As the Winter Meetings continue, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:
1. Will the Yankees land Soto?
The Yankees came into the offseason with a clear need for a left-handed bat to add to their outfield, and they filled that hole last night by acquiring Alex Verdugo from the Red Sox. Even after landing an outfielder from their arch-rivals, however, the club still appears to be in on superstar Juan Soto. While talks between the Bronx and San Diego appeared to stall out last week, there’s been plenty of indications that the sides would continue talking during the Winter Meetings this week. According to Andy Martino of SNY, the sides were engaged in discussions as recently as late last night. There was no deal ultimately reported overnight, but could Soto be on the move before the Winter Meetings come to a close tomorrow morning?
2. What are the Cubs’ plans?
Yesterday was a strange day for Cubs fans, as reports early in the afternoon indicated that the club was losing optimism regarding its hopes of landing two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani. Later in the evening, however, president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer refuted the report, leaving the club’s plans going forward uncertain. What’s more, Ohtani is far from the only impact player the Cubs have been connected to in recent days. Rumors of Chicago’s interest in Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow resurfaced yesterday, while reports connecting first baseman Rhys Hoskins and third baseman Matt Chapman to the club could suggest some alternative hitters of interest should Chicago indeed miss out on Ohtani.
3. The Rule 5 Draft is today:
As part of the final day of the Winter Meetings, the annual Rule 5 Draft will take place at 1pm CT this afternoon. International players and high school draft picks who signed in 2019 and college draft picks signed in 2020 who have not yet been added to their club’s 40-man roster are vulnerable in today’s draft, where any club can select them for a $100K fee. If the player does not stick on their new club’s 26-man roster for the entire season, he must be offered back to his original club for $50K. Teams must have open space on their 40-man roster to select a player in the draft, meaning the Rays, Rockies, and Royals would each need to clear space on their 40-man roster before the draft begins in order to participate.
Players selected in the Rule 5 draft occasionally go on to impact their team in the future, with Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander and Red Sox right-hander Garrett Whitlock among the most prominent recent examples. Giants catcher Blake Sabol and A’s first baseman Ryan Noda highlighted last season’s class of Rule 5 picks who remained in their new organizations permanently. Sabol slashed .235/.301/.394 across 110 games with San Francisco last year, while Noda posted a .229/.364/.406 slash line as the starting first baseman for the A’s.