The Opener: Shortstop, Smyly, Outfield


After a fairly busy weekend on the MLB hot stove, here’s three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around baseball throughout the day today.

1. Where can teams who missed out on Dansby Swanson turn?

Swanson’s deal with the Cubs puts all four of this offseason’s star shortstops on a new team. While each of the clubs who lost a shortstop has an internal alternative, all four would be bettered by an external addition. The Dodgers and Red Sox would be able to keep incumbent second basemen Gavin Lux and Trevor Story at their current position. The Twins wouldn’t have to rely on Kyle Farmer, likely better suited to a part-time role, as an everyday player while waiting for Royce Lewis to return from his second ACL tear. The Braves would be able to ease Vaughn Grissom in at shortstop rather than immediately thrust him into an everyday role on a playoff club. The pickings are slim when it comes to quality regulars on the free-agent market, with Elvis Andrus and perhaps Jose Iglesias the last remaining options. The trade market has more possibilities, though each comes with questions: Paul DeJong and Nick Ahmed could be had for salary relief, but they’re overpaid relative to their expected production headed into 2023 (and Ahmed is recovering from shoulder surgery). Jorge Mateo and Isiah Kiner-Falefa are quality defenders but both have been further than 20% below average at the plate since 2021, by measure of wRC+. Amed Rosario is perhaps the most complete player who could potentially be had, though it’s possible the Guardians just keep him until he hits free agency next offseason before handing the keys to shortstop to their bevy of youngsters in 2024. The four aforementioned teams will have competition, as well, with the Angels and White Sox among the other teams who could still look for middle infield help this offseason.

2. Will the Cubs/Smyly deal get done today?

Reports surfaced yesterday that the Cubs and lefty Drew Smyly were close to a deal, but it’s yet to be reported as done, and the terms remain unknown. It’s possible that resolution could come as soon as today. Fellow 33-year-olds Ross Stripling’s (Giants) and Jose Quintana (Mets) both landed two-year deals, but both veterans were coming off stronger seasons than Smyly. On the other hand, the likes of Kyle Gibson and Noah Syndergaard are among the players to recently sign one-year deals. Assuming Smyly indeed returns to Wrigley, that could take the Cubs out of the starting pitching market, as he’d presumably join Marcus Stroman, Jameson Taillon, Kyle Hendricks and Justin Steele in the rotation.

3. Where does the outfield market stand?

It’s been a busy few days for the outfield market. Andrew Benintendi signed a five-year deal with the White Sox, Joey Gallo took a one-year deal with the Twins, and Michael Brantley returned to the Astros on a one-year pact of his own. This leaves Michael Conforto and Jurickson Profar as arguably the top free agents left, with veterans like David Peralta, AJ Pollock, Wil Myers and Andrew McCutchen also available. The Blue Jays, Rangers, and Marlins are among the teams pursuing outfield help this offseason, and each (along with the Cubs) has been linked to Conforto. Profar’s market is less clear, and one rumored suitor, the Astros, just re-signed Brantley. The trade market, where Bryan Reynolds, Max Kepler, and Daulton Varsho are among those who’ve reportedly been discussed, remains an alternative path.

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