As MLB’s offseason continues to plug along, here are three things worth keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:
1. Will recent activity on the relief market continue?
The market for relief pitching kicked into high gear over the weekend as the Astros agreed to a five-year deal with lefty relief ace Josh Hader just hours before the Angels came together with top right-hander Robert Stephenson on a three-year pact. The deals took the two best bullpen arms off the winter’s market, leaving Hector Neris and Aroldis Chapman among the best remaining options for teams in need of relief help. Plenty of clubs still figure to attempt to upgrade their bullpen mix. The Cardinals are reportedly on the lookout for another reliever to pair with recently-acquired righty Andrew Kittredge in their set-up mix, while the Rangers, Yankees, and Cubs have been frequently connected to the bullpen market this winter without moves to show for it to this point.
2. Signings to be made official:
The aforementioned deals for Hader and Stephenson still need to be officially announced, as does the four-year agreement reached between the Blue Jays and right-hander Yariel Rodriguez last week. The Astros, Angels, and Blue Jays all have full 40-man rosters already, meaning that a corresponding move will be necessary when each club announces its latest signing. Often, that move simply involves designating a player for assignment, though occasionally clubs will try to work out trades involving a player near the back of their roster to acquire talent that doesn’t require a 40-man spot. The Dodgers have pulled off a pair of trades in that mold this winter: one with the Yankees to acquire 2021 first-rounder Trey Sweeney in exchange for lefty Victor Gonzalez and infield prospect Jorbit Vivas, and a more significant deal with the Cubs where they shipped out top infield prospect Michael Busch and right-hander Yency Almonte to Chicago while picking up a pair of youngsters in lefty Jackson Ferris and outfielder Zyhir Hope.
3. What’s the plan in Boston?
The Red Sox held their annual Winter Weekend fan event over the weekend, during which team officials made headlines by indicating the club is unlikely to match last year’s payroll in 2024 and suggesting the team doesn’t need to add another starting pitcher after swapping out Chris Sale for Lucas Giolito (despite making starting pitching a focus of the offseason). Even as club officials were downplaying expectations, local reporting indicated that the club remains in contact with free agent starters, including top-of-the-market southpaw Jordan Montgomery. There’s little question that the Red Sox, who finished 22nd in the majors last year with a 4.68 rotation ERA, would benefit from an impact addition at the top of their rotation, particularly after losing a high-upside arm like Sale, but there’s certainly question about whether they’ll actually make such a move.