MLB rumors: Dodgers monitoring Trevor Bauer market; Blue Jays, Angels eye Brad Hand

With less than a month until pitchers and catchers report, the hot stove is starting to warmup. George Springer, the top free agent entering this winter, signed on Tuesday. Another top-10 talent, Michael Brantley, is heading back to Houston. Who else might sign in the coming days? Here are the latest hot stove rumblings.

Dodgers monitoring Bauer market

The Dodgers haven’t yet made a big splash this winter, but that doesn’t mean they’re out of ideas. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Los Angeles is “monitoring” the market for right-handed starter Trevor Bauer.

Bauer, the reigning Cy Young Award winner, seems to have lost his potential top two suitors this winter, in the Mets and the Blue Jays. It’s unclear which other teams are involved at this stage in the process, though a reunion with the Reds seems unlikely. Here’s what we wrote after ranking Bauer as the top starter available this winter:

Heading into the 2020 season, Bauer’s career numbers held an uncanny resemblance to those posted by A.J. Burnett through the same period of his career. He created separation this season, amassing a 1.73 ERA and a 5.88 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 11 starts and 73 innings. Bauer has long had the stuff and, according to his press clippings, the intelligence to be a frontline starter. He’s now put together the results supporting that notion in two of the past three seasons. Can he keep it up? That’s one of a few questions teams will have to answer, beginning with how he improved his spin rate just a few years after implying it was possible only through the use of substances . Another one is whether he’s compatible on a long-term deal. Bauer fell out of favor in both Arizona and Cleveland, and he hasn’t always covered himself in glory on social media . Weather changes moods just as sure as Sturgill changes words ; if Bauer wants to follow suit, changing his perception into a staff leader in every sense of the term, then he’ll need to do more than continue to pitch well.  

In the past, Bauer has professed his preference for a one-year deal. He’s seemingly softened on that stance, but that idea might have a fan in Dodgers exec Andrew Friedman, who could lessen the risk by limiting the term.

Blue Jays have offer out to Hand

The Blue Jays have added Springer and a pair of relievers this week (Kirby Yates and Tyler Chatwood), but that doesn’t mean they’re done. In addition to the rumors connecting them to Michael Brantley, the Blue Jays have an offer out to former Cleveland closer Brad Hand, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Hand had his $10 million option declined by Cleveland at the start of the onset. Nonetheless, CBS Sports ranked him as the second-best reliever available this winter, writing the following:

Cleveland declined the $10 million option held on Hand, which used to be viewed as a bargain. He doesn’t throw as hard as he used to; his pitches generated fewer swings-and-misses than usual in 2020; and his batted-ball profile has shifted from ground- to air-based. All that said, did you look at his statline? There was no noticeable slippage or obvious decline in his performance. Rather, Hand posted the best ERA+ and strikeout-to-walk ratio of his career. Someone’s going to entrust him with a high-leverage role; they just might get a bargain, too. 

 The Mets have also been tied to Hand in recent weeks. Know who else has been tied to hand? The big reveal … 

Angels also have interest in Hand

Yes, add the Angels to the list of potential Hand suitors: 

They’re working to build a competitive pitching staff around their core of Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, and to that end this offseason they’ve added Jose Quintana to the rotation and Raisel Iglesias and Alex Claudio to the bullpen. Hand’s merits are noted above, and with the Angels he’d immediately become Joe Maddon’s go-to lefty and a possible tandem closer alongside Iglesias.