The calendar is about to flip to 2024, but there’s still plenty of big names left on the Hot Stove — and plenty of action expected now that Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto have freed up the market a bit. Who’s heading where? Each weekday, we’ll be bringing you the latest news, rumors and reports from around MLB. Friday’s edition features plenty of interesting items, from the Red Sox still on the hunt for starting pitching to help to the growing market for former Dodgers DH J.D. Martinez. (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: Friday, Dec. 29
Where will Red Sox look for pitching help?
It’s been a frustrating winter thus far for Boston and new chief baseball officer Craig Breslow, with some action in the outfield — Alex Verdugo out, Tyler O’Neill in — but no meaningful moves made to address the team’s most glaring weakness: its starting rotation, which threw the sixth-fewest innings in the Majors in 2023. The Sox never seemed to be seriously in on Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and now Chris Cotillo reports that Breslow and Co. may not have a ton of interest in the other top options on the market. Per Cotillo, Boston doesn’t seem to be a fit for the likes of Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery; instead, the team could be more of a suitor for the likes of Japanese lefty Shota Imanaga, Lucas Giolito, Cuban righty Yariel Rodriguez or even a reunion with James Paxton. The Red Sox likely need to add not just one but multiple arms if they have eyes on contending in 2024.
Mets eyeing Giolito
The Mets, too, had been rumored as a potential landing spot for Snell or Montgomery after being spurned by Yamamoto, but Jon Heyman writes in the New York Post that new president David Stearns is more likely to keep his powder dry rather than splurging on a pitcher on the wrong side of 30. Instead, Heyman reports that New York is “showing strong interest” in Giolito as they look to fill out a starting rotation that lost Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer at last year’s trade deadline and has precious little certainty beyond Kodai Senga and Jose Quintana. It remains to be seen just how much of a stomach Steve Cohen has for punting on 2024, but it’s no surprise that Stearns — among the smartest operators in the game during his time running the Brewers — isn’t thrilled at the idea of shopping at the top of the market; this is not a roster that’s just a move or two away from serious contention, and the Mets likely have their eye on making a run in 2025 and beyond.
Mets, Angels among those in on J.D. Martinez
Another player the Mets reportedly have interest in? Martinez, who’s developing quite the market in a very thin crop of position players this winter. The 36-year-old certainly isn’t the force he was in his prime, but he did post a 134 OPS+ last season to go with 33 home runs and 103 RBI, and New York finds itself in need of a quick fix at DH after the Daniel Vogelbach experiment imploded in 2023. The Angels are looking for all the offensive help they can get right now as they look to be something approaching respectable in 2024, while the Diamondbacks and Blue Jays are two more contenders who could use a designated hitter.