Free agency has been unusually slow this month, with only two players (Cliff Pennington and Rich Hill) changing teams so far. With less than three weeks until the Winter Meetings get underway in Nashville, some news and notes from around baseball:
Trades, O'Day slowing free-agent relief market
Though the market for free-agent relievers is historically one of the first to become active each winter, this year's crop of available relievers are being kept waiting by a couple of unusual factors.
First, the trade market for back-end bullpen help may be the strongest that it's ever been, with Craig Kimbrel (Red Sox), Joaquin Benoit (Mariners) and Francisco Rodriguez (Tigers) already having been traded and many other solid closers (Aroldis Chapman, Drew Storen, Jonathan Papelbon, Ken Giles and Andrew Miller) known to be available in trade talks. Teams looking for a ninth-inning option are likely to turn to the trade market first before dipping into free agency.
For teams looking to add a late-inning reliever via free agency, the top available option is former Oriole Darren O'Day, who is drawing interest from multiple clubs, including the O's, Nationals and Dodgers. Multiple industry sources involved in the free-agent relief market indicate that teams are prioritizing O'Day over all other available relievers, and that he will likely be one of the first dominoes to fall before other signings can occur.
Once O'Day does sign, the floodgates should open for other teams to add bullpen help. Some options with strong markets at this point, according to sources: Matt Albers, Tyler Clippard, David Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Mark Lowe and Joakim Soria.
Market heating up for Asdrubal Cabrera
Free-agent shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is drawing interest from four clubs, according to a source. The Rays are believed to be one of those teams, as they have not yet ruled out a reunion with Cabrera.
The Padres are another speculative fit as they search far and wide for a shortstop this offseason, though their interest is unconfirmed. Cabrera is likely to be able to find himself a starting job due to this year's week free-agent market for shortstops that includes only Ian Desmond and Alexei Ramirez, and can market himself as a second baseman as well.
Veteran outfielders drawing interest
Teams looking for bench help have a variety of veteran outfielders available on the free-agent market this winter. Shane Victorino is drawing interest from several teams, according to sources, and David DeJesus, David Murphy, Chris Denorfia, Jonny Gomes, David Murphy, Skip Schumaker, Rajai Davis, Nate McLouth, Marlon Byrd, Jeff Francoeur, Ryan Raburn, Alex Rios and Grady Sizemore present other options.
One of the most coveted fourth-outfielder types is Chris Young, who was thought to be making progress on a deal as of last week and is drawing significant interest from many teams, including the Red Sox. As was written in this space last week, the Yankees are not expected to be a frontrunner for Young after their acquisition of Aaron Hicks from the Twins.
Starting pitching market off to slow start
Brett Anderson, Marco Estrada and Rich Hill are already off the board for starting pitchers, but the rest of the market is taking some time to get going. With one of the most top-heavy markets in recent memory led by Zack Greinke and David Price, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the entire market of first- and second-tier pitchers wait until the Winter Meetings in Nashville.
Sources involved in negotiations in the second-tier of the rotation market tell me that things are slow, with teams likely going first after Greinke, Price, Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann before looking into options like Wei-Yin Chen, Yovani Gallardo, J.A. Happ, John Lackey and Mike Leake.
Of course, if an offer comes along that presents a solid deal and desirable fit for a second-tier starter, they will sign. But at this point, nothing seems imminent.