MLB Rumors: Cubs Chase Multiple Stars; Justin Verlander and Trea Turner start Winter Meetings with a bang

Major League Baseball’s annual winter meetings began Sunday with the news that Fred McGriff was inducted into the Hall of Fame through the Contemporary Era Committee. The hope is that this was the start of a crazy, multi-day baseball activity packed with a free agent signing tour and even a few high-profile trades. San Diego is the host of the winter meetings and we’ve seen a lot of activity there. Last time it was there, we saw Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole sign nine-figure deals amid a flurry of moves.

If history repeats itself here, seeing the biggest names in free agency off the board this offseason will be a big start. We got off to a good start too.

Let’s round up the news and rumors for Monday here. We’ll be updating this throughout the day so be sure to come back.

Boys Pursuing Murphy; was able to sign two shortstops

It was widely expected that the Cubs would be active this winter. It seems they are trying to make good on that promise. You can add Chicago to the list of teams chasing track and field catcher Sean Murphy, after Jon Morosi. In addition, the Cubs, who are known to be interested in Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson, could follow Rangers’ plan from last winter and sign two of the three. per mark of fine sand. Feinsand adds that Swanson and Bogaerts would be the most likely pair, with Bogaerts leaving the shortstop. It’s unclear how likely the Cubs are to add Murphy and/or the two infielders, but we give them credit for getting creative.

Verlander signs with Mets

Ace and AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander has signed a two-year, $86 million contract with the Mets. Full story here.

The Mets lost Jacob deGrom to the Rangers in free agency, so replacing him with Verlander was the logical move for a team with such deep pockets coming off a 101-win season. Verlander will meet Max Scherzer again as the two were teammates at the Tigers from 2010 to 2014.

Phillies sign gymnasts

The Phillies have landed their star shortstop. Trea Turner has joined the defending NL champions on a massive 11-year, $300 million deal. He’s reuniting with pal Bryce Harper, who was his teammate at Nationals all those years.

The 11-year tenure brings Turner’s average annual value down to $27.3 million, the 17th-highest in baseball in 2023 (among current signed players). That gives the Phillies a little more leeway in terms of the competitive balance sheet tax in the near future. They still expect to add a starting pitcher this offseason.

Kershaw deal finally official

All the way back November 10, reports indicated The Dodgers and leftist legend Clayton Kershaw were about to land a one-year deal worth around $17 million. Generally speaking, when reporters get wind of such things, it’s only a few days — sometimes less time than that — before the deal becomes official, unless there’s a catch. However, absolutely nothing has happened about the reported deal since then. So what was going on?

That’s hard to say now. The Dodgers have officially announced the one-year contract and it’s worth $20 million.

Given that Walker Buehler is likely to miss all of 2023 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, the Dodgers’ current rotation consists of Kershaw, Julio Urías, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May, with the possible involvement of Ryan Pepiot . Certainly they’re not done yet and will be adding another rotation arm for veterans this off-season, maybe as early as these winter meetings.

Kershaw was 12-3 with a 2.28 ERA (184 ERA+), .94 WHIP and 137 strikeouts against 23 walks in 126 1/3 innings last season. He is approaching his season at age 35 and has played all 15 MLB seasons for the Dodgers.

Simple, a continued marriage here makes a lot of sense for both parties.

Taillion with a hot market

Right-handed pitcher Jameson Taillon is one of the mid-tier starters in the free-agent market, and he’s not tied to draft compensation because the Yankees didn’t make him a qualifying offer. So far the market is “deep” for him. according to MLB.comwith the Mets, Phillies, Cubs and Orioles among the suitors.

Taillon, 31, was 14-5 with a 3.91 ERA (100 ERA+), 1.13 WHIP and 151 strikeouts against 32 walks in 177 1/3 innings last season. He posted 1.3 WAR.

The Mets have Verlander, Max Scherzer, Carlos Carrasco and possibly Tylor Megill and David Peterson in their current rotation. They probably would have targeted Taillon as a lower-rotation guy anyway, so we’re assuming Verlander’s signing doesn’t hurt their interest here.

Speaking of teams targeting Taillon as a lower rotation player, the Phillies have Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Ranger Suárez as their top three. Stallion prospect Andrew Painter could also be counting by the end of the year, but they will still need a shallower rotation depth – along with Bailey Falter – to get through the regular season.

The Cubs have Marcus Stroman, Kyle Hendricks, Justin Steele and then maybe youngster Hayden Wesneski on the rotation. They have depth (Adrian Sampson, Javier Assad, Keegan Thompson as the swingman) but could use more upside. The Orioles miss ace John Means while he recovers from Tommy John surgery. They’ve already signed Kyle Gibson for a team that includes Dean Kremer, Kyle Bradish and top prospect Grayson Rodriguez. If they want to fight again, they need more in the rotation.

Twins provide hit masters

Would the twins trade provider Luis Arraez? A report from The Athletic says it can be done as long as it’s the “right deal” with the twins seeking jump-starts.

Arraez, 25, led the AL last season with a .316 batting average while making his first All-Star team and also winning a Silver Slugger. He had 31 doubles, eight homers, 49 RBI, 88 runs, 130 OPS+ and 4.4 WAR last season. He walked 50 times compared to just 43 strikeouts in 603 plate appearances. He played most on first base but also saw significant time on second and dabbled a little on third.

Arraez will seek arbitration for the first time this winter and will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2025 season.

The twin rotation right now would be Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Tyler Mahle, Kenta Maeda and Bailey Ober.

Mets to Benintendi

It could be a busy week for the Mets. They have signed Verlander and are pursuing Taillon and are also in the mix for Andrew Benintendi, the reports New York Post. Former midfielder Brandon Nimmo is a free agent, although the Mets could push Starling Marte down the middle with Benintendi and Mark Canha in the corners.

Benintendi, 28, cut .304/.373/.399 with five home runs in 126 games with the Royals and Yankees last season. He retired after September 2 due to hamat surgery, although the Yankees hoped he could play in the World Series if they were promoted from the ALCS. Our RJ Anderson ranked Benintendi as the No. 18 free agent this offseason.

Big market for Vázquez

Free-agent catcher Christian Vázquez was traded from the Red Sox to the Astros last season and now finds himself with no shortage of suitors. The teams interested so far, according to Ken Rosenthal, are the Cubs, Cardinals, Padres, Guardians and Twins. The Diamondbacks and Giants are also interested after Pete Abraham.

Vázquez, 32, hit .274/.315/.399 (99 OPS+) with 23 doubles, nine homers, 52 RBI and 2.1 WAR last season.

Angels sign Estévez

The Angels have signed Carlos Estévez, the hard-hitting right-back, to a two-year deal, the team announced. The deal has a guaranteed value of $14 million, reports the New York Post. Estévez was an under-the-radar free agent coming into the offseason:

Last season, the 29-year-old pitched 57 innings with a 3.47 ERA and 54 strikeouts with the Rockies. As is always the case with ex-Rockies pitchers, the Angels are hoping the move from Coors Field will help Estévez find consistency with his stuff and improve his performance.

Blue Jays make Heaney an offer

The Blue Jays have made an offer to left free agent Andrew Heaney, Sportsnet reports. Heaney batted 35.5 percent of the batters he faced in 2022 and had one of the highest swing-and-miss rates in baseball, though he’s always been very prone to homers, which has prevented him from getting to the top one to move up the MLB rotation.

Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman and José Berríos are the only bans on Toronto’s rotation right now. Yusei Kikuchi, last year’s left-handed swing-and-miss signing, could rejoin the rotation after being demoted to bullpen this summer. Heaney or not, the Blue Jays are expected to add at least one starting pitcher this offseason.

Ray interested in Dalbec

The Rays are among the clubs interested in Red Sox first baseman Bobby Dalbec. after Sean McAdam. Dalbec, 27, is a former top prospect who has posted 101 OPS+ in nearly 900 trips in the majors. He has immense raw power, but he struggles to make constant contact and has a near 35 percent strikeout rate.

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