Bogaerts an X-factor on free-agent market

Opt-outs, qualifying offers among the intrigue at GM Meetings

November 8th, 2022

LAS VEGAS -- Executives from all 30 clubs descended upon the Conrad at Resorts World on Monday, officially launching the offseason with this year’s General Managers Meetings.

The meetings fall during MLB’s “quiet period,” as free agents are not permitted to negotiate with other teams until Thursday at 5 p.m. ET. Deals are unusual at the GM meetings, anyway, but executives and agents will surely begin laying the groundwork for the trades and free-agent signings that will keep the hot stove burning in the coming weeks and months.

Free agents are allowed to speak with other clubs between now and Thursday afternoon, though no potential contract terms can be discussed.

Thursday also marks the deadline for most team and player options to be announced, though several high-profile players -- including , , and -- already have opted out of their deals and become free agents.

Teams also have until Thursday to decide whether to make qualifying offers to their free agents. While some are easy calls -- , and Bogaerts, for example -- others, such as starting pitchers (Dodgers), (Red Sox) and (Mets), aren’t as clear-cut.

Boston’s Plan B?
Now that Bogaerts has officially opted out of his contract and joined the free-agent ranks, how might the Red Sox approach the shortstop position this offseason?

Boston is still hopeful that it will be able to bring Bogaerts back on a new deal, but given the number of teams expected to be competing to sign one of the four star free-agent shortstops -- Turner, Correa and are also on the market -- it’s no certainty that the Red Sox will re-sign the 30-year-old Bogaerts.

Free agents: Bogaerts, Correa, deGrom, Judge, Swanson, Turner

Should Bogaerts sign elsewhere, it seems the plan is to move -- who inked a six-year, $140 million contract last offseason -- back to shortstop, where he played exclusively for the first six years of his career.

According to sources, the Red Sox have started reaching out to some teams regarding the availability of their second basemen, hoping to figure out Plan B in the likely event that Bogaerts leaves Boston.

“It doesn’t seem like they’re going to spend big on a shortstop,” one source said. “They knew this was a possibility when they signed Story last year.”

Pitch perfect?
Several teams figure to be involved in the bidding on starters such as deGrom, Rodón and (who can opt out of the final year of his deal with the Astros), but one team to watch is the Rangers.

Texas made a big splash in free agency last year with the signings of shortstop and second baseman for a combined $500 million, and, according to a source, the Rangers might spend big again this offseason, only this time on the starting rotation.

“They’re very big on the high-impact starters,” the source said.

Trade winds
Angels general manager Perry Minasian on Monday said that  would not be traded this offseason, seemingly taking the No. 1 trade chip off the market.

It’s entirely possible that the Angels hold firm to that plan and keep Ohtani -- who signed a $30 million deal for 2023 -- on the roster to start the season, but don’t forget that Nationals GM Mike Rizzo declared in no uncertain terms in early June that  would not be traded, only to deal him to the Padres two months later.

Assuming Ohtani doesn’t get dealt this winter, which players could be the biggest names on the trade market?

That question was posed to multiple executives on Monday, and while there were a variety of names mentioned, the two most popular were Pirates outfielder and Marlins right-hander .

“Reynolds is arbitration-eligible for three seasons, so the Pirates should be able to get a haul for him,” one executive said. “It feels like he’s been in trade rumors for two years. At some point, the Pirates are going to make the move.”

López, who has posted a sub-4.00 ERA in each of the past three seasons, is arbitration-eligible in 2023 and 2024. For clubs not looking to spend big money on a free-agent starter, he might be one of the best options on the trade market.

Other names mentioned as potential trade candidates this offseason included Brewers right-hander , Red Sox third baseman and Athletics catcher .