From Kenley Jansen to big bats, nine stories to watch for rest of off-season
- The winter meetings led to a flurry of deals, but there are still plenty of questions left to answer this off-season. Where will Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner sign? Will the Pirates trade Andrew McCutchen? And what about all those hitters?
This article originally appeared on FoxSports.com.
The winter meetings are over, but the offseason is far from complete. Here are nine stories to watch for in the days and weeks ahead.
1. Kenley Jansen
Jansen got married over the weekend in Curacao, understandably delaying his free-agent decision, but it shouldn’t be long now before he chooses from among the Dodgers, Marlins and Nationals.
One of the losers could trade for the White Sox’s David Robertson. Another could sign free agent Greg Holland. But the dropoff to the next set of choices is steep.
Once Jansen signs, the rest of the relievers will start to fall—Brad Ziegler, Joe Blanton and Sergio Romo are among the most prominent righthanders; Boone Logan, Mike Dunn and Jerry Blevins the top lefties.
UPDATE: Jansen has indeed returned to Los Angeles on a reported five-year, $80 million deal.
They're the team with perhaps the most work remaining, with vacancies at closer, second base and third base, and they also still have a need for more righthanded power. Club officials believe that even if they re-sign Jansen, they will be flexible enough financially to retain free-agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The White Sox’ Todd Frazier, Padres’ Yangervis Solarte and Royals’ Mike Moustakas are among the trade options at third. The Twins’ Brian Dozier, the Rays’ Logan Forsythe and the Tigers’ Ian Kinsler are among the possibilities at second, though the Dodgers are on Kinsler’s no-trade list.
As I wrote last week, I admire the sheer moxie of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, his willingness to swing big for free-agent closers such as Jansen and Aroldis Chapman.
Still, I’ll repeat this as well: The best outcome for the Fish would be to strike out on Jansen, retain the No. 14 pick in the draft and sign either two other relievers—say, Ziegler and Blanton—or one reliever and a free-agent starter such as Ivan Nova or Jason Hammel.
4. White Sox
They’re not about to stop now.
Frazier, a potential free agent, and Robertson, under contract for two more seasons, should be the next to go.
The White Sox might not get what they want for Jose Abreu, who is signed for three more years, considering the abundance of righthanded-hitting first basemen who are available as free agents.
5. Mark Trumbo/Edwin Encarnacion/Mike Napoli
Speaking of righthanded hitting first basemen: The good news for this trio is that at least three teams still are in the market—the Rangers, the Indians and the Rockies. And it stands to reason that Encarnacion’s continued availability could pique the interest of more.
The Orioles remain involved with Trumbo; they again would play him in rightfield. So, if Trumbo goes to the Orioles or Rockies, as expected, Encarnacion could land with the Rangers and Napoli with the Indians.
Barring, of course, a team that enters the mix seemingly out of nowhere, as the Rockies did with Ian Desmond.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels told reporters at the meetings that the signing of a major free agent such as Encarnacion is unlikely. The Rangers, after depleting their system with trades at the past two deadlines, surely do not want to lose the 29th pick in the draft for a 34-year-old slugger.
Still, the team has lost first baseman Mitch Moreland and outfielders Ian Desmond and Carlos Beltran since the end of last season. The internal options at first—Joey Gallo, Jurickson Profar and Ryan Rua—are intriguing, but not as intriguing as Encarnacion at the right price.
6. Andrew McCutchen
Pirates GM Neal Huntington told reporters at the end of the meetings that it was “unlikely” he would trade McCutchen.
Perhaps, but I’m not convinced that McCutchen will start the season with Pittsburgh, and I sure as heck don’t believe he will finish it there.
The Nationals acquired Adam Eaton. The Cardinals signed Dexter Fowler. But the Dodgers still could make sense, and surely other teams are lurking.
7. Curtis Granderson/Jay Bruce
The Mets are going to trade one of their potential free-agent outfielders to clear salary for a reliever; it’s just a matter of which one, and when.
Granderson, who will play at age 36 next season, is a better fit for a team such as the Blue Jays, who would value his defense and baserunning. But Bruce, who will be 30, is coming off a combined 33-homer, 99-RBI, .815 OPS season for the Reds and the Mets. He, too, holds value.
The addition of a starting pitcher would complete their off-season, one in which they already have acquired catcher Brian McCann, outfielder Josh Reddick and outfielder/DH Carlos Beltran.
So, which starting pitcher are the ‘Stros going to land? The White Sox’ Jose Quintana? The Royals’ Danny Duffy? One of the many available Rays?
The Astros and Rays, despite talking all off-season, have yet to find a match. The Royals, who want to compete in ’17, would need to be compelled to move Duffy.
As for Quintana, the White Sox’s initial ask was for righthander Joe Musgrove, who showed flashes of excellence while producing a 4.06 ERA in 62 innings as a rookie, plus arguably the Astros’ two top prospects, righty Francis Martes and outfielder Kyle Tucker.
Nova and Hammel probably are a cut below what the Astros want to acquire—a legitimate complement to lefty Dallas Keuchel and righty Lance McCullers.
9. Bats and more bats
Wondering why you haven’t heard of any possible trades involving the Brewers’ Ryan Braun? The reason could be the surplus of hitters on both the free-agent and trade markets—the same reason the Tigers have yet to move right fielder J.D. Martinez.
Consider the Blue Jays, who need one more outfielder after setting up a first-base combo of Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak and left-field combo of Steve Pearce and Ezequiel Carrera.
The Jays want one more outfielder, preferably lefthanded. Could be Granderson, Bruce or one of the Rockies’ outfielders. Could be a free agent such as Michael Saunders, Brandon Moss or Ben Revere.
Lots of choices. Lots of time.
Ken Rosenthal is a senior writer for FoxSports.com and a field reporter for MLB On Fox.