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While there weren’t any surprise free agent signings or blockbuster trades at the general manager meetings on Wednesday, there was at least a bit of smoke coming from the conversations that were going on -- a sign that the hot stove is starting to heat up.
Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported that the Rangers officially met with the agent for free agent shortstop Corey Seager. Rangers general manager Chris Young has indicated that the club could see a sharp rise in payroll this winter, which could make them a legitimate landing spot for the highly-coveted shortstop. Seager has also been linked to the Yankees and Jon Heyman of MLB Network noted Wednesday that the Dodgers are still hopeful that they’ll be able to bring him back. He should wind up commanding one of the richest and lengthiest contracts of any free agent on the market.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Red Sox have made a multi-year offer to left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez. The 28-year-old southpaw also has an $18.4 million qualifying offer in hand from the Red Sox, though the Angels, Blue Jays and Tigers are among the teams that have already expressed interest in his services this off-season.
Morosi also notes that the Mariners are among the teams that have checked in on Reds’ right-hander Luis Castillo. Reds’ general manager Nick Krall told reporters earlier in November that “we must align our payroll to our resources and continue focusing on scouting and developing young talent from within our system” which suggests that a few of their larger contracts could soon be on the move.
Scott Boras set up shop with reporters on Wednesday to give updates on many of his clients and noted that there has been “extraordinary interest” in outfielder Michael Conforto. The 28-year-old rejected the Mets’ qualifying offer on Monday to officially become a free agent. Conforto is coming off of a disappointing season where he slashed just .232/.344/.384 with 14 homers and 55 RBI in 125 games.
Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported that the Mets held a meeting with Javier Baez and his representatives on Wednesday, though there’s no details on if the talks went anywhere or if any progress was made toward a deal. Feinsand notes that the market for Baez has been very active to start the off-season, though he may wait until one of the other big shortstops sets the market before making a final decision.
On the other side of New York, Brendan Kuty of New Jersey.com reported that free agent outfielder Starling Marte is on the Yankees’ radar this off-season. The 33-year-old speedster is coming off of a monster season where he slashed .310/.383/.458 with 12 homers, 55 RBI and a league-leading 47 stolen bases in only 120 games between the Marlins and Athletics.
Rockies general manager Bill Schmidt said Wednesday that the club has not spoken to Jon Gray’s representatives since the conclusion of the regular season. It seems like they have really botched this situation, as they unexpectedly declined to make the right-hander an $18.4 million qualifying offer -- after failing to trade him at the trade deadline, and then failing to work out a long-term contract extension. It’s likely that he winds up signing elsewhere and the Rockies come away with absolutely nothing in terms of compensation.
Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic reported that Giants general manager Farhan Zaidi met with the representatives of first baseman Brandon Belt and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani on Wednesday to discuss potential contract extensions. Belt was extended an $18.4 million qualifying offer coming off of a monster season where he slugged a career-best 29 homers in only 97 games, while the Giants did not make the qualifying offer to DeSclafani. Whether or not it comes to fruition, it appears as though the Giants have interest in keeping both players in San Francisco long term.
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Hader and Hendriks Get Recognition
The top two closers in all of baseball -- both in terms of actual baseball and fantasy baseball -- were each recognized on Wednesday as Josh Hader and Liam Hendriks were named as the Reliever of the Year in each of their respective leagues.
It’s the third time in the last four seasons that Hader has taken home the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award. He was definitely deserving -- registering a 1.23 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 102/24 K/BB ratio over 58 2/3 innings while converting 34 of his 35 save chances.
On the other side, it was Hendriks winning the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award for the second consecutive season -- becoming the first hurler to earn that honor in back-to-back seasons. The 32-year-old posted a 2.54 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and 113/7 K/BB ratio across 71 frames while racking up 38 saves (in 44 chances) for the White Sox.
These two will be the top two closers off the board in nearly all fantasy drafts heading into 2022 -- with their draft costs both on the rise. Don’t be surprised to see either -- or both of them -- find their way into the second or third round of drafts.
Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reported that former big league outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is hoping to return to the major leagues in 2022. The 39-year-old slashed .263/.409/.450 with 21 homers and 25 stolen bases over 580 plate appearances with the SK Wyverns in the KBO last season. He’s expected to remain in Korea though if he’s unable to land a big league deal. Should he return stateside though, there’s upside to be had here at virtually no cost in early fantasy drafts.
MLB Quick Hits: Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that Bobby Witt Jr. is in “good position” to make the Royals’ Opening Day roster in 2022 and that he “will be given every opportunity” to win the starting job at third base in the spring. … The Dodgers officially announced their one-year, $8.5 million contract with left-hander Andrew Heaney. … Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that Chris Taylor is expected to reject the Dodgers $18.4 million qualifying offer and that he’ll have no problem landing a lucrative multi-year deal on the open market. … Mets president Sandy Alderson said Wednesday that the team has yet to offer its general manager job to any prospective candidate just yet. Former Nationals assistant general manager Adam Cromie looks like the front-runner for the time being. … Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that 37-year-old right-hander Joakim Soria has decided to retire after 14 seasons in the big leagues. …The Cardinals announced that second base prospect Nolan Gorman is unlikely to return to Arizona Fall League action due to a hamstring injury. … The Cardinals also announced that both Alex Reyes and Jordan Hicks are being viewed as potential starters moving forward, which helps to solidify Giovanny Gallegos in the ninth inning role. … TSN’s Scott Mitchell hears that the Blue Jays have been asked about the availability of their catchers, with Alejandro Kirk the name that keeps coming up. … Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that multiple teams are expressing interest in left-hander Steven Matz. … The Yankees re-signed left-hander Joely Rodriguez to a one-year, $2 million contract. … Rockies right-hander Scott Oberg underwent another surgical procedure to remove blood clots from his right elbow. … The Padres signed Heath Fillmyer and Jordan Brink to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training. … The Pirates must offer Jose Soriano back to the Angels if he clears waivers, as the first overall selection of the 2020 Rule 5 draft underwent Tommy John surgery and didn’t spend the minimum amount of days on the Pirates big league roster during the 2021 season. … Jake Meyers is not expected to be ready for Opening Day after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. … Scott Boras told reporters that veteran right-hander Jake Arrieta still has plans to pitch next season, if anyone will have him… Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters that Clint Frazier (head) has resumed baseball activities. … Scott Boras confirmed Wednesday that Kumar Rocker will re-enter the MLB draft in 2022 after failing to reach an agreement with the Mets after being selected with the 10th overall selection. … Nez Balelo, the agent for Shohei Ohtani, declined to comment when asked about potential extension negotiations with the Angels. … Cole Hamels (shoulder) is still planning on pitching in 2022, though he won’t be ready for live action until late summer after undergoing shoulder surgery in August. … Grant Dayton underwent surgery in September to clean up the AC joint in his left shoulder, though he’s expected to resume throwing in a few weeks and should have a fairly regular off-season.