Judge's decision to have domino effect? Inside the Winter Meetings

December 7th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- A number of notable players agreed to deals on Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, but the most notable of them all remains on the market, leaving the Manchester Grand Hyatt in waiting mode for ’s decision.

There was a brief frenzy on Tuesday when a report indicated Judge appeared to be ready to sign with San Francisco, though it was retracted minutes later. The Yankees and Giants continue to wait for Judge to pick a team, and while there is still a chance that a third team enters the fray for a late charge at the American League MVP Award winner, New York and San Francisco are seen as the co-favorites to land his services.

Although neither club has put a timetable on a potential decision, the feeling around the Winter Meetings is that Judge could sign as soon as Wednesday. Despite a report that he was going to come to the Meetings, Judge was not spotted at the Hyatt on Tuesday.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Monday that he and Judge’s representatives had exchanged multiple proposals. Meanwhile, the Giants reportedly offered Judge a nine-year deal in the neighborhood of $360 million.

While star free agents such as Trea Turner, Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander have agreed to huge deals in recent days, Judge’s decision will have a direct impact on what happens with other free agents, including , , , and .

“Everybody is just waiting for Judge to sign,” one source said. “Once he goes, the dominoes might start falling fast.”

Cashman said Monday that he has not been given any indication from Judge’s agents whether the Yankees will be given a chance to match or surpass a final offer from another team, leaving New York in wait-and-see mode like everybody else.

Should Judge re-sign with the Yankees, the Giants could pivot to Correa or Bogaerts. If Judge signs with San Francisco, however, it’s unclear what direction the Yankees would take.

“If Aaron Judge signs somewhere else, do we pivot and do something else?” Cashman said. “Do we remake ourselves completely? I have no idea. It’s not what we want to do.”

A few deals did get done on Tuesday as Josh Bell, Cody Bellinger, Mitch Haniger, Andrew Heaney, Jameson Taillon and Taijuan Walker found new homes.

Senga taking his time 
With both Verlander and deGrom off the market, Japanese star Kodai Senga is considered to be in the top tier of free-agent starting pitchers, and the market has picked up since those two aces signed.

At least a half-dozen teams have serious interest in Senga, but sources say the Mets are among those highest on him.

“It's tough to project those guys, but a good pitcher is a good pitcher,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said Tuesday. “You're always thinking about the load of pitching every fifth day ... but they said that about some really good Japanese pitchers that came over here and did well. He's a good one. We've talked with him, and he's impressive. You can see why they think so highly of him. I enjoyed our little talk with him.”

Senga is said to prefer a big-market, win-now team, and joining a rotation with Verlander and Max Scherzer would certainly qualify.

Senga, Rodón and are widely viewed as the three top available starters, but unlike those two -- along with -- Senga is not attached to Draft-pick compensation, which should work to his advantage. Joel Wolfe, Senga’s agent, told reporters Tuesday that he has received five- and six-year offers for the right-hander.

Because Senga is a free agent and not part of the posting process, he has no deadline to sign a deal. According to a source, Senga does not appear to be in a hurry to strike a deal, content to let the market play itself out.

New bat on the block 
All 30 teams were informed Tuesday that outfielder Masataka Yoshida will be officially posted Wednesday at 8 a.m. ET, starting the 45-day window for him to sign with a Major League club.

The signing window for a posted player was increased from 30 to 45 days this year in an agreement between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball. Yoshida will have until Jan. 20 at 5 p.m. ET to come to terms with a big league team.

Among the teams expected to pursue Yoshida are the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Mariners.

Yoshida, 29, posted a .336./449/.559 slash line with 21 home runs in 121 games with the Orix Buffaloes in 2022. The free-agent outfield market is relatively thin, with Nimmo, Andrew Benintendi, Jurickson Profar and Michael Conforto leading the group.

Under the posting system, a team signing Yoshida would owe Orix a fee equal to 20% of the first $25 million of his contract, 17.5% of the next $25 million and 15% of any dollars above $50 million.