There has been some early action on the starting pitching market. Jake Odorizzi accepted a qualifying offer from the Twins, filling one of their openings on a limited commitment. The Cardinals brought back Adam Wainwright. Chase Anderson went to the Blue Jays in a trade. The Rangers made Kyle Gibson their annual surprise three-year contract recipient. Those moves helped set the stage for some of the biggest free agents, who are now engaged with multiple suitors. We’ve recently covered the latest on hot commodity Zack Wheeler and high-end veteran Stephen Strasburg, who has held meetings with the Dodgers and Yankees.
Here’s more from other areas of the market:
- Speaking of Wheeler, it seems that a deal is indeed on the cusp of coming together. Ken Rosenthal said as much in an appearance on MLB Network (Twitter link), noting that we could even see an agreement struck today. Rosenthal believes it’s a three-team race between the Phillies, White Sox, and Reds, though he cautions that the bidding isn’t fully limited to those organizations. We’ll be keeping a close watch on Wheeler.
- The Yankees are clearly a legitimate player for top free agent Gerrit Cole, though agent Scott Boras is certain to demand that the New York powerhouse pay a premium to woo the West Coast native. Yesterday’s initial sit-down went well, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter), though it’s hard to divine much of real import given that the sides didn’t talk cold hard cash. Sources tell Heyman that “the dollars will be there,” which seems to be an indication that the Yankees are fully prepared to make Cole the richest pitcher ever to play the game. But whether the club will cast its valuations aside in a full-blown bidding war, should one break out, remains to be seen.
- We’ve heard a lot of chatter surrounding a certain Indians star shortstop, but relatively little on the club’s former (and future?) ace starter. That may not reflect the real state of play within and among front offices. ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan cites multiple executives for the proposition that the Cleveland organization is working harder on structuring deals for Corey Kluber than in sorting out a blockbuster involving Francisco Lindor. As we explained in ranking Kluber 17th among the winter’s trade candidates, it’s all but impossible to know what to expect from the former Cy Young winner. Kluber ought to be well rested after a freak arm fracture ruined his 2019 season, but he had struggled in early action before the injury. He’s not cheap — $17.5MM in 2020 and $18MM via club option for one more year — but would be an outright steal at those rates if he’s anything like his usual self upon his return.
- The Blue Jays are “as aggressive as any team” in pursuit of open-market starters, per MLB.com’s Jon Morosi (via Twitter). It’s anyone’s guess just how to interpret that characterization. The Toronto faithful are by now a bit jaded at such assurances, having grown frustrated with a string of losing seasons and minimal investment in the MLB roster. Perhaps this is all part of the setup for explaining that the club just couldn’t quite get a deal done despite its best efforts. Then again, there’s plenty of reason to think the Jays can and should be prepared to re-enter the fray in a big way. The club has cleaned up its future balance sheets and graduated many of its best prospects to the majors. Perhaps the Toronto front office will end up making significant rotation improvements over the course of the winter.