Major League Baseball’s lockout-delayed offseason continues to play catch-up at a blistering pace as spring training camps open. That means we’ve got some catching up to do when it comes to rumors. Let’s do just that with Tuesday’s supply of free agency and trade buzz.
Shortstop Carlos Correa, our top free agent of the 2021-22 offseason, remains on the market. For some time, the expectation is that the Astros lifer will sign elsewhere this winter, but perhaps that was a hasty conclusion:
The Astros won the pennant last season, which means their World Series aspirations are still very much alive. Those aspirations would be significantly more alive if they could re-up with Correa, who hits like an All-Star first baseman while also providing excellent defense at the premium position of shortstop. The Astros previously made an effort to sign Correa to an extension last spring, but their offer to him was not a particularly serious one. So long as they appreciate the going rates for a player of Correa’s skill level and relative youth, the Astros figure to have an advantage over all other comers.
The Braves’ recent trade for Matt Olson means that franchise legend Freddie Freeman will be playing elsewhere next season. The Dodgers, Yankees, Blue Jays, and Rays are already known to be interested, and now you can add the Red Sox to the growing list:
The Red Sox have Bobby Dalbec at first base, and he showed improvement down the stretch last season. Freeman, however, would be a substantial upgrade. He’s 32, yes, but he’s still performing at a high level at the plate, as he’s coming off a 2021 season in which he put up an OPS+ of 133 and a WAR of 4.7. It appears Freeman is angling for a six-year contract. Will the Sox be willing to satisfy those going rates? Signing the likes of Freeman would push them into luxury tax territory, but they obviously have the resources to handle that with ease.
Yankees still in contact with Anthony Rizzo
The Yankees would very much like a bat at first base, preferably of the left-handed variety, which explains why they’ve been linked to Freeman. However, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Yankees see a Freeman signing as unlikely, which explains why they may have interest in an Anthony Rizzo reunion.
The Yankees acquired Rizzo from the Cubs last season leading up to the trade deadline, and in 49 games for them he posted an OPS+ of 110 with eight home runs. Like Freeman, he’s 32, but he’s shown signs of more significant offensive decline in recent seasons. That said, Rizzo will come much cheaper than Freeman will.
Slugger Nick Castellanos, a native of Davie, Florida, seems quite interested in signing with his hometown Miami Marlins, but it’s not certain that interest is mutual:
The Marlins last season ranked 13th in the NL in home runs last season, so they could certainly use the pop of Castellanos, who since the start of the 2019 season has averaged 35 home runs per 162 games played. As well, the implementation of the universal DH also means an NL club doesn’t have to live with Castellanos’ sub-par outfield defense. Beyond that, the Marlins aren’t exactly an attractive destination for free agents, at least in recent years, so one would think they’d welcome this kind of opportunity.
As the recent departure of Derek Jeter from the front office suggests, however, the commitment to investing in the roster at ample levels may not be there. There’s still time to reverse that narrative.