7 pieces of unfinished business
By Richard Justice | @richardjustice
December 12, 2019
You're officially on the clock, Josh Donaldson. Enjoy these next few days, because you earned this moment. As for Kris Bryant, keep your phone close. Nolan Arenado, Corey Kluber and David Price should do the same. To live in interesting times, right?
The Winter Meetings did not disappoint. Among the comings and goings were three of the 11 largest contracts ever given to a player: Stephen Strasburg re-signing with the Nationals, Gerrit Cole going to the Yankees and Anthony Rendon to the Angels.
And yet as baseball people departed San Diego on Thursday, there's plenty of unfinished business. This might be the most interesting portion of the offseason, because as the highest-paid free agents disappear from the market, teams are rewarded more for their expertise and judgment than their deep pockets.
We've seen that part of the market already on fire with under-the-radar signings by the Dodgers (Blake Treinen), Brewers (Josh Lindblom), Mets (Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello) and Rangers (Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles).
Let's check in on seven bits of unfinished business:
1. The Angels still have work to do
Unless they significantly upgrade the rotation, the Angels are going to have a hard time contending in 2020 even with the addition of Rendon. That could be done through free agency (Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel, Hyun-Jin Ryu) or trade (Corey Kluber, David Price), but it's now priority number one for general manager Billy Eppler.
2. Waiting on that Dodgers bombshell
The Dodgers have had discussions with almost all the top free agents and have been rumored to be in trade discussions regarding Indians stars Kluber and Francisco Lindor. We're beginning to think that president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman may simply have been considering options to what is already one of baseball's best teams. He's sure to add at least one starting pitcher. Other than that is anyone's guess.
3. The Red Sox would still like to trim payroll
Virtually every team talks about getting under certain luxury tax thresholds, but that can be easier said than done, especially for a team like the Red Sox, who have a roster good enough to win the World Series. While they're likely to trade at least one of their big names (David Price, Jackie Bradley Jr., or perhaps Mookie Betts), this is a tough discussion to have at a time when the Yankees just added Gerrit Cole.
4. About that Josh Donaldson market …
The Braves are focused on re-signing him in their pursuit of a third straight NL East title, and the Nationals and Rangers want him after being unable to land Rendon. That almost certainly means it's going to take more than a two-year commitment and perhaps as many as four in the $25-million-a-year range to get the 34-year-old coming off a 37-homer, 33-double, .900-OPS season.
5. And then the third-base market could get crazy
We do not know if the Cubs and Rockies are serious about trading their star third basemen, Kris Bryant and Nolan Arenado. Listening to trade proposals is one thing. Actually dealing away players who've meant so much to both franchises is another. But once Donaldson is signed, there'll still be teams looking for third basemen, and if the price is right, who knows?
6. Don't sleep on the Brewers
One of MLB's smartest front offices is at it again. General manager David Stearns has cut ties with 14 of 25 players from the NL Wild Card Game, and his signing of free-agent pitcher Josh Lindblom -- fresh off an MVP season in the Korean Baseball Organization -- is just a start. Two things seem certain: Stearns will find under-the-radar free agents who will contribute, and the Brewers will be in contention as usual.
7. White Sox are doing what they promised to do
Yes, they still want to add a veteran starting pitcher, and that's why there's a feeling of unfinished business. On the other hand, they've gotten better. First, they signed one of baseball's best catchers (Yasmani Grandal), and then they acquired 24-year-old outfielder Nomar Mazara, who showed flashes of being special during four seasons with the Rangers. And with so much young talent in the Minor Leagues, improvement could come quickly