MLB's General Manager Meetings quickly follow the World Series each year and precede free agency, meaning it's a time for discussion and laying a foundation for what is possibly to come in the offseason. This time around, they with the Cubs hiring manager Craig Counsell, given that they already had a manager in David Ross and Counsell was expected to either take the Mets job or stay in Milwaukee.
Past that, the rumor mill has started churning. Let's get to it for Wednesday.
Mets to talk extension with Alonso; don't anticipate trade
Mets first baseman Pete Alonso is under team control for one more year until hitting free agency. Absent an extension, you know what that means? Trade rumors!
The Mets appear desirous to avoid that, however. "We're going to have those conversations," club president David Stearns said Wednesday (via SNY). Alonso's agent, Scott Boras, separately said Wednesday that he has talked to Stearns about "philosophies and ideologies."
Until then, though, Stearns did his best to dampen those trade rumors. "I do not anticipate him getting traded," he told reporters.
The best bet here is the Mets and Alonso get something done unless one side doesn't want that to happen deep down. The Mets have very deep pockets and Alonso is a homegrown star. He's coming off a season where he hit 46 homers with 118 RBI. He only hit .217, but still managed an OPS+ of 122 thanks to his power and decent on-base percentage. Surely the Mets would prefer that average back up in the .271 range like in 2022, but he's still a game changer with his power. He has the top two and three of the top six individual home run seasons in Mets history. He also has the best and three of the top six RBI seasons.
Dodgers want Kershaw back, keeping tabs on J.D.
Clayton Kershaw and won't return until sometime next summer, if all goes according to plan. Still, the Dodgers would like to re-sign the free agent lefty. Club president Andrew Friedman said as much Wednesday, via the Los Angeles Times. "[We're] giving them the time and space to make the best decision for their family. But selfishly, we hope it's for him to continue and finish his career in Dodger blue"
Kershaw, 35, was 13-5 with a 2.46 ERA (177 ERA+) and 1.06 WHIP last season. He struck out 137 in 131 2/3 innings, though he battled injury and saw a dip in velocity. He was then torched for six runs in just 1/3 of an inning in his lone playoff start. Still, he's proven these last two seasons he can remain excellent at run prevention when he's on the hill.
Also among conversation topics is J.D. Martinez, who served as the Dodgers' designated hitter this past season and has now hit free agency. Friedman told reporters there's interest in a possible reunion with Martinez, but that they'd have to say how everything unfolds this offseason (via LA Times). Basically, cutting through the unspoken meaning, they'll have interest in Martinez if they fail to sign Shohei Ohtani.
Martinez, 36, hit .271/.321/.572 (134 OPS+) with 27 doubles, 33 homers and 103 RBI last season.
Phillies interested in Gray
The Phillies have shown interest in free agent starting pitcher Sonny Gray, per Jon Morosi of MLB Network. It sounds like Gray would be a fallback option for the Phillies, as Aaron Nola is a free agent and the report indicates the Phillies' interest in Gray would come if Nola departs via free agency.
The Phillies' holdover starters are Zack Wheeler, Ranger Suárez, Taijuan Walker and Cristopher Sánchez. Lefty Josh Fleming has been picked up off waivers from the Rays and he's shown the ability to start on occasion.
Gray, 34, was 8-8 with a 2.79 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 183 strikeouts in 184 innings last season for the Twins. He made his third All-Star team.
Red Sox getting calls on Verdugo
Given the poor state of the free-agent market, it should come as no surprise that teams are active on the trade front. The Red Sox, for example, are taking a lot of calls on outfielder Alex Verdugo, according to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. Verdugo, a free agent come winter 2024, posted a 100 OPS+ last season.
Marlins among teams interested in Soler
Designated hitter Jorge Soler is drawing interest from six teams, including the Marlins, according to Francys Romero. . The short version: "Soler's gains made him a more well-rounded hitter, though hitting is all he does."
Twins to trim payroll in 2024
The Twins won the AL Central and advanced to the ALDS last season, losing that series in four games to the Astros. Going by playoff performance, it was their best season in decades (their win against the Blue Jays in Wild Card Series Game 1 was their first postseason victory since 2004). The payroll last season was $154 million, but it's going to be dialed back this coming season, per The Athletic. The expectation is it'll be somewhere between $125-$140 million.
What happened? Well, the TV deal bubble has gotten to them. The Twins' local TV deal with Bally has expired and they made $54.8 million from that last year. Given the general climate around TV/streaming deals these days, it's difficult to see any deal coming even close to $50 million a year moving forward, so that's a revenue adjustment.
This doesn't mean we should expect to see the Twins attempting to trade highly compensated players, however. Joey Gallo's $11 million comes off the books, along with $4.5 million from Michael A. Taylor and $7.5 million from Tyler Mahle. Sonny Gray is a free agent and made $12.7 million last year. Kenta Maeda made $3.12 million.
Right now, Baseball Reference estimates (with arbitration raises and pre-arbitration salaries) that the Twins currently sit at $137.6 million in player payroll. Should they choose to make a run at bringing back Gray, for example, they could probably pull off a salary-reducing trade or two. They aren't in dire straits.
Astros managerial search includes Espada
Joe Espada has been the Astros' bench coach since 2018 and has interviewed for the manager job with teams such as the Rangers and Cubs over the years. To this point, he's never been hired as the manager, but now might be his chance. With Dusty Baker having retired, the Astros have an opening and Espada has interviewed for the job. Astros general manager Dana Brown wouldn't call Espada a "leading candidate," but he sure sounds like the favorite, via The Athletic.
Angels interview Washington for manager job
Will "Wash" get another shot at managing in the AL West? Currently, Ron Washington is the third-base coach and infield guru with the Braves. He's widely considered one of the most valuable coaches in baseball, but he hasn't gotten another chance at the top job since he managed the Rangers from 2007-14.
The Angels are set to interview him for their managerial opening, according to Sam Blum.
Before he managed the Rangers, the ballclub had only been to the playoffs three times he took them there three times. Before he took the job, they had never won the pennant and he won two. There's enough track record here to consider hiring him a great decision.