As the baseball world starts to wake back up, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on throughout the day:
1. 1B Market Update
There was some movement on the first base market yesterday, as Dominic Smith landed with the Nationals and Eric Hosmer appears to be headed to the Cubs. While many corners of the free agent market are running low on both suitors and options at this point, there are still several recognizable veteran names at first base. Trey Mancini is the top option remaining, but the likes of Luke Voit, Brandon Belt, and Miguel Sano all remain available to teams looking to make an addition. While both the Cubs and Nats were among the most obvious clubs for a first baseman, other teams still remain. The Orioles were known to have interest in Hosmer, while the Rays and Royals were in on Smith. The Marlins, Mariners, and Tigers are other teams for whom it could make sense to add another bat, though such an addition for any of these clubs would not necessarily need to come at first base.
2. Could the Yankees stand pat in left field?
The Yankees came into the offseason with the outfield as their most obvious hole, and while they’ve succeeded in retaining Aaron Judge, there’s still plenty of room for the club to make a second addition. Judge, Harrison Bader, Oswaldo Cabrera, and Aaron Hicks are the team’s current outfield options, and Giancarlo Stanton could potentially contribute on days he isn’t the team’s DH. There’s been a lot of talk throughout the offseason about who the team could add to play left field, but is it possible they’re content going into opening day with their current options? Cabrera was solid in a 44-game cup of coffee in 2022, batting .247/.312/.429 (111 wRC+) while splitting time between both outfield corners and all four infield spots. Meanwhile, Hicks is under contract for the next three seasons, so they may prefer to see if his value can bounce back in more of a part time role after a difficult season in 2022.
In addition to the options currently on the 40-man roster, the Yankees have loaded up on veteran outfield depth on minor league deals. Outfielders Michael Hermosillo, Willie Calhoun, and, most recently, Rafael Ortega have all landed deals to play in Scranton to start 2023. Any of them could prove to be plausible bench pieces for the big league club if the current position player mix suffers any losses, whether via injury or trade, before Opening Day. Ortega, in particular, posted a .265/.344/.408 line (108 wRC+) across 701 plate appearances with the Cubs during the 2021-22 seasons, and his left-handed bat could provide balance to a Yankees hitting corps currently dominated by righties.
3. MLBTR Chat Today
Yesterday, MLBTR’s Steve Adams fielded questions during a live chat (transcript here). If you still have unanswered questions about this offseason or the direction of your favorite team, you’re in luck, as MLBTR’s Anthony Franco will be hosting another chat today at 5pm CT. You can submit a question in advance here, and you can use the same link to check back in this evening and participate live once the chat begins.