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MLB rumor roundup: Phillies offer Yamamoto, Guardians and Mariners talk Naylor trade

We’ve got all the latest Hot Stove rumors from around the Majors on Thursday, including the Phillies kicking off the bidding war for Yoshinobu Yamamoto and the Mariners and Guardians talking trade.

We’re less than a week out from Christmas, which means things are about to go fairly quiet on the Hot Stove front. But if this offseason has taught us anything so far, it’s that plenty can change over the span of seven days, so expect plenty of action between now and this weekend — especially with the bidding for Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto starting to heat up.

Who’s heading where? Each weekday, we’ll be bringing you the latest news, rumors and reports from around MLB. Thursday’s edition features plenty of interesting items, from the Phillies making an official offer to Yamamoto to the Guardians and Mariners discussing a potential trade for Josh Naylor. (As a reminder, here are our top 25 free agents as well as the 10 most interesting trade candidates this winter.)

MLB Hot Stove rumors: Thursday, Dec. 21

Phillies offer Yamamoto

Yamamoto spent all of last week conducting in-person meetings with various suitors. But the time for information-gathering has ended, and the time for throwing gobs of money around has officially begun: Per MLB.com, the Phillies have made an offer on the Japanese ace, throwing their hat into the ring after already bringing back righty Aaron Nola on a seven-year, $172 million deal earlier this offseason.

Philly isn’t considered among the favorites to acquire Yamamoto, and they likely won’t have the highest bid given their Nola commitment (and some very, very deep pockets in New York and Los Angeles). But the Phillies have a star-studded roster, a recent track record of serious contention and, apparently, a very respectable offer on the table, even if MLB.com’s report doesn’t specify how much exactly that offer was worth. The team already has enviable starting pitching depth between Nola, Zack Wheeler, Ranger Suarez, Cristopher Sanchez and Taijuan Walker; but Yamamoto’s age and upside make him a worthy gamble regardless of current need, and GM Dave Dombrowski has never met a star he couldn’t woo.

Mariners, Guardians have discussed Naylor trade

It seems like the Guardians really are considering dealing Naylor, their second-best offensive player in 2023. Jon Morosi reports that Cleveland and Seattle have discussed a deal centered around the first baseman, likely with some cost-controlled pitching heading back the Guardians’ way.

If you’re wondering why an offense-starved team like Cleveland would be willing to give up its best bat not named Jose Ramirez, the answer, as it so often is with this franchise, is money: Naylor, 26, is two years away from free agency and has officially entered arbitration. With top first base prospect Kyle Manzardo ready for his first crack at the Majors, the Guardians could look to patch other holes — and save money — by dealing Naylor and giving the first-base job to Manzardo.

For the Mariners, meanwhile, the fit is just about perfect. This is a team long on pitching but short on impact hitters, and they’d be crazy not to have interest in a guy who just hit .308/.354/.489 (133 OPS+) with 31 doubles, 17 homers, 97 RBI, 52 runs and 10 steals across 121 games in 2023. It’s unclear how advanced these talks have gotten, but if Naylor is in fact available, he might be the best hitter in a thin market behind Cody Bellinger.