The team is currently facing what will likely be the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury in free agency. If the Red Sox are unwilling to pay the amount of money required to keep Ellsbury, Beltran is an attractive alternative. They will not be without competition for his services, however. Both New York teams, the Royals, the Indians, the Rangers and the Orioles are all among those hoping to acquire the outfielder.
It's easy to see what makes Beltran so attractive to teams. The 36-year-old is likely to command a two- or three-year deal, fewer than Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo are seeking. He is currently coming off a two-year, $26 million contract with the Cardinals. Over those two years, he posted an .836 OPS with 56 home runs. The Red Sox would have to forfeit their 2014 first-round draft pick to sign Beltran, who turned down a qualifying offer from St. Louis.
The defending World Series champions currently have Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes penciled into the outfield. While Victorino is certain to start, the team is looking to upgrade at least one of the other two outfield spots.
Twins and Pirates complete trade
The Minnesota Twins and Pittsburgh Pirates exchanged pitchers Tuesday. The Twins are receiving left-hander Kris Johnson in exchange for righty Duke Welker, reports Twins Director of Baseball Communications Dustin Morse.
Both players reached the majors for the first time in 2013. Welker, 27, pitched in two games without allowing a baserunner, while Johnson, 29, made one start and three relief appearances, allowing seven runs in just over 10 innings.
Welker has a career 4.19 minor league ERA, but has been much better since moving to relief full time in 2010. He has dealt with control issues over his career, but puts up nice strikeout numbers and had a 3.57 ERA in 48 games with Triple-A Indianapolis in 2013.
Johnson has still been used as a starter in the minors and, after a rough start to his professional career, has looked much better the past two seasons. He had a 3.19 ERA in 2012 between Double-A and Triple-A, then a 2.39 ERA with Triple-A in 2013. He does not strike out as many batters as Welker, but has not had as many issues with walks and could still help as a spot starter.
Orioles eyeing Gavin Floyd
It normally takes pitchers around 10-14 months to fully recover from Tommy John surgery. Floyd has been playing long-toss from 180 feet recently and is looking to throw from a mound in December. He is currently eyeing a return around Opening Day.
The Orioles finished the year fifth in the MLB in runs scored. However, their starting rotation finished with a 4.57 ERA, the fourth-worst mark in baseball, ahead of only the Astros, Blue Jays and Twins.
Floyd's best season came in 2008, when he posted a 3.84 ERA and 1.26 WHIP while making 33 starts. He has a career 4.48 ERA while pitching in parts of 10 seasons.
Four teams in pursuit of Corey Hart
Hart missed the entire 2013 season after having surgery on one knee, then the other a few months later. However, in a free agent class devoid of power, Hart is an enticing option. He hit .270/.334/.507 with the Brewers in 2012 and has hit 87 home runs over the last three seasons he has played.
All four teams mentioned currently have a hole at first base. That is likely the position that Hart is relegated to moving forward. While he came up as an outfielder, his knee problems may not allow him to run as well as he used to. Hart has said that he is willing to take a discount to remain with the Brewers, but has had a number of teams interested.
Konerko decision within three weeks
Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn says he believes free agent first baseman Paul Konerko will make a decision on whether to remain with the team by the Dec. 10 Winter Meetings, reports MLB.com's Scott Merkin.
Hahn and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf have both said the decision to return to the White Sox was Konerko's and that there is a spot waiting for him if he wanted to come back. Konerko, 37, has been with Chicago since 1999, but posted just a .669 OPS in 2013 in what was his worst season with the White Sox.
It also appears that there is only a part-time bench role awaiting Konerko should he return to the team. Chicago signed Cuban slugger Jose Abreu to a big contract to take over at first base, and Adam Dunn is locked in at DH. If Konerko does not re-sign, it's possible he will retire rather than play elsewhere.
Phillies still searching for pitching coach
Philadelphia has been without a pitching coach since Rich Dubree's contract expired at the end of 2013. Pete Vuckovich, Roger McDowell and Jim Benedict have all been offered the job thus far, with all three turning down the position.
Nationals hire third base coach
As a player, Henley was drafted by the franchise in 1991 when they were still the Montreal Expos. In his post-playing career, he has been with the Nationals for eleven seasons, most recently as the organization's Minor League Field Coordinator.
Former third base coach Trent Jewett left the team earlier in November to take a job with the Mariners.