The Cincinnati Reds aren’t doing a thing to better their big league ballclub for the 2023 season, so I suppose it’s time to touch on what the rest of the baseball world is up to.
In short, that answer is spending serious money.
The biggest news of the day surrounds star shortstop Carlos Correa, who pulled an Art Modell and moved cross-country in the wee hours of the morning. Despite all signs pointing towards him being part of the San Francisco Giants for the next 13 years to the tune of $350 million, a presser that was scheduled to announce his deal yesterday mysteriously was cancelled. Rumor has it that something in his physical was flagged - continuing this Baltimore Colts/Baltimore Orioles yarn I’m spinning - and that was enough of a gap for the New York Mets to swoop in and sign him for only slightly fewer millions of bucks.
According to Sports Illustrated, the entire thing was so close to going down that Correa was even dressed and ready to be introduced as a Giant before it all went poof.
Among the details from Verducci here: Correa had *already gotten dressed for the press conference* yesterday when he learned it wasn't happening! https://t.co/Arz7M1kYC0— Emma Baccellieri (@emmabaccellieri) December 21, 2022
As it stands, the Giants are left out in the cold having missed out on both Correa and Aaron Judge, and I’ve got no clue where they turn at this point of the offseason when they’d earmarked that much cash to outlay and have nowhere to put it. Trade for Mike Moustakas, that’s one way to spend it. Meanwhile, the Mets have pushed their 2023 payroll into the $400 million range (with luxury tax implications reaching even sillier levels), and that’s setting the stage for both pressure and drama given that franchise’s notorious foibles in the past. Given that the Reds are giving us nothing to watch, following that three-ring circus next season is going to be high on my to-do list.
Dansby Swanson is now part of the National League Central, having inked a gargantuan deal that’s not quite in the same stratosphere as Correa but still sniffing $200 million. Go Dores, and whatnot, but that seems like a snowplow’s worth of cash for a guy who owns a 95 OPS+ for his career and is a middle infielder who’ll be 29 when next season starts. Surely this is not just me hoping that the Cubs end up with another albatross contract on their books, surely. I’m also not saying that he’s the second coming of Zack Cozart, but I am going to point out that Cozart entered free agency on a solid platform year with ~15 bWAR in his career and a 92 OPS+ at that point, Swanson’s sitting on 14.5 career bWAR, and...
Speaking of the Los Angeles Angels signing former Reds infielders immediately after a peak-platform season, the Los Angeles Angels have signed Brandon Drury to a 2-year, $17 million contract. Good for Brandon, who socked bops for the Reds with aplomb last year prior to being flipped to the San Diego Padres for the stretch-run.
As things stand, the free agent market is damn near tapped-out. Nathan Eovaldi - who checked in at #23 on MLBTR’s Top 50 free agent list at the beginning of the offseason - is the highest-ranked FA remaining, and most of the rest of the Top 50 after him have already signed, too. It’s been a frenzy the likes of which we’ve never seen, and the only question remaining is whether the trade market will finally heat up in its wake. Bryan Reynolds wants desperately to be moved out of Pittsburgh, while Boston’s loss of Xander Bogaerts is putting Rafael Devers - a free agent at the end of 2023 - firmly in the balance. Could the Royals move Salvador Perez as they rebuild? Might Cleveland continue their well-executed budget juggle and move Shane Bieber with two years remaining of team control for a cache of prospects? Will the Cincinnati Reds do anything?!?!?!
While the money has largely been spent, how the teams that missed out on the frenzy patch holes in other ways now takes the stage.