MLB Offseason News: 1/26/2024

Robertson joins World Series champs, while Hader bolsters Astros.

Just because there are no games doesn’t mean there isn’t news. Pitcher List keeps you up to date with what is happening in the offseason with MLB Offseason News, which is published Fridays.

Hall of Fame election week is always a big one for baseball. Lots of recent history and no-so-recent history comes to the forefront. Those memories are one of the things that makes it a great sport. With Adrián Béltre, Todd Helton and Joe Mauer being voted into the Hall of Fame in results announced Tuesday, the chatter temporarily shifts to those who didn’t make it. Billy Wagner came the closest, falling five votes short of the 75% requirement. Wagner has one final chance to make the Hall in next year’s voting. Not so lucky was Gary Sheffield, who gained some late momentum but ultimately earned just 63.9% of the vote.

The 2025 class will be interesting to watch. Ichiro Suzuki could join Mariano Rivera as a unanimous selection and will be joined on the ballot by CC Sabathia as the top candidates in their first year eligible, while Félix Hernández and Troy Tulowitzki should make strong runs.

Meanwhile, the business of baseball continued. Catch up on all the arbitration signings here.

All contract and trade agreements are pending physicals before becoming official (i.e. when the team announces the move).


Champion Rangers Wrangle Robertson


What happened: Right-handed reliever David Robertson and the World Series champion Texas Rangers agreed to terms on a one-year contract worth between $11 million and $12 million.

What it means: Robertson has been one of MLB’s better relievers in recent seasons, but the Rangers are the seventh team he will pitch for over his last five seasons (he missed the 2020 season due to Tommy John surgery late in the 2019 season). Robertson was the primary closer for the New York Mets for much of 2023 following the season-ending knee injury to Edwin Diaz in the World Baseball Classic, converting 14 of 17 save chances and posting a 2.05 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 40 games. Traded to the Miami Marlins at the deadline, Robertson didn’t fair as well, notching a 5.06 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in 22 games. For his 15-year career, Robertson has struck out 31.8% of batters faced and walked 10%. With the Rangers, Robertson is likely to be the primary setup man for right-handed closer José Leclerc. Right-hander Kirby Yates was another offseason addition as the Rangers looked to fortify a bullpen that had few reliable options in the postseason and lost left-hander Aroldis Chapman to free agency.


Hader Strengthens Astros’ Bullpen


What happened: Five-time All-Star left-handed closer Josh Hader and the Houston Astros agreed on a five-year, $95 million contract.

What it means: The deal, which does not include deferrals, options, or opt-outs, is the largest for a reliever in MLB history in terms of present-day value. New York Mets right-handed closer Edwin Diaz signed a five-year, $102.5 million contract that included deferrals, reducing the present-day value to $93.1 million. The Astros already had a terrific closer in right-hander Ryan Pressly, a two-time All-Star, so adding Hader gives Houston the best 1-2 back end of a bullpen in all of baseball, also in lefty-righty mode. Pressly is making $14 million in 2024 and has a $2 million mutual option for 2025. Mutual options are mostly always declined. The Astros were in need of another quality bullpen arm with right-hander Hector Neris hitting free agency (and still unsigned), yet Hader is more than a simple Neris replacement. One of the top relievers in baseball since debuting for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017, Hader has converted 165 of 190 save opportunities to go along with a 2.50 ERA and a 169 ERA+. Hader has struck out a whopping 42.2% of batters faced while walking an unsettling 10.2%.


Dodgers Pick Up Paxton


What happened: Left-handed starter James Paxton and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to a one-year, $11 million contract.

What it means: Trying to shore up any weaknesses, perceived or otherwise, the Dodgers continued their spending spree by adding Paxton to the rotation. This comes after trading for right-hander Tyler Glasnow and signing Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the big-name free agent from Japan. Combine those additions with right-handers Walker Buehler, who has yet to pitch in a game since having Tommy John surgery in 2022, and Bobby Miller and the Dodgers appear to have their Opening Day rotation. There is depth with right-hander Emmet Sheehan, righty Gavin Stone, righty Michael Grove, and lefty Ryan Yarbrough. Where that leaves left-hander Clayton Kershaw has yet to be determined. Kershaw is not expected to return until after the All-Star break following surgery on his left shoulder in November. His time with the Dodgers could be over and he could either sign with another team, such as his hometown Rangers, or retire. Paxton made 19 starts for the Boston Red Sox in 2023, registering a 4.50 ERA while striking out 24.6% of hitters faced and walking 7.5%. Paxton blew out his elbow during his first start of the 2021 season with the Seattle Mariners and missed all of 2022 while recovering. His start to the 2023 season was delayed by a hamstring injury and right knee inflammation ended his year early.


Chapman Chooses Pirates


What happened: Left-handed reliever Aroldis Chapman agreed to a one-year, $10.5 million deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

What it means: Once one of the most feared closers in MLB, Chapman has been reduced to a setup role the last two seasons, including bouncing from the Kansas City Royals to helping the Texas Rangers win the World Series. Now he finds himself with another one-year deal with a team not expected to contend. Chapman, who turns 36 on Feb. 28, had a 3.09 ERA in 61 appearances covering 58⅓ innings in 2023. He was slightly less effective with the Rangers, notching a 3.72 ERA in 29 innings over 30 games. His stuff is still electric and erratic as Chapman struck out 41.4% and walked 14.5% of batters faced between the two stops. In his 14-year career, Chapman has K’d 40.3% of hitters and issued walks to 12.4%. With the Pirates, he will set up All-Star closer David Bednar, who converted 39 of 42 save chances in 2023.


Angels Beef Up Bullpen


What happened: Right-handed reliever Robert Stephenson agreed to a three-year, $33 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels. Also, left-hander reliever Matt Moore returned to the Angels on a one-year, $9 million pact.

What it means: Following his trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Tampa Bay Rays on June 2, Stephenson became a key member of the Rays’ bullpen, posting a 2.35 ERA in 42 appearances. Not only did his strikeout rate jump from an impressive 27.9% to an amazing 42.9%, but his walk rate took a similar swing, going from 13.1% to 5.7%. For his career, Stephenson has a 25.9% strikeout rate and a 10.2% walk rate. The improvement could be attributed to the Rays’ extensive track record of pitcher reclamation projects which made Stephenson an attractive free agent. That he landed with the Angels could just be a sign that L.A. offered the most money as other teams could have been worried about a regression from his brief time with the Rays. After all, the Pirates only acquired Stephenson through a waiver claim in 2022 from the Colorado Rockies after he had a 6.85 ERA in 45 games. Stephenson could be in contention for some save opportunities, although Carlos Estévez, last year’s closer with 31 saves, returns. Moore pitched most of 2023 with the Angels before the team tried its antics (successfully) to remain under the luxury-tax threshold and put the left-hander on waivers, where he was picked up by the Cleveland Guardians. The Guardians waived Moore after their playoff hopes were dashed and he finished the season with the Marlins. A former starter who converted to the bullpen during a rough 2018 season with the Rangers, Moore had a 2.56 ERA, struck out 27.5% of batters faced, and walked 6.9% in 52⅔ innings. His addition is the latest to a bullpen-focused offseason for the Angels, who also added right-handers Adam Cimber and Luis Garcia as well as lefty Adam Kolarek.


Hoskins Hops To Brewers


What happened: First baseman Rhys Hoskins and the Milwaukee Brewers agreed to a two-year, $34 million contract.

What it means: After sustaining a season-ending knee injury in spring training and seeing his chances at playing time with the Philadelphia Phillies dwindle, Hoskins became a free agent and found a home in Milwaukee. The right-handed hitter, who was hurt while fielding a chopper in spring training, brings some much-needed power to the middle of the Brewers’ lineup. In his four full 162-game seasons with the Phillies, Hoskins hit 34, 29, 27, and 30 homers. He also hit 10 homers in 41 games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and 18 in 50 games during his MLB debut year of 2017. The Brewers had just one player with at least 20 homers in 2023 (shortstop Willy Adames, 24) and ranked 23rd in homers as a team. While a complementary piece in Philly, where he was beloved by fans, Hoskins could be penciled into the cleanup spot on Opening Day after the Brewers moved on from Rowdy Tellez.


Pederson Gives D’backs Depth


What happened: Outfielder Joc Pederson and the NL champion Arizona Diamondbacks agreed to a one-year pact. Financial terms were not disclosed.

What it means: The D’backs didn’t have a big to-do list this offseason and adding Pederson strengthens Arizona’s bench. By re-signing left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr., the starting outfield of Alek Thomas (center) and NL Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll (right) returns intact. An all-or-nothing hitter, Pederson provides left-handed power and can fill in at the corners or be a designated hitter. In two seasons with the San Francisco Giants, Pederson hit 38 homers in 738 at-bats and slashed .255/.351/.470 for an OPS+ of 129. That included a standout 2022 season in which he drilled 23 homers in 380 at-bats and a slash line of .274/.353.521 resulting in an OPS+ of 146. While all eyes are on the Dodgers in the NL West, the additions of left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to the rotation and third baseman Eugenio Suárez to the lineup give the D’backs a fighting chance for a playoff berth.


Yankees Tweaking Road Uniforms


What happened: The New York Yankees are altering their road uniforms, eliminating the white background on the numbers and letters as well as the piping on the sleeves.

What it means: For a team that famously doesn’t change anything regarding their on-field garb, this is a major development, even as minor as it might be. UniWatch’s Paul Lukas dug this development for the gray road uniforms out of the MLB style guide. It basically reverses an addition made to the away uniforms in 1973, meaning the look will be more old-school instead of modern. For more info on what other teams are doing with their uniform sets in 2024, check out Lukas’ rundown.


Around The Horn


Outfielder Yasiel Puig, rumored to be seeking an MLB comeback, was involved in a massive brawl at a winter league game in Venezuela.

Right-handed pitcher Collin McHugh retired after pitching in 11 MLB seasons. McHugh pitched for the New York Mets, Colorado Rockies, Astros, Tampa Bay Rays, and Atlanta, starting 127 of his 346 career appearances. He had a 3.72 ERA.

Infielder Matt Carpenter, traded from the Padres to Atlanta this offseason before being released, signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. Atlanta is on the hook for all but the MLB minimum of his $5.5 million for 2024.

Former San Francisco Giants right-handed reliever John Brebbia agreed to a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Chicago White Sox.

Outfielder-first baseman Joey Gallo, who played for the Minnesota Twins in 2023, came to terms on a one-year, $5 million deal with the Washington Nationals.

Steve Drumwright

Steve Drumwright is a lifelong baseball fan who retired as a player before he had the chance to be cut from the freshman team in high school. He recovered to become a sportswriter and have a successful journalism career at newspapers in Wisconsin and California. Follow him on Twitter and Threads @DrummerWrites.

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