We are a week into the exhibition schedule and Opening Day is less than a month away. Teams will spend the next several weeks preparing for the regular season and finalizing their rosters. Trades and free-agent signings will happen before Opening Day. Take it to the bank. Here are the latest rumblings.
Dodgers exploring upgrades following Lux injury
In the wake of Gavin Lux's season-ending knee injury, the Dodgers are exploring potential upgrades, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told the Orange Country Register. For the time being, Los Angeles will slot Miguel Rojas in at shortstop with Chris Taylor the backup plan. Here's what Friedman said about the club's interest in outside additions:
"It's difficult. It's not the most natural time to make a trade," Friedman said. "So we'll spend more time figuring out what's possible. We're not sure at this point and we're trying to wrap our arms around the various profiles of a player and how it would fit. There's been a domino effect of how guys are now going to spend time and what positions they are going to play and what that opens up and making sure our bench has the right balance. Those are all things we're going to spend time getting into more detail on."
We examined the Dodgers' options following Lux's injury earlier this week. There's not much available in free agency and the trade market turns up names like Paul DeJong (Cardinals), Isiah Kiner-Falefa (Yankees), and Taylor Walls (Rays). Friedman is not the type to make a knee-jerk move after an injury. The Dodgers might stick with Rojas and wait for the market to develop in the summer.
Yankees seeking catching depth
The Yankees are looking to add to their catching depth, specifically a veteran with MLB experience, reports Newsday. New York has lost Josh Breaux (elbow) and Ben Rortvedt (aneurysm), their two Triple-A catchers, to injuries this spring. Austin Wells, their top catching prospect, has a broken rib as well. He was expected to begin the season in Double-A and then move up to Triple-A.
Former Yankee Gary Sánchez and veteran Robinson Chirinos are the only notable catchers available in free agency. Chirinos played last year with the Orioles and spent some time with New York's Triple-A affiliate in 2021. The trade market doesn't have much to offer beyond journeymen catchers like Sandy Leon (Rangers), Chad Wallach (Angels), and Tony Wolters (Twins).
Cubs considering lefty relievers
The Cubs are considering free-agent relievers, president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer told The Athletic. Chicago signed nine players to MLB contracts this offseason, including relievers Brad Boxberger and Michael Fulmer. Here's what Hoyer said about the team's bullpen search:
"There are still free agents out there, so I wouldn't be shocked if we brought someone in," Hoyer said. "(Our pro scouting) group is always working. We're generally done. But if someone came into camp, I wouldn't be shocked, just because there are some players out there, in particular some relievers."
The Athletic mentions veteran lefties Zack Britton and Mike Minor as players of interest. FanGraphs estimates the team's competitive balance tax payroll at $225 million, not far under the $233 million threshold. That should be enough to sign a veteran reliever, though it wouldn't leave much for in-season additions if the Cubs want to stay under the threshold.
Rangers sign Smith
The Rangers have signed lefty reliever Will Smith to a one-year contract, the team announced. It's a $1.5 million guarantee with another $2.5 million in potential bonuses, reports the New York Post. Smith and new Rangers manager Bruce Bochy were together with the Giants from 2016-19. The 33-year-old southpaw split last season between the Braves and Astros. Smith did not pitch in the World Series for Houston and he was left off their ALDS and ALCS rosters entirely.
Rockies sign Hand
The Rockies have signed veteran lefty reliever Brad Hand to a one-year contract, reports The Athletic. He gets $2 million guaranteed with a club option for 2024. Hand will held replace southpaw Lucas Gilbreath, who suffered an elbow injury early in camp and is likely to have Tommy John surgery. Although he is no longer the dominator he was in his prime, the soon-to-be 33-year-old Hand remains a competent bullpener who is effective against righties and lefties alike.