MLB FREE AGENCY: JANUARY EDITION

2024-02-09 · 6 min read · MLB/Baseball
Rhys Hoskins and Josh Hader

Rich Schultz/Getty Images | MLB.com

As Spring Training nears, many clubs still have holes to plug and wants to…well, want. Toronto has made some moves, though none Earth-shattering enough to persuade any fan feeling disappointed by a tough offseason - will moves still be made? Perhaps!
TRADES:
  • San Francisco Giants acquire LHP Robbie Ray from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for RHP Anthony DeSclafani and OF Mitch Haniger.
  • Tampa Bay Rays acquire INF Jose Caballero from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for OF Luke Raley.
  • St. Louis Cardinals acquire RHP Andrew Kittredge from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for OF Richie Palacios.
  • Chicago Cubs acquire RHP Yency Almonte and INF Michael Busch from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for LHP Jackson Ferris and OF Zyhir Hope.
  • Texas Rangers acquire RHP Daniel Duarte from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for cash considerations.
  • San Francisco Giants acquire C/OF Cooper Hummel from the New York Mets in exchange for cash considerations.
  • Atlanta Braves acquire OF J.P. Martinez from the Texas Rangers in exchange for RHP Tyler Owens.
  • Houston Astros acquire INF Trey Cabbage from the Los Angeles Angeles in exchange for RHP Carlos Espinosa.
  • Seattle Mariners acquire 2B Jorge Polanco from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for RHPs Anthony DeSclafani, Justin Topa, Darren Bowen and OF Gabriel Gonzalez.
  • Seattle Mariners acquire UTL Samad Taylor from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for a PTBNL or cash considerations.
SIGNINGS:
  • Harrison Bader, OF, New York Mets - One-year, $10.5 Million:
    • Though he’s bounced around the last few years, Bader is still a productive outfielder. He’s excellent defensively, and has shown his ability - occasionally - to be a productive bottom-of-the-order hitter. He will effectively act as New York’s 4th OF.
  • Cody Poteet, RP, New York Yankees - One-year, $1 Million:
    • Poteet was serviceable out of the ‘pen last year with Miami, and the 29-year old righty will join New York’s staff as a middle-innings arm that’s inexpensive. Across 12 games in ‘23, Poteet posted a 3.86 ERA over 28 innings.
  • Dakota Hudson, SP, Colorado Rockies - One-year, $1.5 Million:
    • A former 1st Rounder and top prospect of St. Louis, Hudson pitched admirably across his first four MLB seasons - a 3.14 ERA over 249 ⅔ IP. The last two years have been less kind, but he’ll rejoin his ex-rotation mate Austin Gomber at Coors Field.
  • Jacob Stallings, C, Colorado Rockies - One-year, $1.5 Million:
    • Like Hudson, Stallings is cheap and will serve as depth. All-Star Elias Diaz will be the predominant catcher, but Stallings is good defensively - winning a Gold Glove in 2021 - and will provide veteran experience until youngster Drew Romo debuts.
  • Luis Guillorme, INF, Atlanta Braves - One-year, $1.1 Million:
    • A longtime utilityman with the Mets, Guillorme will act as solid depth with the division-rival Braves. Though not a power threat, in 2022 Guillorme played in 102 games with New York and hit .273 while playing solid defense.
  • Zach Plesac, SP, Los Angeles Angels - One-year, $1 Million:
    • Los Angeles hopes that Plesac can regain the success he developed through ‘19 and ‘20, and take a cheap flyer on back-end rotation depth. The Angels need arms and Plesac needs an opportunity - he’ll likely be SP4 or SP5.
  • Sean Manaea, SP, New York Mets - Two-years, $28 Million:
    • Peripherally, his numbers don’t blow anyone away - that said, arms have been tough to come by this offseason - especially lefties - and the Mets hope he’ll regain the success he had from his days in Oakland.
  • Teoscar Hernandez, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers - One-year, $23.5 Million:
    • As L.A. continues the offseason of all offseasons, they sign ex-Blue Jay Hernandez to join their mashing lineup. Where he’ll play remains to be seen, but nonetheless he’ll put up big numbers - over 8 MLB seasons, Teoscar has 159 bombs with 473 RBI.
  • Shota Imanaga, SP, Chicago Cubs - Four-years, $53 Million:
    • The last major overseas arm has now signed, with the Cubs picking up a dazzling lefty who will likely slot in as the #2 arm behind Justin Steele. Chicago has the potential to be a sneaky-effective staff this year, especially if Hendricks rebounds.
  • Luke Weaver, RP, New York Yankees - One-year, $2 Million:
    • Like a few other signings this offseason, Weaver is a cheap option that will stick around so long as he’s decent. Although a small sample size, he did post a 3.38 ERA over three starts with the Yanks’ in ‘23 - one of three squads he pitched for.
  • Brent Suter, RP, Cincinnati Reds - One-year, $2.5 Million:
    • Though not talked about, Suter has had eight consecutive successful seasons since debuting in 2016, amassing a career 3.49 ERA over 464 innings. Soft contact is his specialty, and by all accounts he’ll continue his effective work in the middle-back end of an up-and-coming Reds’ pen.
  • Andrew Knizner, C, Texas Rangers - One-year, $1.825 Million:
    • 10 HR isn’t a bad year for a Catcher, and that’s what Knizner did in 2023. Career highs in SLG and OPS benefited him mightily too, and he’ll now earn the backup spot behind All-Star Jonah Heim for the World Series winning Texas Rangers.
  • Marcus Stroman, SP, New York Yankees - Two-years, $37 Million:
    • A two-time All-Star, Stroman opts out of Chicago and heads back home. He’ll join Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes at the top of the Yanks’ rotation, playing in front of the same fans that he’s openly criticized, publicly, before.
  • Jordan Hicks, RP, San Francisco Giants - Four-years, $44 Million:
    • The hard-throwing righty heads to the West Coast, with rumours that he could potentially open games for the Giants. A productive ‘23 with St. Louis got even better after being dealt to Toronto, posting his highest K/9 rate of his career (11.1).
  • Yariel Rodriguez, RP, Toronto Blue Jays - Four-years, $32 Million:
    • After a terrific WBC showing and multiple showcases, Toronto inks the former NPB Reliever of the Year in the hopes, some report, of being a starter. Likely beginning in AAA, it won’t be much time before Rodriguez debuts in the Majors sometime in early 2024.
  • Austin Voth, RP, Seattle Mariners - One-year, $1.25 Million:
    • One of Baltimore’s biggest surprises in ‘21 was Voth’s success in their starting rotation, though his time out of the ‘pen in ‘22 didn’t amount to the same success - low-risk, medium reward, cheap deal for Seattle that adds righty depth.
  • Matt Carpenter, INF, St. Louis Cardinals - One-year, $740,000:
    • A very peaks-and-valleys 13-year career thus far, Carpenter re-joins his longtime organization on a MLB minimum deal as bench depth - he swattes 15 HR in 2022 with the Yankees while hitting .305, though 2023 wasn’t nearly as king to him.
  • Josh Hader, RP, Houston Astros - Five-years, $95 Million:
    • Perhaps the best reliever on the open market this offseason, Hader lands in Houston with a hefty sum of cash. Even with Graveman injured and other arms gone, the Astros’ bullpen will remain a threat thanks to this move.
  • Robert Stephenson, RP, Los Angeles Angels - Three-years, $33 Million:
    • The revamped Angels’ bullpen gets even better, as Stephenson ended with a 2.35 ERA over 38 ⅓ IP after being dealt from Pittsburgh to Tampa Bay. He posted career-bests in K/9 and H/9, and will be a late-inning arm for Los Angeles.
  • John Brebbia, RP, Chicago White Sox - One-year, $5.5 Million:
    • Simply put, the White Sox need experienced arms - and Brebbia is one. Over six MLB seasons he’s done well, a 3.42 ERA over 299 ⅔ IP, and will have the chance to assert himself as one of Chicago’s go-to arms.
  • Aroldis Chapman, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates - One-year, $10.5 Million:
    • The Pirates are quietly accumulating a potentially great bullpen, adding Chapman to David Bednar and Colin Holderman. He’s not who he once was, but still gets strikeouts and will likely be Pitt’s primary lefty reliever to begin 2024.
  • James Paxton, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers - One-year, $11 Million:
    • A surprise move, the Canadian lefty has had some injury issues in recent memory - though he did start 19 games for Boston last summer, posting 4.50 ERA over 96 Innings. In 156 MLB games, Paxton’s never come out of the bullpen - that may change this year, given Los Angeles’ SP depth.
  • Joey Gallo, 1B, Washington Nationals - One-year, $5 Million:
    • The two-time All-Star will find himself with ample playing time amidst a rebuilding Nats’ squad who desperately needs veteran experience. He hasn’t hit above .200 since 2019 and his strikeouts will always be an issue, but he’ll provide decent pop in the middle of the lineup.
  • Kolby Allard, RP, Philadelphia Phillies - One-year, $1 Million:
    • Once a top prospect for Atlanta, Allard has struggled through his first six MLB seasons. He’ll serve as multi-inning depth for Philadelphia, with little worry about the possibility of a DFA given how cheap the deal is.
  • Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers - Two-years, $34 million:
    • Milwaukee gets their power-hitting first baseman, who’s been incredibly consistent when he’s been healthy. Over six years in Philly, Hoskins hit .242 with 148 bombs over 667 games. He’ll slide right into the middle of the Brew Crew’s lineup.
  • Matt Moore, RP, Los Angeles Angels - One-year, $9 Million:
    • Moore began 2023 with the Angels, and was fantastic out of the bullpen before being shipped to Cleveland - he posted a 2.66 ERA over 44 innings, this after a fantastic 2022 with Texas. No longer a starter, Moore has certainly found his rhythm - especially in the AL West.
  • David Robertson, RP, Texas Rangers - One-year, $11.5 Million:
    • Age has slowed him down very little, as Texas looks to replace a number of arms. Robertson - outside of his time with Miami - has been dominant for a number of years now, and he’ll slide into either a Set-Up role or perhaps the Closer’s spot, depending on the situation.
  • Joc Pederson, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks - One-year, $9.5 Million:
    • Pederson was an All-Star in 2022, hitting .274 (career best) while smacking 23 homers and driving in 70 with the Giants. 2023 showed slightly decreased numbers across the board, but he’ll fit in nicely amidst a solid D-Backs lineup.
  • Travis Jankowski, OF, Texas Rangers - One-year, $1.7 Million:
    • Jankowski’s versatility was a major benefit for Texas in ‘23, and he’ll continue to provide that in ‘24. He played in 107 games with them last summer, the most he’s been in since 2018, and is an above-average defender in the Outfield.
  • Adam Frazier, INF, Kansas City Royals - One-year, $4.5 Million:
    • Kansas City continues to add - this time, a former All-Star utilityman. His numbers have slouched over the past two seasons, though his versatility remains high; Frazier’s played in 113 games or more in six of his eight MLB seasons.
  • Hector Neris, RP, Chicago Cubs - One-year, $9 Million:
    • After two years in Houston, Neris heads back to the NL on a short-term deal.The righty posted perhaps his best year in ‘23, a 1.71 ERA over 71 games (68 ⅓ IP) with a career-best in H/9 (5.4).
  • Adam Ottavino, RP, New York Mets - One-year, $4.5 Million:
    • An interesting move given he didn’t exercise his option months ago (and if he had, would have been paid more), Ottavino has been terrific since joining the Mets in 2022 (127 ⅓ IP, 2.62 ERA, 141 K’s) and hopes to continue that trend.
  • Colt Keith, INF, Detroit Tigers - Six-years, $28.6425 Million:
    • Keith is Detroit’s #2 ranked prospect, and has shown more than enough to convince Tigers’ management to take the chance on him long-term - with options from 2030-2032 mixed with various escalators, the deal could max-out at nine-years, $82 million.
  • Alex Wood, SP, Oakland Athletics - One-year, $8.5 Million:
    • One step closer to a semi-MLB caliber rotation, Wood stays on the West Coast and travels to Oakland. Not far removed from an effective 2021, Wood will be one of the few consistent arms going every fifth day for a rebuilding A’s squad.
  • Aaron Hicks, OF, Los Angeles Angels - One-year, $740,000:
    • He’s had a tough time staying healthy in recent years, though posted good numbers with Baltimore after exiting New York. With the Yankees paying him over $20 million through ‘25, Los Angeles gets a platoon OF flyer for cheap.
  • Justin Turner, DH, Toronto Blue Jays - One-year, $13 Million:
    • Toronto has their DH, finally, after striking out on Hoskins and Pederson. Turner is still productive, even at 39, and hits righties fairly well - a trait that the Blue Jays have (and maybe still are) been looking for.
  • Wandy Peralta, RP, San Diego Padres - Four-years, $16.5 Million:
    • An interesting deal with opt-outs after each season, Peralta will be a Padre for as long (or as little) as he so desires. Three fantastic years with the Yankees will evidently give you that right, and he’ll join a saves-by-committee ‘pen in 2024.
WAIVER CLAIMS:
  • Houston Astros claim RHP Declan Cronin off waivers from the Chicago White Sox.
  • Chicago Cubs claim C Brian Serven off waivers from the Colorado Rockies.
  • New York Mets claim INF Diego Castillo off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
  • New York Yankees claim OF Bubba Thompson off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds.
  • Minnesota Twins claim RHP Ryan Jensen off waivers from the Miami Marlins.
  • New York Mets claim RHP Max Kranick off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • Toronto Blue Jays claim C Brian Serven off waivers from the Chicago Cubs.
  • Detroit Tigers claim RHP Devin Sweet off waivers from the San Francisco Giants.
  • New York Yankees claim INF Diego Castillo off waivers from the New York Mets.
  • Minnesota Twins claim OF Bubba Thompson off waivers from the New York Yankees.
  • New York Yankees claim LHP Matt Gage off waivers from the Houston Astros.
  • St. Louis Cardinals claim 1B Alphonso Rivas off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels.
  • Boston Red Sox claim INF Romy Gonzalez off waivers from the Chicago White Sox.
RETIREMENTS:
  • Collin McHugh, RHP:
    • After an eleven-year, five-team career the 36-year old righty hangs ‘em up after amassing a career 3.72 ERA over a whopping 992 ⅔ IP. His longest tenure with any team was with the Houston Astros over six seasons, from 2014 to 2019, where he pitched in 195 of his 346 career games. A starter for much of the first half of his career, McHugh transitioned to the ‘pen in 2018 and was terrific. The Mets, Braves, Rays, and Rockies all saw time with him, though his 2017 World Series victory was with the Astros.
  • Tony Wolters, C:
    • The seven-year MLB vet is out after playing 407 games in the National League. By far his best year in 2019, Wolters played in 121 games with the Colorado Rockies while slashing .262/.337/.329 with 1 HR and 42 RBI. Five of his seven years in the bigs came with Colorado, before briefly heading to the Cubs and Dodgers. Wolters was originally a third-round draft pick of the then-Cleveland Indians (now Guardians) back in 2010.
  • Joe Smith, RHP:
    • One of the few full submariners in recent memory, the ex-Blue Jay played fifteen MLB seasons from 2007-2022 amassing a terrific 3.14 ERA over 866 games. Originally a third-round Mets’ draftee, Smith played for 8 clubs and tossed 762 ⅓ innings. His unique armslot led to a career of one of baseball’s premiere specialist relievers, with his best season coming in 2014 - Smith went 7-2 with a 1.81 ERA over 74 ⅔ IP striking out 68 over 76 games. Smith won a World Series in 2016, as a member of the Chicago Cubs.
OTHER NEWS:
  • Atlanta’s AA team, the Mississippi Braves, will be moving from Pearl, Mississippi to Columbus, Georgia following the 2024 season. Diamond Baseball Holdings, the owner of the AA team, purchased the organization in 2022 while also owning two other Atlanta Minor League clubs - Gwinnett (AAA) and Rome (High-A). Golden Park, formerly the home of multiple MiLB squads, is currently under renovations in order to be ready for 2025.
  • Astros’ Kendall Graveman is expected to miss the entirety of 2024 after undergoing shoulder surgery in mid-January. Though not made public exactly what the surgery entailed, it is expected that, come 2025, Graveman will be fully healthy once more. With the loss of Graveman, Maton, Stanek, and Neris, Houston’s ‘pen will look very different come this summer.
  • Rangers’ star SS Corey Seager underwent surgery to repair a left sports hernia at the end of January, with Texas GM Chris Young saying he’s “hopeful” Seager will be ready for Opening Day, and that there isn’t much concern. Seager was named the World Series MVP this past season. Should he miss time, Texas will likely turn to either Josh H. Smith or Ezequiel Duran to plug the gap until Seager returns.
  • Orioles’ Owner John Angelos has agreed to sell the organization to billionaire David Rubenstein, an unexpected move that comes just days after the aforementioned Angelos had allegedly agreed to sell the naming rights of Camden Yards to T. Rowe Price, an investment firm. In recent years, John and his father - Peter Angelos - among others have been heavily scrutinized by both Orioles fans and media for attempting to cut payroll, raise ticket prices, and prioritize profit over winning.
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By: Gus Cousins

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