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MLB rumor roundup: Giants out on Shota Imanaga after all?

We’ve got all the latest Hot Stove rumors from around the Majors on Tuesday, including an update on the market for one of the top starters available, the Mets looking for a bullpen upgrade and more potential Rays trades.

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The calendar has flipped to 2024, and with the holiday behind us, expect the Hot Stove to get cranking again soon — with 14 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. Tuesday’s edition features plenty of interesting pitching items, from new updates on the Shota Imanaga sweepstakes to the Mets looking for bullpen upgrades to the ever-active Rays.

MLB Hot Stove rumors: Tuesday, Jan. 9

Giants out on Imanaga?

Less than 24 hours ago, it seemed like Imanaga to the Giants was more or less a done deal — with a source telling MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that “it’s all pointing” to San Francisco. But now, just two days away from Imanaga’s posting deadline of 5 p.m. ET on Thursday evening, it appears the landscape has shifted dramatically: The New York Post’s Jon Heyman reports that there remain five finalists for the Japanese lefty, but that the Giants and Angels — another team long assumed to be in the running here — ”appear to be looking elsewhere.” Heyman notes that the Cubs and Red Sox are among the five remaining teams, though it’s unclear who the other three might be. (Could the pitching-needy Yankees be lurking?) Imanaga doesn’t have the upside of his countrymate Yamamoto, and there are questions about his ability to hold up to the rigor of an MLB pitching schedule, but his stuff and track record in Japan suggest he can slot in as mid-rotation starter right away.

Mets focused on bullpen

New president of baseball operations David Stearns has fleshed out the Mets’ rotation this offseason with shrewd buy-low moves on the likes of Sean Manaea, Luis Severino and Adrian Houser. Now it appears that he’s shifting his addition to addressing a New York bullpen that ranked 22nd in reliever ERA last season. Granted, star closer Edwin Diaz is expected to be fully recovered from the heartbreaking knee injury that cost him all of 2023, but this is still a unit that could use at least another arm or two.

As for specific targets, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that lefty and former Yankee Wandy Peralta is one potential name to watch, as is lefty Brent Suter, who pitched for Stearns when he was running Milwaukee’s front office. From the right side, Sherman name-checks John Brebbia as a possibility.

Rays looking to make more deals

The Rays have already traded two outfielders this winter, shipping Manuel Margot to the Dodgers as part of the Tyler Glasnow deal and Luke Raley to the Mariners. They might not be done reorganizing their outfield depth chart, however: Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Tampa continues to shop Harold Ramirez, a righty corner bat coming off a season in which he posted a 125 OPS+ with 12 homers and 19 doubles in 434 plate appearances.

Ramirez, 29, would come with two more years of team control. In two seasons with Tampa Bay, he’s hit .306/.348/.432 (121 OPS+) with 18 home runs and eight stolen bases. Although he’s not the most dynamic player, he makes tons of contact and has the ability to play all over the outfield as well as first base. This is the kind of player that the Rays manufacture seemingly at will and that other would-be contenders would love to have toward the bottom of their lineup.