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MLB rumors: Blake Snell on contender’s radar, Rangers, Yankees want to beef up bullpen with workhorse reliever

In approximately one month, pitchers and catchers will begin reporting to spring training camps across Arizona and Florida. There are still a lot — A LOT — of free agents who have to sign between now and then. Twenty-seven of our top 50 free agents remain unsigned. Here now are Sunday’s hot stove rumors.

Blue Jays monitoring Snell

The Blue Jays have been “quietly monitoring” the market on reigning NL Cy Young winner Blake Snell, reports USA Today. Several other clubs remain in the hunt for the left-hander and are waiting to see whether his price drops between now and spring training. We ranked Snell as the sixth-best free agent available this offseason. He is the top-ranked unsigned pitcher.

On paper, rotation help would not appear to be a priority for Toronto. They have a legitimate ace (Kevin Gausman), three other quality starters (Chris Bassitt, José Berríos, Yusei Kikuchi), and as far as reclamation project No. 5 starters go, Alek Manoah is better than most. That said, there is no such thing as too much pitching, and signing Snell would allow the Blue Jays to more easily trade a starter (in a seller’s market, no less) for a much-needed bat.

Rangers, Yankees emerging as frontrunners for Neris

The Yankees and World Series champion Rangers are emerging as the frontrunners for righty reliever Hector Neris, according to MLB.com. Neris is one of the game’s great workhorses, averaging 70 appearances in the last seven 162-game seasons. We ranked Neris as the 26th-best free agent available this offseason. Only Josh Hader ranks higher among unsigned relievers.

As good as he was in 2023, there are some red flags with Neris. His average fastball dipped from 94.3 mph in 2022 to 93.0 mph in 2023, and the whiff rate on his trademark splitter dipped from an otherworldly 52.4% to a still very good 42.2%. Given his age (34) and his workload, it’s fair to wonder whether all those high leverage innings have taken a toll, and Neris is entering his decline.

Angels considering Hernández

The Angels are considering free-agent utility man Enrique Hernández, reports The Athletic. The Halos ranked 16th in runs last year and have not yet added any major league bats after losing reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani, not that replacing Ohtani is easy (or even possible). We did not rank Hernández among our top 50 free agents.

Hernández, 32, has been a well below average hitter the last two years, though he can still do damage against lefties, and he can play just about any position. At this point in his career, he’s not an everyday player. Hernández can be a quality utility guy for a contending team, however. The question is are the Angels really contenders? Recent history suggests no.

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