With less than a month until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:
1. Reported signings that could be made official
In last Monday’s Opener, we discussed four reported signings that had not yet been made official: Corey Kluber with the Red Sox, Wade Miley with the Brewers, Zach Davies with the Diamondbacks, and Eric Hosmer with the Cubs. Each of those deals were made official over the course of the last week. Today, there are two deals that stick out as likely to be made official in the coming days: the one-year, $8.5MM agreement between Johnny Cueto and the Marlins, and the one-year, $1MM deal Nelson Cruz has with the Padres. Both the Miami and San Diego have full 40-man rosters, which means each club will have to make a corresponding move to make their deal official.
2. What’s next for the Cubs after the Mancini deal?
The Cubs bolstered their lineup this weekend by landing first baseman Trey Mancini on a two-year deal with an opt-out after 2023. With Mancini signed, the position player corps on the North Side appears to be relatively set, barring a trade that clears space or perhaps the acquisition of a bench outfielder. That doesn’t mean the Cubs are done, however. While owner Tom Ricketts recently talked about being “strategic” about when to cross the luxury tax threshold, the club still has just under $12MM to work with before paying into the tax, per RosterResource. After both Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ avoided arbitration last week, it’s possible that even if the Cubs decide to pursue an extension with either player this offseason, any agreement reached wouldn’t impact this season’s luxury tax figure, as is the case with Boston’s extension of Rafael Devers.
One place where the Cubs seem primed to make a move that would impact the 2023 luxury tax line is the bullpen. Chicago is rumored to be interested in Matt Moore and Andrew Chafin, the two top lefty relievers remaining on the market. While the Cubs have done well in recent seasons turning reclamation relievers into successes, a more established arm would certainly make sense in a bullpen that largely lacks a player like that outside of Brad Boxberger. If Moore and Chafin are out of Chicago’s price range, there are still other interesting lefties available to take pressure off Brandon Hughes in 2023: Zack Britton, Brad Hand, and Will Smith are all still available and could bring closing experience to a projected Cubs bullpen without much of it.
3. Which hitters are still available on the free agent market?
The free agent market for position players continued to thin last week, as each of Cruz, Mancini, and Andrew McCutchen signed on with a club for the 2023 season. That said, there’s still some interesting names out there for clubs looking to bolster the lineup in the final weeks before Spring Training. Jurickson Profar and Elvis Andrus, both of whom have received interest from the Red Sox recently, join Luke Voit as perhaps the three best position players who have yet to sign on with a club. Each of those players seems capable of holding down an everyday role in 2023. In the tier below them, there’s a number of complementary options available, such as David Peralta and Tyler Naquin. Another option would be taking a flier on a player who struggled in 2023 but has had success in the past, such as Brian Anderson or Miguel Sano.