Baseball’s Winter Meetings are set to kick off in Nashville this weekend, which means that the next day or two could be something like the calm before the offseason storm. Still, there are always rumors and reports to sift through at this time of year, and each morning we’ll be here to collect the best of them and break them all down. Thursday’s edition includes the Yankees circling Juan Soto, the Mets’ chances at landing the top remaining pitcher on the market, the Red Sox determined to make a splash and the White Sox maybe not in such a rush to trade away righty Dylan Cease. (As a reminder, here are our top 25 free agents as well as the 10 most interesting trade candidates this winter.)
MLB Hot Stove rumors: Thursday, Nov. 30
Yankees may be favorites for Juan Soto
Yet more smoke around New York’s attempt to pry Soto away from the San Diego Padres, as Jon Heyman reports that internally the Yankees are more confident about landing Soto than their other top target, Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Heyman does add that hopes remain high that the team can land both, but New York does seem to be more in the driver’s seat in the Soto negotiations. That’s partly to do with the market: Soto’s one year of team control and acquisition cost (both in dollars and prospects) greatly limits potential suitors — something Brian Cashman will surely use to his advantage — whereas Yamamoto would fit just about any team and any contention timeline. Speaking of which ...
Mets frontrunners for Yamamoto?
In that same article, Heyman delves into the Yamamoto market, which he claims has “the deepest group of serious suitors of any player in the $200 million range”. Of that group, however, “multiple rival teams believe the crosstown Mets should be considered the favorite for the 25-year-old Yamamoto”. Which should come as no surprise, given New York’s desperate need for long-term rotation answers, Steve Cohen’s considerable financial resources as well as Yamamoto’s reported desire to play in a major media market. Again, there’s a way’s to go here, and the competition figures to be fierce. Yamamoto would be an ideal fit for the Mets, though, and if last offseason taught us anything, it’s that Cohen typically gets his man.
Red Sox want to do something big
Boston enters this offseason at an inflection point, coming off a last-place finish and with questions about whether owner John Henry is really willing to invest in the team’s payroll. With new chief baseball officer Craig Breslow at the helm, the Red Sox are looking to change the narrative with a bang this winter, at least if Jon Heyman is to be believed. Here’s what Heyman had to say on a recent Bleacher Report livestream:
“The Red Sox, I’ve heard some buzz about them, they were the original team of Babe Ruth, who’s been compared to Ohtani. They need to do something big. People tell me that Boston is ‘bound and determined to do something big.’ Whether it’s Ohtani, or something else, they need to do something.”
The competition for Ohtani will be fierce, of course, and it’s hard to imagine Boston winning a bidding war with the Dodgers, Giants, Rangers, Cubs and everyone else. But Heyman’s comments would seem to suggest that the Sox will very much be players in the starting pitching market, where free agents like Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Blake Snell remain alongside trade targets like Tyler Glasnow, Dylan Cease and Corbin Burnes. Or, hey, who knows, they could package their outfield depth in a potential Juan Soto deal. Either way, keep an eye on Boston this winter — or prepare for a whole lot of angst in New England.
White Sox may wait to pull the trigger on Dylan Cease
Reports began to surface earlier this week that momentum was building on a trade for Dylan Cease, with Jon Morosi claiming that a deal could even get done before the start of Winter Meetings. In the words of the great Lee Corso, however: not so fast, my friend. Ken Rosenthal reports that new White Sox GM Chris Getz “is telling clubs he likely will wait to move on right-hander Dylan Cease until after the top free-agent starting pitchers sign”. You can certainly understand the logic: At the start of a significant rebuild, Chicago is in no rush to deal away its biggest trade chip, and the price only figures to go up the drier the market gets — teams will always be in need of frontline pitching, after all.
Cease, 27, had a 4.58 ERA in his 33 starts last season for the White Sox, but he finished second in AL Cy Young voting in 2022 with a 2.20 ERA and 227 strikeouts in 184 innings. He’s under team control for two more seasons before hitting free agency, and if Getz doesn’t wind up finding a deal he likes this winter, he could always wait until next year’s trade deadline.
Twins in the market for another starter
Minnesota’s starting pitching depth was the envy of the league in 2023, but with Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda departing for the Cardinals and Tigers, respectively, that depth has taken a bit of a hit. The Twins rotation currently projects as Pablo Lopez, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Louie Varland and Chris Paddack — not terrible, of course, but also relying on quite a bit of projection at the back end. So it’s no surprise that Dan Hayes of the Athletic reports that Minnesota is now in the market for another arm, whether via trade or free agency. The Twins have some movable pieces, from second baseman Jorge Polanco to outfielder Max Kepler, with which to get a deal done, or they could choose to wait out the market and try and swoop in for a back-end type later this winter.