This offseason seems to redefine itself every two or three days, and that could be true of the Winter Meetings, which begin Monday in San Diego. With so many prominent free agents unsigned and a long list of teams looking to acquire impact talent, there's no reason to think things
This offseason seems to redefine itself every two or three days, and that could be true of the Winter Meetings, which begin Monday in San Diego. With so many prominent free agents unsigned and a long list of teams looking to acquire impact talent, there's no reason to think things will cool down anytime soon.
Unlike some previous offseasons, the buzz isn't limited to two or three teams or even two or three players. That said, here are seven clubs that bear watching at the Winter Meetings:
Buckle up. The Yankees are serious about signing Gerrit Cole, and that interest will ripple right through the rest of the free-agent market. What's impossible to know is if the Yankees will make a run at Stephen Strasburg should Cole go elsewhere. Or would they be interested in dealing Miguel Andújar to the Rangers for, say, Mike Minor? No general manager is more thorough than Brian Cashman, so almost anything seems possible. Regardless, the Yankees have everyone's attention.
The Angels have been linked to Cole (an Orange County native, as you may have heard) for months. If they don't sign him? They would then attempt to sign Strasburg or perhaps even Anthony Rendon. Their goal was always to acquire two veteran starters, so acquiring Dylan Bundy from the Orioles earlier this week checks one of those boxes. Cole and the Halos have felt like a perfect fit for a while, but he's clearly considering other options.
Judge them by what they do, not what they say. To publicly announce that they can't sign both Strasburg and Rendon may be a negotiating tactic or a way to brace their fans for losing one of their cornerstones. This poker game between agent Scott Boras, who represents both players, and Nationals ownership surely can't go on much longer. Josh Donaldson would be a nice alternative to Rendon. After Strasburg, the drop-off among available starters is significant.
4) White Sox
They've already made one big move (signing free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal) and were in on Zack Wheeler until the end. They're moving down the list of available starting pitchers while also pursuing offensive help. In the end, money may not be the issue. Rather, it could be convincing a player that they're ready to turn a corner, and to do that, they may have to overpay. Regardless, they're committed to upgrading the team in multiple areas.
The Rangers seem cautiously optimistic of signing either Rendon or Donaldson while continuing to shop for another starting pitcher even after signing Kyle Gibson to a three-year, $28 million contract. If they don't land either, it probably won't be because of money, and that dynamic cranks up the intensity to sign one of them in the next few days.
The Reds surprised some by making a hard push for Wheeler, who has agreed to terms with the Phillies. Given that Cincinnati already has a quality rotation, it was still thought to be pursuing offense. Signing Mike Moustakas to play second fills one hole. Now look for the Reds to continue to kick the tires on rotation help while considering Marcell Ozuna and Corey Dickerson for the outfield and Didi Gregorius to play short.
The Phillies have made the biggest splash of the offseason by agreeing to a five-year, $118 million deal with Wheeler. But they're pursuing a long list of other options, including Donaldson and Gregorius for the infield. They're likely to try to strike again quickly given that the Braves, Mets and Nationals all intend to do more.
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.