McCutchen on the move, other deals percolate at meetings
LAS VEGAS — Andrew McCutchen moving into Philadelphia’s outfield, more talk about a megadeal involving Noah Syndergaard and J.T. Realmuto and veteran pitcher Ivan Nova on the go.
The winter meetings picked up a bit Tuesday, but any big deals for the likes of Corey Kluber, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remained on deck.
There were reports the Baltimore Orioles, finally, were close to hiring a manager in Chicago Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde. But the O’s said those stories were premature and they wouldn’t make a decision before leaving Las Vegas.
“We don’t have a manager,” newly hired general manager Mike Elias said.
The World Series champion Red Sox made a move, too — with their lineup. AL MVP Mookie Betts will shift out of the leadoff spot and bat behind Andrew Benintendi, manager Alex Cora said.
“I think we’re going to maximize Mookie in a different spot. Flip-flop them, Beni leading off and Mookie hitting second. Talked to him, it makes sense,” Cora said.
“And I know Beni’s OK with it. But if you play 162 games, you’re going to come up 162 at-bats with nobody on,” said. “And last year, what I wanted from him in the leadoff spot, we accomplished. It’s a different season and we have to make adjustments, and that’s where we’re going to go.”
Betts led the majors in batting (.346) and slugging percentage (.640) and was second in on-base average (.438) for the 108-win Red Sox. He also had 84 extra-base hits, including 32 home runs.
Speculation continued to swirl about a huge swap that would include the Yankees and Mets. The New York teams don’t usually do business directly, but this trade would enlist a third team — the Miami Marlins and Realmuto, their star catcher.
“I’d like to think that we’re very open-minded and aggressive and talk to everybody about what’s available in the marketplace. And so it doesn’t matter really for most part what the team is. I’ll explore every opportunity that might be available,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said.
McCutchen, meanwhile, and the Phillies agreed to a $50 million, three-year contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement, which includes a club option for 2022, is subject to a successful physical.
The 32-year-old was the NL MVP in 2013, highlighting his long run in Pittsburgh. He split last season with San Francisco and the Yankees, hitting a combined .255 with 20 homers and 65 RBIs.
The Phillies have a surplus of outfielders, including Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr and Roman Quinn. Rhys Hoskins is shifting from left field to first base after Carlos Santana was dealt to Seattle.
Nova was traded from the Pirates to the Chicago White Sox for minor league pitcher Yordi Rosario and $500,000 in international signing bonus pool allocation. The 31-year-old righty was 9-9 with a 4.19 ERA in 29 starts this season.
The White Sox were searching for a starter after prized rookie Michael Kopech had Tommy John surgery in September.
“We think he’s going to be able to eat up some innings and pitch effectively for us,” Chicago manager Rick Renteria said. “I think the front office was doing their due diligence in trying to acquire someone of Nova’s status and stature, and all the reports from everybody we’ve spoken to, this kid’s a good pick up for us.”
Troy Tulowitzki has been released by the Toronto Blue Jays, who owe the oft-injured shortstop $38 million for the remaining two years of his contract.
Now 34, Tulowitzki has not played in the major leagues since July 2017. He was limited that year to 66 games because of a hamstring and right ankle injury. The ankle required surgery last spring and he missed the entire season.
Tulowitzki was taken by Colorado with the seventh overall pick in the 2005 amateur draft and became a five-time All-Star. The Rockies agreed after the 2010 season to a $157.75 million, 10-year contract that added $132 million over seven seasons, then traded him in July 2015 to Toronto in a deal that brought shortstop Jose Reyes to Colorado.
While Tulowitzki helped the Blue Jays reach that year’s AL Championship Series, he slumped the next year and then was derailed by injuries.
He is owed $20 million for next year, $14 million for 2020 and a $4 million buyout of the 2021 team option.
Toronto, which announced the move Tuesday at the winter meetings, will be paying Tulowitzki for many years: $5 million of his 2019 salary is deferred at 3 percent interest and is payable in 10 equal installments each Jan. 1 from 2025-34. In addition, the buyout is due in $2 million installments on July 1 in 2021 and 2022.