The Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros will contest the 2021 World Series, which is set to begin Tuesday. For every other MLB team, the offseason has already begun, so it's time to start formulating plans for free agency.
From teams poised to go through overhauls to teams hoping to contend in 2022, reports are starting to come out that could reveal their offseason strategies.
Here we look at some of the latest buzz floating around the league.
Yankees Likely to Land Big-Name SS
After five straight years of playoff appearances without advancing to the World Series, it appears that the New York Yankees are ready to return to their Evil Empire ways and spend big this offseason.
This year's free-agent class features a strong crop of shortstops in Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Javier Baez and Marcus Semien. According to ESPN's Buster Olney, the Yankees are expected to throw some cash around in the hopes of landing a star.
"After a year of limiting their spending, the expectation is that the Yankees will land a shortstop, and that will likely be either Seager or Correa—perhaps with the intention of eventually shifting that player to another spot," Olney recently reported.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman called shortstop "an area of need" this offseason. He believes Gleyber Torres is "best served" at second base after he was moved there late this season because of his poor performance at shortstop.
If the Yankees were to land one of the premier shortstops available, it would set them up with a solid foundation for years to come. New York has highly regarded infield prospects Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza waiting in the wings. When either of them get called up to the majors, the Yankees could make room by moving their shortstop to third base.
After signing manager Aaron Boone to a new three-year contract, New York believes it is a few on-field moves away from vaulting into contention. Signing one of the big-name free-agent shortstops would be a good start.
Dodgers' Competition for Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer Revealed
After falling to the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers enter the offseason facing a few questions.
Los Angeles is known for having a large payroll, but it will have a hard time retaining all of its stars.
Let's start with former Cy Young winners Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw, both of whom are set to be free agents. A reunion is not out of the question for both pitchers, but the Dodgers won't be the only team pursuing them.
MLB Network's Jon Heyman believes the Dodgers are favorites to retain both Kershaw and Scherzer, though he also named the teams that could give Los Angeles a run for its money.
"Next most likely to sign Scherzer are the Angels; next most likely to sign Kershaw are the Rangers," Heyman reported.
Scherzer had a 15-4 record with a 2.46 ERA and 236 strikeouts this season. After being traded to the Dodgers from the Washington Nationals at this year's trade deadline, Scherzer went 7-0 with four no-decisions in 11 starts.
Kershaw had an injury-plagued 2021 season. He was placed on the injured list with left forearm inflammation in July. The southpaw returned in September but experienced arm pain a month later and was shut down for the rest of the season. Kershaw went 10-8 this year with a 3.55 ERA, the highest since his rookie season.
Other notable Los Angeles free agents are shortstop Corey Seager, closer Kenley Jansen, first baseman Albert Pujols and utility man Chris Taylor. The Dodgers will have some decisions to make, and it will be interesting to see whether they focus on shoring up the rotation by retaining Scherzer and Kershaw or if they let them walk and spend money elsewhere.
Jon Gray Rejects Rockies Extension, Expected to Test Free Agency
After three straight seasons with no playoff appearances and fourth-place finishes in the NL West, the Colorado Rockies roster is likely to be overhauled this offseason. But one of the players Colorado wants to retain has reportedly rejected the team's overtures.
Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reported Saturday that starting pitcher Jon Gray turned down an extension offer the Rockies made him before the end of the regular season. Saunders added that Gray is open to remaining in Colorado long term but wants to test the open market.
Gray went 8-12 in the 2021 season with a 4.59 ERA in 149.0 innings. He performed better at home, recording a 4.02 ERA in 78.1 innings and and holding opponents to a .205/.291/.365 line at the hitter-friendly Coors Field.
Saunders also noted that the Rockies could choose to tag Gray with a qualifying offer, which would entitle them to draft pick compensation if he were to sign elsewhere. With this year's qualifying offers set at $18.4 million, it wouldn't be a surprise if Gray accepted it to remain in Colorado.
The Rockies will be seeking improvements in multiple areas. The team needs to address its offensive deficiencies, but it would also be wise to try to retain a pitcher like Gray, who is used to pitching in Colorado.
If the Rockies allow him to walk, Gray could catch on with another team as a starter on the back end of a rotation.