Winter Meetings Storylines

D.J. Short
D.J. Short discusses some storylines to watch at this week's MLB Winter Meetings

Winter Meetings Storylines

D.J. Short discusses some storylines to watch at this week's MLB Winter Meetings

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The early part of the offseason has moved at a glacial pace, but the recent developments with Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani have hopefully provided the perfect jolt to the market just in time for the Winter Meetings this week in Orlando, Florida.

While Stanton and Ohtani are off the board, there are still plenty of interesting situations to follow around MLB. Let's take a quick look in advance of Day One of the Winter Meetings.

Top Free Agents Available

The biggest free agent deal handed out so far this winter is Tyler Chatwood’s three-year, $38 million deal with the Cubs, which means that much is unsettled with this year’s class. Some major dominoes should fall this week.

Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez lead the position player side and are widely expected to receive contracts in excess of $100 million this offseason. Both are repped by Scott Boras, who sometimes slow-plays the market. With the Yankees adding Stanton, it will be interesting to see if the Red Sox sign one of them. They could really use a boost on the power front. Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Carlos Santana, Zack Cozart, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, Jonathan Lucroy, Eduardo Nunez, Neil Walker, Carlos Gonzalez, and Carlos Gomez are among some of the other names of note among position players.

As for the starting pitcher side, the top-tier options are still out there. Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are the biggest names, but Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb make for fine alternatives. Teams like the Dodgers, Cubs, Rangers, and even the Twins are expected to be aggressive with the top available starters. The quality of this year’s class of starters gets murkier beyond this quartet, with names like Andrew Cashner, CC Sabathia, Jason Vargas, and Jaime Garcia in the mix.

It looks like Brandon Morrow has a deal with the Cubs — we’ll get to that soon — but there are still plenty of quality relievers available. Wade Davis and Greg Holland will attempt to cash in on their All-Star seasons, but Addison Reed, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee, Brandon Kintzler, Juan Nicasio, Joe Smith, Tony Watson, and Pat Neshek should also do well for themselves this offseason.

Trade Possibilities

The Yankees will hold a press conference Monday to officially announce the acquisition of Stanton from the Marlins. Starlin Castro is headed to Miami in the deal, but it’s expected to be a mere pit stop to wherever he’s headed next. Castro is coming off a nice year and has a favorable contract, but there are already a number of second baseman also on the trade block, including Ian Kinsler with the Tigers, Jason Kipnis with the Indians, Cesar Hernandez with the Phillies, and Josh Harrison with the Pirates.

What will the Marlins do next? After trading Dee Gordon and Stanton, the club will almost certainly hear inquiries on Marcell Ozuna, Justin Bour, Christian Yelich, and J.T. Realmuto this week. The Cardinals could be a good match for Ozuna after they nearly landed Stanton. The Marlins don’t necessarily have to trade all of these players mentioned above, but maybe they could actually get some top prospects back this time rather than let finances be the top consideration.

The Rays could be an interesting team to watch this week. As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes, they are open to “anything and everything.” The club is expected to cut payroll, which means that Evan Longoria, Chris Archer, Alex Colome, Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi, Wilson Ramos, Brad Miller, and Adeiny Hechavarria could be shopped around. Kevin Kiermaier, who just signed a six-year, $53.5 million extension in the spring, might not be off-limits either. The Cardinals have been mentioned as a possibility for both Longoria and Colome.

One area to watch is players who are one year away from free agency. The Orioles (Manny Machado, Zach Britton) and Blue Jays (Josh Donaldson) might have to ask themselves some difficult questions this week. The Pirates could also revisit the possibility of trading Andrew McCutchen. We might also see some trade scenarios develop in Chicago, as the White Sox could add more pieces to their rebuild if they move Jose Abreu while the Cubs could potentially swing Kyle Schwarber for an arm.

Cubs Adding Morrow

After settling for a minor league contract last offseason, free agent right-hander Brandon Morrow has turned a brilliant year in the Dodgers’ bullpen into a lucrative multi-year contract. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports that the Cubs have signed Morrow to a two-year deal with an option for 2020, pending a physical. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the deal is worth between $10-11 million per season. Bruce Levine of 670 The Score and first reported that a deal was close.

Injuries limited Morrow to 46 appearances in the majors from 2013-2016, but he thrived in his first stint as a full-time reliever last season, compiling a dominant 2.06 ERA and 50/9 K/BB ratio over 43 2/3 innings. The 33-year-old then posted a 3.95 ERA over 14 appearances during the postseason. He appeared in all seven World Series games against the Astros. If you combine the regular season and the postseason, it was his largest workload in the majors since 2012 with the Blue Jays.

With Wade Davis as the top reliever available in free agency, Morrow gives the Cubs a potential option at closer, but Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes that the club is expected to sign another late-inning arm.

Quick Hits: The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced Sunday that Alan Trammell and Jack Morris were elected to the Hall of Fame by the Modern Era Committee … Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Cardinals have signed veteran reliever Luke Gregerson to a two-year, $11 million contract with an option for a third year … Mets general manager Sandy Anderson said Sunday that Michael Conforto (shoulder) might not be ready for Opening Day … According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel has hired Scott Boras as his new agent … Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Yankees are “still weighing” potential trades for Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury … Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright was arrested on domestic assault charges on Friday… Mets general manager Sandy Alderson indicated Sunday that the club is still “very high” on young first baseman Dominic Smith … Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Indians and Red Sox are among the teams talking to Carlos Santana while Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer hears that the Rangers and Padres are also in … According to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, the Mets have discussed a possible Matt Harvey trade with at least two teams ...

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