The Cardinals have been connected to free agent center fielder Dexter Fowler throughout the offseason, and the club made him an initial offer Monday during a meeting with his representatives, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports. That’s at least the second offer Fowler has received – the Blue Jays have reportedly proposed a four-year deal in the $60MM neighborhood. Fowler is seeking $18MM annually on a multiyear pact.

More from Rosenthal:

  • It’s likely the Dodgers and free agent third baseman Justin Turner will work out a new deal, which is the two sides’ hope, according to Rosenthal. It could come at a lower cost than expected, notes Rosenthal, who points to a lack of clear fits for Turner’s services. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicts Turner will return to the Dodgers on a five-year, $85MM accord.
  • With teams reluctant to surrender a first-round pick to sign free agent outfielder/designated hitter Jose Bautista, it’s possible the 36-year-old will sign with a club that has a protected selection, contends Rosenthal. The only teams that wouldn’t have to give up a first-rounder for Bautista are those that finished in the bottom 10 in the standings last season. Bautista could be limited to signing with an American League team because of the DH, and Rosenthal points out that the Twins, Rays, Athletics and Angels are the AL franchises with protected first-rounders. However, there’s not a logical landing spot in that group, Rosenthal observes. Sources told Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi that Bautista’s “market is picking up,” so he might not have to settle for a deal with a low-tier club.
  • Free agent right-hander Tyson Ross, who has been recovering from thoracic outlet surgery since October, is likely to sign with a team that’s adept at “handling and rehabilitating pitchers,” Rosenthal writes. One such club is the Padres, who non-tendered Ross last week in lieu of paying him an estimated $9.6MM in 2017. San Diego and Ross have mutual interest in a reunion, though, and Rosenthal notes that Ross’ affinity for Friars pitching coach Darren Balsley could help their cause. Other possibilities for Ross include the Cubs – who have tried to acquire Ross in the past – as well as the Indians, Pirates, Mariners and Giants, per Rosenthal.

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Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is in touch with the representatives for free agent relievers Greg Holland, Koji Uehara, Brad Ziegler and Mike Dunn, report George A. King III and Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Given their vast experience as closers, any of Holland, Uehara or Ziegler could end up as fallback ninth-inning options if the Yankees aren’t able to land either Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen. As of now, the only somewhat established southpaw in New York’s projected bullpen for 2017 is Tommy Layne, so adding a left-handed setup man like Dunn – a former Yankees farmhand – would seemingly make sense.

  • The Mets are interested in acquiring Orioles reliever Brad Brach, but a deal that would send outfielder Curtis Granderson to Baltimore is unlikely, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports. One major roadblock involves finances: The Mets don’t want to eat any of Granderson’s $15MM salary for 2017, while the Orioles aren’t eager to add payroll unless it’s allocated to free agent outfielder/first baseman Mark Trumbo. It doesn’t appear that the O’s are remotely close to re-signing Trumbo, however.
  • Catcher Matt Wieters is another key Orioles free agent, and they haven’t closed the door on re-signing him, per Kubatko. However, as is the case with Trumbo, Wieters is currently out of the Orioles’ price range. That could lead Baltimore to find an affordable replacement on a one- or two-year contract, thereby enabling well-regarded, big-hitting prospect Chance Sisco to further develop in the minors. “He needs more experience catching,” general manager Dan Duquette told Kubatko in regards to Sisco. “That’s a tough position to learn, right? There are so many things that go into being a good catcher.” Notably, free agent backstop Welington Castillo is on the Orioles’ radar and should only garner a short-term deal.
  • Six teams are in discussions with free agent left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation (Twitter link). Some of those clubs regard De La Rosa as a rotation option, while others see him as a swingman. For his part, De La Rosa is willing to work out of the bullpen. From 2008-14, all 176 of De La Rosa’s appearances with the Rockies came as a starter. He spent some time as a bullpen option last season, though, with three relief appearances out of 27. All told, the soon-to-be 36-year-old tossed 134 innings in 2016 and struggled to a 5.51 ERA. He also posted his highest BB/9 (4.23) since 2008 and experienced a dip in velocity.
  • Although free agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins’ 2016 season ended in early June after the White Sox released him, he wants to continue his career next year at the age of 38, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney. The longtime Phillie and 2007 National League MVP was a solid contributor as recently as 2014, but he has since hit just .224/.287/.351 in a combined 729 plate appearances with the Dodgers and White Sox. Rollins settled for a minor league contract last winter and will likely get one again this offseason – if anyone signs him, that is.

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Former Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart has returned to his family-run agency – Sports Management Partners – which he’ll operate with his wife, Lonnie Murray, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). Stewart previously represented Matt Kemp and Chris Carter, among others, but he had to leave the business when the D-backs hired him in 2014. The fact that Murray remained with the agency while Stewart served as a GM led to conflict-of-interest questions, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic detailed last March.

Now for a few updates on notable agency changes that have happened this week:

  • One year before he’s scheduled to hit the open market, Rays right-hander Alex Cobb has switched agencies from ACES to Beverly Hills Sports Council, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Cobb was a high-end starter from 2013-14, but he missed all of 2015 thanks to Tommy John surgery and posted ugly results in his return last season. Over an admittedly small sample size (22 innings), the 29-year-old logged an 8.59 ERA to go with 6.55 K/9 – his lowest since 2011. It’s possible Cobb will spend his platform season in a different uniform, as the Rangers have expressed interest in acquiring him.
  • Free agent first baseman Ryan Howard has departed CAA Sports for Excel Sports Management, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag (via Twitter). Regardless of his representation, the longtime Phillie will have difficulty securing a decent deal this offseason as part of a market laden with first base/designated hitter types, Heyman contends. Howard won the National League MVP award in 2008 and scored a five-year, $125MM extension in 2010, but his output declined significantly after he inked that deal. To the left-handed slugger’s credit, he is coming off a 25-home run season, though that accompanied a subpar .196/.257/.453 batting line in 362 plate appearances. Unsurprisingly, the Phillies bought the 37-year-old Howard out for $10MM last month instead of keeping him for $23MM in 2017.
  • Cubs catcher Miguel Montero has left Octagon for Rep 1 Baseball, per Jerry Crasnick of ESPN (Twitter link). Next season is the last one left on the five-year, $60MM extension Montero signed with the Diamondbacks in 2012. He’s set to make $14MM in 2017 as the backup to Willson Contreras. Montero is coming off perhaps the worst offensive campaign of his career, having hit just .216/.327/.357 in 284 PAs, though his strong defensive reputation remains. Both Baseball Prospectus and StatCorner gave his pitch-framing work rave reviews.

All of the changes reported here can be seen in MLBTR’s Agency Database, which contains representation information on more than 2,500 Major League and Minor League players. If you see any errors or omissions, please let us know via email: mlbtrdatabase@gmail.com.

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Even though the Padres non-tendered right-hander Tyson Ross last week, there’s “mutual interest” in a reunion, general manager A.J. Preller revealed Monday (via AJ Cassavell of MLB.com). Preller added that “a market didn’t develop” for a Ross trade, leading to the non-tender decision, but he did inform the 29-year-old upon cutting him that the team wanted him back – just not for an estimated $9.6MM. Ross has been a front-line starter in the past, but he suffered a shoulder injury on opening day last season and didn’t pitch again in 2016. He underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October and should return to full strength by April.

More from the National League:

  • Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton has drawn trade interest – including from the Rangers – but Cincy has a high asking price because it doesn’t believe the 26-year-old has reached his ceiling, a source told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. Additionally, the Reds realize replacing the baserunning dynamo and defensive ace would be a daunting task. “Billy is an integral part of the defense and pitching,” commented GM Dick Williams. Along with Hamilton, “there’s definitely interest” in right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, said Williams. The team is reluctant to part with either, however, per Bowman. DeSclafani would surely merit a sizable return, especially considering the lack of appealing starters on the open market. The soon-to-be 27-year-old is coming off two strong seasons and won’t be a free agent until after the 2020 campaign.
  • The Dodgers have talked to free agent reliever Greg Holland, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Los Angeles was one of many teams at Holland’s showcase in November, and it could now lose as many as three bullpen mainstays – Kenley Jansen, Joe Blanton and J.P Howell – in free agency. The 31-year-old Holland, formerly with the Royals, was among the majors’ best relievers before undergoing October 2015 Tommy John surgery and missing all of last season.
  • Elsewhere on the Dodgers front, they’re “aggressively” looking into third base alternatives in case they’re unable to re-sign Justin Turner, a major league source informed Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. The hot corner’s other top free agent options – Luis Valbuena and Trevor Plouffe – are far less enticing than Turner. On the trade market, the Dodgers have reportedly discussed third baseman Yangervis Solarte with San Diego.
  • The Cardinals are in the market for a reserve catcher because they’d rather have 22-year-old Carson Kelly play regularly in the minors than sparingly in the majors, writes Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Starter Yadier Molina has long been a workhorse, having appeared in at least 136 games in seven of the past eight years, which hasn’t led to many opportunities for his backups. St. Louis had a veteran No. 2 catcher on hand in Brayan Pena, but it released him last month and will eat at least $2MM as a result.

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The Marlins are interested in free agent relievers Brad Ziegler and Koji Uehara as fallback options if they’re unable to reel in Kenley Jansen or Aroldis Chapman, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Miami could sign both Ziegler and Uehara if it loses out on Jansen and Chapman, per Frisaro (Twitter links). Ziegler and Uehara each carry strong track records, though the former is 37 and the latter will turn 42 in April. The pair finished last season in Boston, where Uehara has pitched since 2013. In other Marlins-related bullpen news, the club is “highly unlikely” to re-sign left-hander Mike Dunn, but it continues “monitoring his status,” tweets Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.

More bullpen-related rumors:

  • The Nationals offered “at least $10MM less” than the Giants’ winning four-year, $62MM bid for closer Mark Melancon, the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner told MLB Network Radio on Monday (Twitter link).
  • The Tigers are gauging interest in southpaw setup man Justin Wilson and right-handed reliever Shane Greene, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link). This is the second time Wilson’s name has hit the rumor mill since last week. The 29-year-old impressed with a 9.97 K/9, 2.61 BB/9 and 54.6 ground-ball rate in 58 2/3 innings last season. However, a .340 BABIP (47 points higher than his career .293 mark) and a 12.2 percent home run-to-fly ball ratio (up from a lifetime 8 percent mark) helped lead to an unspectacular ERA of 4.14. Wilson has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining, and MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a reasonable $2.7MM salary for next season. Greene, 28, comes with four years of team control – including a pre-arb year in 2017 – but he posted a 5.82 ERA in 60 1/3 frames last season despite an 8.8 K/9, 3.28 BB/9 and 47.6 grounder rate.
  • With only Randall Delgado and Jake Barrett as strong in-house bets to crack the Diamondbacks’ bullpen next April, the club wants to add “multiple” relievers and has enough spending room to do so, general manager Mike Hazen told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Moreover, Hazen expects the D-backs’ lack of established options to serve as an advantage in reeling in outside help. “Most times, a lot of players in a lot of cases want opportunity or some definition of role,” Hazen said. “I think we can offer those things in a lot of cases. We’re not asking some of the players that we’re talking to to come here and do something you’re unaccustomed to. That does give us a little clarity. We’re not the only ones that have that ability, but we do have that right now in the bullpen.” Ziegler and Daniel Hudson, two longtime Diamondbacks, are among the free agents the team has contacted this offseason.

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Free agent designated hitter/first baseman has three preferred landing spots – the Blue Jays, Red Sox and an unidentified team – a major league source told Rob Bradford of WEEI. The mystery club isn’t the Yankees, per Bradford, and they’re likely out of the running for Encarnacion (if they were ever in it) after adding Matt Holliday. The Blue Jays could be out, too, as they’ve reached deals with two first base/DH types in Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce this offseason. The fact that Toronto moved on to other options so quickly after Encarnacion rejected its four-year, $80MM offer came as a surprise to the longtime Jay, tweets Jon Morosi of MLB Network.

More from the majors’ two East divisions:

  • Despite reported interest in Holliday and now-Astro Carlos Beltran, Boston didn’t make offers to either, Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. “I figured we would wait to see what takes place later on, who’s out there. Our priority is to try to get a guy that can pitch the eighth inning for us,” said Dombrowski, who’s working with a limited amount of spending room because of a desire to stay under the $195MM luxury-tax threshold. “There’s a little bit more of a drive to [stay under]. But I can’t tell you where we we’re going to end up,” he stated. “There are penalties attached that I would rather not be in a position that we have to incur.” That would seem to rule out any possibility of Encarnacion to Boston, which already looked unlikely entering Monday. As for the bullpen, Dombrowski is unsure whether he’ll acquire a setup man via trade or free agency, but he hasn’t ruled out re-signing either Brad Ziegler or Koji Uehara.
  • The Yankees are one of “several” teams engaging in “ongoing” dialogue with free agent infielder Luis Valbuena, his agent, Steve Schneider, told Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Bombers have so far balked at the demands of Valbuena, who is seeking a multiyear deal and wants an everyday role. New York won’t be able to offer a daily place in its lineup to Valbuena unless it deals third baseman Chase Headley, but the club hasn’t had any luck doing that. Valbuena, 31, spent the previous two years in Houston and is coming off his third straight strong offensive campaign, though his season ended in August because of hamstring surgery.
  • The Blue Jays continue to have interest in acquiring outfielder Jay Bruce from the Mets, but they’re “offering little,” relays FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link). Toronto nearly acquired Bruce from Cincinnati last offseason, but the deal fell apart and he went on to hit .250/.309/.506 with 33 home runs in 589 plate appearances with the Reds and Mets. New York is now likely to move Bruce, who will make $13MM next season in the final year of his contract.
  • The Marlins are “looking outside the organization” for a backup catcher to replace now-Diamondback Jeff Mathis, team president Michael Hill said Monday (Twitter link via Spencer). A.J. Ellis came up as a possibility Monday.

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News and rumors from around the AL West…

  • The Angels checked in with the Phillies about second baseman Cesar Hernandez at the start of the offseason but talks didn’t develop due to the Phils’ high asking price, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports.  While Hernandez doesn’t look like an option, Fletcher lists several other relatively inexpensive second base possibilities who could be available for the Halos in free agency or in trades.
  • One name cited by Fletcher is Chase Utley, and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman indeed tweets that the Angels “have emerged” as a potential landing spot for the veteran second baseman.  Utley has a clear path to playing time in Anaheim and he would get to stay in his hometown area.
  • The Athletics and Royals have a pretty healthy trade history, MLB.com’s Jane Lee notes, and the clubs could work out another deal to land the A’s a center fielder in the form of Jarrod DysonLorenzo Cain is also available, if more expensive and Oakland would have to give quite a bit more to land him.  Lee’s piece suggests several names that could be on Oakland’s radar for the center field vacancy, though costs will keep the A’s away from many of the bigger names.
  • Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto said his club is engaged in talks to acquire a starter, with a trade more likely than a signing, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes.  Dutton speculates that Scott Kazmir or Brandon McCarthy, both of whom are reportedly being shopped by the Dodgers, could be fits in Seattle.  On the free agent front, the M’s are still interested in Doug Fister but don’t seem to have much interest in such options as Colby Lewis, Derek Holland or C.J. Wilson.
  • New Astros signing Carlos Beltran was introduced to media (including MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart) during his introductory press conference today, and he said the Astros quickly drew his attention in free agency.  “They really made an offer early, faster than any other team….The fact they were aggressive and went out there and really showed big-time interest, it wasn’t that difficult to make to make a decision,” Beltran said.
  • In other AL West News, the Rangers were covered in a team-centric notes post as well as news about their bigger-ticket outfield targets.

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