News of the finally-ratified Collective Bargaining Agreement is dominating headlines, with good reason, but some free agent leads had quietly emerged during the final hours of CBA negotiations. Notably, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that the Yankees had requested and received medicals for free agent pitchers Carlos Rodon and Yusei Kikuchi prior to the lockout. Heyman notes that the Yankees have received the medicals of free agent shortstop Carlos Correa as well, though disclaims that the team already has “two good shortstop prospects”, referring to touted youngsters Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza.
It has been speculated for some time that the Yankees minor league depth may impede their run at baseball’s top free agent, but their interest in Rodon and Kikuchi appears more straightforward. Despite possessing a high-upside stable of arms behind Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery, the Bronx rotation has no shortage of risk baked into it. Signing either Rodon or Kikuchi would add a similar high-risk, high-reward pitcher to the mix however, as these free agent targets dealt with injury and ineffectiveness down the stretch, respectively. Still, with a much higher luxury tax threshold to work with clubs like the Yankees are further incentivized to sign as many playoff-caliber arms as they can to see who sticks.
Some more free agent leads to usher in the post-lockout world…
- Piggybacking off of Heyman’s tweet, Darren Wolfson of SKOR North reports that the Twins have received medicals on Rodon and Kikuchi as well. Per Wolfson, the Twins are still searching for “multiple arms, starters and relievers” which should come as little surprise to fans who have followed Minnesota’s offseason to date. A Rodon signing would likely represent an uncharacteristically large splash for the Twins, though it should be noted they’ve shown interest in high-risk pitchers in the past, to say nothing of their interest in Rodon last offseason.
- Another free agent generating buzz is Jorge Soler, who Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports has received interest from more than six clubs. Now that the universal DH has been implemented Feinsand speculates that Soler will see his list of suitors grow. That theory certainly checks out on paper, as Soler has sported a useful 117 OPS+ since 2019, though his glovework during that same stretch has been decidedly below average.