As the Winter Meetings approach, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:
1. Brewers facing big decisions:
Few teams in baseball are facing as wide an array of possible outcomes this offseason as the Brewers. After losing longtime manager Craig Counsell to the division rival Cubs and non-tendering injured ace Brandon Woodruff earlier this month, the club is facing major decisions on the futures of right-hander Corbin Burnes and shortstop Willy Adames, both of whom are slated to hit free agency after the 2024 season. In a recent poll of MLBTR readers nearly 78% of respondents suggested the club should move Burnes, who has spoken candidly about the lack of extension negotiations between the sides.
On the other hand, the club is the reigning NL Central champion and would likely have trouble fending off up-and-coming clubs like the Reds and Cubs next season if they were to lose both Burnes and Woodruff in the same offseason. As Milwaukee brass ponders whether to maximize the club’s odds in 2024 or build for the long term, the club is simultaneously discussing a precedent-setting pre-debut extension with top outfield prospect Jackson Chourio, a move that could extend the club’s window of control over a potentially elite talent while accelerating his path to the majors.
2. When will the trade market for starters kick into motion?
Burnes isn’t the only noteworthy ace-caliber arm who could be on the trade market this offseason. White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease, Rays righty Tyler Glasnow, and 2020 AL Cy Young award winner Shane Bieber have gotten plenty of buzz as likely trade candidates so far this offseason, with reports of interest from rival clubs ramping up in recent days. Could a team look to make an impact addition to their starting rotation ahead of the Winter Meetings, which begin on Sunday evening? The Braves, Dodgers, Cubs, and Reds are the clubs that have been most frequently connected to the front-of-the-rotation arms known to be available in trade, though plenty of teams would benefit from such an addition.
3. Reliever of the Year winners to be announced:
The winners of the league’s Reliever of the Year awards, named after Trevor Hoffman in the NL and Mariano Rivera in the AL, are set to be announced this evening at 5pm CT on MLB Network. The reigning winner of the award in the NL, Mets closer Edwin Diaz, missed the entire 2023 campaign due to injury. That leaves the door wide open for other top arms such as left-handed free agent Josh Hader (1.28 ERA), Brewers righty Devin Williams (1.53 ERA), and Pirates right-hander David Bednar (2.00 ERA) to claim the award this season. Meanwhile, the AL’s top crop of relief arms this year features reigning winner Emmanuel Clase (3.22 ERA), who lead the league with 44 saves this season for the Guardians. However, the likes of Orioles righty Felix Bautista (1.48 ERA) and Blue Jays right-hander Jordan Romano (2.90 ERA) posted stronger run-prevention numbers than Clase this season.