As the 2019 World Series winds to a close, another exciting MLB offseason is set to begin, and the rumor mill has already started to swirl regarding some of the upcoming free-agent market's top names.
On the pitching side of things, Houston Astros ace Gerrit Cole is the clear No. 1 option, and he could be headed for a record-breaking payday.
The position player market is headlined by Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon, while Boston Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez would be a close second if he decides to opt-out of his current contract in search of another significant payday.
Interestingly enough, there are a lot of parallels to draw between Martinez and another free agent from this year's class, Nicholas Castellanos. Both drive their value almost exclusively with their offensive contributions and established themselves as high-level performers while playing for the Detroit Tigers.
Ahead we've rounded up some of the latest compelling rumor news surrounding Cole, Martinez and Castellanos while we wait for the offseason to officially begin.
Gerrit Cole to the Yankees a long shot?
In a recent article, Anthony Rieber of Newsday described Cole as "the one who got away...twice" with regard to the New York Yankees' past pursuit of the burly right-hander.
The 29-year-old spurned them as the No. 28 overall pick in the 2011 draft out of high school, opting instead to enroll at UCLA, and the Yankees came up short in their chase for him when he wound up traded to the Houston Astros two offseasons ago.
Will the third time be a charm?
According to Andy Martino of SNY.tv, it would be wise for Yankees fans not to hold their collective breaths.
"Even though the Yanks will surely speak with Scott Boras about Cole, and maybe even bid for the pitcher, observers see several obstacles," he wrote.
He added: "If the Yanks miss out on Cole, as is the general assumption, they will proceed with starting pitching depth that includes high-end starters James Paxton and Luis Severino, a still-effective Masahiro Tanaka, and a rotation filled out by the likes of J.A. Happ, Jordan Montgomery and prospect Michael King."
That "general assumption" line speaks to an industry consensus that the Yankees are a long shot at best to ultimately sign Cole, which would seem to throw some water on a long-standing fire.
J.D. Martinez to the Chicago White Sox?
The Boston Red Sox owe J.D. Martinez another $62.5 million over the next three seasons, but the veteran slugger has an opportunity to opt out of the rest of his contract this offseason.
The 32-year-old had another strong season in 2019, hitting .304/.383/.557 with 33 doubles, 36 home runs and 105 RBI.
Over the past three seasons, he's posted a 159 OPS+, and his 124 home runs lead all of baseball.
With the Red Sox reportedly look to "slash payroll" to get under the luxury tax threshold, Martinez could look to catch on with a team more focused on building as opposed to demolishing.
Could that team be the Chicago White Sox?
Rob Bradford of WEEI.com wrote: "The consensus continues to be that the most logical suitor for Martinez would be the White Sox, with the Rangers another American League possibility."
The White Sox came up short in their pursuit of Manny Machado last offseason, but they were serious contenders, so it stands to reason that they would be willing to spend on a big bat once again this winter.
Adding Martinez to a lineup that features rising slugger Eloy Jimenez and up-and-coming prospect Luis Robert could give the South Siders a strong offensive foundation while they continue to build back toward contention.
Nicholas Castellanos could have a long wait in free agency
Castellanos was the first name mentioned by Mark Feinsand of MLB.com in his recent list of the six most divisive players on this year's free-agent market.
The 27-year-old finished the 2019 season on a tear after being traded to the Chicago Cubs at the deadline, hitting .321/.356/.646 with 37 extra-base hits in 225 plate appearances with the North Siders. He finished the season with a 121 OPS+ and an MLB-leading 58 doubles, to go along with 27 home runs and 73 RBI.
While his age and that strong stretch run performance have boosted his stock, his defensive shortcomings continue to be the cloud hanging over his potential market.
As a result, he could have a long wait ahead as he searches for a new home.
"This could be one with a high risk of the player having to wait deep into the winter," one AL executive told Feinsand. "Think of J.D. Martinez as a good comp for how his free agency could go [in terms of the long wait]."
Despite stellar offensive numbers in his walk year, Martinez didn't sign with the Red Sox until Feb. 26 during the 2017-18 offseason.
Is Castellanos in store for a similar wait?
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, unless otherwise noted.