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MLB Rumors: Latest Buzz on Free Agency and J.D. Martinez Trade

With the holiday season fast approaching, most major business around Major League Baseball is nearing its conclusion. Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Yoenis Cespedes have all found huge contracts, as have Justin Turner, Mark Melancon and Dexter Fowler.

Other lesser free agents, like Neil Walker and Jeremy Hellickson, accepted huge one-year qualifying offers to stick around in their current digs. The stragglers remaining on the market consist of two big-time sluggers being tepidly pursued due to their qualifying offers (Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista) and another who packs a lot of pop to go with bouts of inconsistency (Mark Trumbo).

As such, some teams have turned to stoking the trade hot stove to land an impact player. Others remain hopeful on the free-agent market that the likes of Encarnacion or Bautista will lower their prices, or perhaps another bargain will emerge on a short-term contract.

Here's an updated look at one of the biggest names generating trade buzz and some free-agency talk.

   

Orioles Back Away from Trumbo Talks

Trumbo is the most attainable slugger left on the market. He does not come attached to a qualifying offer, which would force teams to surrender a first-round pick in exchange for his services. He's also a deeply flawed player and one of the worst individual defenders in baseball when on the field—he absolutely needs to hit with elite power to be effective.

In 2016, Trumbo did just that. His 47 home runs blasted his previous career high and were four more than anyone else. It speaks to his level of poor defensive skills that Trumbo walked away with just 2.2 wins above replacement last season, per FanGraphs.

With most teams recognizing Trumbo is better off as a designated hitter—especially as his next contract takes him deeper into his 30s—the market has been tepid. Even 10 years ago, Trumbo likely would have commanded a multiyear deal that pushed close to nine figures. Now he's having trouble finding a deal he's even willing to take.

 of MASN reported the Orioles have grown disillusioned with Trumbo's asking price and pulled their offer. ESPN's Buster Olney previously reported Baltimore offered a four-year deal worth between $52 million and $55 million, while Trumbo's counter asked for $75 million to $80 million over the same stretch.

The Orioles are the more realistic party in this scenario. No team in its right mind should be offering Trumbo $20 million per season. He'd belted 36 home runs total over his previous two seasons before breaking out in 2016 and was actually worth -1.2 wins in 2014

It's possible the Orioles can wait this out and get Trumbo's price to come down into their range.

   

Orioles Still Not Ruling Out Wieters Return

The Orioles signed catcher Welington Castillo last week to a one-year, $6 million contract, which carries a $7 million player option for 2018. Castillo will likely walk into 2017 as Baltimore's starting backstop, and he comes on a relative bargain.

Most assumed Castillo's signing would mark the end of Matt Wieters' time in Baltimore. Wieters, a 2007 first-round pick, has spent his entire career in the Baltimore organization. He never became the superstar many pegged coming out of Georgia Tech but put together a solid 124-game campaign in 2016 after having his previous two years mired by injuries.

The market has nonetheless been slow, with agent Scott Boras acknowledging it'll likely be January before Wieters finds a contract.

"The clubs that need catching are pretty well-defined," Boras said, per Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. "Some are thinking about moving players to make room for him, so the timetable always on catching, I don't know what it is; it's always been—I can't think of one I've represented that didn't sign in January, but they do."

Given the market, Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball reported a potential Wieters-Baltimore reunion shouldn't be ruled out. It wouldn't make all that much sense on paper. The Orioles already have a solid defensive backup in Caleb Joseph, who some have argued is a better all-around catcher than Castillo. 

The only logical scenario in which Wieters returns is one where he accepts a 50-50 platoon with Castillo on a short-term deal. That'll likely be a nonstarter for the Boras client, who will want either a long-term deal or a clear starting job.

But the Orioles like late-winter signings, so it's not entirely out of the question.

   

Tigers Looking to Move J.D. Martinez

Two years away from potentially hitting the free-agent market, J.D. Martinez has become a hot commodity in trade circles. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reported the Tigers are open to moving Martinez but are having trouble finding teams willing to part with their asking price. Detroit, a team with deep pockets and the ability to pay Martinez long term, is looking for "young, controllable talent" as part of any package.

The asking price is understandable. Martinez has produced 10.8 wins over the last three seasons, per FanGraphs, and still hit .307/.373/.535 with 22 home runs and 68 runs batted in despite missing 42 games in 2016. That absence helped lead to the worst defensive season of his career, but Martinez is a four- or five-win player when he plays even average defense.

There aren't many teams around baseball that couldn't use someone like Martinez. The Tigers could use him. That's why they've set the price so high.

But it's also why they're going to have trouble finding a suitor until someone gets desperate. 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

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