Welcome to The Opener, our new weekday morning series here at MLBTR! Nick Deeds will take you through three things to watch around MLB, with our typical hot stove leaning.
With Game 3 of the World Series in the rear-view mirror, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world:
1. Guardians Dominate Gold Glove Award Results
This year’s Gold Glove award winners were announced yesterday, with a remarkable amount of first time winners. Also remarkable is the way Cleveland dominated the AL; while no other team took home more than two Gold Gloves, the Guardians brought in a whopping four: Shane Bieber at pitcher, Andres Gimenez at second base, Steven Kwan in left field, and Myles Straw in center field. All four of the team’s Gold Glove recipients are under team control for multiple seasons, with Bieber set to hit free agency after 2024, Gimenez after 2027 and both Straw and Kwan under team control through the end of the 2028 season. These gold glove awards not only serve as a reminder of the successful season the Guardians had, but of the incredible youth of the roster, and the team control that comes with that youth.
2. The Rays Face Tough Decisions In Arbitration
Yesterday’s announcement of this year’s Super-Two cutoff prompts a re-examination of the coming arbitration class. The Rays have 19 players up for arbitration this offseason, the most in the majors. Matt Swartz projects Tampa to have to pay out over $42MM to retain all of their arbitration eligible players, it seems all but guaranteed that the Rays will have some tough decisions to make in terms of who to keep, who to trade, and who to non-tender. First baseman Ji-Man Choi, left-hander Ryan Yarbrough and catcher Francisco Mejia highlight the list of Rays in this arbitration class who may change uniforms this offseason as Tampa’s front office looks to optimize their limited financial resources.
3. Yankees To Explore Trade Market
The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner noted in a mailbag yesterday that the Yankees “simply have to try” trading third baseman Josh Donaldson and outfielder Aaron Hicks this offseason, citing both roster flexibility and payroll concerns. Hicks and Donaldson are set to cost the Yankees a combined $32MM this offseason, money a team focused on attempting to retain likely AL MVP Aaron Judge while simultaneously improving other areas of the roster would surely like to use elsewhere. Neither player can be expected to bring much of significance back to New York in trade, however. Donaldson is coming off a down season that saw him post a below average OPS+ for the first time since establishing himself as a full time player in 2013, and will play next season at age 37. Hicks, meanwhile, slashed just .216/.330/.313 in his first full season of games since 2018. While he’s younger than Donaldson, he still celebrated his 33rd birthday last month. Kirschner speculates that Hicks could bring back a “mid- to low-level” prospect, but the more likely scenario is that the Yankees would have to engage in some sort of bad contract swap or attach a mid- to low-level prospect of their own to move these aging, expensive batters.