MLB rumors: Justin Verlander a fit with Yankees, Dodgers, Mets; Astros after Anthony Rizzo in free agency

The Major League Baseball offseason is underway. We are now more than a week away from the end of the World Cup, the general manager meetings took place last week and free agency is officially underway. It could still be pretty slow for a few weeks. For one thing, players who have been extended qualifying offers still have until Tuesday to accept or decline them. Things generally move slowly anyway, but that’s a stopgap for the near term.

Be sure to check out Mike Axisa’s handy list key off-season dates for more information. Also, here they are RJ Anderson Top 50 Free Agents.

As for Monday’s rumours, let’s take a look.

Verlander sees fit with big spenders

Free agent and likely AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander could go elsewhere after winning his second ring with the Houston Astros. Ken Rosenthal reports that the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer could be open to a bigger deal with big-spending contenders like the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees or New York Mets. The Mets could be hit hard in free agency in the rotation, which explains their potential interest. As for the Yankees, they could use an extra starter on the front line, and the Dodgers have a rich recent history of adding superstar depth to a roster that has been a colossus for some time. Yes, Verlander is pushing 40, but the skills seem largely intact. He is ideal for a win-now club with a World Cup design.

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Astros target Rizzo

Rosenthal also reports that the World Champion Houston Astros have tagged Anthony Rizzo as “their No. 1 free agent target at first base.” Current first baseman Yuli Gurriel is also a free agent, and he showed signs of a steep decline at the plate last season. Rosenthal, however, notes that a reunion with Gurriel remains a possibility, as does the pursuit of José Abreu.

As for Rizzo, 33, he is coming off a productive 2022 campaign with the New York Yankees. In 130 games, Rizzo slashed .224/.338/.480 (131 OPS+) with 32 home runs. The Yankees likely have interest in bringing Rizzo back, and that interest could be mutual. If that’s the case, then maybe the Astros should be ranked higher than New York.

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Pérez is likely to accept a qualifying offer

Left-hander Martín Pérez is coming off a career year. He made the All-Star team for the first time and was 12-8 with a 2.89 ERA (136 ERA+), 1.26 WHIP and 169 strikeouts against 69 walks in 196 1/3 innings for the Rangers. He has compiled a 5.0 WAR, and his previous career high was 2.3, back in 2017. At age 31, this appears to be the biggest payday opportunity of his life.

instead of that, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that Pérez will likely accept a qualifying offer from Texas. It’s a one-year deal for $19.65 million, so it’s not a dime or anything, but it sure seems like he could get a multi-year deal in free agency.

Several teams are interested in Lugo as a starter

Just to illustrate how much teams are willing to pay for starting pitching, the market for former Mets shortstop Seth Lugo is “robust,” according to The Athletic , with multiple teams eyeing Lugo as a rotation option.

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In 38 career starts, Lugo is 15-10 with a 4.35 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 174 strikeouts in 194 2/3 innings.

In 237 relief appearances, Lugo has a 2.91 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 334 strikeouts in 300 innings.

Rays continue to explore 40-man trades

The Rays have already traded Ji-Man Choi and declined Kevin Kiermaier’s contract option. Let’s go back a week…

Of course, the Rays have been active in tweaking their roster in the days since and will continue to do so. Morosi reported Sunday that the Rays are “engaged in advanced trade talks” and that we should expect multiple trades before Tuesday’s deadline to add players to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. veterans from the 40-man to protect against losing younger players to Rule 5.

There are certainly plenty of teams looking in the direction of Tyler Glasnow and Randy Arozarena, but in all likelihood here — with the deadline looming and the wobble — the roster will be trimmed on the margins instead of cut.


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