On the heels of a late-offseason blockbuster, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world headed into the weekend:
1. What’s next for the Brewers?
The Brewers parted ways with ace Corbin Burnes yesterday, shipping him to Baltimore in exchange for youngsters DL Hall, Joey Ortiz and Baltimore’s Competitive Balance draft pick — the No. 34 overall selection this summer. While the deal provides the club with an infusion of cost-controlled talent, it leaves a Milwaukee team that has been defined by its twin aces at the top of the rotation in recent years without either player headed into the 2024 campaign after Brandon Woodruff was non-tendered following shoulder surgery. The moves beg the question of what’s next for this new-look Brewers club. The organization clearly isn’t punting on 2024 after signing Rhys Hoskins to a two-year deal less than two weeks ago, and the club could have a new superstar to build around emerge this year when outfielder Jackson Chourio makes his big league debut. The trade of Burnes also freed up more than $15MM and dropped the team payroll to just under $102MM. That should free up some resources to replace some of Burnes’ lost value in free agency, should Milwaukee choose to go that route.
On the other hand, Ortiz’s presence would make it significantly easier for the club to part ways with shortstop Willy Adames while still aiming to remain competitive, and it’s even possible to imagine the club deciding to cash in on closer Devin Williams with a two pennant races of team control remaining as they did with Josh Hader back in 2022. Virtually any contending club would figure to have at least some level of interest in Williams’s services if Milwaukee were to accept offers on the righty, while teams like the Dodgers, Marlins, and Rays could stand to improve at shortstop and may have some level of interest in Adames.
2. Angels, Suarez await arbitration decision:
Per the Associated Press, the Angels and left-hander Jose Suarez went to arbitration yesterday with a decision expected sometime today. The southpaw requested a $1.35MM salary while the Angels countered with a figure of $925K. Teams have won more arbitration cases than players in recent years, and the clubs are off to a good start in maintaining that record after the first arbitration decision of the winter favored the Marlins over center fielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. yesterday.
Suarez’s first trip through arbitration comes on the heels of a brutal 2023 campaign where he was limited to just 33 2/3 innings of work by injury and was shelled to the tune of an 8.29 ERA. Difficult as last year was for the lefty, the 26-year-old enjoyed back-to-back strong campaigns while swinging between the rotation and bullpen for the Angels in 2021 and 2022, where he combined for a 3.86 ERA in 207 1/3 innings of work. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected Suarez for a $1.1MM salary earlier this winter.
3. Two relievers nearing deals:
A pair of bullpen pieces were reportedly closing in on deals yesterday as right-hander Keynan Middleton has reportedly reached an agreement with the Cardinals while southpaw Jake Diekman is on the verge of a pact with the Mets. Diekman has reportedly been offered a one-year deal at an unreported salary that includes a vesting option for 2025 while the details of Middleton’s arrangement with St. Louis, which is pending a physical, are not yet known. Both teams have full 40-man rosters, meaning each will need to make a corresponding move to clear space for their new signing if a deal is completed. Quality options for teams in search of bullpen help continue to thin as right-handers Ryan Brasier, Phil Maton, and Ryne Stanek stand as the best relief arms still available, while lefty relief options include bounceback candidates like Brad Hand, Aaron Loup, and Joely Rodriguez..