The hot stove was busy yesterday, and here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on throughout baseball today:
1. Catching market update
The top trade target and free agent are off the board on the catching market, as Sean Murphy is headed to the Braves, and Christian Vazquez is set to sign with the Twins. With the Guardians, Cubs, Rays, and Astros among the teams looking to land a catcher, what options remain? On the free agent market, Omar Narvaez is likely the top option, with Tucker Barnhart and Mike Zunino also getting attention. On the trade market, the only clear seller behind the plate is the Blue Jays, who are expected to deal a member of their catching trio (Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk, and Gabriel Moreno) at some point. The Astros (Korey Lee) and Guardians (Bo Naylor) both have catching prospects who could see more playing time in 2023, perhaps supported by the addition of a lower cost veteran like Barnhart or Austin Hedges. The Astros are also reportedly discussing a Daulton Varsho trade with the Diamondbacks, and Varsho, though more of an outfielder at this point, could still support a catching tandem of Lee and Martin Maldonado with an occasional appearance behind the plate. Other teams could also see the limited impactful options on the market behind the plate and take advantage by dangling one of their catchers. If the Braves get an offer to their liking regarding Travis d’Arnaud, he could be flipped elsewhere while the team pivots to sign a less-expensive backup to Murphy. The Padres could offer up one of Luis Campusano or Austin Nola, while the Rangers have MLB-ready catchers in Jonah Heim, Sam Huff, and Mitch Garver.
2. What deals could be coming down the pipeline?
After a fairly busy day on the hot stove yesterday, there’s plenty more moves that could be made in the near future. As previously mentioned, the Diamondbacks and the Astros are reportedly discussing trade of Varsho, while the Blue Jays are looking to move one of their catchers. Aside from those moves, the Yankees still have plenty to do this offseason, even after re-signing Aaron Judge. They reportedly a preparing a formal offer to the top free agent pitcher left on the market, Carlos Rodon, while engaging in trade discussions with teams in order to fill the hole in left field. Reportedly, they have interest in a deal with the Pirates for Bryan Reynolds and have talked to both the Twins and Diamondbacks about trades. Moving down the east coast, the Marlins have reportedly made an offer to third baseman Justin Turner, who could provide the team with a much needed boost to their offense. Sticking with small markets, the Pirates, despite re-signing catcher Tyler Heineman on a minor league deal, could still add a starting catcher to their club in the near future. Barnhart is known to be a name that interests Pittsburgh.
3. The Blue Jays added a starter — is a bat next?
The Blue Jays yesterday signed Chris Bassitt to a three-year deal, fortifying a rotation that already contained Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman. While the move improves their rotation in a significant way, they Jays are still in the market for a left-handed bat. A trade of Jansen, Kirk, or Moreno could end up playing a part in solving this part of the roster for the Jays, but they could potentially stand to add another bat to the outfield mix as well, with the DH slot relatively vacant. Michael Conforto and Michael Brantley are both options who have previously been connected to Toronto, but Andrew Benintendi and Joey Gallo are also available on the free agent market, while the trade market offers options such as Reynolds and Max Kepler.