MLB Off-season rumours: Wait continues on Ohtani, Soto
The winter meetings are underway in Nashville as the MLB off-season gets set to kick into high-gear. Here is a roundup of all the latest moves and rumours from around the league.
TSN Blue Jays Reporter Scott Mitchell and TSN Baseball Insider Steve Phillips unveiled their Top 50 MLB Free Agents last month.
Ohtani holding up the action?
It's been over a month since the Texas Rangers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks in the World Series, but not much has happened in the MLB off-season since then. Aaron Nola, Sonny Gray, Kenta Maeda, Reynaldo Lopez and Nick Martinez -- all pitchers -- are the only players to sign for $10 million or more this winter.
Shohei Ohtani, quite possibly the biggest free agent in the history of the sport, is still unsigned and according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, that could be holding up much of the market.
Feinsand notes that it's possible Ohtani could sign at the winter meetings, which run until Wednesday, which should then open up the floodgates for a number of other free agents to do the same. Other reports have indicated Ohtani's decision may come after the meetings end and could stretch into late December.
Feinsand writes the Los Angeles Dodgers continue to be the favourites to land Ohtani, but the San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago Cubs appear to be involved as well. Feinsand adds that Ohtani and his agent, Nez Balelo, have remained tight-lipped throughout free agency, creating increased speculation and conjecture regarding the two-way star's next team.
Meanwhile, multiple reports indicate the Blue Jays are also among the teams interested in acquiring Juan Soto from the San Diego Padres.
MLB.com's Keegan Matheson reports the Jays could quickly pivot to Soto if Ohtani heads elsewhere. Soto is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2024 season and Matheson notes he is likely to hit free agency at the age of 26 unless he receives an "absolutely massive" extension offer from a team that acquires him.
The 25-year-old appeared in all 162 games last season and slashed .275/.410/.519 with 35 home runs, 109 RBI and a league-leading 132 walks.
Pirates interested in Flaherty?
The Pittsburgh Pirates are showing interest in right-hander Jack Flaherty, according to Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat.
Jones reports they would be interested on a short-term basis should Flaherty be unable to find a suitor for a longer-term commitment.
Another nugget from the morning -- the Pirates are monitoring the market around Jack Flaherty and are interested in bringing him in on a short term deal should he be unable to find a longer commitment.— Jeff Jones (@jmjones) December 4, 2023
The 28-year-old split last season between the St. Louis Cardinals and Baltimore Orioles, pitching to a 4.99 ERA in 29 outings, 27 of them starts. He is the 24th-ranked player on TSN's Top 50 Free Agents list.
Flaherty posted a 2.75 ERA in 196.1 innings during the 2019 season but has since struggled with injuries, pitching to a 4.42 ERA in 64 appearances over the last four seasons.
Brewers add pitching depth
The Milwaukee Brewers have reached a deal with right-hander Joe Ross, reports Robert Murray of FanSided.
The deal is at the major league level and is pending a physical, Murray reports.
Free-agent pitcher Joe Ross and the Milwaukee Brewers are in agreement on a major-league contract, pending physical, according to sources familiar with the deal.— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) December 4, 2023
The 30-year-old last appeared in the majors with the Washington Nationals in 2021, posting a 4.17 ERA in 20 appearances. He suffered a UCL injury that season and had Tommy John surgery the following year.
Ross had a 4.26 in six seasons with the Nats. He appeared in two World Series games during Washington's victory over the Houston Astros in seven games.
Braves shopping newly-acquired starter
The Atlanta Braves acquired left-hander Marco Gonzales in a deal with the Seattle Mariners Sunday night, but according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, they don't plan on keeping him.
Rosenthal reports Atlanta is attempting to move Gonzales as part of another deal.
Fallout from last night’s Braves-Mariners trade: The Braves do not plan on keeping left-hander Marco Gonzales, sources tell @TheAthletic. Expected to be part of another deal. Destination unknown.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2023
Gonzales, 31, had a 5.22 ERA in 10 starts with Seattle last season. He posted a 4.08 ERA in 151 outings over seven seasons with the Mariners, including a mark of 3.92 from 2019 to 2022.
The Braves also acquired outfielder Jarred Kelenic and first baseman Evan White in Sunday's trade in exchange for pitchers Cole Phillips and Jackson Kowar.
Cards open to moving O'Neill
The St. Louis Cardinals are listening to trade offers for Canadian outfielder Tyler O'Neill, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak told SiriusXM radio on Monday.
Mozeliak went through his projected starting lineup and did not name O'Neill among the outfield starters or as the fourth outfielder.
"Tyler O'Neill is somebody that we are listening to on trades," he said, adding the team is receiving plenty of inquiries about their outfielders.
The 28-year-old from British Columbia slashed .231/.312/.403 with nine home runs and 21 RBI in 72 games last season, his sixth with the Cardinals.
O'Neill finished eighth in National League MVP voting in 2021 when he hit 34 home runs and had a .912 OPS, but he has largely unable to replicate those numbers since and missed time with injury.
Lee hits the open market
Jung Hoo Lee will officially be posted on Monday by his team in the Korea Baseball Organization, the Kiwoom Heroes, according to Jeeho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency.
This means Lee is free to negotiate with MLB teams for 30 days.
#KBO posting: Outfielder Jung-Hoo Lee will be officially posted for #MLB clubs on Monday, Dec. 4, in U.S. time, Lee's KBO team, Kiwoom Heroes, just announced.— Jeeho Yoo (@Jeeho_1) December 4, 2023
The 30-day negotiating window for Lee opens at 8 am ET on Dec. 5.
The 25-year-old outfielder slashed .318/.406/.455 with six home runs and 45 RBI for the Heroes in 85 games during the 2023 season. He was ranked as the 12th best free agent in the 2024 class according to Scott Mitchell and Steve Phillips.
Brewers to bring back Miley
The Milwaukee Brewers are likely to bring back veteran left-hander Wade Miley this week, according Rosenthal.
The 37-year-old made 23 starts last season for Milwaukee, pitching to a 3.14 ERA in 120.1 innings. Miley owns a 4.06 ERA spread out across 13 big league seasons.
Trade with Braves clears out money for Mariners
The Seattle Mariners sent former top prospect Jarred Kelenic, pitcher Marco Gonzales and first baseman Evan White to the Atlanta Braves Sunday night in exchange for pitchers Jackson Kowar and Cole Phillips.
According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, the deal was "quite simply a money dump" for the Mariners, who sent out about $20 million in the deal.
The Braves-Mariners deal was quite simply a money dump for Seattle. Atlanta takes on the salaries of White and Gonzales and gets Kelenic, whose upside remains tantalizing. Phillips was a second-round pick in 2022 and Kowar a first-rounder in 2018. @RyanDivish was on full deal.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 4, 2023
Heyman notes that Randy Arozarena or Isaac Paredes of the Tampa Bay Rays could be a potential trade fit for Seattle after opening up payroll space and a hole in left field with Sunday's trade.
Dodgers, Kelly strike one-year deal
The Dodgers and right-hander Joe Kelly have agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal with reliever Joe Kelly, according to CBS' Jim Bowden.
Joe Kelly deal with #Dodgers is 1-year $8m according to club source— Jim Bowden⚾️🏈 (@JimBowdenGM) December 4, 2023
Multiple reports from Sunday indicated a deal between Kelly and the Dodgers was close.
Kelly, 35, was acquired by the Dodgers from the Chicago White Sox last season and appeared in 11 games with L.A. down the stretch, pitching to a 1.74 ERA.