As we mark the start of the Winter Meetings – Major League Baseball's flagship offseason event – rumors of free-agent signings and blockbuster trades are in abundance. Sunday is no exception, so let's dive in right now to what's buzzing around the sport.
Giants may have edge for Yamamoto
As expected, the Giants are pursuing Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and there is some belief they have an edge in the bidding, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. His 45-day posting window expires at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 4. Yamamoto will reportedly not attend the Winter Meetings in Nashville this coming week, .
The Giants have had little success luring stars to San Francisco in recent offseasons, though they did agree to a massive contract with Carlos Correa last winter, only for the deal to fall apart over medical concerns. The club's attendance has slipping into the bottom half of the National League and the Giants want to re-energize their fan base, not to mention secure a very good in-his-prime pitcher. Yamamoto, 25, .
Ohtani's decision coming soon
Shohei Ohtani is of course the most coveted free agent available this offseason, and he's likely to sign the largest contract in MLB history this winter. Speaking of which, Jon Morosi reports that a decision could be coming soon:
Ohtani is still recovering from an elbow procedure, which means he won't pitch in 2024. However, he will resume his role as one of the best power hitters in all of baseball, and starting in 2025 he figures to resume pitching like an ace. Throw in the star power and marketing prowess of the 29-year-old, and it's not hard to see why he's so coveted. When the best baseball player in the world is available for hire, teams respond accordingly.
As for which teams will respond accordingly, clubs like the Dodgers, Giants, Cubs, Blue Jays, incumbent Angels, and others figure to be very much in the mix as the story of the winter draws to a conclusion.
The Yankees have prioritized adding punch to a sorely lacking lineup, and they also have needs in the outfield. Naturally enough, that's led them to have extensive trade talks with the Padres about young slugger Juan Soto. According to multiple reports, the two clubs recently reached the stage of discussing specific names involved. That's a sign of momentum, but, as Jon Heyman notes, it's also a sign of complication:
Update: Yankees and Padres haven’t spoken since Padres requested 6-player package including King and Thorpe for Soto and Grisham. NYY has other young starters they hope could make it work for Soto but are a no on King and/or Thorpe for now https://t.co/rQjzr5sKFZ— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 3, 2023
The Padres are no doubt asking for a substantial haul given that Soto is just 25 and is one of the best pure hitters in the game today thanks to his elite combination of on-base skills and power. However, he's going to be owed more than $30 million for 2024 during his final trip through the arbitration process, and 2024 will also be his walk year. As great as he is, he's also an expensive rental player.
All of this reeks of "negotiating through the media," which means the potential trade is alive and well. Once the two sides get past telling reporters how aghast they are at what the other side is asking/offering, they can get back to real work. The working assumption is that Soto to the Yankees remains a very real possibility.
Hader wants record pact
Outgoing Padres closer Josh Hader is far and away the best reliever on the free-agent market this winter, and this is not lost on him and his representatives. As Ken Rosenthal reports, Hader is probably looking to sign the biggest contract ever for a reliever, which means he's angling to best Edwin Díaz's five-year, $102 million extension with the Mets.
Hader, 29, is coming off a 2023 season in which he pitched to a 1.28 ERA for San Diego with 85 strikeouts and 28 unintentional walks in 56 1/3 innings. That marks an excellent rebound for Hader after a sub-par 2022.
Rays may consider trading Paredes
The Rays famously have little appetite for players, even very good ones, once they begin reaching their higher-salary years, and third baseman Isaac Paredes may be the latest example. Jon Morosi reports that the Rays are willing to discuss Paredes in trade as he prepares to go through the arbitration process for the first time. Morosi adds that the Blue Jays and Mariners may be among the teams interested in him.
Said interest is understandable, as Paredes is just 24 years of age and is coming off a 2023 season in which he slashed .250/.352/.488 with 31 home runs. For his career, he owns an OPS+ of 114 across parts of four MLB seasons. He's also not slated for free agency until after the 2027 season.
Brewers likely to bring back Miley
In that same wide-ranging piece, Rosenthal also notes that the Brewers are likely to bring back veteran lefty Wade Miley for 2024 and perhaps beyond. Miley, 37, is coming off a 2023 season in which he put up an ERA of 3.14 and a K/BB ratio of 2.08 in 120 1/3 innings. Even if the Brewers undertake a pivot by trading ace Corbin Burnes, they'll need reliable innings in 2024, and Miley promises just that.