Rangers most prominent on Castellanos
The Rangers are the most prominent team in on free agent slugger Nicholas Castellanos, reports MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. The Cubs, Giants, and Reds are in the mix as well, and Morosi says the Diamondbacks had some interest prior to . Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna are the best available free agent outfield bats at the moment.
. The 29-year-old is a light-hitting second baseman — he authored a .261/.313/.406 batting line with 13 home runs this past season — who is regarded as an outstanding defender. Jose Iglesias is an appropriate MLB comp, though Iglesias can play shortstop. Kikuchi has signed a new four-year contract with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Current free agent second base options include Starlin Castro, Brock Holt, and Jason Kipnis.
Padres, Reds in lead for Akiyama
This has been a busy offseason for the Rangers, who signed Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles as free agents and traded for Corey Kluber. They made a run at Anthony Rendon and have been connected to Josh Donaldson as well. Signing Castellanos would beef up a lineup short on right-handed power and likely push Danny Santana into a true super utility role. Texas is moving into their new ballpark, , next season and they want to field a contender. . He is the third veteran bat the Marlins have acquired this offseason, joining Jonathan Villar and Jesus Aguilar. Aguilar, Dickerson, and Villar are unlikely to get Miami back to the postseason in 2020, but they will help the club be respectable, and that’s better than the teams they’ve fielded the last two years. Also, those three will be potential trade chips come July 31.
Kikuchi returning to Japan
The annual holiday lull has arrived but soon the hot stove league will again pick up steam.
. The 31-year-old has been one of the best all-around players in Japan the last few seasons — he hit .303/.392/.471 with 20 home runs for the Seibu Lions in 2019 — and his game is similar to that of Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner. They’re both pesky speedsters with sneaky pop and good defense. Akiyama is expected to receive a two-year deal in the million range. He is a true free agent and thus there is no posting deadline to sign.
Marlins sign Dickerson
The Padres and Reds are the leading candidates to sign Japanese center fielder Shogo Akiyama, according to a Sports Hochi report passed along by NPB Tracker’s Patrick Newman. The report says there is a “high probability of (Akiyama) deciding by the end of the year.” MLB Network’s Jon Heyman says the Blue Jays, Cubs, and Diamondbacks remain in the mix as well.