The beginning of the offseason is ripe for prediction making. SI's MLB staff weighs in with a bold proclamation on how this winter will unfold. Will we see the emergence of yet another Mystery Team? How about a deal or two actually completed at the Winter Meetings? We'll have to wait to find out, but here's our best guess at what may be to come.
Anthony Rendon signs a four- or five-year contract. What? Doesn't he deserve a seven- or eight-year deal? Sure, but Rendon is the kind of free agent who will go for a huge AAV–maybe even beyond Mike Trout's $35.45 million per–and fewer years. I'm not sure Rendon wants to commit to playing eight more years. Think about the short-term, high-AAV deal the Dodgers considered for Bryce Harper. That's the kind of deal you might see. The Dodgers, Rangers, Angels, Giants and White Sox will be just a few of the many teams in play.
We get multiple multi-year deals at the Winter Meetings. (I’m trying to speak this into existence.)
Pittsburgh's GM search lasts for months as they struggle to find someone willing to work under the constraints set by owner Bob Nutting. Fortunately for the Pirates, no one really notices—the team's resulting lack of winter activity just looks like business as usual.
The Padres make a move on free agents Anthony Rendon or Stephen Strasburg–or both. Strasburg has long ties to the San Diego area and the fit is easier to see, while Rendon would be joining an infield already stocked with Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. That reconfiguring would be tricky to sort out, but Padres chairman Ron Fowler has made no secrets about his demand to win next year. Hello, #MysteryTeam2K20.
The Angels trade for Michael Lorenzen, therefore having both of the game's two-way players. Imagine Joe Maddon, king of managerial versatility, deciding not to use a DH on days Shohei Ohtani pitches, and then turning to Lorenzen as the first RP out of the 'pen. This probably won't happen because the Reds like Lorenzen, but man, it would be fun to see Maddon bring some NL strategy to the AL and completely flip the game on its head.
Boston trades Mookie Betts. The Red Sox have stated their wish to shed payroll in the coming years, and a new contract for Mookie Betts next offseason would necessitate a complete teardown for new GM Chaim Bloom. Xander Bogaerts is owed $20 million per year through 2026. David Price, Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi will combine to make $79 million each season through 2022. J.D. Martinez opting into his contract further enhances Boston's payroll issues. Don't be shocked if the Red Sox get out ahead of their Betts conundrum and receive an overwhelming haul for the 2018 AL MVP. The move would be painful, but it could restock Boston's depleted farm entering the next decade.