Day one at the 2023 MLB winter meetings was pretty much a bust. The prevailing sentiment coming out of Nashville was that things were stalled, with much of the league waiting for one of two dominoes to fall; that of Shohei Ohtani, the other of Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The teams in on Ohtani are waiting to see if they’re about to commit a half billion dollars or more to one man before moving on to the rest of their business, while the pitching market is at a bit of standstill, since nearly all 30 teams are interesting in securing the services of NPB’s top pitcher.
We’ll hope for a busier second day at the meetings. As news trickles out, we’ll have you covered on everything Yankees-related, as well as other big rumors from elsewhere in baseball.
Note: All listed times are in Eastern Standard Time.
Rumors of the Day (December 5)
7:00 PM: The biggest (official) news of the day: Erick Fedde is returning to the United States. Jeff Passan reports that the right-hander has agreed to a two-year, $15-million deal with the White Sox. Fedde had been rumored to be choosing between Chicago and the Mets. It’s telling that this is the largest contract we’ve seen signed today, but we’ll give credit to Fedde where it’s due. After an uneven tenure as a member of the Nationals, Fedde went to the KBO last year and earned MVP honors with a 2.00 ERA in 180 innings.
6:15 PM: Speaking to Foul Territory, Ken Rosenthal reports that the expectation is for Yoshinobu Yamamoto to earn “considerably” more than $200 million on his free agent contract. The Yankees are obviously interested in the 25-year-old star, and it’s looking he’ll have a shot at signing the second-biggest contract ever for a pitcher (Gerrit Cole signed the largest, at $324 million guaranteed). Rosenthal also notes that Yamamoto almost certainly won’t sign at the winter meetings, but should likely will have a new home before the end of the month.
5:55 PM: The second ever MLB Draft lottery was held at the winter meetings today, and the Guardians moved up from the nine slot to win the top overall pick. The Reds will select second, while the Athletics, the worst team in baseball last year, saw their pick drop to fourth overall. It’s a pretty remarkable turn of events for Cleveland and Cincy, who only had 2-percent and 0.9-percent odds respectively of picking first entering today. The Yankees, meanwhile will pick 26th overall, as their top selection moved back from 10 slots from No. 16 due to luxury tax penalties.
5:30 PM: Following up on an earlier story, Dodgers GM Brandon Gomes said he was surprised manager Dave Roberts stated that the club had met with Shohei Ohtani, and reiterated that he would not comment on their pursuit of the two-way star. Chelsea Janes reports that Gomes was asked if Roberts’ comments had hurt their chances, and Gomes responded “I have no idea.”
4:00 PM: Some quick hits from this afternoon:
- The Rays re-signed reliever Chris Devenski on a one-year, $1.1-million deal with a team option on a second year. The veteran right-hander has struggled with injuries in recent years but flashed some promise with Tampa in 2023.
- The Mets signed veteran infielder José Iglesias to a minor league deal; Iglesias, 33, did not appear in the majors last year, spending the season with San Diego’s Triple-A club.
- Lastly, former Yankees reliever Kirby Yates signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Rangers. A relatively recent member of the Tommy John Scar Club, Yates submitted his first healthy season since 2019 last year with the Braves, posting a 3.28 ERA in 60.1 innings.
3:00 PM: Dave Roberts, speaking at the winter meetings, said that the Dodgers met with Shohei Ohtani a couple days ago, and that “Shohei’s our top priority.” Details of Ohtani’s meetings have been under wraps for the most part thus far, so this is a break from precedent from the Dodgers. Roberts’ declaration seemingly would indicate a level of confidence from Los Angeles.
2:00 PM: Re-affirming reports from earlier, Jon Morosi tweets that Yoshinobu Yamamoto is one of Boston’s “top priorities” at the winter meetings. That brings to mind something of a nightmare scenario, where, say, the Blue Jays snare Ohtani, while the Red Sox secure the services of Yamamoto, long thought to be the Yankees’ top pitching target.
1:30 PM: The Cubs’ hopes of signing Shoehei Ohtani have “waned,” according to Bob Nightengale. Should that be true, it would seem the Dodgers, Angels, Giants and Blue Jays would remain as finalists for the two-way superstar, unless some mystery team lurks somewhere offscreen.
12:00 PM: Last month, Malachi analyzed why this was a particularly high-pressure offseason for the Yankees, thanks to the fact that they may be competing directly with AL East foes for some of their top targets. Case in point: sentiment around the winter meetings has it that the Red Sox are in the market for pitching upgrades. POBO Craig Breslow says the club will be “aggressive” when it comes to adding to their rotation, and they’ve been linked times to possible Yankees targets Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Jordan Montgomery. Boston also is reportedly looking at relief help, and has been connected to Jordan Hicks. Hopefully, the Red Sox don’t end up pursuing the likes of Yamamoto as aggressively as the Yankees seem to intend to.
10:00 AM: Jon Heyman tweets that Isiah Kiner-Falefa “has interest from about 12 teams,” among them the Yankees. IKF has shown some utility has a versatile backup, but the Yankees, and any other team, would be wise not to view him as an everyday option.
12:30 AM: Ken Rosenthal reports that Shohei Ohtani is “believed” to have met with Toronto Blue Jays execs on Monday at the team’s facilities in Dunedin, Florida. Ohtani’s process has been mostly shrouded in secrecy, as his camp made it clear it didn’t want any leaks regarding his meetings with teams. This report would seem to confirm that the Blue Jays are serious suitors for Ohtani’s services. Also expected to be in the running are the Dodgers, Cubs, and Giants, at the least, along with the incumbent Angels.