As the offseason continues to roll along, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on throughout the day today:
1. Implications Of Diaz, Suarez Deals
The relief market has moved quickly in the early going of this offseason, with perhaps the top two options, Edwin Diaz and Robert Suarez, already off the market. Both relievers re-signed with the Mets and Padres, respectively, but the more notable piece of these signings is the contracts they both managed to secure. In signing a five-year, $102MM contract, Diaz became the first reliever to receive a $100MM guarantee or an AAV of $20MM, though given his superlative platform season (1.31 ERA/0.90 FIP), there was never any doubt that he would get paid handsomely. Suarez, while a top relief arm in this offseason’s class in his own right, pales in comparison to Diaz, with a 2.27 ERA and 3.32 FIP in 47 2/3 innings in 2022, his first major league season after playing the first six years of his career in Japan. Despite his lack of major-league experience and the fact that he’ll play 2023 at the age of 32, Suarez still managed to receive a five year, $46MM deal. While the AAV is about in line with what most would have expected, San Diego’s decision to sign Suarez to a deal that guarantees him money through his age-36 season certainly registers as a surprise, particularly given that there’s also an opt-out in the deal. With perhaps the two best relievers off the market, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the relief market plays out from here. Kenley Jansen, Rafael Montero, and Taylor Rogers represent some of the top options still available, and while they were projected for just two or three year deals in MLBTR’s Top 50 list yesterday, it’s reasonable to wonder if the Suarez deal indicates the relief market may be stronger than had previously been expected.
2. Kershaw, Dodgers Close To Deal
Reports last night indicated that the Dodgers were close to re-signing longtime ace Clayton Kershaw to another one-year contract similar to the one he received last offseason, and it’s possible said contract could be agreed upon as soon as today. This deal comes as no surprise, as Kershaw had previously mentioned that he was likely to continue playing in 2023, and despite rumors last year that he may sign with his hometown Texas Rangers, the more widely held expectation has been that if Kershaw is playing anywhere next season, it will be in Los Angeles. Should the Kershaw deal become official, the Dodgers will have additional security in their rotation headed into the meat of the offseason. Tyler Anderson (to whom the Dodgers extended a qualifying offer yesterday) and Andrew Heaney joined Kershaw in free agency after the 2022 season, leaving the club in need of more arms. Still, it’s reasonable to expect L.A. to continue searching for rotation help even with Kershaw returning for next year, particularly given his increasingly frequent trips to the injured list in recent years.
3. Masataka Yoshida Garnering Interest
It was reported last week that Nippon Professional Baseball star Masataka Yoshida may be posted by his team, the Japan Series champion Orix Buffaloes, and rumors have only grown since then. In particular, the folks at the New York Post seem confident not only that Yoshida will indeed be posted — Joel Sherman suggests such a move is expected to come next month — but that he will find considerable interest from MLB clubs. Sherman notes that Yoshida “is going to draw a lot of interest”, while Jon Heyman indicates that the Yankees, in particular, may be interested in Yoshida, whether or not they manage to re-sign Aaron Judge. Heyman notes that Yoshida’s lefty bat could help bring balance to a Yankees lineup that’s heavily right-handed, and stands to become even more so should they not re-sign first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Should Yoshida be posted, he would join the corner outfield market as one of the younger, more intriguing options behind Judge. Speculatively speaking, teams such as the Blue Jays, Rangers, and Mariners are among the many who could have interest in Yoshida.