The Winter Meetings are back in San Diego this week, the first time since 2019 that the event is being held in person.
We know the players who will dominate headlines, namely Aaron Judge, Trea Turner, Carlos Correa and Justin Verlander. But which teams will be the most active as roster-building for 2023 and beyond starts to take shape?
MLB.com looks at 11 teams that are expected to move the needle as the baseball world gathers for the Hot Stove season’s biggest week.
As long as Aaron Judge remains on the free-agent market, the Yankees will be the team to watch. New York made an offer in the eight-year, $300 million range, though the AL MVP is expected to command at least $40 million per season when all is said and done. The Yankees remain the favorites to retain Judge, but if he signs elsewhere, there will be immense pressure for general manager Brian Cashman to respond. Could that mean signing Carlos Correa or Justin Verlander?
San Francisco had a ton of money come off the books this winter, setting the Giants up as one of the offseason’s big spenders. Aaron Judge remains the club’s top target, but there are plenty of areas in which president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi can improve his roster. Judge or no Judge, the Giants figure to be one of the busier teams this week.
After making a pair of big splashes last winter with the signings of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien for a combined $500 million, the Rangers were back at it with Friday’s acquisition of Jacob deGrom, who signed a five-year, $185 million contract. Last year’s spending spree resulted in a 68-94 season, the dismissal of president of baseball operations Jon Daniels and the hiring of World Series-champion manager Bruce Bochy. With deGrom on board, don’t be surprised to see the Rangers follow that up with another pitching move.
The Dodgers remain on the periphery of the Aaron Judge sweepstakes, but Los Angeles figures to be in the mix for a number of high-profile free agents. The club has already met with Justin Verlander and is said to be interested in Xander Bogaerts, who could fill the hole left by free agent Trea Turner. More than $100 million came off the Dodgers’ payroll since the end of the season, giving president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman plenty of financial flexibility to do pretty much whatever he wants.
Even after making a surprising run to the World Series, the Phillies are expected to be big players in free agency. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski loves big-ticket items, so it’s no surprise that the club appears to be targeting Trea Turner to fill its shortstop position. Bryce Harper is expected to miss most of the first half next season, giving Philadelphia a need to add a big bat.
As long as Steve Cohen owns the Mets, they will be a threat for any free agent they choose to pursue. Now that Jacob deGrom has left for Texas, expect the Mets to respond with a pitching signing of their own. The club has spoken with Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga and Carlos Rodón, preparing for the possibility that deGrom would sign elsewhere, so they’re prepared for the next step. They won’t be in on the shortstop market, but the Mets will have a say in the outfield and pitching markets as they begin to shake out in San Diego.
It’s been four years since the Orioles were a factor in this conversation, having not signed a free agent to a multi-year deal since 2018. GM Mike Elias said at the GM Meetings that he has a number of areas he hopes to address this offseason, namely one or two starting pitchers and one or two bats to fortify the lineup. Baltimore might not be ready to spend on the upper echelon of free agents — think Trea Turner or Justin Verlander — but the Orioles will be in the mix for many players on the next tier, setting them up for an eventful week.
Will Boston re-sign Xander Bogaerts? If not, will it pivot to another shortstop or slide Trevor Story over and look for a replacement at second base? What about first base? The Red Sox had targeted José Abreu before he signed with the Astros, so what does Boston do at that position? Other areas the Red Sox could look to address include catching, the starting rotation and the bullpen.
Minnesota made a surprising move last winter with the signing of Carlos Correa, but the shortstop opted out of his contract to test free agency again this offseason. The Twins would love to bring Correa back — and will likely have to hand out the largest contract in team history to do so — but if they’re unable to make that happen, Minnesota will have money to spend to address other needs at catcher and in the starting rotation.
GM A.J. Preller made the biggest move at the Trade Deadline, acquiring Juan Soto and Josh Bell for a haul of prospects. Bell is a free agent, leaving a hole at first base, while the rotation lost free agents Mike Clevinger and Sean Manaea. Preller is unpredictable, so expect the Padres to do something of note with the Winter Meetings in their backyard.
Wait, the Athletics? No, Oakland isn’t about to make any notable free-agent signings at the Winter Meetings, but GM David Forst has one of the most appealing trade candidates on the market: catcher Sean Murphy. Multiple teams are seeking help behind the plate, making Murphy a huge asset for the rebuilding Athletics. Expect that market to heat up as the baseball world gathers in San Diego.