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MLB rumors: Royals exploring extension with young star, Zack Greinke eyeing milestone, Tony Kemp draws looks

In a little over one week, pitchers and catchers will begin reporting to spring training camps in Arizona and Florida. Seventeen of our top 50 free agents remain unsigned, however, including four of the top 10. There are still plenty of quality players available with the offseason winding down. Here now are Monday’s hot stove rumors.

Royals working on extension with Witt

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The Royals are working to extend star shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., according to the New York Post. The two sides have made progress, though no deal is imminent and it is not guaranteed to happen. Witt broke out with a .276/.319/.496 batting line in 2023. He hit 30 homers, stole 49 bases, and played very good defense. The result was a 4.4 WAR season.

Witt, 23, is still four years away from free agency. The largest extension given to a player at his service time level is the 14-year, $340 million contract the Padres gave Fernando Tatis Jr. The Guardians signed Andrés Giménez to a seven-year, $106.5 million deal at this service time level. Witt will surely look to beat that, though it is a reasonable enough starting point for contract talks.

Greinke intends to continue playing

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Free agent Zack Greinke intends to pitch in 2024, reports The Athletic. It would be his 21st season. A return to the Royals may not be possible 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. He is approaching a major career milestone, however: Greinke is sitting on 2,979 career strikeouts, so he is 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. Getting to 3,000 strikeouts would be a great accomplishment though.

Five teams interested in Kemp

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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 guy slashed .209/.303/.304 while playing second base and left field last season. He finished the season well though (.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. There’s a place for Kemp on a contender’s bench as a high contact lefty hitting utility guy.

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