With the MLB Winter Meetings starting today there are a number of rumors about free agents. The two biggest free agent dominoes need to fall for many of the rumored trades to come front and center in the discussion. At this point I believe my readers all know the top two free agents are Shohei Ohtani and Cody Bellinger.
According to Bob Nightengale Shohei will not be signing at the winter meetings unless a team makes offers him one billion. Nightengale says that he is likely to sing somewhere in the next week though and that the Toronto Blue Jays are the sleeper fourth team along with the San Francisco Giants, and one other team are also on the list. The only teams that have dropped out based on headlines the last few days appear to be the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets. This is a huge domino that needs to fall for some of the trades and other signings which I will discuss in this article to actually start becoming a focus of discussion.
The other huge domino that needs to fall is Cody Bellinger. In a few of my posts over the last couple months I have said that I think he might resign with the Chicago Cubs. While I still want him to come back I believe his steep asking price and the fact that the Cubs appear ready, according to many reporters and analysts, to keep Pete Crow-Armstrong with the major league club have caused that ship to fully sail, at least for them. Here’s the thing folks: with Cody’s agent being Scott Boras I do not see him signing anywhere until closer to Christmas, possibly even early January.
Let’s not forget Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The domino of him choosing which team he will sign with is a big one too because it will effect the trade market this winter as teams solidify their rosters for 2024 as well. Due to the unfortunate death of their owner the San Diego Padres are rumored to without a doubt be shopping Juan Soto and a few others one short year after going all in to win a title in the next few years.
The rumor with Soto is he will be traded in the next three or four days to allow the Padres to focus on other moves they need to make in order to field a competitive roster in 2024. Right now the the teams being discussed the most are the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies. Of the teams I follow the closes those two teams make the most sense if one of them can get a deal done.
Let’s discuss a few other rumors that are making headlines though. There’s a few which involve the Cubs and of course on that involves the White Sox Dylan Cease. Leaving Ohtani out of this since he will not pitch in 2024 wherever he signs the Cubs definitely need pitching.
However, while Cease may seem like a good fit they also have a couple of pitchers on the roster already who are definitely up-and-coming Aces. It would make absolutely zero sense for the Cubs to make a deal sending prospects or, worse, major leave players to the South Side for Cease. Especially since Cease only has one year until he hits free agency and the Cubs likely would not sign him to an extension.
That said, there are guys like Tyler Glasnow (Rays), Josh Hader (Padres), and Shane Bieber (Cleveland) who are rumored to be on the market. Trading for Glasnow or Bieber would help the Cubs keep a guaranteed spot in the rotation for a guy like Jordan Wicks come 2025. Taking a look at the Cubs active roster that would mean trading some combination of Adbert Alzolay, Jaemson Taillon, and Drew Smyly. That would also open space in the payroll to sign Josh Hader and steal him away from San Diego; especially if Jameson Taillon is the one that is traded.
Another glaring hole the Cubs have is at third base and there have been many rumors over the last couple week that the Astros are looking to move Alex Bregman. This seems like perfect fit because the Cubs could trade Nick Madrigal and another prospect or two to the Astros for Bregman then move Patrick Wisdom to a bench role and have him split time and first and third with Bregman and Morel.
With that… let the hot stove start really heating up!!
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