5 Early 2016-17 MLB Offseason Rumors That Will Actually Come True
Kendrys Morales signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, veteran starters Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey both joined the Atlanta Braves on one-year deals, and Jesse Chavez will get a chance to start after agreeing to terms with the Los Angeles Angels.
On the trade market, Howie Kendrick was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Dodgers also flipped Carlos Ruiz to the Seattle Mariners for left-hander Vidal Nuno.
While it's been a busy start to the offseason, there is still a ton to be sorted out between now and the start of spring training, and the rumor mill is already in full swing.
With that in mind, here is a look at five early rumors that have a good chance of coming to fruition in the days and weeks to come.
Jason Castro Signs with the Twins
The injury questions surrounding Wilson Ramos and a high expected asking price for Matt Wieters have made Jason Castro a hot commodity on the catching market.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweeted on Nov. 11 that the catching market is heating up early, and Castro is "sitting on offers from at least three AL teams" at this point.
MLB Trade Rumors speculated that the Angels, Orioles, Rays, Twins and White Sox are all potential landing spots, while a reunion with the Astros is not out of the question either.
Given the level of early interest, it's probably fair to assume that Castro will sign sooner than later, setting the market for the other available veteran backstops in the process.
The 29-year-old Castro has never duplicated his breakout 2013 season (.835 OPS, 35 2B, 18 HR, 56 RBI), but he's settled in as a solid starter.
He hit .210/.307/.377 with 16 doubles, 11 home runs and 32 RBI this past season while ranking fifth in the league in pitch framing, according to Stat Corner. That's average offensive production for a catcher, and his age and ability to handle a staff are what make him such an attractive target.
So where will Castro land?
We'll go with Minnesota.
The departure of fellow veteran Kurt Suzuki for free agency leaves the team with a hole to fill at the position, and Castro could be the perfect target to handle a pitching staff that figures to get significantly younger in the upcoming seasons.
Aside from adding a few bullpen arms, the Twins don't have any other obvious needs, so ponying up to sign Castro seems like a good allocation of funds.
Matt Holliday Signs with the Rockies
The idea of a star player rejoining his original team to wrap up his MLB career always makes for fun speculation, but it sounds like there could be something to the idea of Matt Holliday making his way back to the Colorado Rockies.
"I’d consider it for sure. Great young team. I’d be interested for a [number] of reasons," Holliday said on MLB Network Radio (via Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post).
A seventh-round pick in 1998, Holliday spent the first five seasons of his career with the Rockies before being traded to Oakland in the deal that brought Carlos Gonzalez to Colorado.
He put together a monster 2007 season with the Rockies, leading the NL in batting average (.340), hits (216), doubles (50) and RBI (137) to finish second in NL MVP voting.
Holliday just wrapped up a seven-year, $120 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, as the team declined his $17 million option for the upcoming season in favor of a $1 million buyout.
The Rockies have a hole to fill at first base and could also use a right-handed outfielder with incumbents CarGo, Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl and Gerardo Parra all hitting from the left side.
Holliday saw time at first base for the first time in his career last season while putting together another productive—albeit injury-shortened—age-36 campaign, so he'd be a fit.
A broken thumb limited him to 110 games in 2016, but he still posted a .782 OPS with 20 doubles, 20 home runs and 62 RBI over 426 plate appearances.
MLB Trade Rumors predicted a one-year, $10 million deal, and for a Rockies team looking to contend in 2017, that seems like a reasonable investment to fill a need and bring back a franchise favorite.
Josh Reddick Signs with the Orioles
A corner outfielder looks to be priority No. 1 on the Baltimore Orioles' offseason shopping list.
Hyun Soo Kim, Joey Rickard and Dariel Alvarez currently represent the best in-house options to start on either side of center fielder Adam Jones, so at least one proven veteran will be signed before the offseason wraps up.
The list of available outfielders is a lengthy one: Yoenis Cespedes, Dexter Fowler, Ian Desmond, Josh Bautista, Josh Reddick, Michael Saunders, Carlos Gomez, Jon Jay, Matt Joyce and Colby Rasmus.
Narrowing that list down a bit, Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball tweeted on Nov. 9 that the Orioles are "looking for a lefthanded hitter and to upgrade OF defense" and suggested Ender Inciarte and Brett Gardner as hypothetical fits on the trade market.
However, with a weak farm system, the free-agent market could be the preferred path.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweeted on Nov. 10 that the O's are pursuing Reddick in particular, and he certainly fits the bill as a left-handed bat with a good glove.
The 29-year-old missed time last season with a fractured thumb. That sapped some of his power, but he still finished with a .281/.345/.405 line that included 17 doubles, 10 home runs and 37 RBI over 439 plate appearances.
He had a .768 OPS with 32 home runs in 2012, and a .781 OPS with 25 doubles, 20 home runs and 77 RBI in 2015, so there's plenty of offensive upside if he can stay healthy.
Defensively, Reddick has piled up 55 defensive runs saved over the past six seasons, including six last year while splitting the season between Oakland and Los Angeles.
MLB Trade Rumors predicted a three-year, $36 million contract for Reddick, and after the O's spent huge money in free agency last winter, that looks like a good mid-level investment.
The Marlins and Rays Both Fill Needs with Marcell Ozuna-for-Jake Odorizzi Swap
The Miami Marlins are in serious need of starting pitching help, with only Adam Conley, Wei-Yin Chen and Tom Koehler locked into rotation spots for 2017.
Financial limitations could force them to turn their attention to the trade market, though.
"Unless there’s a change of heart, they’re not expected to have a big enough budget to afford one of the most expensive free-agent pitchers such as Jeremy Hellickson or Rich Hill, though they like Hellickson. They will need to find a cheaper option from a weak freeagent class," wrote Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
The trade market for controllable starting pitching figures to be busy with so few impact options available in free agency, and some unexpected names could become available as a result.
However, the Tampa Bay Rays look like one obvious potential trade partner for the Marlins.
Drew Smyly ($6.9 million) and Jake Odorizzi ($4.6 million) are both due significant raises in arbitration, at least relative to the team's payroll, and flipping one of them for a big league-ready bat could be the team's best move.
Ideally, the Rays would pick up a right-handed power bat capable of playing the outfield, as both Nick Franklin and Corey Dickerson struggle against left-handed pitching.
Marcell Ozuna would be just that.
Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reported that Ozuna is drawing strong trade interest once again this winter, and while the Marlins won't sell him for cheap, it does sound like he's available in the right deal.
So how about a blockbuster deal built around Odorizzi and Ozuna?
Both players are 26 years old, and both are controllable through the 2019 season.
A straight one-for-one swap probably isn't realistic, as the value of quality starting pitching trumps that of an outfielder in today's market, but a trade package centered around those two players makes a ton of sense for both clubs.
The Yankees Make Multiple Early Signings on the Free-Agent Pitching Market
It's become clear in the early stages of the offseason that the New York Yankees' focus will be on bolstering the pitching staff.
Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda have three spots in the starting rotation locked up, but with Ivan Nova gone and Nathan Eovaldi recovering from a pair of elbow surgeries, the team will be looking to add at least one starter.
Bryan Mitchell, Chad Green, Luis Severino and Luis Cessa are all options to fill out the rotation, but relying on two arms from that group would be a risky approach.
With that in mind, it appears the team is gearing up for a run at veteran Rich Hill.
According to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com the team is planning on reaching out to the left-hander, though the Yankees will be casting a wide net in their search for starting pitching help.
Despite the fact he'll be entering his age-37 season, Hill figures to command a three-year deal with an annual salary of at least $15 million.
The rotation isn't the only area the team is focusing on, though.
The team is also looking for late-inning bullpen help, as Ken Davidoff of the New York Post wrote:
Brian Cashman, upon arriving at the Major League Baseball general managers’ meetings Monday, said that he has reached out to the representatives for (Aroldis) Chapman, who is one of "a number of free agents" the Yankees’ general manager has contacted.
Surely among the "number" to which Cashman reached out are Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen and Nationals closer Mark Melancon, whom the Yankees drafted and signed in 2006.
Davidoff goes on to write that the team could try to build another "super bullpen" around incumbent Dellin Betances, with Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren currently representing the other top options in the pen.
George A. King III of the New York Post reported the organization would have scouts in attendance at Greg Holland's showcase, and it is also showing interest in left-hander Boone Logan, according to Joel Sherman of the same publication.
We'll say the Yankees come to terms with Hill and Holland before the winter meetings roll around, and then ink one of the market's top closers during the meetings, as they get the heavy lifting of their offseason out of the way early.