Storylines to Watch This MLB Offseason
With Winter Meetings approaching and the hot stove heating up, Max Rosenfeld breaks down which storylines to watch this MLB offseason.
Although Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani has dominated much of baseball’s offseason conversation to this point, there are plenty of other storylines to keep an eye on moving forward. This offseason looks to be one of the most interesting in recent memory, with a continued shift in how the is played and managed. So, where should we focus our attention until pitchers and catchers report in February?
The Giancarlo Stanton Trade Saga
Recent reports indicate that Stanton has been told by the Miami Marlins to either wave his no-trade clause or suffer as the team cuts back payroll and eliminates any realistic chance to succeed in the immediate future. This makes it difficult to imagine Stanton returning to the club for the 2018 season.
It appears unlikely that the Boston Red Sox will make a serious run at the National League MVP because of the high price tag Miami’s new ownership has placed on the slugger. The St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants, two historic franchises that fell behind their divisional rivals last season, could be the leading contenders for Stanton’s services.
Where Stanton will be traded, how much the Marlins will receive in return, and whether or not second baseman Dee Gordon is packaged into the deal will all be storylines to monitor as the winter progresses. The Stanton situation looks to bring an NBA-like type of drama to the Major League hot stove.
Who Will Manage the Yankees?
We are approaching December and the New York Yankees still do not have a manager- the same Yankees team that came within one game of a World Series appearance. It’s unclear exactly what the Yankees are looking for in their new skipper, though General Manager Brian Cashman would like to hire someone with high level analytical skills.
Former Yankees Carlos Beltran and Aaron Boone will receive serious consideration for the job.
The Red Sox and Cardinals Look to Reload
Given the success of the Yankees and Chicago Cubs last season, it is up to their rivals to catch up. The Red Sox and Cardinals would be wrong to sit back this offseason, and all signs indicate that both clubs will be aggressive in their attempts to add an impact player.
The Yankees set the tone for the future of the American League by relying on a hefty dose of home runs, an area in which the Red Sox lacked in 2017, placing 27th in home runs in all of Major League Baseball. Boston could combat this by attacking prominent free agents or trading for an established bat such as Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox. Abreu would fill a duel necessity as a power hitter and first baseman. Whether or not this is the right move for Boston is debatable, but the Red Sox must anticipate the youthful Yankees improving next season and must upgrade their own roster in response.
As the class of the National League, the Cardinals will not tolerate the Cubs coming in first place for two straight seasons. The Cardinals will be in the market for a veteran starting pitcher, upper echelon reliever, and power bat. They are an early favorite for Giancarlo Stanton’s services and could realistically make a make a mega-offer for the outfielder.
The Hall of Fame Debate
Roughly one week ago, Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan penned a letter to voters urging them to keep known steroid users out of Cooperstown. He wrote that allowing these players into the Hall of Fame would not be fair to the many players who never used performance enhancing substances.
When engaging in this debate, their often seems to be an age gap in the opposing views. Older fans of baseball tend to keep firm that steroid users should not enter the Hall, while the younger audience feels as though these players should be recognized with the game’s greats.
There are a myriad of factors surrounding this topic, such as baseball’s inherent racism during its early history, the use of amphetamines during Morgan’s era, the difficulty of play in each era, and whether it is really that unreasonable to simply say cheaters should be kept out. Feelings around the debate will likely intensify as the clock ticks on the Hall of Fame futures of Barry Bonds, Rogers Clemens, and Manny Ramirez.
Aces Seeking Homes
The market for starting pitchers is thin but strong at the top, meaning there will be a bidding war surrounded around four players- Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, and Alex Cobb.
Darvish and Arrieta are both more established but did not have the same dominance in 2017 as they did in years past, causing some concern for potential buyers.
Lynn and Cobb may not register as great additions for casual fans, but these two starters are worthy top of the rotation guys and could outperform Darvish and Arrieta moving forward.
The next best starters available this offseason are Andrew Cashner, Tyler Chatwood, and Chris Tillman.