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MLB rumor roundup: Jordan Montgomery could be up for Rangers reunion

We’ve got all the latest Hot Stove rumors from around the Majors on Thursday, including the latest on the markets for Jordan Montgomery and Shota Imanaga.

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Jordan Montgomery of the Texas Rangers celebrates after winning against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 5 of the 2023 World Series at Chase Field on Wednesday, November 1, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Texas Rangers won the World Series 5-0. Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The calendar has flipped to 2024, and with the holiday behind us, expect the Hot Stove to get cranking again soon — with 15 of our top 25 free agents still available and lots of money freed up now that Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto are off the market. So 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 pitching items, from a potential leader in the Jordan Montgomery sweepstakes so an update on the markets for Blake Snell and Shota Imanaga.

MLB Hot Stove rumors: Thursday, Jan. 4

Rangers Montgomery’s preferred destination?

Fresh off a heroic postseason run, Montgomery figures to have plenty of interested suitors as the pitching market heats up — with the lefty’s three former teams, the Rangers, Yankees and Cardinals, rumored to be the three most likely destinations. A new report from Randy Miller of NJ.com suggests that Texas has a leg up on the other two: According to Miller, Montgomery “loves” Texas and would prefer a Rangers reunion over signing with the Yankees.

It can hardly be a surprise that Montgomery would prefer the team that traded for him at last year’s trade deadline to the team that sent him packing at the 2022 trade deadline, especially when the former brought him a World Series ring. Still, don’t count New York out just yet — there are precious few remaining starting pitching options available, especially since Miller also reports that the Yankees have no interest in Marcus Stroman. (The feeling there is probably mutual.) If Brian Cashman wants to get his team back to the playoffs in 2024, bolstering the rotation is a must, and without a ton of trade ammo to offer, his choices are really either Montgomery or ...

Snell interested in Yankees

It’s weird to say considering that he just won his second Cy Young Award, but the market for Snell appears to be fairly cool at the moment. He’s ostensibly the top available pitcher on the market, but his age (31) along with durability and command concerns likely have teams thinking twice before handing the lefty the megadeal he’s after. So it’s no surprise that Snell is trying to drum up a market for himself, with sources close to him telling SNY’s Andy Martino that he has interest in the Yankees.

It’ll be interesting to see how this game of chicken plays out. New York almost certainly prefers Montgomery to Snell at their respective prices, but it sounds more and more like Montgomery has his sights set elsewhere. If Montgomery does indeed wind up in Texas, Snell becomes the obvious target for the Yankees, who will likely try and wait to see if Snell’s price tag floats down into a range they’re more comfortable with. Snell’s upside is obvious, but adding another injury risk to a rotation already relying heavily on returns from guys like Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes Jr. is a real risk.

Giants, Red Sox in on Imanaga

Of course, if the Yankees don’t feel like rolling the dice on Snell, the third option in free agency is Imanaga, the Japanese lefty expected to land a deal upwards of $100 million. Imanaga’s posting window — the 45 days in which he can sign with an MLB team before reverting back to his NPB club — is closing soon, and The Athletic reports that the 30-year-old is expected to sign at some point in the next few days. As for where he’ll wind up, the Red Sox and Giants stand out as two likely candidates, with needs in their rotations and not a ton of other options. Across eight seasons in NPB, Imanaga amassed a 2.96 ERA and struck out more than 26% of the batters he faced, even leading the Central League in strikeouts last year. He made two All-Star Games and he threw a no-hitter against the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in 2022. His age and lack of a third pitch loom as question marks as he transitions to the States, but pitchers with his track record are hard to come by right now.

Mets open to dealing Narvaez

The Mets reportedly made one move on Thursday, agreeing to terms with free-agent outfielder Harrison Bader. Now they’re eying another: New York is also open to unloading veteran catcher Omar Narváez, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.

Narváez, 31, is slated to make $7 million next season, a bit rich for a guy who figures to serve as the clear-cut backup to promising youngster Francisco Alvarez. Narvaez made the 2021 All-Star Game but he’s since struggled at the plate, posting a 67 OPS+ in his last 133 games. It’s unclear which teams, if any, have interest in Narváez’s services. Theoretically, clubs like the Marlins and Rays would be fits, with Tomás Nido, slotting in as the new backup in New York.