The annual MLB winter meetings begin on Monday, which means a lot of conversations and moves will be made in the lobby and rooms of Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.
Here are some of the main storylines for the meetings this week:
What are the winter meetings?
So glad you asked.
Now these aren’t your typical meetings where you’re lured in with a few boxes of donuts and stale coffee.
They’re essentially one huge get-together of all the MLB teams for four days of conversations that include trades, free-agent signings, and tantalizing rumors.
It’s literally Christmas come early for baseball fans.
The absolute biggest storyline of the meetings will be where Shohei Ohtani will end up. Not only that, but he looks to be the first person in the history of the game to land a half-a-billion-dollar contract.
And he’s worth every penny.
A designated hitter and pitcher in one, Ohtani is coming off his second American League MVP season along with his third All-Star selection. He also was voted the winner of the prestigious Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award in 2023 (his third consecutive) after he slashed .304/.412/.654 with a league-leading 1.066 OPS.
There’s a big chance his negotiations end this week and we find out where the best player in baseball will play in 2024 and beyond.
Every team could benefit from pitching. Some of these moves, of course, will shift once Ohtani signs, but there are still the big names of Shane Bieber, Dylan Cease, and Tyler Glasnow rumored to be traded during the meetings.
As far as Glasnow goes, it would have to be quite a haul in order to acquire him. So despite the rumors of him going to the Chicago Cubs, the talks have since stalled and nothing has changed. That’s to be expected from an organization trying to build a young pitching staff. Alas, the Cubs have been on the radar and linked to Glasnow over the years.
Blake Snell is coming off his Cy Young Award season after leading all of MLB with a 2.25 ERA and a 5.9 home run-per nine innings ratio. He also struck out 234 batters in 180 innings and was even in National League MVP talks.
Who knows where he ends up. The latest rumor being he heads back to his hometown in the Pacific Northwest and signs with the Seattle Mariners.
Hey, the bullpen deserves some love too.
The biggest name being Josh Hader.
Just as starting pitching is imperative to a successful team, so are the relievers. Hader is coming off his sixth All-Star selection after finishing his 2023 campaign with a 1.28 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings.
Hader reportedly is willing to wait it out to make a decision as he expects to be the top earner in free agency as a reliever.
Rule 5 gems
Ahhh yes … the diamonds in the rough.
I’m biased, of course. The Oakland A’s selected first baseman Ryan Noda from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2023 Rule 5 Draft, and we dubbed him the best Rule 5 since the team acquired Mark Canha in 2014 via trade.
Noda perfectly fit the bill for Oakland as he managed to get on base with a stellar eye in the box and an affinity for walking. He led all major-league rookies in walks (66) and on-base percentage (.384).
Plus, we know the game continues to get younger so these guys are the ones to pay attention to.
Don’t forget about these guys …
Speaking of paying attention …
Where will Matt Chapman end up? Cody Bellinger? Jordan Montgomery? Yoshinobu Yamamoto? Lucas Giolito?
The list goes on and on.
This might be the first winter meetings in recent years that have the domino effect linked to one player (Ohtani). He sets the precedence, yes, but the remaining teams will know their budget and needs once he signs the dotted line.