With the Winter Meetings fully underway, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on throughout the day today:
1. Will the logjam at the top of the market loosen?
Even after Trea Turner and Justin Verlander came off the board, much of the top of the free-agent market could hinge on Aaron Judge. With the full attention of two major-market teams on Judge — the Yankees and Giants — some players at the top of the market may not sign until the reigning AL MVP has made a decision. Carlos Rodon, for example, has received interest from both the Yankees and Giants. It would be reasonable for him to want to wait until Judge makes a decision, in case missing out on Judge puts additional pressure on the losing bidder to get a deal done with him. Brandon Nimmo, the second-best outfielder on the market, is in a similar position. While Turner signed ahead of Judge, it’s certainly possible that the rest of the shortstop market could be held up by Judge, too. The Giants are known to have interest in Carlos Correa, and the Yankees could conceivably pivot to the shortstop market should Judge depart. That could also gum things up for the Twins, who are aggressive in their attempts to retain Correa but could pivot to Xander Bogaerts if Correa leaves. The Cubs, meanwhile, have been connected to each of Correa, Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson, with rumors yesterday even suggesting they could try and lure two of the three remaining shortstops to Wrigley. Though not as frequently connected to the shortstops as Chicago, the Cardinals have been mentioned as a potential suitor (for Swanson in particular), and the Dodgers could potentially look to replace Turner now that he’s agreed to join the Phillies.
2. Will the Cardinals find their catcher?
Yesterday, St. Louis president of baseball operations John Mozeliak told reporters that the team hopes to have a new starting catcher by the end of the Winter Meetings tomorrow. The Cardinals have been connected to A’s catcher Sean Murphy, as well as free agents such as Willson Contreras and Christian Vazquez. The Cards are sure to have competition on all of these fronts, however. Murphy is being pursued by the Rays and Guardians, among other teams, while Contreras has been linked to the Astros repeatedly, with manager Dusty Baker noting the team’s interest. Vazquez, meanwhile, is known to have more than half a dozen suitors and may pursue a pact for as many as four years this offseason. Should St. Louis miss on these options, they could pivot to free-agent catchers in the next tier, such as Mike Zunino and Omar Narvaez, or they could swing a trade with the Blue Jays, who are open to dealing a catcher with three on their roster: Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk, and Gabriel Moreno (with Jansen the most oft-rumored name to be available).
3. The MLB Draft Lottery is tonight.
In addition to the usual hot stove rumblings that accompany the Winter Meetings, at 7:30pm CT this evening, the inaugural MLB draft lottery will be held, where the top six spots in the 2023 MLB draft will be decided. The Nationals, A’s, Pirates, Reds, and Royals each have at least a 10% chance of landing the top pick in the draft, but every team that missed the postseason in 2022 has a chance, however small, to pick first in next year’s draft. Looking at the larger lottery as a whole shows that Washington, Oakland, and Pittsburgh have an 81% chance to pick somewhere in the top six, while the Brewers, the team with the best record to miss the postseason, have just a 2.1% chance to pick in the top six. Be sure to check in here at MLBTR throughout the day today for all the latest coverage and analysis of the Winter Meetings. You can also download our free Trade Rumors app on iOS or on Android and set up notifications for your favorite teams or any players of particular interest!