The free agent market for pitchers has been much more active than for position players so far this winter. Seven of MLBTR’s Top 50 Free Agents have signed new deals, and six have been pitchers: Aaron Nola, Sonny Gray, Kenta Maeda, Reynaldo López, Nick Martinez, and Luis Severino. Moreover, 11 different pitchers have already signed for $10MM or more; no position player has crossed the eight-figure threshold.
Still, with Yoshinobu Yamamoto unlikely to sign during the Winter Meetings, it’s possible the market for starting pitching could slow down, as suitors wait for Yamamoto to make his decision and other frontline starters (namely Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery) wait for Yamamoto to set the going rate. With that in mind, perhaps the various starting pitchers on the trade block will draw even more attention during the next four days.
Indeed, Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the market for 2022 Cy Young runner-up Dylan Cease is “robust,” noting that the Dodgers, Braves, and Orioles – among other teams – are involved in trade talks with the White Sox. Further clubs that have been linked to Cease in recent days include the Mets and Cardinals.
Last week, Morosi reported that discussions around Cease had “intensified” and suggested a deal before the Winter Meetings was “increasingly possible.” However, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic threw cold water on that rumor, reporting that White Sox general manager Chris Getz would most likely wait to trade Cease until more of the top free agent starters were off the board. While no further frontline starters have signed in the last few days, Morosi’s report about the robust market for Cease at the Winter Meetings is enough to rekindle speculation about a potential trade in the coming days. After all, if the White Sox have their eye on any particular trade chips, they’d be smart to strike before those chips are spent on Tyler Glasnow or Shane Bieber instead.
Some more trade-related news from around baseball…
- Speaking of Glasnow, the Rays starter is generating a great deal of interest, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post. While it shouldn’t come as any surprise that plenty of teams would love the right-hander in their rotation – he had a 3.53 ERA and 3.08 SIERA in 21 starts last season – it is noteworthy that he’s drawing so much interest so soon. His $25MM salary for the 2024 season is much more than Cease or Bieber will earn in arbitration, and there are plenty of free agent pitchers available who will only cost money, rather than money and prospects. Evidently, however, his talent is enough to outweigh his price tag.
- Speaking on a Zoom call with members of the media, Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos emphasized that the team is not planning to trade any of its young players signed to long-term extensions (as relayed by Justin Toscano of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution). While Anthopoulos qualified his statement with the caveat of “special circumstances,” the executive stressed with “absolute, fierce confidence” that he is “extremely unlikely” to trade anyone from his cost-controlled young core. That group includes Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, Michael Harris II, Matt Olson, Sean Murphy, Spencer Strider, and 2023 NL MVP Ronald Acuna Jr., all of whom are under team control through at least the 2027 season.