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MLB rumor roundup: Giants in on Soler, Dodgers ‘stay in touch’ with Kershaw

We’ve got all the latest Hot Stove rumors from around the Majors on Friday, including the Giants’ interest in Jorge Soler and what the future holds for Clayton Kershaw.

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Jorge Soler of the Miami Marlins prepares to bat during Game 1 of the Wild Card Series between the Miami Marlins and the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday, October 3, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The calendar has flipped to February, just weeks away from the official start of spring training — and with a decent number of our top 25 free agents still available, plenty of teams still have work to do if they plan on making a run at a World Series. So who’s heading where? Each weekday, we’ll be bringing you the latest news, rumors and reports from around MLB. Friday’s edition features plenty of interesting pitching items, including the Giants ramping up pursuit of one of the best hitters still remaining on the market and what the future could hold for Clayton Kershaw and a couple of other aging superstars.

MLB Hot Stove rumors: Monday, Feb. 5

Giants in talks with Soler

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Giants are in talks with free-agent slugger Jorge Soler, as San Francisco hopes that this winter’s attempt to cobble together an above-average offense will go a bit better than last winter’s. If a deal gets done, Soler will presumably step into the DH slot full-time, given the Giants’ glut of outfielders at the moment (and Soler’s struggles out there, making him a poor fit for spacious Oracle Park). Soler, 32 later this month, declined a $13 million player option with the Marlins earlier this offseason and could offer some much-needed punch to a team that hasn’t had a 30-homer hitter since Barry Bonds back in 2004. He’s been wildly up and down during his big league career, but is coming off a season in which he hit .250/.341/.512 (129 OPS+) with 36 home runs.

Kershaw, Dodgers still talking

It’s sort of remarkable that a future first-ballot Hall of Famer could have a quiet free agency, but things have been all quiet on the Kershaw front for the last couple of months — even as the Dodgers overhaul their starting rotation.

Los Angeles does remain interested in a reunion with the face of the franchise, with GM Brandon Gomes telling media on Saturday that “we continue to stay in touch with Clayton and we’ll progress” (via Bill Plunkett of the OC Register). Kershaw presents something of a tricky case: He was excellent when healthy in 2023, but his shoulder wore down during a disastrous stretch run and eventually required surgery in early November — surgery that is expected to keep him out until at least the middle of the summer.

The 35-year-old has been with the organization since he was drafted out of high school in 2006, and while it would seem that another deal with L.A. is inevitable, the Dodgers currently have a pretty full rotatoin with Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow, Bobby Miller, Walker Buehler, James Paxton, Emmet Sheehan and more youngsters waiting in the wings. Granted, there’s a lot of injury and youth-related uncertainty there, and that depth could allow the team to take a load off Kershaw and keep him fresh for October. The only other option would seem to be his hometown Rangers, although Texas might not be willing to take on such a risky proposition given how banged up their starting staff already is.

Greinke intends to continue playing

Free agent Zack Greinke intends to pitch in 2024, reports The Athletic, putting a potential 21st MLB season on the table. Whether that comes in a return to the Royals is an open question after Kansas City added Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha to Cole Ragans, Brady Singer, and Jordan Lyles earlier this offseason. (The Royals should also get Kris Bubic back from Tommy John surgery around midseason.) Greinke, 40, went an unsightly 2-15 with a 5.06 ERA in 2023, and as Kansas City looks to finally move toward contention this year, they might not be able to stomach that sort of production.

The righty is beloved in the organization, however, and he’s approaching a major career milestone: Greinke is sitting on 2,979 career strikeouts, only 21 away from becoming the 20th member of the 3,000-strikeout club. At this point, Greinke’s Hall of Fame case has already been made, although 3,000 Ks would be a nice feather in the cap.

Longoria ‘weighing options’

Speaking of veteran stars: Free-agent third baseman Evan Longoria is “weighing options,” according to a recent report from the Tampa Bay Times. It’s unclear if one of those options is retirement, or whether the 38-year-old has multiple job offers from which to choose as he approaches what would be a 17th season.

Longoria hit .223/.295/.422 (93 OPS+) with 11 homers in 74 games for the Diamondbacks last regular season, becoming just about an everyday player during the team’s unlikely World Series run despite a .167/.226/.229 line in 16 playoff games. His days as a starter are likely behind him, but he can still pick it at third, and he still hits lefties hard — not to mention the benefit of having one of the best infielders of his generation in the clubhouse.

Kemp drawing plenty of interest

Five MLB teams — Blue Jays, Pirates, Reds, Red Sox, Yankees — have expressed interest in free agent Tony Kemp, according to FanSided. The former Athletics utility man slashed .209/.303/.304 while playing second base and left field last season. He finished the season well (.255/.346/.380 in his last 73 games) and he’s walked more than he’s struck out in three of the last four seasons, including 2023 — with his speed, defensive versatility and on-base skills, there’s a place for Kemp on a contender’s bench.