Buckle Up! It’s MLB Offseason

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The MLB season has come to an end, but the fun is only getting started. This offseason is set to be one of the most exciting baseball fans have ever seen. Some of the biggest names in baseball are set to be on the move, whether it be by trade or the free agent market.

First off, the biggest name to pay attention to among the free agents is 2022 AL MVP outfielder Aaron Judge. Judge set the American League single-season home run record in 2022 with 62, beating out Roger Maris’ 61 homers in 1961. The biggest question of the offseason is where will Judge go? Will he stay with the New York Yankees, or will he leave for greener pastures?

The Yankees had a chance to extend Judge beyond this season. Judge turned down a 7-year deal worth $215 million, which is nowhere near Judge’s actual value. His bet on himself paid off as he had one of the greatest offensive seasons in history in a contract year.

The popular rumor is that Aaron Judge will head back home to Northern California with the Giants. Judge, a native Californian, spent his childhood in that region. His family also lives in the area, so it may be within his interest should the Giants be willing to spend the money.

Ultimately, the Yankees will try not to let Judge go anywhere else, especially after re-signing first baseman Anthony Rizzo. However, it is also very possible that he leaves and signs with another team, like the team he grew up rooting for, the Giants, or even their archrival, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While Judge is the biggest name in free agency this year, it will be the shortstop pool that will be one of the dominating forces of the offseason. Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, and Dansby Swanson are among those available to be signed.

There will be plenty of shortstop-needy teams heading into the offseason. The Dodgers, Twins, Red Sox, and Braves, will be trying to retain their respective shortstops, while other teams will be trying to make a big splash by landing one of the big four.

The Phillies have been named in several rumors about the free agent shortstops as Bryson Stott has versatility in the infield. The Phils, as of right now, have “real interest” in Xander Bogaerts, among other players, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

The Cubs, like last offseason, have also been among the “most active” teams in the free-agent shortstop market, according to MLB Network insider JP Morosi. This may come as a surprise to some, but it is a good idea for them to find a great shortstop in his prime to build a team of young talent around. The Cubs have especially been rumored to land Correa. If the Cubs play their cards right, they could be a solid team as early as next season.

The Cubs also ought to re-sign catcher Willson Contreras while they’re at it. Contreras is one of the biggest names available this winter. His market will almost definitely be big, as several teams like the Astros, Cardinals, and Giants, are in need of a good backstop.

The reigning World Series champion Astros, who lack a bonafide star at that catcher position, might want to jump on the opportunity to get the former World Series Champion. The Cardinals just lost long-time catcher Yadier Molina as he officially retired from baseball after the end of this season. Because of this, St. Louis might try to pry away Contreras from their archrival Cubs. And the Giants, who are still missing the presence of Buster Posey, will be looking to be competitive once again in 2023. This will certainly entail attempting to sign a star-studded replacement for Posey, as it has become clear that Joey Bart is not the answer.

The Giants also have another player to focus on with all-star starting pitcher Carlos Rodon supposedly leaving in free agency. According to Jon Heyman, Rodon is seeking “$35 million plus” per year in free agency, so anyone who wants to land him better be ready to open the wallet. That can also be said for a lot of the starting pitchers on the market.

Not only is Rodon a free agent, but there are multiple high-quality pitchers on the market this year. Some of the names include Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander, who are also seeking big deals. The Tampa Bay Rays will look to trade Tyler Glasnow as well, which will require teams to give up quite a few assets.

The Angels, who are in desperate need of pitching, signed Tyler Anderson to a three-year deal worth $39 million, as reported by MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. Do they grab another arm to join forces with him and Ohtani?

Perhaps they look to add future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander, who the Yankees and Dodgers have been linked to as well, should he decide to leave Houston. The Angels, who signed former Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard last offseason, perhaps can look to Jacob deGrom.

The Angels’ division rival, the Texas Rangers, who spent significant money last season landing shortstops Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, have also been linked to deGrom. However, the path for them became much narrower after Martin Perez, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, decided to accept the qualifying offer from the team, granting him $19.65 million in 2023 alone.

The Braves have been named as a highly anticipated destination for deGrom as well, which would make for a lethal rotation with Max Fried, Spencer Strider, and Kyle Wright. And, of course, the Mets will look to retain him. The Mets have also been in the Glasnow rumors that have swarmed the hot stove over the past week.

They also have already reached out to Kodai Senga, a star pitcher from Japan. Among other teams that have done the same were the Cubs, the Padres, and the Red Sox. So needless to say, the decisions the front offices and many free-agent pitchers alike make will change the battleground in baseball drastically.

Senga is not the only player to be posted from Japan this winter. Another Japanese star to look out for this offseason is outfielder Masataka Yoshida, who will for sure draw a lot of interest from many teams.

The Yankees are among the many teams expected to pursue the slugger. Yoshida would fit in the Yankees’ offense really well. First off, Yankee Stadium is notorious for their short porch in right field, which works great for a left-handed hitter like Yoshida. Second, the Yankees’ offense has been incredibly inconsistent and unbalanced. Yoshida could potentially be a much-needed solution to those problems.

As the flurry of moves have already begun, the landscape of the MLB teams will be drastically different by the time Spring Training rolls around again. This offseason will be one for the ages. Buckle up!

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