5 points to ponder about a potential Glasnow deal

December 13th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Adam Berry's Rays Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

ST. PETERSBURG -- Since departing the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tenn., the baseball industry’s attention has been focused on Juan Soto joining the Yankees, Shohei Ohtani signing a mind-boggling contract with the Dodgers and private jets ferrying unsuspecting reality TV personalities from Southern California to Toronto.

Now, as the offseason moves into a new phase, the spotlight is bound to shift toward Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Blake Snell, Cody Bellinger and a group of trade candidates headlined by Rays starter .

As we continue to wait for any action on the trade front, here are five things to consider about a potential Glasnow deal.

1. The details of Ohtani’s unprecedented contract further solidify the Dodgers as perhaps the team to watch here.

The Dodgers have an obvious need for front-of-the-rotation starters, especially since the one they just signed won’t pitch next season. (Fortunately, he has that whole being-an-elite-hitter thing to fall back on.) And since Ohtani is earning only $2 million next year, with $68 million deferred, Andrew Friedman and Co. still have plenty of money to spend on pitching. Yes, the team that just dropped $700 million can presumably handle the $25 million Glasnow is due next year.

The Dodgers have a remarkably deep farm system that continually churns out big leaguers, so they’d likely line up well with the Rays in a deal. And although they haven’t necessarily spent wildly on role players, they’ve bet big on elite talent -- Mookie Betts, Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Freddie Freeman and, now, Ohtani. Glasnow can’t claim those players’ track records, of course, but nobody would deny he possesses one of the most talented arms in the game.

2. The other teams rumored to have been in on Ohtani might be even more motivated to make a big move.

Setting aside the American League East-rival Blue Jays, three clubs come to mind here: the Cubs, Giants and Angels. We’ve already heard about the Cubs’ interest in Glasnow and their need for pitching. The Giants have to make a splash. And the Angels, always looking for arms, will want to pivot swiftly after losing the greatest player in the world.

They’re all big-spending teams that were presumably prepared to pay Ohtani and thus wouldn’t balk at the dollar figure attached to Glasnow’s name. They can make a one-year investment in a pitcher who may be on the verge of his best season, as long as he stays healthy enough to display his immense ability. But there’s also significant risk in giving up young talent, not to mention $25 million, for a player who’s been injured as often as he has.

3. One smaller-market team keeps coming up, too.

My colleague Mark Sheldon reported the Reds’ interest in Glasnow before the Winter Meetings, and Cincinnati is still in the market for frontline pitching. Now, one might wonder if the cost to acquire Glasnow -- in terms of both talent and salary -- would be too much for a team like the Reds. But they make sense for a few reasons.

For one, they have payroll flexibility now -- even after some early offseason spending -- thanks to a few big contracts coming off the books and a bunch of young players earning around the league minimum. Adding Glasnow fits their long-term plan, too, because he can lead the rotation for now without blocking the younger starters who are coming up.

If the Reds were to acquire Glasnow this offseason, make him a qualifying offer at the end of the 2024 season and then lose him to free agency, they could add a compensatory pick (and bonus pool space) to their 2025 Draft haul. (And that would be a year after the MLB Draft Lottery granted them the No. 2 pick in 2024.) It’s still a big commitment, but that would allow Cincinnati to bring in a potential top-flight rental starter while creating another avenue to add young talent.

That doesn’t guarantee anything, but it’s a reminder that even smaller-market teams could add a potential top-flight rental starter while still having an avenue to recoup some of the young talent they might have to give up to make that happen. Any Rays fan knows that lower-payroll teams tend to operate with one eye on the present and one on the future.

4. As of the Winter Meetings, talks regarding Glasnow seemed more advanced than anything related to the Rays’ position players. The front office might want to settle this issue before moving on to the rest of their offseason business, especially since trading Glasnow would create a hole in the rotation they’d probably need to fill through another deal or free-agent signing.

President of baseball operations Erik Neander and his staff are thorough and comprehensive, but the Rays rarely wait just for the sake of waiting. If the right deal is there, they’ll take it.

5. Then again, the timing aspect could be somewhat tricky in either direction. Free-agent starters Yamamoto and Snell, among others, are still out there. So are fellow trade candidates Dylan Cease and Shane Bieber.

On one hand, waiting out the market to see where they all land could leave an interested team in a desperate situation, willing to pay a higher price given a lack of comparable options. But if you wait too long, you run the risk of interested teams filling their needs elsewhere and potentially losing some leverage.