Major League Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings are set to begin in Nashville in just a few days, so it’s possible the next day or so will be very slow on the so-called hot stove. Then again, there have been years in the recent past where the flurry of moves started a day or two before the Winter Meetings, so it’s always possible the proverbial floodgates are on the verge of opening.
Let’s round up the rest of Thursday’s news and rumors.
Yankees may be favorites for Juan Soto
The Yankees have needs in the outfield and most especially the lineup around franchise slugger Aaron Judge, and the Padres may be looking to shed payroll in the form of Juan Soto’s walk-year arbitration commitment, which figures to be in excess of $30 million. For those reasons, the Yanks and their vast resources have been heavily connected with Soto in trade talks.
Now Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that internally the Yanks are more confident about their ability to land Soto than they are their other top target, Japanese ace and recently posted free agent Yoshinobu Yamamoto. As Heyman explains, that’s because the number of teams willing to take on Soto’s salary and part with prospects in trade is substantially smaller than the number of teams with legitimate designs on Yamamoto. To be sure, Soto’s best-in-class on-base skills and power from the left side would be the perfect pairing with Judge in terms of offense.
Mets frontrunners for Yamamoto?
Speaking of Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Heyman in that same piece reports that the industry perceives the Mets as being at the front of the line to sign him. Heyman writes:
“Meanwhile, multiple rival teams believe the crosstown Mets should be considered the favorite for the 25-year-old Yamamoto.”
Yamamoto is just 25 years of age, and he boasts ace-level stuff and results. While the team that signs him will owe a substantial posting fee to Yamamoto’s NPB club, the Orix Buffaloes, he won’t cost his new team a compensatory draft pick unlike stateside free agents who were subjected to the qualifying-offer system. Yamamoto is the best and most coveted free agent in this class not named Shohei Ohtani, so the competition for his services will be fierce, and whatever contract he signs…