2023 MLB winter conferences updates, rumors and predictions

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By Calvin S. Nelson

The MLB winter conferences are underway in Nashville, Tennessee, and it figures be an action-packed week of rumors, signings and trades.

We have all of it lined for you proper right here, from our specialists’ predictions heading into the conferences to the newest updates and evaluation because the strikes go down.

Will No. 1 free agent Shohei Ohtani select his subsequent crew on the conferences? Will we see a blockbuster commerce involving Juan Soto or Pete Alonso? And can massive spenders such because the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Crimson Sox and Chicago Cubs open their wallets in Nashville? Try our predictions now and refresh usually for the newest because the week unfolds.

Key hyperlinks: Free company tracker | Newest Ohtani intel

Prime 50 free brokers | One transfer for each crew | Passan’s winter conferences preview

Dec. 5 buzz

How Yates might help the Rangers

The Texas Rangers signed reliever Kirby Yates to a one-year, $4.5 million deal following what was a bounce-back season for Yates. The suitable-hander, 37, had a 3.28 ERA in 61 appearances for the Atlanta Braves final season, placing out 80 batters in 60⅓ innings — albeit with 37 walks allowed. Final yr, Yates held left-handed hitters to a .124 batting common — simply 12 hits in 97 at-bats (5 of these hits have been homers, nonetheless). Chris Younger, head of baseball operations for the Rangers, has made it clear that the crew’s precedence this winter is in pitching depth, and the addition of Yates provides them one other layer. “An important competitor with expertise in high-leverage conditions,” mentioned one supply on Yates. — Buster Olney

Roberts, Counsell on Ohtani

Dodgers supervisor Dave Roberts mentioned the crew met with Shohei Ohtani in Los Angeles a pair days in the past for 2 to 3 hours. “Clearly,” he mentioned, “Shohei’s our high precedence.” — Alden Gonzalez

In the meantime, Cubs supervisor Craig Counsell says he hasn’t met with Shohei Ohtani through the free agent course of. Counsell was then requested whether or not not assembly with him was any indication of the crew’s curiosity: “I do not assume that is my spot to speak about particular person gamers. It is an important query however not the spot to speak about it.” — Jesse Rogers

Yankees impressed by Yamamoto

New York Yankees supervisor Aaron Boone cracked a smile when requested if Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the extremely touted Japanese beginning pitcher, would look good in pinstripes.

“I feel he most likely would, yeah,” Boone mentioned, including that he was briefly launched to Yamamoto this offseason and plans to satisfy with him once more.

The Yankees are anticipated to be among the many most aggressive suitors for Yamamoto, together with the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers and a mess of others. He is a free agent at simply 25 years outdated and has gained the Sawamura Award — Nippon Skilled Baseball’s equal of the Cy Younger Award — three consecutive years, placing him in place to land a contract that exceeds $200 million. Yamamoto is predicted to signal nearer to the center or the tip of December.

The Yankees had a comparatively heavy scouting presence in Japan to look at his begins all through this previous season.

“It is onerous to discover a 25-year-old pitcher that is as adorned as he’s and has had the extent of success that he is had at this level in his profession over there, and on the world stage within the [World Baseball Classic],” Boone mentioned. “Our experiences are that this man’s actually good, as I feel the {industry} sees it that means. It appears like there’s going to be plenty of suitors for him. I really feel fairly assured that he’ll come over right here and be a really particular, top-of-the-rotation-type pitcher.”

White Sox will look ahead to proper commerce for Stop

One of the vital coveted pitchers within the scorching range market is White Sox righty Dylan Stop. Chicago assistant GM Josh Barfield acknowledged as a lot when talking on the winter conferences Tuesday, however groups after Stop are going to must clear a substantial worth bar.

“We’re ready of leverage, as a result of I do not assume now we have to commerce Stop,” Barfield mentioned. “It is good, you understand. We’ve two years of management and he is a extremely, actually good pitcher who positively helps us subsequent yr. On the identical time, we have to be good and we have to take heed to every thing. If we make a transfer, if we do not, we’re simply going to be affected person and look ahead to the appropriate one.”

Stop, runner up within the 2022 AL Cy Younger balloting, has made 32 or extra begins In every of the previous three seasons. He is gone 34-24 with a 3.54 ERA throughout that point whereas placing out 11.4 batters per 9 innings. He has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining earlier than reaching free company. — Bradford Doolittle

Crimson Sox eyeing Maldonado as catcher

Because the Crimson Sox transfer into the Craig Breslow period with a deal with pitching, they’ve curiosity in veteran catcher Martin Maldonado, famend for his dealing with of pitchers. Maldonado, 37, performed with the Astros the previous 5 seasons, and in his time with Houston, his pitchers and managers strongly advocated for him to be behind the plate — whereas the Houston entrance workplace appeared for options due to Maldonado’s subpar offensive manufacturing. Final yr, Maldonado hit .191 with 15 homers, a .258 on-base share and 66 adjusted OPS+. Maldonado has a longstanding friendship with Boston supervisor Alex Cora, who, like Maldonado, grew up in Puerto Rico. Final yr, Connor Wong was the first catcher for the Crimson Sox, enjoying in 126 video games and producing an 80 adjusted OPS+. Reese McGuire (additionally with an 80 adjusted OPS+) was the backup. — Buster Olney

Tigers prioritizing pitching additions

The Detroit Tigers’ precedence at this second is including extra pitching, as they head into the 2024 season with the hope — perhaps even expectation — of taking an enormous step ahead. The Tigers have a pleasant assortment of younger place gamers, together with the 23-year-old Spencer Torkelson and 22-year-old Riley Greene, with the likes of outfielder Max Clark and infielder Colt Keith on the best way. However there’s a want for pitching depth, particularly after the midseason commerce of Michael Lorenzen and the departure of Eduardo Rodriguez as a free agent. The Tigers signed Kenta Maeda to a two-year deal this offseason and are attempting to find extra arms. Detroit completed second within the AL Central final season at 78-84, a major enchancment on 2022 (66-96). — Buster Olney

Dec. 4 buzz

Padres ready on the appropriate return for Soto

A.J. Preller, as you may count on, has talked so much about Juan Soto in latest days.

“We’re positively getting plenty of calls,” the San Diego Padres’ GM mentioned Monday.

The Padres have been buying Soto, a yr away from free company, all through the offseason, and the expectation is that he’ll be traded comparatively quickly. However his standing might be difficult by the free companies of Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Lots of the groups in on Soto are additionally in on no less than a kind of two.

“I feel there are some groups that after we’ve had conversations, you possibly can inform they’re ready on a sure free agent or two,” Preller mentioned, alluding to Ohtani and Yamamoto, neither of whom are anticipated to signal this week.

The expectation all through the {industry} has lengthy been that the Padres — with a number of holes to plug, particularly of their rotation, and a must drop their payroll from the $250 million-plus it stood at this previous season — will commerce Soto. However Preller hasn’t come out and mentioned that (no GM would in that scenario).

In a super world, the place cash isn’t any object, Preller would maintain Soto.

Up to now, no less than, he appears adamant about not settling for a meager return.

“It is actually nearly worth,” Preller mentioned. “I feel that there is plenty of completely different ways in which you are able to do it. We speak about our want for some beginning pitching, however we’re not gonna take lesser offers simply to fill a necessity. In any of the eventualities.” — Alden Gonzalez

So that you’re saying the Angels have an opportunity on Ohtani?

Few individuals on the skin give them a lot of an opportunity, however some members of the Angels have privately felt assured about their probabilities to retain Shohei Ohtani all through the offseason, regardless that his price ticket may attain $600 million.

The Toronto Blue Jays and the Los Angeles Dodgers are closely within the combine, and different groups — the Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants and doubtlessly others — are additionally concerned. However the consolation and familiarity of the Angels may nonetheless be an actual draw.

Their new supervisor, Ron Washington, was notably coy when requested about Ohtani on Monday.

“I haven’t got a lot to say about that but as a result of I do not need to let something out of the bag,” Washington mentioned.

He was requested the pure follow-up: Is there something to set free of the bag?

“I haven’t got something to say about that proper now as a result of I do not need to let something out of the bag,” he repeated. — Alden Gonzalez

Will familiarity maintain Ohtani in Anaheim?

Solely Ohtani appears to know the place he’ll signal — however one participant agent believes he’ll determine to return to the Angels. Due to cash, certain, but in addition as a result of he’s dedicated to routine and no group would supply him extra autonomy than the Angels. “He can do no matter he desires there,” mentioned the agent. “Wherever else, the expectations (for Ohtani) could be completely different” — in assembly mates of household of the house owners, sponsors, the media. — Buster Olney

Servais reacts to Mariners followers’ skepticism

On the primary day of the winter conferences, the Seattle Mariners parted with Jarred Kelenic, their once-prized outfield prospect, in what amounted to a cost-saving transfer, utilizing his ceiling largely to get the contracts of Marco Gonzales and Evan White off their books.

The Mariners additionally traded third baseman and clubhouse favourite Eugenio Suarez earlier this offseason and can seemingly let outfielder Teoscar Hernandez stroll as a free agent. They’re clearly slicing prices. And although a few of that financial savings is predicted to be re-invested within the lineup, the {industry} notion is not that they are clearing the best way for some large addition. They do not seem like in on Shohei Ohtani or Juan Soto or some other marquee participant for the time being.

Mariners supervisor Scott Servais was requested about skepticism from followers concerning the crew’s offseason method to this point.

“There may be,” he mentioned. “There may be plenty of skepticism. I feel, taking a look at our membership, expectations have risen dramatically the final couple years on our crew. I mentioned it final yr, that is an excellent factor. We do have a younger crew. That’s thrilling. We do need to take the following step to win and, once more, we’re attempting to do the perfect with the playing cards that we have been dealt. I feel that is one of the best ways to say it.” — Alden Gonzalez

Dodgers holding their distance (actually) at winter conferences

The majority of the Dodgers’ touring get together is staying at a lodge aside from the sprawling Opryland Resort and Conference Heart in Nashville, sparking some conspiracy theories amongst some brokers (about Shohei Ohtani, largely). However the Dodgers have had this association in place for weeks, to raised accommodate their giant group. — Buster Olney

Might the Cardinals make a transfer?

Context is essential: The Cardinals’ efforts to deal Tyler O’Neill now are an extension of their try and deal him earlier than final summer time’s commerce deadline. “They will transfer him,” mentioned a rival staffer. — Buster Olney

Betts to play second for the Dodgers in 2024

Los Angeles Dodgers supervisor Dave Roberts mentioned on Monday that the crew will make All-Star Mookie Betts “the every-day second baseman” subsequent season. Talking on MLB Community, Roberts put to the remainder the notion of Betts part-timing in each the infield and outfield because the Dodgers look to win the Nationwide League West for the third yr in a row.

“It is a kind of issues the place [Betts] is a Gold Glover out in proper subject, however I feel that once you’re speaking about placing collectively a roster and somebody who might be so offensive at second base, you will get extra video games out of him if he’s enjoying second base,” Roberts mentioned. “So now once you get a cheerful Mookie Betts, a man who can play in near 160 video games, it makes the Dodgers a lot better.”

Betts, 31, was the Dodgers’ second baseman in opposition to righties final yr. However second base is Betts’ most popular place, and he thought it might be simpler to stay to 1 place. The Dodgers additionally consider that enjoying second base is simpler on his physique.

How markets for Ohtani, Yamamoto and Soto intersect

The Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Angels and San Francisco Giants are all perceived to be in on Shohei Ohtani. All of them are additionally serious about Yoshinobu Yamamoto, as are the New York Yankees and New York Mets, amongst others. And a few of these groups — reportedly the Blue Jays, Yankees, Cubs and Giants — are additionally seeking to commerce for Juan Soto.

Two of these three is unlikely for many, if not all. And so, because the winter conferences kick off in Nashville this week, the query on most individuals’s minds is which main domino will fall first. Nez Balelo, the CAA agent who represents Ohtani; Joel Wolfe, the Wasserman agent who represents Yamamoto; and A.J. Preller, the San Diego Padres common supervisor asking groups about Soto, are incentivized to attend for the opposite. However one in every of them, after all, has to make the primary transfer.

The expectation heading into the week was {that a} Soto deal would materialize from the winter conferences and that Ohtani and Yamamoto would not signal till after they concluded — however issues can change shortly. Soto will value greater than $30 million via the arbitration course of in 2024, whereas Yamamoto is predicted to signal for no less than $200 million and Ohtani may command $600 million. Every crew within the combine for these gamers wants certainty for the remainder of its offseason. That might set off heightened aggression. — Alden Gonzalez

Soler a fallback possibility for Ohtani suitors?

In a market skinny on energy hitters, Jorge Soler is among the many most marketable gamers, coming off a season wherein he clubbed 36 homers and generated a .512 slugging share. However like different free brokers, he’ll doubtless have to attend for Shohei Ohtani to make his choice — as a result of, in keeping with sources, no less than one of many groups speaking with Ohtani is positioned to pivot to a run on Soler if Ohtani indicators elsewhere. — Buster Olney

Pair of Korean stars posted

Left-handed-hitting outfielder Jung Hoo Lee and right-handed reliever Woo Suk Go of the Korean Baseball Group have been posted by Main League Baseball on Monday and may have 30 days to succeed in settlement with one in every of its groups, spanning from 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday to five p.m. ET on Jan. 3. — Alden Gonzalez

Miley headed again to the Brewers

Wade Miley is ready to doubtlessly make greater than the $10 million possibility he declined with Milwaukee final month. He’s returning to the Brewers on a brand new deal that may embody incentives and a buyout may push him previous that mark, sources inform ESPN. He may find yourself being the crew’s Opening Day starter if Corbin Burnes is traded. — Jesse Rogers

Will Juan Soto be on the transfer through the winter conferences?

As a result of the San Diego Padres face a payroll crunch, they’re anticipated to commerce Juan Soto, who’s in line to make one thing within the neighborhood of $33 million for the 2024 season. However Padres GM A.J. Preller does not must commerce him this week — and a few rival executives mentioned Saturday that there is perhaps a protracted wait earlier than a Soto deal is concluded.

Rival executives say that the Padres’ present asking worth for Soto could be very excessive, with San Diego on the lookout for main league prepared pitching, plus others. With a generational expertise like Soto, Preller may simply wait to see if some crew out there — perhaps a crew that loses out within the Shohei Ohtani bidding — steps up. “I feel this has all of the makings of a late January or early February deal,” mentioned one entrance workplace kind whose crew is just not concerned.

If that’s the case, this may not be the primary time a celebrity moved very late within the winter. Francisco Lindor, Johan Santana, Roger Clemens and Mookie Betts are among the many elite skills who did not change groups till properly after Christmas. Rival executives say that whereas there are various groups who would like to take Soto in a pure wage dump, there are doubtless only a few groups keen to embrace the present circumstances: Surrendering younger massive leaguers or high-end prospects for an costly rental who is predicted to check free company subsequent fall. The Boston Crimson Sox dangled Mookie Betts below related situations previous to the 2019 season, and there have been solely two severe suitors; which is why, in the long run, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been rewarded for his or her persistence and bought him for Alex Verdugo and a few others, whereas taking up David Worth and the $48 million owed to the left-hander. When Lindor was traded, the Guardians did not have plenty of potential bidders. When Santana was dealt, Minnesota was pressured to make a commerce with the Mets, the one crew keen to present him a contract extension.

The New York Yankees have severe curiosity in Soto, with some younger pitching to supply, and a few rival executives consider that the Giants are a crew to look at as a result of they, too, have depth in beginning pitching. The Padres, at the moment intent on contending in 2024, must fill three-fifths of their rotation. The Blue Jays, observing a two-year window earlier than Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. attain free company, have the necessity for a hitter — which is why they have been in on Ohtani — however lack pitching depth. If the Dodgers miss on Ohtani, they could have the pitching depth to make a deal for Soto, however there could be a query about whether or not San Diego would deal a future Corridor of Famer to their most important NL West rival. — Buster Olney

Giolito’s market begins to take form

Lucas Giolito emerged as a star in his time with the Chicago White Sox, drawing votes for the Cy Younger Award in three completely different seasons — and that goes a protracted option to explaining the preliminary curiosity expressed by the White Sox in presumably bringing him again as a free agent this winter. Ethan Katz, Giolito’s highschool pitching coach, continues to work with the White Sox, and Chicago has upgraded its pitching division with the addition of revered analyst Brian Bannister, who previously labored with the Crimson Sox and Giants.

However a reunion of Giolito and the White Sox might be unlikely, given this winter’s circumstances. Though Giolito struggled after being traded to the Angels after which was picked up on waivers by the Guardians, he ought to get sturdy provides on this market — some executives in contrast him to the likes of Jameson Taillon (who bought $68 million over 4 years from the Cubs), and because the White Sox start to rebuild, the value of an enormous contract and the timing won’t be a match.

Relying on how the market performs out, there is perhaps a greater match with one other of Katz’s former pupils — former Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, the right-hander who may must take a short-term deal to reestablish his worth after which hit the market once more subsequent fall. For the White Sox, the funding might be worthwhile as a result of if Flaherty rebounds to what he was early in his profession in St. Louis, he might be an fascinating commerce chip through the 2024 season or a candidate for an extension. — Buster Olney

Will Ohtani sign up Nashville — and the place will he land?

Gonzalez: Ohtani signing through the winter conferences would positively be MLB’s choice, and at this level, that might be my guess too. Many have lengthy speculated that Ohtani’s free company would play out comparatively shortly, and I do not count on him to attend till Yoshinobu Yamamoto comes off the board to choose his new crew. By subsequent week, he may need a reasonably good grasp of what he desires, as (at occasions) the winter conferences tend of spurring motion. At this level, I might choose the Toronto Blue Jays to signal him, nevertheless it’s robust to rule out the Dodgers or the Los Angeles Angels.

Olney: Some executives monitoring the Ohtani negotiations consider he may choose his crew someday over the weekend, or very early within the winter conferences. In the course of the season, a buddy of Ohtani mentioned he believed the two-way star knew way back the place he wished to land, however as a result of this negotiation is predicted to generate the largest contract in baseball historical past, his illustration wants a bit dog-and-pony present to goose the bidding just a bit extra. Executives will let you know frankly they know nearly nothing about what he actually desires, exterior of this: Primarily based on his preliminary alternative of the Angels, he appears to need to play in hotter climate, which is why I nonetheless consider he’ll land with the Dodgers.

Rogers: By Thursday, Ohtani may have chosen the Dodgers. They verify too many containers — except there’s merely an underlying motive that nobody is aware of about that might forestall him from signing there. If the agent (and crew) has any say in any of this, it ought to be within the timing of an announcement. And what higher place to make it than the place the baseball world has gathered? There are many breadcrumbs telling us Ohtani does not precisely love the highlight, however for this signing, he’ll must indulge in it.

Doolittle: That is only a guess, however Ohtani will signal with the Dodgers on Tuesday following a spate of rumors which have him signing with numerous groups, although at first it is unclear whether or not it is within the States or again in Japan. Then it seems that he by no means spoke to any of these groups and he has been dreaming of Dodger Blue all alongside. A dream and $600 million is all it took.

Schoenfield: Properly, little doubt plenty of brokers, gamers and entrance workplaces would love for Ohtani to sign up Nashville. As soon as he is off the board, the groups that went after him and failed will then flip their consideration to their subsequent choices, which may result in some escalating provides for the likes of Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery and Cody Bellinger. So for the sake of transferring this winter alongside, let’s hope it occurs and there is a massive information convention — even when we all know Ohtani is not one for the highlight. And who will host that information convention? I will keep on with the Dodgers.

Ohtani apart, who would be the largest identify to signal (or get traded) in Nashville?

Gonzalez: Juan Soto. The expectation from rival executives heading into the offseason was that the San Diego Padres would finally commerce him, and a few have gotten the sense recently that it may occur comparatively quickly. If it does not occur over the weekend, it may subsequent week. On the very least, Soto commerce speak will proceed to dominate the dialog.

Olney: Soto. He is a future Corridor of Famer and costly, and regardless of what the Padres and agent Scott Boras have offered publicly, there’s an industry-wide expectation that monetary pressures will compel San Diego to deal him. Apparently, rival executives report that the Padres are on the lookout for cheap main league or main league-ready gamers in return, to bolster San Diego’s effort to contend in 2024. With the passing of proprietor Peter Seidler, who was an important advocate for A.J. Preller, the Padres’ GM could also be in a prove-it kind season subsequent yr along with his new bosses and the necessity to win.

Rogers: Figuring out that Preller works a bit mysteriously, I will take the sector over Soto. OK, that is a bit broad. I will go together with Dylan Stop and/or Tyler Glasnow. Each are nearly as good as gone. As soon as the Atlanta Braves add that another prospect to improve their current supply, Stop — a Georgia native — will go house to pitch.

Doolittle: Most everyone else appears to be going with Soto, and that makes plenty of sense to me. However simply to be contrarian, I will say Josh Hader and that he’ll signal with the Texas Rangers. Then we will begin planning for that Hader/Travis Jankowski mullet contest, assuming the Rangers do not let the outfielder get away. It will be the largest draw of the yr at Globe Life Subject.

Schoenfield: I will go together with Soto as properly. The Padres have so many transferring components this offseason — they’ve to interchange Snell, Hader, Nick Martinez (who signed with the Cincinnati Reds this week) and Seth Lugo, 4 pitchers who mixed for 67 begins, 30 wins and 34 saves — that making a call on Soto is important simply to assist them determine the remainder of their strikes.

What’s the one rumor that may dominate the week?

Gonzalez: It is all going to be about high-impact beginning pitching, from Yamamoto to reigning AL Cy Younger winner Snell to a few of the massive arms being dangled on the commerce entrance (Stop, Glasnow, Corbin Burnes). A few of the richest groups nonetheless want beginning pitching, and there’s nonetheless a lot to select from.

Olney: It would sound bizarre, however the Yamamoto negotiations have been underplayed up to now. He’s in nearly as good a negotiating place as any free agent pitcher since Gerrit Cole, with the richest of the big-market groups all pursuing him aggressively. The Yankees, Dodgers and New York Mets, plus different golf equipment, are amongst them, and there appears to be a willingness amongst these groups to imagine further threat due to his expertise and age. One crew official concerned within the Yamamoto discussions believes the pitcher’s negotiations will not be resolved till after the winter conferences, however let’s face it — the course of a few of the largest spenders will not be absolutely decided till he picks a crew, which is why the specter of Yamamoto will hover over Nashville even when he does not signal.

Rogers: Ohtani, Ohtani, Ohtani. Till he indicators, he is the subject. Fan bases are ready, advertising and marketing and gross sales departments are ready, baseball ops departments are ready. How can he not be the subject, each the place will he go and for the way a lot? Until he indicators on Day 1 of the winter conferences, it is going to construct all week. After that, the quantity of commerce rumors might be bigger than regular, contemplating what number of good gamers are prone to transfer. Free company (exterior of Ohtani) may have its second, however not essentially on the conferences. Commerce speak will percolate whereas we wait on Shohei.

Doolittle: I can think about all method of Soto rumors. The factor is, nearly as good as he’s, it is onerous to really assemble a good worth commerce that works for the Padres, assuming their intention is to transform him into a number of gamers who can deepen their MLB roster. We’re nonetheless speaking about getting him for one season, and the groups which may need him to place themselves excessive will want to deal prospects as a substitute of main leaguers. If the Padres don’t need prospects, then the place do they flip? This situation modifications if San Diego is principally motivated by a want to clear payroll. This does not look like Preller’s means, particularly since he sort of must win, and shortly. Everybody desires to drop Soto onto the Yankees, nevertheless it appears far more difficult than that to me. Sure, transferring Soto for prospects clears area without spending a dime agent provides, however that may get dicey should you’re speaking about matching worth for worth for a crew that desires to contend, particularly given a lightweight free agent class. I do assume Soto might be traded, nevertheless it’s a extremely difficult proposition.

Schoenfield: All of the front-line beginning pitching obtainable in trades. Then there are the potential ripple results. If Burnes is traded, do the Milwaukee Brewers then make nearer Devin Williams obtainable? If the White Sox commerce Stop, does that lead to an entire teardown … perhaps even together with Luis Robert, who, given his years of crew management (4) and cheap wage, has extra commerce worth than Soto?

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