As the offseason continues to chug through it’s earliest stages, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on today:
1. Will James Click Continue As Houston’s GM?
While Dusty Baker has accepted a one-year contract extension as Astros manager, GM James Click did not do the same when owner Jim Crane offered him a one-year extension of his own, telling reporters he is “in discussions” regarding a new contract. While it’s something of a shock that the World Series-winning general manager wouldn’t receive a multi-year extension offer, as Jon Heyman of the New York Post notes, there has long been speculation of Crane looking for a change in the front office, which is only further fueled by reports that he shot down a deal for Cubs catcher Willson Contreras at the trade deadline. Heyman suggests that the Astros may have interest in David Stearns, a former Houston executive who recently stepped down from his president of baseball operations position with Milwaukee. Stearns is still under contract with the Brewers for 2023, however, so the Astros would likely need to make a minor trade along the lines of the deal between the Cubs and Red Sox to send Theo Epstein to Chicago after the 2011 season if they are to acquire his services for the 2023 season. It’s also worth noting that Stearns definitively stated upon stepping back as president he plans to remain in Milwaukee and spend more time with family.
2. Option Decisions Continue To Linger
On the eve of the deadline for options decisions, a few notable ones still linger. Perhaps the most notable player in the bunch is longtime Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, on whom the club faces a $14MM decision on. A strong second half made what once seemed like an easy decision to decline the option much less clear cut. That being said, with players like Miguel Vargas and Michael Busch waiting in the wings, the Dodgers may prefer their younger internal options going forward. A few clubs also having intriguing option decisions to make in the rotation, most notably the Mets on Carlos Carrasco and the Orioles on Jordan Lyles. Both teams are relatively thin on proven rotation arms (the Mets thanks to other potential free-agent departures), so locking up a starter for 2023 could make sense for either club. That said, the $10MM the Orioles would spend on Lyles may be better served allocated to another starter with, perhaps, a higher ceiling, while the Mets may prefer to search for a younger option for their rotation than Carrasco, who will play 2023 at age 36. Aside from Carrasco, the Mets have Max Scherzer, 38, under contract for next season and are reportedly expressing interest in reunions with Jacob deGrom and Chris Bassitt, who are both in their mid-thirties.
3. White Sox Have Plenty Of Needs This Offseason
After a disappointing 81-81 season and with many holes to fill on the roster, the White Sox will need to be active this offseason. In addition to longtime first baseman Jose Abreu hitting free agency, outfielder AJ Pollock declined his player option in a surprising move, and Chicago declined to exercise their option on second baseman Josh Harrison. While these option decisions have saved the club some money (Pollock’s decision in particular saves Chicago $8MM), they still might not have a lot to spend this offseason. RosterResource estimates their 2023 payroll to be just over $174MM, not far below their all-time record payroll of $194MM in 2022. The Athletic’s James Fegan notes that while Hahn has expressed confidence in top prospect Oscar Colas as an outfield regular in 2023, he similarly noted the possibility that Eloy Jimenez will spend more time at DH going forward, leaving the club in position to pursue outfield options regardless of Colas’s readiness for an everyday major league role, particularly with Pollock’s departure meaning their best internal fourth outfielder is Adam Engel. Given most of the Chicago lineup is right-handed, an outfielder who can hit from the left side, such as Joc Pederson, or the switch-hitting Jurickson Profar, would make sense as a target. As for second base, Chicago’s dearth of production at the position in recent years makes them an obvious fit for Jean Segura, but a lower-cost option such as Adam Frazier could also make sense.