MLB

MLB rumors: Astros sign Héctor Neris to two-year deal; Marlins have interest in Nick Castellanos

Following a quiet Thanksgiving holiday, MLB teams went back to work on Black Friday, with the Mets signing three free agents to multi-year contracts (Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar, and Starling Marte). A flurry of deals are expected prior to the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement next Wednesday, at which point the owners are likely to lock out the players. Here are Saturday’s hot stove rumors.

Astros sign Neris

The Astros have signed righty reliever Héctor Neris to a two-year contract worth $17 million, reports Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Neris effectively replaces Kendall Graveman in Houston’s bullpen. Graveman signed a three-year, $24 million contract with the White Sox earlier this week.

Neris, 32, has held a variety of bullpen roles with the Phillies in his eight-year career, including multiple stints as their closer. This past season he pitched to a 3.63 ERA with 98 strikeouts in 74 1/3 innings. Neris has been a workhorse throughout his career — he ranks second in relief appearances (372) and third in relief innings (366 1/3) since 2016.

Marlins have interest in Castellanos

The Marlins have interest in free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos, reports MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Castellanos grew up in the Miami area, though he opted out of the final two years and $34 million contract with the Reds earlier this offseason, indicating he will seek at least that much in free agency. It’s not often the Marlins spend that kind of money in free agency.

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Castellanos, 30 in March, authored a .309/.362/.576 batting line with 38 doubles and 34 home runs this past season. His outfield defense is poor, bordering on unplayable, though the upcoming collective bargaining agreement is expected to implement the universal DH. That would keep Castellanos out of the spacious outfield at Marlins Park and allow him to focus on his best position: batter’s box.

Orioles willing to listen on Mullins

The Orioles are willing to listen to trade offers for All-Star center fielder Cedric Mullins, reports MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, though the asking price is understandably very high. The just turned 27-year-old Mullins became the first 30/30 player in O’s history this past season and he won’t be eligible for free agency until after 2025. His trade value is enormous.

With Starling Marte signed, there is now no true everyday center fielder in free agency. The Astros, Braves, Giants, Marlins, Mariners, Phillies, and Yankees all immediately jump to mind as potential landing spots for Mullins. Of course, Mullins is so good and so young and under control so long that the O’s keeping him would be defensible. The rebuild is going on five years now. At some point you have to keep your best players and build around them.

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Hill open to returning to Red Sox

Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is open to returning to the Red Sox, he told the Boston Globe‘s Alex Speier. “There is an interest, without a doubt. There’s a need on the other end. The need for starting pitching is very apparent throughout the league — not just in Boston. It’s also many other clubs that need it,” Hill told Speier.

Hill, 42 in March, resurrected his career with the Red Sox in 2015. He split this past season between the Rays and Mets, pitching to a 3.86 ERA in 158 2/3 innings. Hill had not thrown that many innings in a season since 2007. The Red Sox must replace Eduardo Rodriguez, who signed the Tigers earlier this month. Hill, like recent pickup Michael Wacha, would be a depth addition more than a difference-maker, but he can still help a contender.

Mariners trade for Frazier

The Mariners are set to acquire second baseman Adam Frazier from the Padres for two minor leaguers. Frazier was an All-Star this past season with the Pirates, though he was traded to the Padres at the deadline and never quite seemed to fit in. Seattle has had a revolving door at second base since trading Robinson Canó three years ago, so Frazier solves that problem. That said, Frazier is one year away from free agency, so without an extension, he can test the market next winter.

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