MLB rumors: Dodgers re-sign Kershaw; Giants add Carlos Rodon; Cubs among favorites on Carlos Correa

Major League Baseball’s owner-imposed lockout officially came to an end on Thursday, on what marked its 99th day. Players will soon report to camps to warm up for Opening Day, now scheduled for April 7. In the interim, a lot of business has to be completed on the free-agent and trade markets. To keep you informed, we’ll be tracking all of the day’s biggest moves and rumors below.

Dodgers hot on Freeman’s trail

Talks between the Dodgers and free agent first baseman Freddie Freeman are “intensifying,” according to a report. There seems to be some serious momentum. Full story here.

Dodgers retain Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw hit free agency this offseason, but he’s not leaving LA just yet. He agreed to a one-year deal with the Dodgers. Full story here.

The Giants have agreed to a two-year, $44 million deal with left-handed starting pitcher Carlos Rodón. Full story here.

Cubs the favorites to land Correa? Add Simmons

The Cubs could be the favorites to sign Carlos Correa, according to an MLB.com report. Correa, the top free agent on the market, is also expected to hear from the Yankees and the Astros before he makes a decision. You can read more about his free agency and his suitors by clicking here.

Later in the day, the Cubs added a shortstop in Andrelton Simmons, though it’s entirely possible he’s viewed as a defensive replacement/bench player. Full story here.

As CBS Sports noted on Thursday, Athletics first baseman Matt Olson figures to be one of, if not the top trade target for numerous contenders. That list will include each the Yankees (by Erik Boland) and the Rangers (Evan Grant), who, as you may recall, capped off the offseason’s first half by signing both shortstop Corey Seager and second baseman Marcus Semien.

Olson, 28 come late March, has two seasons of team control remaining. Last year, he beat .271/.371/.540 (153 OPS+) with 39 home runs. Olson greatly reduced his strikeout rate along the way, clipping it from 31.4 percent down to 16.8 percent. That improvement, if sustainable, could point to him achieving a new true talent level.

It’s no wonder then that the Yankees, Rangers, and, in all likelihood, the Braves are lining up to add him to the middle of their lineups.

Harper “stumping” for Bryant

The Phillies could use some help either at third base or in the corner outfield. Bryce Harper thinks he knows just the guy, too. According to MLB Network’s Jon HeymanHarper has been “stumping” for the Phillies to sign his friend, free agent Kris Bryant.

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Bryant, 30 years old, entered the offseason ranked by CBS Sports as the third best free agent available this winter thanks to his offensive potency and his defensive versatility. His ability to play either at third base or in the outfield would seem to make him a fit for numerous teams, including the Phillies.

Of course, the Phillies might prefer to give Alec Bohm another chance at the hot corner, in which case they may set their sights on a true corner-outfield type, like Nick Castellanos or Kyle Schwarber.

Bryant, for his part, should have plenty of suitors, too, including, as Heyman notes, the Mariners, Rockies, Padres, and Mets.

Rangers reunited with Pérez

The Rangers have signed veteran southpaw Martín Pérez to a one-year deal worth $4 million, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Pérez, who pitched with the Rangers from 2012-18, spent last season with the Red Sox. He made 36 appearances, 22 of which were starts, and amassed a 4.74 ERA (100 ERA+) and a 2.69 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Pérez should be in line to win a rotation spot.

Yankees, Padres among those with Conforto interest

Olson isn’t the only left-handed beats the Yankees have interest in. Michael Conforto, a 29-year-old who rejected the Mets’ qualifying offer, is also on their radar, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. The Padres are interested in Conforto as well, per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Conforto entered the offseason ranked by CBS Sports as the 23rd best free agent option available. Here’s what we wrote at the time:

There may not be a good time for a player to have an underwhelming season, but there is a bad time. Conforto learned that lesson the hard way by hitting .202/.341/.298 in the first half of his walk year. Though he rebounded to an extent in the second half (.252/.347/.445), his chances of cashing in this winter were already dashed. Conforto, it turns out, may disagree with that assessment. He appeared to be an obvious candidate to accept the qualifying offer, but a report from last month indicated that he intended to decline and seek out something better on the open market. Good luck.

Conforto batted .232/.344/.384 (101 OPS+) overall with 14 home runs last season.

McHugh drawing lots of interest

Free agent reliever Collin McHugh has a “robust” market, reports Chris Cotillo of MassLive.

After battling injuries and opting out of the 2020 season, McHugh was excellent for the Rays in 2021. He was 6-1 with a 1.55 ERA (256 ERA+), 0.94 WHIP and 74 strikeouts against 10 unintentional walks in 64 innings. He started seven games, finished 11 and even had a save.

Expect pretty much any team seeking bullpen help — so most of them trying to win now — to be interested.

The Cardinals made the first move of the post-lockout era on Friday, signing right-hander Drew VerHagen to a two-year deal. You can read more about that move by clicking here.

Mets’ Davis drawing attention

The Mets were busy prior to the lockout, signing Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Eduardo Escobar. Their next move might involve a trade, however.

According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, reserve JD Davis estimated his chances of being traded are “60-40.” Puma notes that the Cubs, Red Sox, Twins, and Athletics all had interest in Davis prior to the lockout.

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Davis, 28, has enjoyed a successful three-year stint with the Mets. He’s batted .288/.373/.472 (128 OPS+) with 33 home runs in 893 plate appearances. He has experience at third and first base, as well as in the outfield, making him an interesting option for teams who value flexibility.

Davis will not qualify for free agency until after the 2024 season.

Reynolds turned down extension offers

Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds turned down multiple long-term extension offers prior to the 2021 season, according to SportsGrid’s Craig Mish.

Reynolds, who had a phenomenal season last year, is an interesting potential trade target. He won’t qualify for free agency until the winter of 2025, meaning the Pirates don’t have to be in a rush to move him. They have talked with other clubs, including the Marlins, about his services, however — an act that makes sense, given how Pittsburgh remains in the middle stages of a rebuild.

Reynolds hit .302/.390/.522 (146 OPS+) with 24 home runs in 2021. A team that views him as that caliber of hitter moving forward could make the Pirates an offer they can’t resist.

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