A slew of high-profile free agents have fared better than expected on the open market this winter, which has been the quickest-paced offseason we’ve seen in a while. Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, no doubt the most appealing unsigned starter remaining, could soon ink his own richer-than-anticipated contract. While MLBTR predicted a three-year, $54MM deal for Ryu when the offseason began, there’s now a belief across the industry that he’ll get at minimum a four-year pact worth better than $17MM per annum, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets. On at least an annual basis, that type of accord would beat out the five-year, $85MM payday the Diamondbacks handed fellow lefty Madison Bumgarner on Sunday. Age (33 in March) and an extensive injury history could work against Ryu’s bid to cash in, but at the same time, there is no question he was one of the majors’ premier starters in 2019. The longtime Dodger fired 182 2/3 innings of 2.32 ERA/3.10 FIP ball with 8.03 K/9, 1.18 BB/9 and a 50.4 percent groundball rate. Ryu rode those numbers to a second-place finish the NL Cy Young balloting, and they could help him to a rich contract in the coming weeks.
- Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak indicated last week the team was still trying to re-sign outfielder Marcell Ozuna. That continues to be the case, according to The Athletic’s Mark Saxon, who tweets that St. Louis remains “engaged in trying to” re-up its most prominent free agent. However, it appears “unlikely” the Cardinals will succeed, Saxon observes. Ozuna’s coming off a pair of productive seasons as a Cardinal, which could aid him in securing a lucrative three- or four-year contract in St. Louis or elsewhere.
- The Twins are interested in Japanese righty Shun Yamaguchi, per Darren Wolfson of SKOR North. Teams have until Jan. 2 to negotiate with Yamaguchi, whom the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball posted Dec. 3. Yamaguchi was a starter and a reliever in Japan, so it’s unclear how the Twins will use the 32-year-old if they do sign him. It’s worth noting that even after retaining Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda in recent weeks, the reigning AL Central champions appear to have holes in their rotation.
- Earlier this offseason, playoff hero Howie Kendrick chose to re-sign with the Nationals on a one-year, $6.25MM guarantee. But it turns out the Rays, once the reported front-runners to sign Kendrick, actually outbid the Nationals. They offered the 36-year-old infielder more money and term than Washington gave him, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Kendrick could have been part of the first base/designated hitter mix for the Rays, who just added a potential solution for at least one of those spots in Japanese free agent Yoshitomo Tsutsugo.