MLB FREE AGENCY: DECEMBER EDITION

2024-01-04 · 7 min read · MLB/Baseball
MLB

Eric Espada/Getty Images | Spors Illustrated | Bleacher Report

Now that we’ve all gotten over our thirst for Shohei Ohtani news, plenty of action has taken place since the best player in Major League Baseball became a Dodger. Los Angeles has continued to add, while their rivals over in San Francisco have made a major splash too - Toronto hasn’t done a ton, but that doesn’t stop us from catching up on everything over the past three weeks!
TRADES:
  • New York Yankees acquire OF Alex Verdugo from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for RHPs Greg Weissert, Richard Fitts, and Nicholas Judge.
  • Pittsburgh Pirates acquire LHP Marco Gonzalez and cash from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for a PTBNL or cash.
  • Houston Astros acquire RHP Dylan Coleman from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for a PTBNL or cash.
  • New York Yankees acquire OFs Juan Soto and Trent Grisham from the San Diego Padres in exchange for RHPs Michael King, Drew Thorpe, Jhony Brito, Randy Vasquez, and C Kyle Higashioka.
  • Boston Red Sox acquire OF Tyler O’Neill from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for RHPs Nick Robertson and Victor Santos.
  • Atlanta Braves acquire INF David Fletcher and C Max Stassi from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for 1B Evan White and RHP Tyler Thomas.
  • Chicago White Sox acquire C Max Stassi and cash from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for a PTBNL or cash.
  • Miami Marlins acquire C Christian Bethancourt from the Cleveland Guardians in exchange for cash.
  • New York Yankees acquire LHP Victor Gonzalez and INF Jorbit Vivas from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for INF Trey Sweeney.
  • Milwaukee Brewers acquire RHP Taylor Clarke from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for RHP Ryan Brady and INF Cam Devanney.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers acquire RHP Tyler Glasnow and OF Manuel Margot from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for RHP Ryan Pepiot and OF Jonny DeLuca.
  • Pittsburgh Pirates acquire OF Billy McKinney from the New York Yankees in exchange for International Bonus Pool Money.
  • Atlanta Braves acquire DH Matt Carpenter, LHP Ray Kerr, and cash from the San Diego Padres in exchange for OF Drew Campbell.
  • Baltimore Orioles acquire RHP Jonathan Heasley from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for RHP Cesar Espinal.
  • San Francisco Giants acquire OF TJ Hopkins from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for a PTBNL or cash.
  • New York Mets acquire RHP Adrian Houser and OF Tyrone Taylor from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for RHP Coleman Crow.
  • Cleveland Guardians acquire OF Estevan Florial from the New York Yankees in exchange for RHP Cody Morris.
  • Atlanta Braves acquire LHP Chris Sale and cash from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for INF Vaughn Grissom.
  • Milwaukee Brewers acquire LHP Bryan Hudson from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for LHP Justin Chambers.
SIGNINGS:
  • Chris Devenski, RP, Tampa Bay Rays - One-year, $1.1 Million:
    • Since being acquired by Tampa Bay in the second half of ‘23, Devenski was lights out over nine games and will now rejoin the Rays’ arm barn on an incredibly cheap deal that will see him slide into the backend of Tampa’s bullpen.
  • Erick Fedde, SP, Chicago White Sox - Two-years, $15 Million:
    • After posting amazing numbers - 20-6 with a 2.00 ERA - in Korea, the ex-1st Rounder will slot into a lackluster White Sox rotation on a cost-effective, high-upside deal.
  • Luis Garcia, RP, Los Angeles Angels - One-year, $4.25 Million:
    • One of a handful of new additions to the bullpen, Garcia comes over from San Diego after a useful summer pitching out of the Padres’ pen. Garcia tossed one year with the Angels in 2019, and looks to add depth to a major question mark of the squad.
  • Victor Caratini, C, Houston Astros - Two-years, $12 Million:
    • A defense-first backstop that can occasionally provide some pop, Caratini fills the void left by Martin Maldonado and will see some time alongside youngster Yainer Diaz in Houston.
  • Craig Kimbrel, RP, Baltimore Orioles - One-year, $13 Million:
    • Not the closer he once was, Kimbrel still provides an effective arm out of the ‘pen that can hit the upper 90’s. Plenty of stuff still left in the tank, as he was effective with the Phillies in 2023.
  • Adam Cimber, RP, Los Angeles Angels - One-year, $1.65 Million:
    • The submarine righty leaves Toronto to head out west, and will look to regain his pre-2023 form as a mid-back end of the bullpen arm for a Los Angeles squad that has thoroughly revamped their pitching staff this offseason.
  • Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks - Four-years, $80 Million:
    • Perhaps the most underrated signing of the 2023 offseason, Rodriguez joins a fantastic Diamondbacks rotation after posting a 3.30 ERA over 26 starts with the Tigers last summer.
  • Jeimer Candelario, INF, Cincinnati Reds - Three-years, $45 Million:
    • Originally rumoured to be hunted by Toronto, Candelario joins an up-and-coming Reds squad after eight years with Detroit, Washington, and Chicago that saw career highs in HR and RBI in 2023.
  • Nick Senzel, OF, Washington Nationals - One-year, $2 Million:
    • The former 2nd Overall Pick struggled with the Reds since making his debut in 2019, but will look to take advantage of a plentiful amount of playing time with a rebuilding Nats’ group on a one-year prove-it deal.
  • Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, Los Angeles Dodgers - Ten-years, $700 Million:
    • Must we talk more about this? He’s not a Blue Jay! Congrats to the Dodgers, but I never want to think about this contract ever again.
  • Andrew Chafin, RP, Detroit Tigers - One-year, $4.75 Million:
    • After struggling with Arizona and Milwaukee in 2023, Chafin will rejoin his 2022 squad that saw Chafin post a fantastic 2.83 ERA over 64 games and 57 ⅓ innings as a late-inning lefty arm.
  • Will Smith, RP, Kansas City Royals - One-year, $5 Million:
    • Another piece that the Royals have added, the veteran lefty joins a Kansas City ‘pen after winning a World Series with Texas. He’s not the top-end closer he once was, but an above-average cheap deal that could pay big dividends.
  • Austin Hedges, C, Cleveland Guardians - One-year, $4 Million:
    • A Guardian from 2020-2022, Hedges returns to Cleveland as a part-time defensive catcher. A career .189 hitter over nine MLB seasons, the value of his deal comes with pitch framing and game-calling.
  • Seth Lugo, SP, Kansas City Royals - Three-years, $45 Million:
    • Having returned to a full-time starter’s role, Lugo will step in at the top of Kansas City’s rotation in the hopes of continuing his success with the Padres midst a mediocre-at best AL Central.
  • Chris Stratton, RP, Kansas City Royals - One-year, $3.5 Million:
    • Yet another new arm for the Royals, he too comes over from the World Series Champion Rangers, and will act as a mid-level arm out of the Kansas City bullpen.
  • Dylan Floro, RP, Washington Nationals - One-year, $2.25 Million:
    • One of many relievers who took a step back in 2023, Floro had a good run from 2018-2022. Bullpen arms are volatile, and Washington will look for Floro to regain his form well enough to be a possible deadline deal.
  • Jung Hoo Lee, OF, San Francisco Giants - Six-year, $113 Million:
    • An incredibly pure hitter in the KBO, Lee’s worst offensive season was hitting .318 - a testament to his easy stroke and good bat-to-ball ability. He doesn’t provide much power - only a combined 65 homers over seven seasons - but is good defensively and rarely strikes out.
  • Rowdy Tellez, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates - One-year, $3.2 Million:
    • Tellez will join a Pittsburgh team that will hand him an everyday role, something Milwaukee would not be able to provide. Though 2023 was a down year, Tellez smashed 35 HR with 89 RBI in 2022 - far and away career-highs, and the Pirates will give him every chance available to get back to those numbers.
  • Ben Lively, RP, Cleveland Guardians - One-year, $750,000:
    • An innings eater that split time in the rotation and bullpen, Lively will likely provide that as depth with Cleveland in 2024. Last summer was his most-used year since debuting in 2017, with 88 ⅓ IP.
  • Cooper Criswell, RP, Boston Red Sox - One-year, $1 Million:
    • Slightly surprising to have got a Majors deal, Criswell will be one of the arms Boston looks at in Spring Training as a middle-of-the-bullpen righty. He has some decent numbers in AAA, though hasn’t been able to transfer them to the MLB.
  • Austin Wynns, C, Cincinnati Reds - One-year, $950,000:
    • With however little MLB time Wynns will see in 2024, he will serve as a third-string catcher with the Reds. He will likely begin the season in AAA, as he was just recently DFA’d.
  • Tyler Mahle, SP, Texas Rangers - Two-years, $22 Million:
    • Injured much of the last two seasons, Mahle is a good comeback candidate for the Texas Rangers. If Mahle provides mid-to-back end of the rotation strength upon his return, it will be a valuable signing.
  • Jack Flaherty, SP, Detroit Tigers - One-year, $14 Million:
    • Once a top-end arm for the Cardinals, Flaherty’s stock has fallen in recent years due to a lack of command and dip in fastball velocity. His trade to Baltimore at the ‘23 deadline didn’t help, as he finished the year allowing 27 runs over 34 ⅔ IP.
  • Hunter Renfroe, OF, Kansas City Royals - Two-years, $17 Million:
    • This time on offense, the Royals boost their outfield power by signing Renfroe to a relatively cheap deal - he swatted 20 bombs last year between the Angels and Reds, with 29 and 31 in the two years before that.
  • Michael Wacha, SP, Kansas City Royals - Two-years, $32 Million:
    • One of six(!) new arms that Kansas City acquired in the month of December, Wacha was amazing with San Diego last summer as he posted a 3.22 ERA over 24 starts, throwing less than five innings only five times.
  • Trevor Gott, RP, Oakland Athletics - One-year, $1.5 Million:
    • Somewhat similar to a Trevor May-style role, Gott is a cheap innings eater who will definitely see his innings with the Athletics. If he puts up great numbers, Gott will likely be dealt at the deadline. And if not, it’s a cheap deal anyways.
  • Lourdes Gurriel Jr., OF, Arizona Diamondbacks - Three-years, $42 Million:
    • An All-Star in 2023, Gurriel Jr. smacked a career-high in homers with 24 over his first season in Arizona which also saw him be a massive part in an impromptu World Series run with the Diamondbacks.
  • Martin Perez, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates - One-year, $8 Million:
    • Perez is streaky, with high highs and low lows. An All-Star in 2022, he regressed in 2023 though still being an important part of Texas’ run to the playoffs. He’ll eat innings, and if he’s good enough then Pittsburgh will in all likelihood move him at the deadline.
  • Tom Murphy, C, San Francisco Giants - Two-years, $8 Million:
    • Alongside the likes of Patrick Bailey, Murphy will provide much-needed MLB experience for a young San Fran catchers’ group. Through 47 games in 2023, Murphy hit .290 with the Seattle Mariners while putting up 8 HR.
  • Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates - One-year, $5 Million:
    • Perhaps the most obvious mutual deal of the year, McCutchen will play out his remaining days with his longtime club - plus, he’s still a decently productive hitter. He’s played over 112 games in each of the past three seasons, hitting only .237 though smacking a combined 56 HR and 192 RBI.
  • Eric Haase, C/OF, Milwaukee Brewers - One-year, $740,100:
    • Once a decent power threat as a catcher from 2021-2022, Haase’s numbers declined since then while hitting just .200. He’ll provide some utility for the Brew Crew, though don’t expect much playing time.
  • Yuki Matsui, RP, San Diego Padres - Five-years, $28 Million:
    • A terrific closer in Japan for a number of years now, the Padres will turn to Matsui to replace Hader at the back end of San Diego’s ‘pen. If he lives up to even half of the hype, this will be a good deal.
  • Yoshinobu Yamamoto, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers - Twelve-years, $325 Million:
    • Following Ohtani, Yamamoto will be one of the leaders of the Dodgers’ rotation for years to come. Hailed as one of the best Japanese pitchers ever, Yamamoto is expected to be ace material on the mound at Dodger Stadium.
  • Shelby Miller, RP, Detroit Tigers - One-year, $3.25 Million:
    • Miller acclimated himself extraordinarily well with the Dodgers in 2023, posting a 1.71 ERA over 36 games and 42 innings out of the bullpen. He’ll have ample time to become a late-inning arm for LA, while $3.25 million is nothing for the Dodgers if all goes sideways.
  • Mitch Garver, C, Seattle Mariners - Two-years, $24 Million:
    • Hopping from one AL West squad to another, Garver is coming off a World Series victory that saw him swat his best offensive season since 2019 with a .270 average, 19 HR and 50 RBI. He’ll see time alongside Cal Raleigh and Seby Zavala.
  • Kevin Kiermaier, OF, Toronto Blue Jays - One-year, $10.5 Million:
    • Coming off injury, Kiermaier had a terrific bounceback year in 2023 that saw him win a Gold Glove with Toronto. He’s a speedster who can post a mid-.250 average and will play consistently in the Blue Jays’ outfield in 2024.
  • Martin Maldonado, C, Chicago White Sox - One-year, $4 Million:
    • A defensive wiz behind the dish, Maldonado has carved out a role for himself in the Majors for each of the past 13 years. He’ll do it once more, as the light hitting catcher will split time with Max Stassi.
  • Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, UTL, Toronto Blue Jays - Two-years, $15 Million:
    • One of the more interesting signings of the offseason, IKF will join Toronto as an ultimate utilityman that currently sees him slide into the temporary 3B role. A down season with the bat in 2023, Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal will split some time with him.
  • Josh Staumont, RP, Minnesota Twins - One-year, $950,000:
    • If Minnesota can get the 2019-2021 version of Staumont, this will be an incredibly beneficial deal. He struggled over the last two years, which led to his leaving the Royals and entering Free Agency.
  • Tim Hill, RP, Chicago White Sox - One-year, $1.8 Million:
    • Three out of his four years with San Diego were good, although 2023 left much to be desired. The fucky-winding lefty is looking for a big bounceback, and with Chicago’s wide open bullpen, Hill will get his opportunities.
  • Lucas Giolito, SP, Boston Red Sox - Two-years, $38.5 Million:
    • Giolito had an up-and-down tenure with the White Sox, though he finally figured it out up until 2023, though his time with the Angels and Guardians in the second half was…not good. If he returns to form, Boston will get a top of the rotation arm for pennies on the dollar.
  • Chris Flexen, SP, Chicago White Sox - One-year, $1.75 Million:
    • In his first two years since leaving Korea, Flexen was exceptional with Seattle in ‘21 and ‘22 - though his 2023 was an entirely different story. A cheap deal with the White Sox will give Flexen the ability to bounce back, with little pressure.
  • Frankie Montas, SP, Cincinnati Reds - One-year, $14 Million:
    • Coming off surgery, the Reds are looking to catch lightning in a bottle with Montas on a not-too-expensive one-year deal. From 2018-2022, Montas dominated with Oakland posting a 3.70 ERA before getting dealt to the Yankees.
  • Buck Farmer, RP, Cincinnati Reds - One-year, $2.25 Million:
    • Farmer will act as an extra bullpen, mid-inning arm that the Reds are familiar with as he’s tossed in 115 games over the past two years. This will be his 11th MLB season, though he’s only pitched in 70+ games a year twice.
  • Woo Suk Go, RP, San Diego Padres - Two-year, $4.5 Million:
    • Though not quite as dominant as Matsui, Woo Suk Go will join the back-end of San Diego’s bullpen after putting up great numbers in the KBO - over seven seasons, a 3.18 ERA with 401 strikeouts over 368 ⅓ innings.
WAIVER CLAIMS:
  • Boston Red Sox claim RHP Max Castillo off waivers from the Kansas City Royals.
RETIREMENTS:
  • Andrelton Simmons, SS:
    • Although only 34 years old, Simmons - a four-time Gold Glove winner - announced his retirement after an 11-year career that spanned over 1200 games. Debuting with Atlanta in 2012, he played four seasons with the Braves before spending the following five with the Angels, followed by one season each with the Minnesota Twins and Chicago Cubs. He briefly appeared in Baseball United’s All-Star Series overseas, but will now call it a career.
OTHER NEWS:
  • Former Pittsburgh Pirates righty Cody Ponce has announced he is signing with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s NPB, after pitching the prior two seasons with the Nippon Ham Fighters. Ponce tossed a no-hitter in 2022, marking him as the seventh foreign-born player to commit such a feat in the NPB since 1950. Originally a 2nd-Round pick of Milwaukee in 2015, he had trouble translating solid MiLB numbers to the Majors and eventually was let go by Pittsburgh.
  • Another ex-Pirate, Kyle Keller, announced that he too is signing with an NPB team - the Yomiuri Giants. Over parts of three MLB seasons, Keller racked up a 5.83 ERA from 2019-2021 - though he too has found success in Japan, posting a 1.71 ERA in 2023 with the Hanshin Tigers over 27 games while striking out 28 over 26 ⅓ IP. Keller was originally an 18th-Round pick of the Miami Marlins, also in 2015.
  • Max Scherzer underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back, and will be sidelined until June, at least, announced Rangers’ GM Chris Young. After being acquired from the Mets midway through 2023, Scherzer posted a 3.20 ERA over 45 innings (8 starts) with the Texas Rangers.
  • Disgraced Tampa Bay Rays superstar SS Wander Franco has been apprehended by authorities in the Dominican Republic, per ESPN. Franco failed to appear at a summons last week, leading to his arrest due to allegations of having sexual relations with multiple minors. According to DR’s Public Ministry, both Franco and Franco’s mother have been sending monthly payments to a 14-year old girl’s family in amounts of 100,000 - 1,000,000 pesos. In November of 2021, Franco signed an 11-year extension with the Rays - the largest in franchise history - worth $182 million.
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By: Gus Cousins

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