After an exciting start to the offseason that already surpassed last season’s slow opening, the baseball world comes together in San Diego for the winter meetings from Monday through Thursday.
Even with a few of the top free agents off the board, MLB’s winter meetings will be busy with general managers discussing trades, agents pushing their players’ services and a cascade of rumors and deals that will capture the spotlight.
Marquee names like Stephen Strasburg, Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon will be discussed every minute in San Diego. Meanwhile, the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels and Chicago White Sox will be among the teams exploring every avenue to improve their teams for next season.
Now, let’s take a look at a few moves that would shake up the 2020 season and could happen at MLB’s winter meetings.
Nationals re-sign Stephen Strasburg on six-year, $192 million deal
If Washington is only going to spend the money to keep one of its postseason stars, it needs to be the World Series MVP. Strasburg’s historic stretch of dominance in the postseason earned a massive contract and that’s what the Nationals will give him.
They will face plenty of competition for him, which drives the price up. However, Strasburg’s ties to the only organization he’s known will help decide this. Many players want to get a deal done before the holiday. Becoming MLB’s second-highest-paid pitcher in average salary will be worth it – even if it means deferring some money to after the deal ends, a staple for this organization.
Anthony Rendon returns to Texas on seven-year, $235 million contract
The bidding war for Rendon will be fierce and Texas certainly won’t get a hometown discount, but the right offer can land the top bat available this winter. The Rangers want to open their new ballpark in 2020 with a bang – Rendon does that.
The Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels will make major pushes for Rendon at the meetings. Agent Scott Boras will use the attention as fuel to pull out a few extra million from the Rangers and make Rendon’s return to his home state feel a little more special.
White Sox land another big fish with Madison Bumgarner
After missing out on Zack Wheeler, despite offering more money than Philadelphia, the White Sox will turn their focus to another top pitcher upon arrival in San Diego. In fact, he could be the better option given the team’s playoff aspirations.
Signing Bumgarner now is even more crucial with other teams focused on Cole and Strasburg. Chicago will face competition from teams like the Minnesota Twins and Cincinnati Reds, organizations with pockets not as deep as New York and Los Angeles. It might take a five-year deal worth more than $105 million, but it’s worth it for the White Sox to add Bumgarner to this rotation.
Pirates’ rebuild begins with Starling Marte trade
While the winter meetings are nothing new for general manager Ben Cherington, this will be his first with the Pirates. He’s taking over a team that desperately needs a fresh start and that rebuild will start at this week’s meetings.
Pittsburgh will entertain offers for anyone, including All-Star first baseman Josh Bell. Ultimately, Marte is the first player the Pirates should trade. The White Sox, Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets and Texas Rangers are among the teams who need a great outfielder. Cherington knows prospects and now he can build Pittsburgh’s farm system from the ground up.
Dodgers bolster bullpen with Blake Treinen
Los Angeles can walk into the San Diego Convention Center with a blank check to go after any free agent it wants. They’re pursuing Rendon and Gerrit Cole, but head of baseball operations Andrew Freidman likes to find value and Treinen offers it.
No, Treinen obviously isn’t the player we saw post a 0.78 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and strikeout 100 batters in his 2018 All-Star season. However, he’s also a far better reliever than last season’s 4.91 ERA and 1.62 WHIP. A one-year, incentive-heavy deal can work for both sides and give Treinen the chance to shine on a big stage.
Yankees and Angels’ bidding war for Gerrit Cole surges past $300 million
Everyone would love it if the biggest name on the open market signed during MLB’s biggest event this winter. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to happen as Boras will use this week to put the bidding war on full display.
We’ll see plenty of rumors come out about Cole during the winter meetings. One day it will seem like the Angels are leading for him. The next day, reports will indicate he’s a lock to sign with the Yankees and, of course, there will be a mystery team. Ultimately, what we’ll learn is that Cole will land an absurd contract whenever he signs and it could surpass more than $300 million total.
Kris Bryant is traded to the Atlanta Braves
The Cubs are prepared to potentially take a step back in 2020 and given Bryant is currently fighting the team over a contract grievance tied to his service time manipulation. Chicago is already open to trading him, a decision in Bryant’s favor would make a move more likely.
Atlanta boasts one of the best farm systems in baseball with MLB-ready pitching and top hitting prospects. The Braves can package outfielder Drew Waters, the No. 23 overall prospect in MLB, along with right-handed pitching prospect Kyle Wright. Pairing two top-40 overall prospects with center fielder Ender Inciarte, along with a third prospect, could convince the Cubs to move their star third baseman. Meanwhile, the Braves become the early favorite to win the 2020 World Series.