade developments. Despite the announced schedule, a remarkable number of high-profile MLB free agents remain unsigned.

The market's sluggish pace is nudging teams to consider trade possibilities over free agent signings. In the midst of this, several free agents stand out, with the potential to transform playoff hopefuls into serious World Series contenders.

Cody Bellinger, Blake Snell, and Josh Hader are among the notable names. They could be pivotal for teams aiming to bolster their roster, particularly for clubs like the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, and Toronto Blue Jays, all of which are actively seeking to make significant off-season moves.

However, current trends suggest that trade targets are gaining more traction than free agent signings.

Yankees Bolster Bullpen

The New York Yankees, for instance, are intensifying their efforts to strengthen their bullpen.

Following their acquisition of Marcus Stroman, the Yankees are now reportedly pursuing Josh Hader, the market's top closer. Rumors also link them to right-hander Robert Stephenson and Hector Neris. Neris, despite lacking extensive experience as a closer, impressed in 2023 with the Houston Astros, achieving a 1.71 ERA in 68.1 innings.

He is reportedly seeking a three-year, $50 million deal. Meanwhile, trade rumors are swirling around Cleveland Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase. The Chicago Cubs, eyeing bullpen enhancements, are showing interest in Clase. Despite a rise in his ERA from 2022 to 2023, Clase led MLB in saves for two consecutive seasons.

His contract, valued at $14 million over three years, is considered a bargain for a reliever of his caliber. Acquiring Clase would require a significant offer from the Cubs, but their underrated farm system could facilitate a deal.

The Boston Red Sox are concentrating on improving their starting rotation and adding right-handed power. Potential re-signings could include Justin Turner and Adam Duvall. Another name to watch is J.D. Martinez, a former Red Sox designated hitter.

With his track record and six All-Star appearances, Martinez is drawing interest from at least six teams, including possibly the Red Sox. The market for Cody Bellinger and Blake Snell remains quiet, but the Chicago Cubs are rumored to be leading candidates for Bellinger.

Should negotiations falter, the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners are next in line. Before signing Stroman, the Yankees reportedly offered Snell a deal significantly below his asking price. The Blue Jays, however, appear most interested in the 2023 NL Cy Young winner.