A thin free-agent market for impact starting pitching could mean a busy winter on the trade market.
Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel and Nathan Eovaldi might be the only pitchers that land a deal longer than three years, and once those dominoes fall, teams could quickly turn their attention to trades.
With that in mind, it's no surprise that some notable rumors have already started to trickle out regarding some of the top potentially available arms.
Ahead is a roundup of that latest.
Astros Focused on Trade Market in Search for SP Help
The Astros' preference to trade for a starting pitcher as opposed to signing one in free agency could stem from a desire to avoid any long-term commitments to the likes of the aforementioned trio.
On the other hand, trading for someone like James Paxton, Carlos Carrasco or even Zack Greinke would be more of short-term commitment, which would allow the team the necessary flexibility to explore long-term deals with guys like Alex Bregman, George Springer and Carlos Correa.
With Keuchel and Charlie Morton departing in free agency and Lance McCullers Jr. lost for the season to Tommy John surgery, the only pitchers locked into rotation spots are Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.
That said, hard-throwing Josh James showed enough to warrant a longer look and starter-turned-reliever Collin McHugh is likely to return to the rotation, so the team could opt to only add one starter this winter.
Beyond those two, Brad Peacock also has experience starting and left-hander Framber Valdez fared well in his first big league action last season, so the team has plenty of usable depth.
Top prospects Forrest Whitley and Kyle Tucker are likely untouchable in trade talks, but an enticing package can still be built around slugging outfielder Yordan Alvarez or high-floor starter Corbin Martin.
Mets Not Interested in Trading Noah Syndergaard for Prospects
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic offered up the following on New York Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard and his status as a trade candidate:
"If the Mets trade right-hander Noah Syndergaard, it will not be for a package of high-end prospects. Or at least, that will not be the end game.
The Mets, intent on improving in both 2019 and beyond, are unwilling to take a step backward next season, according to major-league sources.
So, if they move Syndergaard or any of their other starting pitchers – all of whom are drawing trade interest, sources say – their goal will be to wind up with a better roster short- and long-term.
That could mean acquiring major leaguers as part of the return. It could mean flipping some of the prospects in the deal for another asset. It could mean signing a free-agent starting pitcher to "back-fill" the rotation."
With Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler returning at the top of the staff, along with lefties Steven Matz and Jason Vargas, the Mets could conceivably deal Syndergaard and still have a strong rotation with the addition of a mid-level free agent.
The question is whether teams will be willing to meet what figures to be a high asking price for a pitcher who has dealt with injury issues the past two seasons.
That said, the 26-year-old is still more than capable of being a game-changing addition to any rotation.
While he was limited to 25 starts in 2018, he still went 13-4 with a 3.03 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 155 strikeouts in 154.1 innings. Being under team control through the 2021 season further adds to his value.
Rangers Open to Trading Mike Minor?
The Texas Rangers finished the 2018 season with a brutal 5.37 starters' ERA.
Mike Minor was one of the few bright spots, going 12-8 with a 4.18 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 132 strikeouts in a team-high 157 innings for 3.7 WAR.
However, with the window seemingly slammed shut on contending, the Rangers could now look to trade one of their most attractive assets.
"The Rangers are short on starting pitching but also in the early stages of a rebuild, leaving them to ponder trade interest in left-hander Mike Minor," sources told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
With two years and $19.7 million left on his contract, Minor is an attractive alternative for teams that don't want to break the bank to sign Corbin or Keuchel.
Yankees Weighing Multiple Offers for Sonny Gray
The Yankees are expected to add at least one impact starter this offseason, but first, they seem to be focused on unloading Sonny Gray.
"The Yankees have multiple offers on the table for RHP Sonny Gray and are in the process of weighing them, according to major league sources," wrote Andy Martino of SNY.TV.
Gray, 29, went a disappointing 11-9 with a 4.90 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 130.1 innings last season—a far cry from the Cy Young-caliber form he showed in 2015 when he finished third in the voting.
So why all the interest?
The overall numbers are rough, but Gray looks like someone who could benefit greatly from a change of scenery.
While he was shelled to the tune of a 6.98 ERA at Yankee Stadium, he was terrific on the road, going 7-5 with a 3.17 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 78 strikeouts in 71 innings.
Gray is projected to earn $9.1 million in his final year of arbitration.