As the celebratory feeling quickly fades following the Washington Nationals' World Series victory, the MLB hot stove should begin heating up.
The marquee free agents will dominate much of the headlines. ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Stephen Strasburg opted out of his deal with the Nationals, so he'll join Gerrit Cole as among the top pitchers available.
Because of the price likely necessary to land the top free agents, teams will invariably turn to the trade market to strengthen their rosters ahead of 2020 Opening Day.
Here are two rumors to follow in the weeks and months ahead.
Rangers Engaged in 'Internal Discussions' amid Possible Red Sox Sell-Off
Few teams have more question marks than the Boston Red Sox. The team's owners have made it clear they wants to avoid paying the luxury tax next year. As a result, Mookie Betts or J.D. Martinez could be on the move, or the Red Sox could piece together smaller contracts to build up the value that would ensure they're under the threshold.
According to the Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant, the Texas Rangers are monitoring the situation. He wrote: "Making real trades, particularly ones involving big contracts, is like, real life, far more complicated. But, according to two sources, the Rangers have had internal discussions about the possibilities Boston could present. [Rangers general manager Jon] Daniels did not comment on the Red Sox situation Tuesday, but he never talks about other clubs."
The Red Sox would have $23.75 million come off the books for 2020 if Martinez opts out of his deal, but Boston would then need to find another designated hitter.
The New York Post's Joel Sherman floated a deal that would see David Price heading westward:
"So, for example, could Boston trade Price to Texas for Shin-Soo Choo ($21 million for 2020) and Rougned Odor (three years, $36 million left)? Boston would save $4 million toward the 2020 tax, get a one-year DH stopgap for Martinez in Choo and take on a distressed contract in Odor to balance some of the money and he can play second. Price, if healthy, fits with Lance Lynn and Mike Minor to provide a strong rotation top three to open a new stadium in Texas."
Grant noted the Rangers could hypothetically sign Cole or Washington third baseman Anthony Rendon as they attempt to build more buzz ahead of their move to Globe Life Field. However, since adding either player would take a significant chunk of the team's spending flexibility, a trade is the more likely route, be it with the Red Sox or somebody else.
Starling Marte Might Be on the Move
MLB.com's Adam Berry reported Oct. 22 he was under the impression Starling Marte would remain on the Pittsburgh Pirates when the 2020 regular season opens.
Circumstances have changed since then, with the Pirates firing Neal Huntington, their executive vice president and general manager. They've effectively cleaned house behind the scenes, with Huntington following manager Clint Hurdle and team president Frank Coonelly out.
According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, Pittsburgh was picking up Marte's $11.5 million option for 2020 but that he "could still wind up being traded." Heyman added the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs would all conceivably be in the market for a proven center fielder.
The front-office moves present the Pirates with an opportunity to hit the reset button and start focusing on the long term.
Building up a farm system Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter ranked 17th in MLB would be one place to start, and Marte would likely bring back at least one high-upside minor league prospect. The 31-year-old finished this past season with 23 home runs, 82 RBI and a .295/.342/.503 slash line.
Ownership may be wary of further alienating a fanbase that is clearly fed up with how things are going, though.
When Pittsburgh reached the National League Wild Card Game in 2015, the team was averaging 30,846 fans at PNC Park, which ranked 15th in baseball. The team's attendance has cratered, with the Pirates falling to 27th in 2019 (18,412).
The franchise has gotten burned recently by a series of bad trades, most notably when they sent Cole to the Houston Astros and acquired Chris Archer from the Tampa Bay Rays. Even with a new GM in charge, fans would probably expect the same thing should Marte leave.