The hot stove is heating up with a notable overnight signing. Here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:
1. Is a Cease trade on the horizon?
With the White Sox openly considering deals for any and all players on their roster, right-hander Dylan Cease has been among the hottest names on the rumor mill to this point in the offseason. Cease’s trade candidacy began to escalate somewhat yesterday, with MLB Network’s Jon Morosi even suggesting that it’s possible a deal could be in place before the start of the Winter Meetings this weekend. The Dodgers, Braves, Red Sox, and Orioles have all been publicly connected to Cease, whose trade market we examined earlier this month.
While Cease is coming off an uneven 2023 campaign that saw him post a 4.58 ERA despite a solid 3.72 FIP, he owns a much stronger 3.54 ERA and 3.40 FIP over the past three seasons and could have more appeal to some clubs as a target than other arms rumored to be available such as Shane Bieber, Corbin Burnes and Tyler Glasnow due to the fact that he’s arbitration eligible for both the 2024 and ’25 campaigns.
2. What’s next for the Reds?
The Reds have mostly sat out free agency in recent years, with zero players signed to multi-year contracts since the 2019-20 offseason that saw them bring in Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, Shogo Akiyama, and Wade Miley on multi-year pacts. That inactivity changed yesterday, however, as the club reportedly agreed to terms with two right-handers on two-year contracts: reliever Emilio Pagan and swingman Nick Martinez. The moves help to shore up a pitching staff that proved to be the primary culprit behind the Reds missing the postseason with an 82-80 record in 2023 despite the emergence of a core of young players like Matt McLain, Andrew Abbott, and Elly De La Cruz (among others).
While the combined guarantee of $42MM to Pagan and Martinez represents a substantial financial outlay relative to Cincinnati’s recent spending habits, the club likely has plenty of room to add further salary; RosterResource projects their 2024 payroll at just $71MM — $16MM below their 2023 payroll and more than $50MM below the club’s all-time high payroll of $126MM in 2019, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
3. Outstanding DH Award winner announced:
MLB’s awards season will conclude tonight with the announcement of this year’s Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award winner. The winner will be announced at 5pm CT this evening on MLB Network. While the likes of Yordan Alvarez, Bryce Harper, and Marcell Ozuna all had excellent seasons at DH in 2023, it’s hard to imagine the award going to anyone other than free agent superstar Shohei Ohtani. If Ohtani does take home the hardware, it’ll be his third consecutive season doing so. That’s more consecutive wins than any player other than David Ortiz, who won the award five seasons in a row from 2003-07. Martinez himself won the award five times between 1995 to 2001, though never more than twice consecutively.