With just about a month left before Spring Training, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today as the offseason enters its final stretch:
1. What does Correa’s return mean for the rest of Minnesota’s lineup?
In signing Carlos Correa to a six-year, $200MM deal, the Twins have successfully retained their top offseason target and transformed their lineup. They’ve also created something of a roster crunch. Correa, Jorge Polanco, Luis Arraez, and Jose Miranda will get regular infield work, with versatile infielder Kyle Farmer and infielder/outfielder Nick Gordon serving as utility options. That entire group is under team control through at least the 2024 season, and by then, Royce Lewis will likely have returned from injury while prospects Brooks Lee and Austin Martin, both already at Double-A, could be knocking on the door of the big leagues.
It’s a similar look in the outfield, where Byron Buxton, Joey Gallo and Max Kepler are currently penciled in as the starters, with Gordon, Gilberto Celestino, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach and Matt Wallner as possible alternatives. With their current glut of position players, it would make sense if the Twins more explored offers on the trade market. Kepler, in particular, has been viewed as a trade candidate — even more so in the wake of Minnesota’s signing of Gallo.
2. Does the Rojas swap portend more moves?
Longtime Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas was traded last night to the Dodgers in exchange for Jacob Amaya, filling a hole in L.A.’s roster left by Trea Turner’s departure. Could this deal spur both clubs into more action? For the Dodgers, Rojas’ $5MM salary puts the club on track to pay into the luxury tax, when they had previously seemed to be trying to avoid. Could Los Angeles look to shed salary through trade? Or is it possible that the club gives up on staying under the luxury tax and participates more aggressively in the trade market going forward to improve the club in 2023?
Meanwhile, Miami gave themselves a lot more flexibility by moving Rojas. Amaya could be a serviceable infielder for them in 2023 (perhaps in a platoon with Joey Wendle) alongside Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Jean Segura. On the other hand, without surefire starters at every infield position anymore, it’s possible that this deal allows the club to widen their scope when looking for partners in a trade for one of their starting pitchers. Previously, it seemed reasonable to assume they would focus on improving the outfield, but without Rojas, but perhaps there’s some extra consideration now given to MLB-ready infielders.
3. O’Hearn DFA Conclusion Coming
Last week, the Orioles designated first baseman Ryan O’Hearn for assignment. The outcome of that DFA is due today. O’Hearn’s four years of service time surpasses the minimum three years required to reject an outright assignment, although rejecting an outright would mean forgoing the $1.4MM deal he agreed to earlier in the offseason. O’Hearn debuted in 2018, slashing .262/.353/.597 (153 wRC+) in 170 plate appearances with the Royals that season, but he’s struggled to a .211/.282/.351 (68 wRC+) slash in 901 MLB plate appearances since the start of the 2019 season. The O’s designated O’Hearn just days after acquiring him in a trade — seemingly part of their ongoing effort to stash some lefty-swinging first base depth in Triple-A.