We're one week away from Thanksgiving and the MLB Winter Meetings come Dec. 4-7. Basically, we're still in that period of the offseason where teams are laying foundations for the offseason instead of making big moves. Those won't happen just yet. It does mean that we're in the height of rumor season, though, so with that mill churning, let's gather up the juiciest nuggets.
A 'sleeper' on Ohtani?
Two-way super-duper star Shohei Ohtani is obviously the big prize of this MLB offseason. Most people believe the Dodgers to be the overwhelming favorite to sign him, but there are many teams interested in his services. One that hasn't been discussed much but remains an intriguing possibility is the Toronto Blue Jays. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic calls the Blue Jays a "sleeper" to land Ohtani.
As a reminder, Ohtani won't be pitching in 2024 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. He'll still be able to DH (look at Bryce Harper's recovery in 2023 as a guide for how successful he could be). The Blue Jays have a DH opening and Ohtani's lefty bat would play nicely between right-handed swinging Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Another Cubs-Ohtani rumor along with more Cubs
There's been a lot of smoke around the Cubs making a run at Ohtani and we can add Jesse Rogers of ESPN to the mix. In a long story about the matter, he says the "timing could finally be right" for the Cubs and Ohtani to match up.
The Cubs also have an opening at DH in the short-term and should be adding multiple big bats this offseason, assuming they are planning on.
Speaking of making multiple roster upgrades, Rogers also reports that the Cubs:
- Would be interesting in floating Christopher Morel as part of a package that would go to the Mets in a Pete Alonso trade.
- "Have an eye" on Brewers starter Corbin Burnes.
- Are in on Japanese starters Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Shota Imanaga.
On the subject of Yamamoto ...
Phillies eye Yamamoto
The Phillies have done "significant work" on NPB superstar pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Yamamoto is only 25 years old and has won the Sawamura Award (NPB's equivalent of the Cy Young) three straight seasons. This past year, he was 17-6 with a 1.16 ERA and 0.86 WHIP with 176 strikeouts in 171 innings in 24 starts. There's always an adjustment period, but Yamamoto is likely an ace from the second he joins MLB.
The Phillies already have one frontline starter in Zack Wheeler and it's possible Ranger Suárez ascends into that territory next season. Aaron Nola is a free agent, however, so there's a void toward the top of that Philly rotation for the time being. Yamamoto would be a great choice to fill it.
Angels not planning on rebuilding?
The Angels haven't made the playoffs since 2014. They won 77 games in 2021 and 73 both last year and in 2022. The farm system is one of the worst in baseball. Ohtani is a free agent and most people expect him to sign elsewhere.
Add all that up and it would lead many to believe the Angels are about to embark upon a rebuild. That's why we've seen those rumors of Mike Trout being traded persist.
Not so fast, though. During the press conference to announce new Angels manager Ron Washington, general manager Perry Minasian said, "We're going to be aggressive this offseason," Minasian said, "and we're going to make this team better."
They are not planning to rebuild, "in any capacity," according to Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.
As noted, the farm system is bad so the Angels shouldn't be expected to build a contender through a series of high-profile trades. They are currently set to sit around $154.9 million in payroll for the 2024 season. Their competitive balance 40-man roster number for last season was over $236 million. Notice how much room is in there. This isn't to say the Angels will spend over $80 million per season in free agency this coming offseason, but it is to say it's workable if they decide to go nuts.
Yankees, Mets in on Margot
In 99 games last season, Margot hit .264/.310/.376 (91 OPS+) with 21 doubles, a triple, four homers, 38 RBI, 39 runs and nine steals with a 0.6 WAR. He's handled all three outfield spots before, including mostly center field.