As MLB’s offseason continues, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:
1. Could the Orioles reach a lease agreement today?
Earlier this year, the Orioles and Maryland governor Wes Moore initially reported that they had reached an agreement that would keep the Orioles in Baltimore for at least 30 years. That deal was later revealed to be a non-binding “memorandum of understanding,” and no deal has come together in the months since. That could change today according to an announcement late last week from Moore’s office that a long-term lease agreement between the Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority will be voted on by Maryland state officials today. The agreement is expected to go before both the stadium authority and the state’s Board of Public Works this afternoon. Time is running out on an agreement, as the club’s lease at Camden Yards expires at the end of the calendar year.
2. Is the outfield market heating up?
The positional market has lagged behind the pitching market for the most part this offseason, and while infielder Jeimer Candelario and DH Shohei Ohtani have both signed in recent weeks, the outfield market was falling even further behind in free agency with a focus on trades of players like Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo, Tyler O’Neill, and Jarred Kelenic. Fortunately, the outfield market has begun to heat up over the past week as KBO star Jung Hoo Lee landed in San Francisco on a six-year deal.
Since then, the rest of the outfield market has begun to catch up as Hunter Renfroe reached an agreement on a two-year pact with the Royals. Just yesterday, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and the Diamondbacks came together on a multi-year contract that will keep the reigning NL championship club’s left fielder in town for the next two to four seasons. It’s possible that the recent movement on the outfield market could spur movement involving a corner outfield class led by Teoscar Hernandez that also features noteworthy names such as Tommy Pham, Joc Pederson, and Jorge Soler.
3. What’s next for the Padres?
The Padres kicked off their offseason earlier this month by trading away Soto and center fielder Trent Grisham to the Yankees in exchange for a package of five players headlined by right-hander Michael King and top pitching prospect Drew Thorpe. While the club was initially believed to be motivated to move Soto by a desire to open up budget space to repair a pitching staff that had lost four starting pitchers (including reigning NL Cy Young award winner Blake Snell) and star closer Josh Hader to free agency, reporting from this past weekend indicates that San Diego may have less room in the budget to work with than initially believed even after dealing away Soto.
The Padres are reportedly considering attempting to duck under the luxury tax threshold this offseason, a strategy that could leave them with just $30MM to spend as they look to add multiple arms to both the rotation and bullpen while also filling out their recently-vacated outfield alongside franchise cornerstone Fernando Tatis Jr. Given the club’s complicated financial situation and the number of holes left on the roster, the club’s path back into contention seems likely to remain unclear until president of baseball operations A.J. Preller and his front office make their next move.