As baseball’s busiest time of the offseason approaches, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world headed into the weekend:
1. Winter Meetings on the horizon:
The main attraction of MLB’s offseason, the Winter Meetings, are set to begin this weekend. From the time executives, agents, players and owners arrive in Nashville on Sunday until they depart this coming Thursday, a flurry of activity is expected to get underway to truly kick off what has to this point been a relatively quiet offseason. Of course, the name poised to receive the most attention over the next week is two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani, but other top free agents like Yoshinobu Yamamoto as well as trade candidates like Juan Soto and Dylan Cease also figure to be hot-button topics of conversation. Be sure to check back with MLBTR throughout the coming week as we provide round-the-clock coverage of the Meetings from the moment they begin.
2. How will the Rangers’ payroll restrictions shape the offseason?
In recent years, the Rangers have been perhaps the most active team on the free agent market, landing superstars Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Jacob deGrom across the past two winters while also making smaller signings such as Jon Gray and Nathan Eovaldi. With the team coming off its first World Series championship in organizational history, many expected the club to once again be at the forefront of the winter. That may not prove to be the case, however, as GM Chris Young downplayed the club’s financial capabilities this offseason, indicating the club may focus on more complementary additions while sticking with the core they currently have in place.
Those comments put into question not only the club’s ability to pursue Ohtani, but also their ability to land other top pieces they’ve been connected to such as Jordan Montgomery and Josh Hader. Of course, it’s worth pointing out that Texas committed around $500MM in free agent dollars during the 2021-22 offseason before following up with an additional sum north of $200MM the following offseason. A splashy move for a player such as Hader could still come in well below those numbers, even when paired with additional complementary moves. Still, with the Rangers seemingly poised to sit out the very top of the market for the first time in years, it could create an opportunity for other clubs to establish themselves as contenders for the league’s marquee talents.
3. MLBTR’s Free Agent Prediction Contest Leaderboard goes live:
In case you missed it yesterday, the leaderboard for our annual free agent prediction contest is now live! You can find the link to the leaderboard here. With just seven of MLBTR’s Top 50 Free Agents currently signed, Tom Diesman currently leads the pack with an impressive five correct picks. Meanwhile, MLBTR’s Leo Morgenstern leads the staff with three correct picks.