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MLB Free Agency – Top storylines for remainder of offseason


The Carlos Correa saga that loomed over baseball’s offseason lastly got here to an finish this week, which means the highest 25 gamers on this 12 months’s free agent class have all discovered houses.

That does not imply the recent range is finished cooking this winter. With strikes nonetheless left to be made earlier than spring coaching begins, we requested ESPN MLB consultants Bradford Doolittle, Alden Gonzalez, Buster Olney, Jesse Rogers and David Schoenfield to weigh in on the storylines that may dominate the ultimate month of the offseason.

Which gamers are most certainly to be traded? Which under-the-radar free brokers may nonetheless make a big effect? And which groups must do one thing earlier than it’s too late? Here is what they predict.

Who is the largest title who can be traded the remainder of this offseason?

Olney: Pablo Lopez of the Miami Marlins. The signing of Johnny Cueto provides much more depth to a crew that’s already stacked in beginning pitching, and now Miami GM Kim Ng can begin to use a few of her rotation surplus to enhance the beginning lineup. A rival evaluator sees a possible match with the San Diego Padres — Lopez, starter who is 2 seasons away from free company, in return for regular shortstop Ha-Seong Kim, who’s underneath contract for the following couple of seasons with an choice for 2025.

Rogers: All indicators level to Lopez. The addition of Cueto and the optimistic return to the mound of Edward Cabrera within the second half final season give the Marlins depth the place most groups haven’t got it. If Miami had a contending lineup, then buying and selling from that depth would not make sense, however the Marlins’ offense wants a lift and Lopez can convey them again a hitter. With a pair extra years underneath crew management, Lopez has good worth proper now.

Doolittle: The Marlins signed Jean Segura after which Cueto, so we are able to now not describe their offseason as “diddly-squat,” however they have not made their most certainly play but, which is to deal from their surfeit of beginning pitchers. As Buster and Jesse recommend, the latest signing of Cueto was doubtless made to bolster the veteran depth within the rotation, making a commerce that rather more doubtless. The title I maintain coming again to is Lopez, a superb pitcher who would match seamlessly in any clubhouse and on any depth chart. Miami badly must steadiness its roster between pitching and place gamers, and I’d be shocked if some type of transfer like that’s not forthcoming. Which crew is on the different finish of this presumed swap for, I presume, a starting-caliber place participant is at current a thriller.

Gonzalez: Gleyber Torres, who was supplied to the Marlins for Lopez forward of final 12 months’s commerce deadline. DJ LeMahieu can simply change Torres at second base, and the New York Yankees have a glut of different center infielders in incumbent shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and three gifted younger gamers — Oswald Peraza, Anthony Volpe and Oswaldo Cabrera. Torres, who has two years of management remaining, has tailed off offensively lately and may profit from a change of surroundings. Trading him, in the meantime, may permit the Yankees to plug remaining holes in left discipline and the again finish of their bullpen.

Schoenfield: Hey, how in regards to the Boston Red Sox and Yankees making a commerce for Kiner-Falefa? With Trevor Story sidelined for many of the coming season, the Red Sox want a shortstop. Trades between the 2 groups are uncommon, however the Yankees did commerce Adam Ottavino to the Red Sox in 2021. However, Kiner-Falefa would not be the very best participant traded if Lopez or Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds goes. And since no person has talked about Reynolds, I’ll point out him. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Yankees, Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners are among the many groups that might use an outfielder, so with so many potential commerce companions, I believe the Pirates make a deal they like.

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Which one under-the-radar free agent are you most focused on seeing the place he indicators?

Doolittle: I’ve determined to make all of my solutions in some way associated to the Marlins. I’m stunned somebody hasn’t snatched up Brian Anderson, whom Miami set adrift, as a possible high-use utility participant who will help in any respect 4 nook positions. He’s not an ideal roster match since you’d a minimum of like him to have some use as a lefty masher and he has by no means hit southpaws all that properly. But that is the type of factor with him … that weak point does not make any specific sense for a right-handed hitter. I really feel like he is the type of veteran hitter who with some recent voices in his head may need some unfilled potential that may but be tapped into.

Gonzalez: Jurickson Profar, a soon-to-be 30-year-old switch-hitter who has the flexibility to play each place besides catcher. Profar settled into the leadoff spot with the Padres final season and put collectively a strong offensive displaying, batting .243/.331/.391 with 53 extra-base hits. He was value 2.5 FanGraphs wins above alternative, fourth most amongst Padres place gamers. And he will help nearly anybody.

Olney: Zach Britton, who has demonstrated that he has an especially excessive ceiling, together with his hard-veering sinker, when wholesome. One attainable touchdown spot — the New York Mets. That crew has some considerations about carrying too many relievers with out choices, however Britton would give Buck Showalter one other skilled lefty and extra steadiness. If agent Scott Boras works out a deal for Britton in New York, that may be a step towards restoring his working relationship with proprietor Steve Cohen. Plus, Britton has already pitched in New York with the Yankees.

Rogers: Elvis Andrus was such a lift to the Chicago White Sox late within the second half of final season, it’s going to be fascinating to see who brings him in — as a lot from a clubhouse perspective as anything. The Red Sox are a straightforward alternative contemplating the harm to Story. Andrus is a pacesetter and a veteran who can deal with the big-market strain. As for his manufacturing on the sphere, he tailed off some in late September, however over the course of a month with Chicago — after being picked up attributable to an harm to Tim Anderson — he compiled an .840 OPS and performed good, heads-up baseball.

Schoenfield: Andrew Chafin has been among the best lefty relievers the previous two seasons — a 2.29 ERA over 135 appearances and 126 innings — and would make a superb addition to any contender’s bullpen. He has been strong towards either side and really was simpler towards right-handers for the Detroit Tigers in 2022, so you should use him in large moments. The Houston Astros made it by the postseason final 12 months with out a lefty (Will Smith was on the World Series roster however did not pitch), however Chafin appears like match for Houston.

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Which contender most must make one other transfer between now and the beginning of spring coaching?

Doolittle: Sorry, Marlins followers, I can not use you on this query. The Dodgers have some work to do. No, they are not at risk of slipping into obsolescence, however whereas they invariably venture as one of many high couple of groups within the majors, I really feel like they have been handed up within the forecast sport by a handful of golf equipment which were much more aggressive this winter. In specific, L.A.’s crew protection was trying like a priority and nonetheless does, although the commerce for Miguel Rojas (Marlins!) helps on that entrance.

Gonzalez: The Marlins stick out to me. Yes, the Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves reside on a special platform within the National League East, however that is nonetheless the Marlins’ window. They possess what the trade needs most — a plethora of proven-yet-controllable beginning pitchers. But they’ve but to put it to use so as to entry the offense they so desperately want. There’s nonetheless time, after all, however with so many groups filling so many wants by free company, one has to surprise if the very best alternatives have already handed the Marlins by.

Olney: Soon sufficient we’ll see if the Baltimore Orioles and Red Sox take into account themselves contenders. If Boston goes to have any shot at making the playoffs, the Red Sox want a minimum of a one-year repair at shortstop now that Story is out indefinitely. And after profitable 83 video games final season and stoking the hope of the fan base, Baltimore’s management has spent comparatively little; the 4 free brokers signed by the Orioles this winter will make much less cash mixed in 2023 than what Justin Verlander will get with the Mets.

Rogers: Quick, who’s the St. Louis Cardinals’ ace? If you mentioned Jack Flaherty, you then’ve gone again in time. Perhaps he returns to type, however proper now, St. Louis has the identical downside it did to finish final season: It does not have a real No. 1 pitcher. It’s laborious to navigate three or 4 rounds of the postseason with out that man. And how lengthy can Adam Wainwright be requested to guide the group? At the very least, the Cardinals want extra depth there — that’s, if they can not swing a deal for a No. 1.

Schoenfield: The Dodgers do not NEED to make a transfer — however I believe they may, now that Trevor Bauer has been launched and the Dodgers know that they are on the hook for his $22.5 million wage. The Dodgers would like to maintain their payroll under the $233 million tax threshold so as to reset their tax fee, nevertheless it’s already at an estimated $237 million in accordance with FanGraphs, so perhaps that is an unattainable order. Why not spend slightly extra?

They simply added Miguel Rojas for shortstop insurance coverage (or to maintain Gavin Lux at second base). I may see them being in play for Lopez or Reynolds as they nonetheless have 40-man and prospect depth to deal from. Certainly, including one other starter to a fragile rotation that features Clayton Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin, Noah Syndergaard and Dustin May is sensible, and Reynolds would supply a second dependable outfield bat subsequent to Mookie Betts.

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What is the one storyline you are watching most intently between now and the beginning of spring coaching?

Gonzalez: I’ll have an interest to see if anyone indicators Bauer, who was formally launched by the Dodgers on Friday and is now a free agent. It’s broadly thought of unlikely, a minimum of initially, provided that he simply completed serving the longest suspension within the historical past of the game’s home violence coverage and hasn’t publicly expressed even a modicum of contrition. But Bauer is in his early 30s, was thought of one of many sport’s finest pitchers earlier than assault allegations surrounded him in the summertime of 2021 and might be acquired for the most important league minimal — at a time when free agent contracts have skyrocketed.

Doolittle: Bauer. He is, indubitably, an impression beginning pitcher. The free agent market is now right down to a pleasant record of presumably helpful veterans, a minimum of a few whom will find yourself making a significant distinction subsequent season, however there are not any extra star-level impression performers on the market. Except Bauer. But that is simply the baseball facet, and there may be way more to contemplate right here.

Rogers: The one story that might produce essentially the most scorching take opinions is the extra-inning rule. Expect baseball to announce that it is protecting a runner on second to begin the tenth inning and this time there isn’t any reliable cause behind it — besides that groups and the league just like the rule. In the previous, it was about pitcher security, contemplating shortened spring coaching as a result of COVID-19 pandemic and final 12 months’s lockout. But GMs merely do not wish to cope with the fallout from 18-inning video games and the league likes shorter video games anyway … So, it is staying. Cue the heated debate.

Olney: I’ll be watching to see whether or not or not Shohei Ohtani declares his intention to go to free company, which is what the baseball world expects — and if the Los Angeles Angels attempt to sway him with a record-setting supply that may presumably make the most of the quantity “5” in two historic methods: $50 million-plus in annual wage and $500 million-plus in whole contract worth. Once Ohtani’s standing is clarified, we’ll have the primary concrete indication of whether or not he may be traded in July and whether or not he’ll dominate baseball’s subsequent offseason.

Schoenfield: Ohtani definitely has an opportunity to grow to be one of many best free brokers ever — with the title of “greatest” going to Alex Rodriguez, who hit free company coming into his age-25 season after hitting .316/.420/.606 with 41 residence runs (10.4 WAR) at 24 years previous. So, sure, any declaration from Ohtani would arrange a endless buzz of rumors and hypothesis. Something tells me Steve Cohen has already put aside $500 million.


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