When Shohei Ohtani signed with the Angels and Giancarlo Stanton was traded from the Marlins to the Yankees in the days leading up to the Winter Meetings, the industry consensus was that the free-agent frenzy was ready to begin.Nearly two weeks later, we're still waiting for the free-agent market to
When Shohei Ohtani signed with the Angels and Giancarlo Stanton was traded from the Marlins to the Yankees in the days leading up to the Winter Meetings, the industry consensus was that the free-agent frenzy was ready to begin.
Nearly two weeks later, we're still waiting for the free-agent market to really pick up. Yes, Carlos Santana (Phillies) and Zack Cozart (Angels) signed with new teams this week, but the other dozen or so top free agents remain available. Is it possible that Ohtani and Stanton weren't responsible for holding up the market at all, but rather it's been the abundance of trade talk that continues to dominate the headlines?
• Hot Stove tracker
Evan Longoria became the latest star shipped off to a new destination when the Rays dealt the three-time All-Star to the Giants in a five-player deal on Wednesday that sent top infield prospect Christian Arroyo (among others) to Tampa Bay.
Longoria was one of four notable Rays players garnering significant interest on the trade market. Could Alex Colome, Jake Odorizzi or even Chris Archer be the next player on his way out of St. Petersburg?
"This is clearly the first big transaction for us this offseason, but there's a lot of winter left to go," Rays general manager Erik Neander said. "There's a lot that's up in the air at this point."
That goes not only for the Rays, but for all of MLB.
From Manny Machado to Josh Donaldson, Christian Yelich to J.T. Realmuto, Zack Greinke to Gerrit Cole, there seems to be another key player involved in some form of trade rumors every day. With free-agent demands as inflated as ever, clubs are looking elsewhere to fill their holes, rather than immediately shelling out big bucks to the likes of Yu Darvish, Jacob Arrieta, Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez.
Those guys will all find deals, and chances are they'll get the type of money they're seeking. But as long as other options exist on the trade market, teams appear willing to bide their time.
If the Rays move Colome, he'd be a more cost-controlled closer for the next three years than either Greg Holland or Wade Davis. Teams looking to improve at third base are likely to keep tabs on the Machado or Donaldson situations before paying big money for Mike Moustakas.
Darvish and Arrieta appear to have plenty of suitors, but if those teams can acquire a controllable asset such as Cole or Patrick Corbin, that might be more appealing. Lorenzo Cain and Jay Bruce will make nice additions to any outfield, but would they be more attractive than Yelich and his team-friendly contract?
Dan Duquette, the Orioles' executive vice president of baseball operations, had a wrench thrown into his plans Wednesday when it was revealed that closer Zach Britton suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. In addition to knocking Britton out for the next 4-6 months, the injury also likely takes reliever Brad Brach off the trade market.
Machado might also be off the market soon, because the Orioles haven't received any offers that would compel them to trade their best player. The Blue Jays have said they don't plan to move Donaldson. As trade options begin to whittle away, teams will start gravitating toward free agents, such as Moustakas and Todd Frazier.
The trade market should settle at some point soon. Then, that free-agent frenzy can finally take place. It has to happen at some point, doesn't it?
Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.