With 60 days remaining until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today…
1. Yamamoto meeting with teams:
Yesterday, the Dodgers met with NPB ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto as the 25-year-old hurler continues meeting with clubs interested in his services this offseason. L.A. joins the Giants, Mets, and Yankees among clubs publicly known to have met with Yamamoto this offseason. It was reported yesterday that both the Red Sox and Blue Jays figure to join that quarter in the coming days. A report last week indicated that the field for Yamamoto’s services had thinned to seven teams, with every team that has met with Yamamoto to this point except for Boston named alongside two “mystery teams.”
2. Is Bellinger’s market crystalizing?
The Giants shocked the baseball world by landing star KBO outfielder Jung Hoo Lee on a six-year deal worth $113MM. The signing of Lee takes another top left-handed bat off of the market following Shohei Ohtani’s decision to sign with the Dodgers and the swap that sent Juan Soto to the Yankees. Both the Giants and Yankees were considered top suitors for center fielder Cody Bellinger prior to their additions of Soto and Lee. It’s possible that the recent run on left-handed bats has left Bellinger with only a handful of potential destinations left.
Remaining suitors for Bellinger could include the Blue Jays, Cubs, and Mariners. Toronto and Chicago, the latter of whom Bellinger bounced back with in 2023, were among the final bidders on Ohtani before he landed in L.A. The Mariners, meanwhile, have little certainty in their outfield beyond Julio Rodriguez and would benefit from Bellinger’s 15.6% strikeout rate last year as they look to create a more contact-oriented lineup. It’s also at least plausible that the Giants have the wherewithal necessary to land both Bellinger and Lee, though given the club’s logjam in the outfield they may be better suited toward spending in other areas at this point.
3. Greinke joins the market:
After months of uncertainty regarding the plans of future Hall of Famer Zack Greinke, the veteran right-hander is reportedly planning to continue his career in 2024. The news puts Greinke in line to become the 20th pitcher in major league history to record 3,000 career strikeouts, a milestone he sits just 21 punchouts away from. Beyond the potential history a 21st big league season from Greinke figures to involve, the update also adds another quality back-of-the-rotation starter to a market ravenous for starting pitching options. While Greinke struggled to the first below-average ERA+ of his career since 2005 last season, it’s easy to see a club taking a chance on Greinke given the solid deals back-end starters like Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson have received so far this offseason.
In the recent past, Greinke hasn’t had much impact on the wider free agent market as he’s seemingly limited himself to pitching in Kansas City. However, the news of Greinke’s decision to continue pitching comes on the heels of the Royals committing to Seth Lugo on a three-year pact, leaving open the possibility that Greinke will need to look elsewhere to continue his career. If Greinke hopes to stick with familiar clubs, both the Dodgers and Diamondbacks could use rotation fortifications, even after Arizona landed Eduardo Rodriguez earlier in the month.