Beltran, who turns 37 in April, is one of the top hitters left on the free agent market. His list of suitors includes the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Tigers, Orioles, and Mariners; although each of those teams has more money than do the Royals, Kansas City may have an advantage in negotiations due to their willingness to give him a third year on his contract, reports Dutton. That third year has been a sticking point between Beltran and the Yankees, who were previously considered the favorites to land the slugger.
While the Royals have made it clear that they are looking for a big bat this winter, it is unclear where exactly Beltran would fit in their lineup. They have All-Star and Gold Glover Alex Gordon in left field, and defensive whiz Lorenzo Cain in center. David Lough got a substantial amount of playing time in right field and, despite his middling offensive numbers, his sterling defense caused him to out-perform Beltran in both versions of WAR (Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs) despite playing in only 96 games. The team is also set at designated hitter with All-Star Billy Butler; however, it is possible that the team may have to deal Butler in order to afford Beltran, reports Dutton, and such a move could open up space for Beltran to serve as the DH.
The Royals also reportedly have interest in two other free agents. They have a gaping hole at second base and think that free agent Mark Ellis has "something left," according to Dutton, and they could give the Twins some competition for pitcher Phil Hughes, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Orioles acquire catcher Johnny Monell
The 27-year-old backstop went 1-for-8 with an RBI in a cup of coffee for the Giants in 2013. He has shown power and patience throughout his minor league career, blasting 77 home runs in 2,435 plate appearances to go along with a .267/.351/.456 line. He has been added to the team's 40-man roster, and could be an option to back up regular starter Matt Wieters in 2014. Here is what GM Dan Duquette had to say about Monell, via Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun:
"He's a pretty good hitter, had a good year with bat, [is] a left-handed hitter with some pop...He's a capable receiver; he threw out 40 percent of base runners a couple years ago," Duquette said. "And he knows his way around a batter's box."
Starting pitchers on the move?
Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and Matt Garza are three of the highest-profile free agent starting pitchers left on the market, and each is looking for a big, long-term deal. It seems likely that one of them will end up with the Seattle Mariners, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.
Each pitcher comes with risks, from the career-long inconsistencies of Jimenez and Santana to the injury history of Garza, but each one can also be a front-end starter when healthy and on his game. The Mariners currently sport a rotation led by Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, but they could use another veteran to give them the flexibility to ease youngsters Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Erasmo Ramirez and Brandon Maurer into the mix at their own paces. Paxton is the oldest of that group at 24 years of age, and, of the four, only Ramirez had appeared in the majors prior to 2013.
Meanwhile, on the trade front, Oakland Athletics left-hander Brett Anderson could find himself in a new uniform soon, according to Cotillo. Multiple teams, including the Royals, have expressed interest in the oft-injured starter, reports Cotillo. The 25-year-old had Tommy John surgery in 2011, missed most of 2012 while recovering, and then missed most of 2013 due to ankle and foot problems. He has thrown only 163 innings combined over the last three seasons due to his extensive injury history.
Carlos Santana eyeing move to third base in 2014
Santana is currently a man without a position -- Yan Gomes has established himself as a strong two-way catcher who can hit (826 OPS), field, and throw (caught 41% of basestealers), and Nick Swisher is the regular first baseman. The 27-year-old Santana, who is arguably the Tribe's best hitter, reportedly prefers to play in the field rather than serve as the DH. He played some third in the minors and, although it's a long shot that he could cut it there in the majors given that he last played the hot corner in 2006, the team likes the initiative that he is showing and are willing to explore the possibility.
Lonnie Chisenhall got the majority of the time at third in 2013, but his career batting line of .244/.284/.411 is not ideal at a corner position. The left-handed hitting Chisenhall has performed noticeably better against right-handed pitching than lefties, though, so there could be an opportunity to platoon him with Santana at third, mentions Pluto.