The virtual Winter Meetings are complete and just about every big name free agent remains unsigned. Only nine of our top 60 free agents have signed, including only one of the top 15. Spring training is tentatively scheduled to begin in about two months, so there's a lot of free-agent activity coming these next few weeks. Here are the latest hot stove rumblings.
Red Sox targeting Hill, Odorizzi, Sugano
As expected, the Red Sox are casting a wide net for pitching help this offseason. They have interest in lefty Rich Hill, righty Jake Odorizzi, and Japanese righty Tomoyuki Sugano, report Alex Speier of the Boston Globe and Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal. Sugano, 31, has been posted by the Yomiuri Giants and is regarded as a potential mid-rotation starter.
This past season the Red Sox posted a 5.58 ERA, the highest in franchise history. It was an unusual 60-game season, no doubt, but Boston's pitching was clearly lacking. With Chris Sale rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and Eduardo Rodriguez working his way back from a COVID-19-related heart condition, Nathan Eovaldi is the only lock for the 2021 Opening Day rotation.
Rays have discussed Archer
The Rays have discussed a reunion with righty Chris Archer, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Tampa Bay declined their $15 million club option for Charlie Morton earlier this offseason, and with Brendan McKay recovering from shoulder surgery and Yonny Chirinos expected to miss 2021 with Tommy John surgery, they have uncertainty at the back of the rotation.
Archer, 32, did not pitch in 2020 following surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome. His year and a half stint with the Pirates was a disaster (4.92 ERA), though his decline started before he joined Pittsburgh. Archer went from a 3.23 ERA in 2015 to a 4.02 ERA in 2016 to a 4.07 ERA in 2017 to 4.31 ERA in 2018 while with the Rays. They likely view him as a low-cost reclamation project with upside, and a player they know well.
Rangers sign Dahl
As part of their youth movement, the Rangers have signed 26-year-old outfielder David Dahl to a one-year contract worth $3 million, reports ESPN's Jeff Passan. The Rockies non-tendered Dahl earlier this month rather than pay him a projected $2.6 million through arbitration. Texas will be able to retain him as an arbitration-eligible player in 2022 and 2023.
Injuries have hampered Dahl throughout his career, though he has been quite good when healthy, authoring a 297/.346/.521 batting line from 2017-19. He figures to step into the outfield spot vacated by Nick Solak, who is moving back to second base as part of the team's infield makeover. Our R.J. Anderson identified Dahl as one of his 10 most intriguing non-tendered players.
Cubs open to re-signing Lester
The Cubs remain open to re-signing veteran southpaw Jon Lester, though no substantive talks have taken place, reports Bruce Levine of 670 The Score. Chicago paid Lester a $10 million buyout when they declined their portion of his $25 million mutual option earlier this offseason. That was a $15 million decision, so any new contract would come in under that sum.
Lester, 37 next month, has declined with age and he has his worst MLB season in 2020, though he can be counted on to start every five days. He made 12 starts this past season, placing him among the league leaders, and he made at least 31 starts every season from 2008-19. The Cubs are trimming payroll but could use another reliable starter behind Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks.
Tigers considering Cron, Schoop
Tigers GM Al Avila said the team is open to re-signing first baseman C.J. Cron and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, MLB.com's Jason Beck reports. Avila did caution "we have to keep our options open and see where it takes us." Detroit is still rebuilding and figures to prioritize youth, though there's something to be said for having a few veteran leaders on the roster.
The decisions to re-sign Cron and/or Schoop will probably come down to the team's internal evaluations of Willi Castro and Jeimer Candelario. Both were excellent in 2020 and will be in the 2021 lineup. The only questions are will Candelario play first or third, and will Castro play second or short? If it's first and second, respectively, then there will be no room for Cron and Schoop.
Dodgers sign Morrow
The Dodgers have signed veteran righty Brandon Morrow to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan and MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. Los Angeles also signed infielder Carlos Asuaje, righty Jimmy Nelson, lefty James Pazos, and righty Brock Stewart to minor-league contracts. All four have big-league service time.
Morrow, 36, has not pitched since July 2018 because of ongoing injury issues. He had a resurgent year with the Dodgers in 2017, throwing 43 2/3 innings with 50 strikeouts and a 2.04 ERA, which he parlayed into a two-year deal with the Cubs. That didn't work out too well. Morrow will try to revive his career once again with Los Angeles, a team he knows well.
Mets, McCann agree to deal
The Mets and free agent catcher James McCann have agreed to a contract. It's a four-year deal worth $40 million, reportedly. Now that the McCann signing is complete, the Mets are expected to aggressively pursue a top free agent like George Springer or Trevor Bauer. They've already signed Trevor May this offseason, plus Marcus Stroman accepted the qualifying offer.