Biggest Takeaways from GM Meetings to Kick Off 2022-23 MLB Free Agency

Joel ReuterNovember 12, 2022

Biggest Takeaways from GM Meetings to Kick Off 2022-23 MLB Free Agency

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    Xander Bogaerts
    G Fiume/Getty Images

    The annual GM meetings recently wrapped up, and while they don't generally bring the flurry of activity we've come to expect at December's winter meetings, they do provide the baseball world with a wave of rumors and transaction activity.

    The deadline has passed for teams to extend qualifying offers to free agents, as well as for contract options for the 2023 season to either be exercised or declined, and that created plenty of news in itself.

    We also saw a pair of relief pitchers sign lucrative multiyear deals, a future Hall of Famer indicate he's likely headed back to the only team he's ever known, a superagent entertain the media masses and a fresh set of trade rumors.

    Ahead we've provided our biggest takeaways from the GM meetings as we get set to dive headfirst into another exciting offseason.

Contract Options Have Been Sorted

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    Carlos Correa
    Ed Zurga/Getty Images

    The deadline for teams and players to make decisions on club, player and mutual contract options was five days after the World Series ended.

    Here's a quick rundown of the notable option decisions that were made:

    Club option exercised, returns to team in 2023: SS Tim Anderson (CWS), RP Anthony Bass (TOR), SP Carlos Carrasco (NYM), RP John Curtiss (NYM), SP Sonny Gray (MIN), RP José Leclerc (TEX), SP Aaron Nola (PHI), SP Luis Severino (NYY), 1B Dan Vogelbach (NYM), 2B Kolten Wong (MIL)

    Player option exercised/player declined to opt out, returns to team in 2023: 3B Nolan Arenado (STL), 1B Eric Hosmer (BOS), SP James Paxton (BOS), SP Chris Sale (BOS), OF Jorge Soler (MIA)

    Club declined option, now a free agent: IF Hanser Alberto, SP Chris Archer, RP Brad Boxberger, SP Dylan Bundy, OF Kole Calhoun, DH Nelson Cruz, SP Zach Davies, SP Danny Duffy, RP Mychal Givens, 2B Josh Harrison, RP Ian Kennedy, OF Kevin Kiermaier, 3B Evan Longoria, SP Jordan Lyles, 1B Trey Mancini, SP Mike Minor, OF Wil Myers, RP Jimmy Nelson, RP Scott Oberg, OF Tommy Pham, 1B Miguel Sanó, 2B Jean Segura, 3B Justin Turner, RP Will Smith

    Player declined option or opted out, now a free agent: SP Chris Bassitt, SS Xander Bogaerts, RP Andrew Chafin, SS Carlos Correa, SP Jacob deGrom, SP Zach Eflin, SP Nick Martinez, OF AJ Pollock, OF Jurickson Profar, 1B Anthony Rizzo, SP Carlos Rodón, SP Drew Smyly, SP Justin Verlander, SP Taijuan Walker

    Most of these decisions were more or less foregone conclusions, though it was a bit of a surprise to see Justin Turner have his $16 million club option declined by the Los Angeles Dodgers in favor of a $2 million buyout.

Qualifying Offers Were Made

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    Tyler Anderson
    Harry How/Getty Images

    A qualifying offer is a one-year contract worth the average salary of the 125 highest-paid players in baseball.

    If the player accepts, he'll agree to a one-year, $19.65 million contract this offseason. If he rejects, he'll become a free agent, but teams looking to sign him will be subject to paying draft pick compensation to his former team. Players can only receive a qualifying offer once in their career, and no players traded during the season are eligible to receive one.

    The following players received a qualifying offer this year:

    SP Tyler Anderson
    SP Chris Bassitt
    SS Xander Bogaerts
    C Willson Contreras
    SP Jacob deGrom
    SP Nathan Eovaldi
    OF Aaron Judge
    OF Brandon Nimmo
    OF Joc Pederson
    SP Martin Perez
    1B Anthony Rizzo
    SP Carlos Rodón
    SS Dansby Swanson
    SS Trea Turner

    From that group, Anderson (1/$8M), Pederson (1/$6M) and Perez (1/$4M) are the most likely to accept after they all signed modest one-year contracts in free agency last offseason and far exceeded expectations. The only other real candidate to accept is Eovaldi, who had a 3.87 ERA and 4.30 FIP in 109.1 innings and is entering his age-33 season.

Edwin Díaz Signed a Record-Setting Deal

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    Edwin Díaz
    Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    While a wave of talent officially hit the open market after contract option decisions were made, one of the top players of the 2022-23 free-agent class is already spoken for, as closer Edwin Díaz re-signed with the New York Mets.

    His record-setting five-year, $102 million deal became official Wednesday, and it easily surpassed the five-year, $86 million pact that Aroldis Chapman signed with the New York Yankees prior to the 2017 season for the largest contract ever given to a relief pitcher.

    Díaz, 28, converted 32 of 35 save chances with a 1.31 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 17.1 K/9 in 61 appearances during the 2022 season, striking out a ridiculous 118 of the 235 batters he faced.

    With Adam Ottavino and Seth Lugo both also reaching free agency, the Mets still have work to do to rebuild their relief corps, but the anchor of the bullpen is back.

    For teams still in need of late-inning help, Kenley Jansen, Taylor Rogers and Rafael Montero are among the top remaining options on the market.

Robert Suarez Re-Signed with the San Diego Padres

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    PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 23: Robert Suarez #75 of the San Diego Padres throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies in game five of the National League Championship Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 23, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
    Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

    Díaz was not the only reliever to secure a lucrative, multiyear pay day in the early stages of the offseason.

    The San Diego Padres also inked Robert Suarez to a five-year, $46 million deal Thursday, as he secured his spot as the primary setup man to All-Star closer Josh Hader at the back of the bullpen.

    Suarez, 31, made his MLB debut in 2022 after spending the first six seasons of his professional career playing in Mexico and Japan. He posted a 2.27 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 11.5 K/9 with 11 holds in 45 appearances, and he pitched seven times in 12 games during the team's postseason run.

    The right-hander declined a $5 million player option at the start of the offseason and secured a higher annual salary and more guaranteed years.

    It's a great move by the San Diego front office to lock up a key bullpen arm who could step into the ninth-inning role in 2024 once Hader reaches free agency, and at under $10 million annually, the contract looks like a bargain relative to his potential market value.

Clayton Kershaw is Expected to Be Back in Dodger Blue

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    DENVER, CO - JULY 30: Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) pitches during a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 30, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Unlike last offseason when Clayton Kershaw waited until March 13 before he rejoined the Los Angeles Dodgers on a one-year, $17 million deal, the future Hall of Famer wasted little time making his free-agency decision this time.

    Nothing was official as Friday morning, but Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Thursday that the sides were "nearing [a] one-year deal," and Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times confirmed the report and included that it is expected to be something close to the $17 million he signed for a year ago.

    The future Hall of Famer is no longer the workhorse he was in his prime, but he was still plenty effective when healthy in 2022, posting a 2.28 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 137 strikeouts in 126.1 innings over 22 starts.

    The Dodgers have a projected rotation of Kershaw, Julio Urías, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and either Ryan Pepiot or Michael Grove, with Walker Buehler expected to start the 2023 season on the injured list as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery.

    If Tyler Anderson accepts his qualifying offer and the Dodgers feel confident with some combination of May, Pepiot and Grove holding down the fifth starter job, that could mean they are already done addressing the starting rotation.

    Then again, this is the Dodgers we're talking about, so nothing can be ruled out.

An Updated List of the Top 25 Free Agents

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    Aaron Judge
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    With so many new names joining free agency after their options were declined and a few big names already off the market, it seems like a good time for a quick reset of the Top 25 players available in the 2022-23 free-agent class.

    1. OF Aaron Judge
    2. SS Trea Turner
    3. SS Carlos Correa
    4. SS Xander Bogaerts
    5. SP Jacob deGrom
    6. SP Justin Verlander
    7. SS Dansby Swanson
    8. SP Carlos Rodón
    9. C Willson Contreras
    10. OF Brandon Nimmo
    11. SP Martin Perez
    12. 1B Anthony Rizzo
    13. SP Chris Bassitt
    14. SP Jameson Taillon
    15. 1B Jose Abreu
    16. OF Andrew Benintendi
    17. SP Tyler Anderson
    18. OF Masataka Yoshida (Japan)
    19. 1B Josh Bell
    20. SP Koudai Senga (Japan)
    21. IF Brandon Drury
    22. RP Rafael Montero
    23. OF Joc Pederson
    24. SP Andrew Heaney
    25. OF Jurickson Profar

    Honorable Mentions: OF Michael Conforto, SP Zach Eflin, SP Nathan Eovaldi, OF Mitch Haniger, RP Kenley Jansen, 1B Trey Mancini, DH J.D. Martinez, SP Nick Martinez, SP Jose Quintana, SP Drew Rucinski (KBO), C Gary Sanchez, 2B Jean Segura, SP Ross Stripling, SP Noah Syndergaard, C Christian Vazquez, SP Taijuan Walker

The 1st Trades of the Offseason Were Made

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    Ji-Man Choi
    Duane Burleson/Getty Images

    The biggest blockbuster deals generally have to wait until the winter meetings, but with teams trying to sort out their 40-man roster early in the offseason, there are inevitably a few deals that get done in November.

    This year's GM meetings yielded a pair of noteworthy trades:

    • Texas Rangers acquired SP Jake Odorizzi, $10 million from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for SP Kolby Allard
    • Pittsburgh Pirates acquired 1B Ji-Man Choi from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for SP Jack Hartman

    It's no secret the Rangers are looking for starting pitching help, and with the Braves absorbing $10 million of Odorizzi's $12.5 million salary, they are getting a potential innings-eater for the back of the rotation at a bargain.

    As for Choi, he looked like a likely non-tender candidate for the small-market Rays, and he'll take over as the starting first baseman in Pittsburgh.

    This was just the appetizer of what will no doubt be another busy winter on the trade market, but the groundwork for those deals is often laid during the GM meetings.

Scott Boras Was in Mid-(Off)season Form

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    BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - JULY 27: Scott Boras watches batting practice before the game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 27, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
    G Fiume/Getty Images

    As usual, superagent Scott Boras made headlines the second he was put in front of reporters at the GM meetings, using his usual colorful descriptions of his free-agent clients.

    "He’s the Dior of defense, the Hermes of hitting, the Louis V of leadership and Prada of the season. It’s a one-stop shop for a championship designer," Boras told reporters of shortstop Carlos Correa after he officially opted out the remaining two years of his contract with the Minnesota Twins.

    That was just the tip of the iceberg, and I'd highly recommend scrolling through this article from Bob Nightengale of USA Today, which runs through all his best quips and puns from a 45-minute media session.

    Interestingly, he represents both Correa and Xander Bogaerts, so he'll have a dramatic impact on this year's shortstop market based on where he steers those two superstars to sign.

    Love him or hate him, Boras remains one of the most influential figures in baseball.

No Shohei Ohtani Trade?

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    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 31: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT)  Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels in action during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 31, 2022 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the Angels 9-1. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Maybe we won't have an offseason filled with Shohei Ohtani trade rumors as many expected.

    "He's such a special player, we're not moving him. Ohtani is not getting moved,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian told reporters. “He’s going to be here. He’ll be with us to start the season. I know there’s been rumors and all types of things but he will be here. He’s part of the club. We love the player. I think our goal is for him to be here for a long time."

    The two-way superstar signed a one-year, $30 million deal in October as L.A. bought out his final year of arbitration, though locking in his 2023 salary was no guarantee he wouldn't still be moved this winter.

    As one source pointed out to Jeff Passan of ESPN, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said the same thing about Juan Soto right until he was traded to San Diego, and it seems some are still not convinced Ohtani is a sure thing to stay put.

    Despite those definitive remarks from Minasian, there's a good chance we're still going to hear Ohtani's name mentioned throughout the winter.

Early Offseason Trade Rumors

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    Pablo López
    Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    So if Ohtani is (supposedly) not getting dealt, who are the top names expected to be available on this year's trade market?

    The GM meetings can often get the ball rolling on swaps that happen later in the offseason, so it's worth digging into the rumors that emerge in the early days of November, even if they don't pay off until December.

    Mark Feinsand of offered the following list of players who were mentioned in trade talks at the meetings:

    SP Corbin Burnes, MIL
    3B Rafael Devers, BOS
    SP Pablo López, MIA
    C Sean Murphy, OAK
    CF Bryan Reynolds, PIT

    All of those names have at least been speculated upon in the past, so it's not a huge surprise to see them surface once again. López and Reynolds were mentioned as the most popular names, and it makes perfect sense for the Marlins to be shopping López in hopes of upgrading an anemic offense.

    Even if all five of those guys are not on the move before Opening Day, expect at least a couple of them to be dealt in the coming weeks and months.

    The MLB offseason is here, baseball fans, and that means a steady stream of rumors, transactions and speculation. The GM meetings were just the first step toward another busy winter.

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.