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It is February and real live baseball will be played later this month. Pitchers and catchers will report to spring training camps in Arizona and Florida in two weeks, and the first exhibition games are three weeks away. They're only spring training games and they don't mean anything, but they are fun in their own way. Until then, here are Thursday's hot stove rumors.

Mets nearing deal with Diekman

Jake Diekman
NYM • RP • #30
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The Mets are nearing a contract agreement with free-agent lefty Jake Diekman, reports The Athletic. Contract terms are unknown, though presumably it is a one-year deal for the 37-year-old. New York was said to have interest in lefty Wandy Peralta before he signed with the Padres. It appears Diekman was their backup plan. He did rank among our top 50 free agents.

Diekman was very good with the Rays last year after being released by the White Sox. Tampa helped him get back to where he was earlier in his career more than they helped him find a new level. Diekman will join Austin Adams, Jorge López, Michael Tonkin, and a healthy Edwin Díaz in a remade Mets bullpen. The club recent re-signed Adam Ottavino as well.

Twins planning to spend savings in Polanco trade

Jorge Polanco
SEA • 2B • #7
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Earlier this week, the Twins shipped second baseman Jorge Polanco to the Mariners in a five-player trade, and in doing so, cleared about $5.3 million in payroll. The club is planning to reinvest that money into the roster, with a position player(s) a more likely target than more pitching. Here's what president of baseball operations Derek Falvey told after the trade:

"With the trade and the way the cash all worked, we have some savings here just in this transaction alone that adds into the flexibility we have going through the free-agent market," president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. "We still think there are ways that we can utilize some of that money to address other ways to improve the club."


"I think we're going to be flexible and open-minded to what it looks like with adds to the infield, what it looks like with adds to the outfield," Falvey said. "And maybe there's an opportunity to continue to add on the pitching side -- I think our focus might turn more to the position player route."

A right-handed bat who can spell Byron Buxton in center field and also provide insurance at first base, where Alex Kirilloff and Jose Miranda are coming off offseason surgeries, would be ideal. Does that player exist though? Free agent Adam Duvall played a little first base earlier in his career and he's played plenty of center, though he's 35 now, and center is no longer his best position. Either way, the Polanco trade freed up money and the Twins plan to spend it.

Blue Jays getting calls about Manoah

Alek Manoah
TOR • SP • #6
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Several teams have inquired about Blue Jays righty Alek Manoah this offseason, according to Toronto is telling teams they have no plans to move him, however, and Manoah is penciled into the rotation as the No. 5 starter behind Kevin Gausman, Chris Bassitt, José Berríos, and Yusei Kikuchi. Cuban righty Yariel Rodriguez could compete for the No. 5 spot too.

Manoah, who turned only 26 earlier this month, had a disastrous 2023. He pitched to a 5.87 ERA in 19 starts and had multiple stints in the minors. Oh, and he received an injection for a shoulder issue after the season. In 2022, Manoah finished third in the Cy Young voting after throwing 196 2/3 innings with a 2.24 ERA. Clearly the Blue Jays believe that pitcher is still in there.