With a little over two months until Opening Day, here’s three things we’ll be keeping an eye on throughout the day today around the baseball world:
1. Pham/Mets deal to be made official
Shortly after reports of Tommy Pham’s one-year, $6MM agreement with the Mets came in yesterday, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that the signing will be made official today. The Mets currently have a full 40-man roster, so in order to make Pham’s deal official, a corresponding move will be required. The acquisition of Pham likely rounds out a bench that already sports Luis Guillorme, Darin Ruf, and Tomas Nido, likely pushing center fielder Khalil Lee down to Triple-A unless an additional move such as a trade of Ruf clears space. Such a move isn’t strictly necessary, however, because while there are no center fielders on New York’s bench, both Starling Marte and Mark Canha have center field experience despite starting in the corner spots in deference to Brandon Nimmo.
2. Is the lefty relief market about to heat up?
A fresh batch of rumors made the rounds yesterday concerning the market for left-handed relievers. Just a day after the Marlins were reported to have interest in departing Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, the Royals and Padres were added to the list of teams interested in the lefty fireballer’s services. Chapman, 35 in February, is looking to bounce back from a career-worst 4.46 ERA (88 ERA+) in 2022. Last year’s was his first below-average ERA in a career that has only seen him post a mark above 3.50 one other time, when he posted a 3.60 ERA for the Reds back in 2011.
Andrew Chafin, the top remaining reliever on the free agent market follow two excellent seasons with the Cubs, A’s, and Tigers, is reportedly seeing his market begin to heat up, with the Mets among seven teams known to be interested in his services. Earlier in the week, both Chafin and Matt Moore were connected to the Cubs, who appear focused on adding another bullpen arm ahead of Spring Training, with a preference for a lefty. Zack Britton, Will Smith, and Brad Hand are among the most recognizable lefties also still available in free agency.
3. Will the run on right-handed outfield bats continue?
Just as the stage could be set for a run on left-handed relievers, we’ve seen quite a few veteran right-handed bats come off the board this week. Andrew McCutchen’s return to the Pirates kicked things off, and it’s been followed by Adam Duvall agreeing with the Red Sox, Brian Anderson heading to Milwaukee, Tommy Pham landing with the Mets and Kevin Pillar inking a minor league deal with the Braves. Options in this regard are dwindling, but switch-hitters Jurickson Profar and Robbie Grossman remain unsigned, as do pure righties Chad Pinder, Albert Almora and Stephen Piscotty. As this subsection of the market begins to move, those names could find increased interest. Meanwhile, the trade market offers names like Michael A. Taylor (despite a lofty asking price) and Ramon Laureano (who may not be moved this offseason).