Your lingering Hot Stove questions, answered

December 9th, 2022

The Hot Stove got turned up to 11 at this year’s Winter Meetings, which saw a flurry of megadeals headlined by ’s reported $360 million pact with the Yankees.

But the offseason is far from over.

We still have two months before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, and a lot can happen between now and then.

Here’s a breakdown of the offseason landscape coming out of the Winter Meetings, including the notable free agents who are still available, key storylines to watch, teams that need to make a move and potential trade candidates.

Who are the top free agents left on the board?

Looking back at Anthony Castrovince’s list of the Top 20 free agents heading into this offseason, 14 of the 20 are no longer available.

Superstar shortstop (No. 4) leads the list of the best remaining free agents, followed by fellow shortstop (No. 7); pitchers (No. 8), (No. 9), Kodai Senga (No. 11) and (No. 18).

Who are some other notable players still available?

Teams in need of a corner outfielder have several viable options they could turn to, including , , and , while three-time Gold Glove Award winner is a center-field alternative for teams that missed out on Brandon Nimmo.

Other notable free agents on the starting pitching front include , , , , , , and .

The reliever market is a bit thinner, with , , , , , and among the best remaining options.

Catcher-needy clubs that missed out on (reported five-year deal with the Cardinals) could pivot to , arguably the best backstop left on the market. There’s also , and , but none of the three is coming off a particularly strong season.

Designated hitter , first baseman , second baseman , third baseman and infielder remain available as well.

What are the key storylines to keep an eye on?

Here are four of the most interesting post-Meetings storylines to watch over the next couple months ...

1. How will the shortstop market play out?

And then there were two. (11-year, $300 million deal with Phillies) and (11 years, $280 million deal with Padres) are off the board, leaving Correa and Swanson as the top options in the shortstop market.

Correa’s search for a contract of $300 million or more goes back to last offseason, and you have to think he and agent Scott Boras are looking to top Turner’s deal, if not ’s $341 million contract with the Mets that made him the highest-paid shortstop in MLB history.

The Giants and Twins seem to be the top competitors for Correa, while the Cubs are more focused on Swanson. One of those teams is going to be left without a chair once the music stops.

The Dodgers and Braves also have holes at shortstop with Turner and Swanson reaching free agency, but they are said to be comfortable with internal replacements. After reportedly coming nowhere close to the Padres’ offer for Bogaerts, the Red Sox are likely to shift to short and focus on adding a second baseman rather than pivoting to Correa or Swanson.

2. Pressure is on the Red Sox to extend Devers

Speaking of the Red Sox, they've now lost two franchise cornerstones -- and Bogaerts -- in less than three years. Meanwhile, Sox fans just watched the rival Yankees do what it took to bring back Judge.

Boston could have taken care of Bogaerts prior to 2022, but the team's reported offer to tack one year and $30 million onto his remaining contract -- thus guaranteeing him $110 million across 2022-26 -- was well below what the shortstop was seeking.

The Red Sox are at risk of losing another star, third baseman , in free agency next offseason, so the pressure is mounting for Boston to sign the 26-year-old to an extension. The Red Sox reportedly made Devers an initial offer similar to 's eight-year, $168 million extension with the Braves before bumping their offer north of $200 million in October, but the two sides remained far apart at that point.

Devers isn't the only pressing concern for Boston after a last-place finish in 2022. The Red Sox have been active so far, reaching deals with Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida and relievers , and , but the club still has massive holes at catcher, second base and DH, as well as in the rotation.

3. Where will Rodón land, and for how much?

Rodón is seemingly in a great spot with the way the starting pitching market has played out. Fellow aces and are off the market, and there’s a big dropoff from the Rodón/Senga tier to the other starters still available.

Coming into the offseason, deals signed in recent years by the Phillies’ (five years, $118 million), the Mariners’ (five years, $115 million) and the Blue Jays’ (five years, $110 million) seemed like good comps for Rodón. However, the left-hander could be poised to go well above those contracts, perhaps even exceeding ’s six-year, $140 million pact with the Nationals.

Brendan Kuty of heard Rodón has been asking for six years at a rate of $30 million per year in his talks with teams.

The Yankees have “strong interest” in Rodón, according to’s Mark Feinsand, and he’s also been linked to the Dodgers, Giants, Twins and Orioles.

4. Do the Dodgers have another late-winter splash in store?

The Padres re-signed and before reaching a stunning contract with Bogaerts. The Giants were very much in the mix for Judge and remain in the hunt for another big fish after missing out on the 6-foot-7 slugger. San Francisco also re-signed and landed before the Judge decision came down.

The Dodgers, though, have mostly lingered in the background while their NL West rivals have grabbed headlines. Los Angeles did re-sign , but Turner, , and are all gone, and the club hasn't done anything to replace them yet.

In recent years, the Dodgers have waited until deep into the offseason to strike. Their trade for Betts came in February 2020. They signed Trevor Bauer 12 months later, then inked this past March.

Will history repeat itself? Or are the Dodgers content to lay low and wait for to reach free agency next offseason?

Which teams still need to make a big move?

The Dodgers went 111-51 last season and were a whopping 22 games better than the second-place Padres. They still have a ton of talent on their big league roster and have shown year in and year out the ability to unearth hidden gems and bring up unexpected contributors from the farm system. Point is, while they’ve been quiet this offseason, they don’t necessarily need to do anything splashy.

The same cannot be said for a number of clubs around MLB.

We already covered the Red Sox. The Yankees won the Judge sweepstakes, but this is largely still the same team that just got swept by the Astros in the ALCS. The Bronx Bombers need to do more.

Staying in the AL East, the Orioles were supposed to be active on the free-agent market this offseason after finishing with a surprising 83-79 record in 2022, but their most notable addition to this point has been 35-year-old righty , who posted a 5.05 ERA last season. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, still need an outfielder and a starting pitcher.

Giants fans expected Judge. If Pederson and Haniger end up being the biggest moves San Francisco makes, there are going to be a lot of unhappy folks in the Bay Area.

The Cubs landed Bellinger and , but if their involvement with the shortstop market doesn't bear fruit, is this better than a third-place team in the NL Central? The same goes for the Twins in the AL Central sans Correa.

And, of course, we can't forget the Angels, who haven't made the postseason since 2014 despite having two of the best players in baseball, and Ohtani. The Halos signed Anderson and traded for and , but in a division with the Astros, Mariners and Rangers, that might not be enough.

Who are some potential trade candidates?

Now that some of the top free agents are off the board, we could see some movement in the trade market. Here are five potential names that could be on the trade block in the coming weeks.

SP , Marlins: Given the lofty price tag attached to starters on the open market, López could be a popular trade target for teams that need rotation help but don’t have the appetite to pony up for a free agent. The 26-year-old righty owns a 3.52 ERA and a 3.48 FIP since the beginning of 2020 and is controllable through 2024. Other starting pitchers who are due to become free agents in one of the next two offseasons and have come up in trade chatter include , , , and , but they aren’t nearly as likely to be dealt as López.

C , A’s: Oakland was said to be close to a deal involving Murphy during the Winter Meetings, but he remains with the A’s. One of MLB’s best defensive catchers and an above-average hitter as well, he could draw renewed interest once Vázquez finds a home. The 28-year-old Murphy is under team control through 2025.

OF , Pirates: Reynolds (controllable through 2025) requested a trade prior to the Winter Meetings. The Pirates say they expect him to be part of the team in 2023 and beyond. But he'll be 28 years old on Opening Day and will be close to free agency by the time the Pirates are seriously ready to contend.

RP , White Sox: According to Feinsand, the White Sox discussed trades involving Hendriks with multiple teams during the Winter Meetings. The Australia native remains one of the best closers in the game, but Chicago has a loaded bullpen and could look to take advantage of a weak free-agent reliever market by dealing Hendriks. His $15 million club option for 2024 will become guaranteed if he's traded.

SS , Brewers: One or more teams are going to come away disappointed once Correa and Swanson sign. An Adames trade remains unlikely, but it's not out of the realm of possibilities for a Brewers club that has dealt , and Renfroe in the past five months. If there's a team willing to go all out to trade for Adames (controllable through 2024), the Brewers might listen.