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The Chicago Cubs are still unsure if shortstop prospect Nico Hoerner will open the 2020 season in the big leagues. Executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer both stressed at the general manager meetings last week that they are open-minded about the No. 24 overall pick in the 2018 draft. "We haven't figured that out yet," Epstein said. "I think you can make strong arguments on both sides, whether he should be part of the club on Opening Day or (get) a little bit more seasoning." Hoerner is the team's top prospect and is ranked No. 47 in all of baseball, per MLB Pipeline. He held his own in 78 at-bats in the majors in 2019 and hit .292/.349/.403 with three homers and 22 RBI in 75 games at Double-A and Rookie ball. Hoerner is a better dynasty stash than he will be a redraft asset in 2020.
The New York Yankees are hopeful of re-signing outfielder Brett Gardner soon. The 36-year-old outfielder was never in any real danger of landing anywhere else this offseason. He hit a very productive .251/.325/.503 with 28 home runs, 86 runs, 74 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 491 at-bats for the Bombers in 2019. If he comes back, he figures to see most of the playing time in left field while hitting atop an extremely potent Yankees lineup. As long as Gardner is setting the table for a bunch of power hitters in a hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, he will have plenty of fantasy appeal in all formats.
The Miami Marlins are getting calls from teams around the league about the availability of starting pitchers Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith and Pablo Lopez. However, it would take a lot in return for the Marlins to get rid of their young, controllable and cheap pitching options. Alcantara and Smith will likely be the team's Nos. 1 and 2 starters when 2020 begins. Alcantara was the team's lone All-Star last year. He made every one of his starts and had a 3.88 ERA in 197 1/3 innings (32 starts). That includes a 2.73 ERA in his final 10 starts of the year. The lefty Smith was excellent in the first couple months of the season, posting a 3.10 ERA, .189 average against and 80 strikeouts in 61 innings to begin the year. A hip injury in June caused his production to suffer the rest of the way.
The Blue Jays, Reds, Brewers and Marlins are all showing interest in outfielder Kole Calhoun, according to sources. Calhoun hit a career-high 33 home runs in his final season with the Halos, but he also hit just .232/.325/.467 in 152 games. He hit just .208 with the Angels in 2018 and had just one 20-homer season before putting up 33 round-trippers in 2019. The lefty swinger can be very streaky at the plate and obviously isn't a guarantee to help fantasy owners much outside of a little power here and there. Calhoun is a better defender than he is an offensive player, and his next stop could be as a platoon corner outfielder against right-handed pitchers.
The Colorado Rockies are willing to listen to trade inquiries on third baseman Nolan Arenado. An Arenado trade is unlikely at the moment, and he also possesses a full no-trade clause. Teams could become more interested in Arenado now that the Angels took the top free agent position player, Anthony Rendon, off the market on Wednesday night. The 28-year-old hit .315/.379/.583 with 41 home runs, 102 runs and 118 RBI in 588 at-bats for the Rockies in 2019. He remains the cream of the crop in both real life and fantasy baseball, although moving away from hitter-friendly Coors Field could lower his overall ceiling quite a bit if he decides to let the Rockies trade him.
The Arizona Diamondbacks floated a contract in the range of $70 million for starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner, according to sources. However, it seems likely that number will fall well short of what it will take to land the veteran left-hander. Bumgarner is likely to reach nine figures in his next deal after Gerrit Cole ($324 million), Stephen Strasburg ($245 million) and Zack Wheeler ($118 million) have already set the market. MadBum reportedly "loves" the Phoenix area and would consider the Diamondbacks to be a "very desirable landing spot." The 30-year-old is on the back nine of his career after helping the Giants win three World Series titles from 2010 to 2014. He had a 3.90 ERA in 207 2/3 innings last year and has a career 3.13 ERA.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have checked in on outfielder Marcell Ozuna, but they aren't considered among the players for Ozuna's services, according to sources. Arizona could be a viable landing spot for Ozuna if he's still available later in the offseason. Landing in Arizona would be a nice fit for the 29-year-old Dominican, but it remains to be seen if that's a reality. Ozuna hit .241/.328/.472 with 29 home runs, 80 runs, 89 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 485 at-bats for the Red Birds last season. He can be very frustrating to own in fantasy because of his streakiness, but when Ozuna is on, he's one of the best all-around talents in baseball.
The San Diego Padres are joining the list of interested teams in trading for outfielder Starling Marte. Marte has already said he'd be willing to accept a trade to a contending team in 2020 and beyond. The Padres are slowly but surely putting themselves in a position to contend in the National League and have already traded for outfielders Trent Grisham and Tommy Pham this offseason. Marte would be the cherry on top, as he slashed .295/.342/.503 with 23 home runs, 97 runs, 82 RBI and 25 steals in 539 at-bats for the Bucs last year. He contributes across the board in fantasy and will be an early round pick no matter where he's playing.
The Los Angeles Angels have shown interest in trading for Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber, according to sources. A fractured arm and then a strained oblique held the two-time Cy Young winner to just seven starts for the Tribe last season. He was a big-time fantasy bust because of the injuries, but Kluber has the ability to bounce back no matter where he's playing in 2020. Injuries will become more of an issue for the 33-year-old moving forward, but Klubot was an All-Star the previous three seasons. He'd be a good fit in the American League West at Angel Stadium for a team that certainly could use some upgrades to their starting rotation.
Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker said that first baseman Freddie Freeman (elbow) is doing well after having arthroscopic surgery on his elbow. "Last time I talked to him he said it hadn't felt that good in a long time," Snitker said. Freeman has plenty of time to heal up and should be 100 percent for spring training. His elbow issue definitely affected him in the playoffs, but he remained an elite fantasy first baseman during the season, hitting .295/.389/.549 with 38 home runs, 113 runs, 121 RBI and six stolen bases in 597 at-bats for Atlanta. He will remain one of the safest and most productive first baseman you can target in drafts.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians remain engaged in serious trade talks surrounding All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor. The Indians are seeking a package of Dodgers prospects, including shortstop Gavin Lux and starting pitcher Dustin May. Lux is considered the No. 2 prospect in baseball heading into the 2020 season, per MLB Pipeline, while May is LA's No. 2 prospect and the overall No. 32 prospect in baseball. It would be quite a haul to land Lindor, who hit .284/.335/.518 with 32 home runs, 101 runs, 74 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 143 games for the Tribe last season. Stay tuned for more updates on this potential deal as the winter meetings continue this week.
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