The recent signings of
Dozens of big league players remain available, and with camps set to open next week, teams will continue to tinker with their rosters in the days and weeks to come.
Here are three things I’m hearing as the calendar races toward the start of Spring Training.
Mets not finished?
The Mets were the runners-up in the Bauer sweepstakes despite making him an offer for more guaranteed money, a tough blow for New York given that the club believed it was going to sign the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner as late as Thursday night.
In the aftermath of the Bauer miss, the Mets signed outfielder Albert Almora Jr. and shortstop Jonathan Villar to bolster their roster. These moves will help to some extent, but neither was the impact move that signing Bauer would have been. Multiple executives still believe the Mets have a major move or two left in them before Opening Day, though it remains to be seen whether those moves would come via free agency or trade.
“I still think the Mets are going to try and do something big,” an NL executive said. “They really want to make a splash and spend some money. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go off the rails and trade for a big name.”
That big name could be third baseman Kris Bryant, who remains in Chicago despite myriad trade rumors. The Mets and Cubs have spoken, a source said, though it’s unclear whether there’s been any traction toward a Bryant deal.
“They could do something out of the blue,” the NL executive said, adding that deal for a controllable starter, such as Luis Castillo, would make sense for the Mets.
Making their pitch
Now that Bauer has signed, all the aforementioned starters could find new homes in the coming week. Not that Odorizzi, Paxton or Walker will be expected to make the same type of impact as Bauer, but all three would bring value to rotations around the Majors.
The biggest problem facing all free agents at this point? Most teams have seemingly spent their free-agent dollars already, leaving a limited market for the best of the rest.
“I think you’re talking about 8-10 teams that will add dollars at this point,” an American League executive said, not speaking specifically about these three starters. “A lot of true Major League guys may have to sign non-roster-invite deals.”
Mark Melancon’s deal with the Padres took another proven late-inning relief option off the board, but Trevor Rosenthal and Shane Greene remain available. Look for contending teams to bolster their bullpens in the coming weeks with a handful of impact arms still out there.
In the immediate aftermath of the Benintendi trade, two executives predicted a reunion between Bradley and the Red Sox, but that was prior to the Gonzalez signing. With Alex Verdugo, Franchy Cordero, Hunter Renfroe and now Gonzalez as outfield options — not to mention a payroll creeping toward the $210 million competitive balance tax threshold — a Bradley/Boston reunion seems less likely.
If the Red Sox are out on Bradley, what options does the former Gold Glove Award winner have?
Bradley remains on the Mets’ radar, but their outfield remains crowded with Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith and now Almora. Should the designated hitter return to the NL (which looks unlikely at this moment), then adding Bradley would make perfect sense because Smith could shift to a DH/1B split with Pete Alonso.
The front-runner for Bradley right now might be the Astros, who have Myles Straw penciled in atop the depth chart in center field. Houston believes in Straw, but executives and scouts around the Majors wonder whether he’s strong enough to hold down the spot following George Springer’s departure.
Bradley would be an upgrade in center field for the Astros, but his asking price is said to be high over four or five years. A sleeper team to watch could be the Giants, who currently have Mauricio Dubón slated to play center field.