MLB Offseason News: 12/15/2023

Ohtani meets the press: Dog's name, Angels, surgery; Glasnow to Dodgers

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.

The biggest domino of the offseason fell last weekend when two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani announced he was staying in Southern California to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers. That he got a 10-year, $700 million contract, the largest in North American sports history, didn’t hurt either. I broke down the impact Ohtani’s deal had on a few levels.

Since then, more details have come out, most prominently the pitcher and designated hitter deferring $68 million per season. Also, Ohtani’s camp apparently offered the same deal the Dodgers accepted to the San Francisco Giants and the only team he has played for, the Los Angeles Angels. While the Giants were willing to accept those terms, owner Arte Moreno and the Angels were not. The Toronto Blue Jays were “right there” with their offer to Ohtani. One other quirk: Ohtani can opt-out of the record-breaking contract based on the whether the front office and ownership keep the Dodgers competitive.

Of course, the most important news coming out of Thursday’s introductory press conference was the two-time unanimous American League MVP revealing his adorable dog’s name: Dekopin, which in Japanese means a flick or poke of the forehead. Ohtani simplified the dog’s name for Americans to Decoy, which seems very apt for his free-agent process.

Getting back to reality, the glaring question that needed to be answered Thursday was about the type of surgery performed. While Ohtani and agent Nez Balelo said it was not a second Tommy John procedure on Ohtani’s right elbow, although the Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who did the surgery, simply said details of Ohtani’s injury were different from most revisions and his recovery time should be similar to his first Tommy John surgery. As for his hitting, Ohtani said he was already taking “dry swings” and expects to be ready for Opening Day.

Ohtani’s deal was finalized following the Winter Meetings. There wasn’t a great deal that happened in Nashville, but I recapped what did transpire. Which brings us to this article. Pitcher List will catch you up on what you might have missed in the previous week with MLB Offseason News. This one includes all non-Ohtani news that has happened since the Winter Meetings.

And for the most part, we stay away from minor-league deals. There are exceptions.

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


Dodgers Grab Glasnow From Rays


What happened: The Dodgers acquired right-handed starter Tyler Glasnow, outfielder Manuel Margot and cash considerations from the Tampa Bay Rays for prospect right-handed starter Ryan Pepiot and prospect outfielder Jonny Deluca. The deal is dependent on Glasnow signing an extension with the Dodgers.

What it means: With Glasnow set to earn $25 million in 2024 for a franchise that has never had an Opening Day payroll of $100 million, there was no doubt Glasnow was going to be moved, it was just a matter of to whom. The Dodgers, in need of starting pitching for 2024, met the Rays’ price and consummated the deal on the same day they introduced Ohtani. But the knock on Glasnow, an L.A.-area native, is his health. He had Tommy John surgery in 2021 and missed a bulk of 2023 with an oblique injury. But when healthy, Glasnow is a dominant pitcher. Since making his MLB debut in 2016 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Glasnow has a 3.89 ERA, 1.206 WHIP and 107 ERA+. Twice, Glasnow has had seasons with an ERA+ of 248 or better. However, in six seasons with the Rays, he never made more than 14 starts until the 21 this year (he did make all 11 opportunities in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season). Margot could be a good backup or platoon player in the Dodgers’ outfield. Pepiot was a key prospect for L.A. who made 17 appearances (10 starts) in the last two seasons. He has a 25.1% strikeout rate and 10% walk rate, but has a penchant for giving up homers, something that the Rays could fix. Deluca made his MLB debut in 2023 with 45 plate appearances.


Giants Land Ex-KBO MVP


What happened: Outfielder Jung Hoo Lee and the San Francisco Giants agreed to a six-year, $113 million contract. The deal includes an opt-out after four years.

What it means: After missing out on free agents Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa as well as Ohtani — all for various reasons — last offseason and so far this offseason, the Giants finally landed a noteworthy free agent. Lee is a 25-year-old who mainly played center field for the Kiwoom Heroes of the KBO since 2019. The Heroes will be paid a posting fee of $18.825 million by the Giants. Lee won the KBO’s MVP award in 2022, slashing .349/.421/.575 with a career-best 23 homers and 113 RBIs in 142 games. His 2023 was cut short by a broken ankle, but he still posted a .318/.406/.455 line with six homers and 45 RBIs in 86 games. Whether Lee sticks in center or moves to a corner will likely be determined in spring training, but his offensive skills are what the Giants covet. Lee excels at making contact, walking in 9.7% of his career plate appearances and striking out 7.7% with an on-base percentage of .407. Oh, and Lee has a cool nickname: “Grandson of the Wind.” His father, Jong Beom Lee, was a KBO player who was really fast and had the moniker “Son of the Wind.”


Flaherty Takes Tigers’ Offer


What happened: Right-handed starter Jack Flaherty agreed to a one-year, $14 million deal with the Detroit Tigers.

What it means: Flaherty, who turned 28 in October, finished 2023 with the Baltimore Orioles after spending his entire pro career with the St. Louis Cardinals, who picked him in the first round of the 2014 draft. Flaherty hasn’t been able to repeat the promise of his 2018 and 2019 seasons, primarily due to a variety of injuries, most notably his right shoulder. In 2023, Flaherty had an OK run with the Cardinals (4.43 ERA, 1.550 WHIP in 20 starts) and struggled after his trade to the Orioles (6.75 ERA, 1.673 WHIP in nine games, seven starts), with a 22.8% strikeout rate and 10.2% walk rate. The Tigers need veteran arms for their rotation as they attempt to contend in 2024 and Flaherty needed a place where he could have a rebound season. Flaherty joins right-hander Kenta Maeda as newcomers to a rotation that includes young righty Matt Manning.


Rangers Sign Injured Mahle


What happened: Right-handed starter Tyler Mahle, who had Tommy John surgery in May, has signed a two-year, $22 million contract with the defending World Series champion Texas Rangers.

What it means: If things go as planned, Mahle, who turned 29 in September, would likely return around the All-Star break after being injured in what was to be his first full season with the Minnesota Twins. That would be a similar path to what Jacob deGrom is on. DeGrom, returning from a second Tommy John surgery, said he hopes to be back in August. In his seven-year career, all with the Cincinnati Reds before the Twins acquired him at the 2022 trade deadline, Mahle has a 4.30 ERA and 1.304 WHIP, striking out 24.9% of batters and walking 8.5%. At worst, it is a low-risk gamble for the Rangers, who are probably still searching for another arm for their Opening Day rotation.


Urías Police Investigation Complete


What happened: A law enforcement investigation into former Dodgers left-hander Julio Urías in a felony domestic violence case has wrapped up and been turned over to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

What it means: Urías, who became a free agent following the 2023 season, will now wait to see if the DA’s Office will file charges stemming from a Sept. 3 incident following an MLS game between LAFC and Inter Miami featuring superstar Lionel Messi. Urias did not pitch the rest of the season as he was placed on administrative leave. This is the second domestic violence arrest for Urías, who was also taken into custody but not charged in 2019. Still, Urías was suspended 20 games by MLB and is likely to face punishment in this incident. The Commissioner’s Office generally waits until a charging decision has been made to announce any suspension. No player has been suspended twice under MLB’s domestic violence policy, which began in 2015.


Kershaw Remains Undecided


What happened: Left-handed starter Clayton Kershaw said he is likely to return in 2024, but has yet to decide where he wants to play.

What it means: The lifetime Dodgers star and current free agent underwent surgery to repair ligaments and a capsule in his left shoulder at the start of November and is not expected to return to the mound until at least the second half of the 2024 season. Kershaw, who turns 36 in March, has a significant injury history, although that mainly has to do with his back. When healthy, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner is still a very effective pitcher, as evidenced by his 2.46 ERA and 1.063 WHIP in 131⅔ innings covering 24 starts. Kershaw wants to pitch in 2024, but could decide to play for a team other than the Dodgers. The leading candidate would be the Rangers as Kershaw is a Dallas native.


Royals Continue To Add Pitching


What happened: Right-handed starter Seth Lugo agreed to a three-year, $45 million contract with the Kansas City Royals, who also have a one-year, $4 million deal with right-handed reliever Chris Stratton. Left-handed reliever Will Smith signed a one-year, $5 million to return to the team he made his MLB debut with.

What it means: After spending the previous five seasons as a reliever for the New York Mets, Lugo was stellar in a full-time starting role in his only season with the San Diego Padres in 2023. In 26 starts, Lugo had a 3.57 ERA in 146⅓ innings, striking out 23.2% and walking 6% of the batters he faced. His successful stint in the rotation allowed him to opt out of a two-year, $15 million deal with the Padres. By joining the Royals, Lugo not only got a bigger payday, but will be counted on to help build a young rotation. Lugo and right-hander Jordan Lyles are the veterans, with left-hander Cole Ragans and righty Brady Singer also being counted on. The Royals are shoring up their pitching staff. Like Smith, Stratton finished the season with the World Series champion Rangers. Stratton was traded to the Rangers by the St. Louis Cardinals. Also, the Royals had added right-hander Nick Anderson in a trade with Atlanta.


Sale Of Orioles Progressing?


What happened: Baltimore native David Rubenstein is reportedly in talks to purchase the Orioles.

What it means: Rubenstein, a billionaire who co-founded the private-equity firm the Carlyle Group, is attempting to take over the team currently owned by the Angelos family. Peter Angelos, who has owned the Orioles since 1993, has been in poor health in recent years and gave control to wife Georgia and sons John and Louis. Family bickering led to Louis suing John over control, but that legal action was dropped. The potential sale of the Orioles comes at a time when the team is starting to experience on-field success led by a young core of players. The Orioles won the AL East in 2023.


Cardinals Ship O’Neill To Red Sox


What happened: Outfielder Tyler O’Neill was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Boston Red Sox for right-handed pitchers Nick Robertson and Victor Santos.

What it means: With a outfield surplus and a need to upgrade their pitching, the Cardinals acquired a major-league arm in Robertson and a prospect in Santos by dealing O’Neill. Projected to earn $5.5 million in 2024, his last year of arbitration, O’Neill has struggled to stay on the field the last two seasons, playing a combined 168 games. That came following a breakout season in 2021, when he hit 34 homers and slashed .286/.352/.560, earning NL MVP votes. O’Neill will take over one of the corner outfield spots, possibly relegating Masataka Yoshida to more of a full-time DH role. Robertson joins the Cardinals in his second trade in five months after being shipped to the Red Sox by the Dodgers in the Kiké Hernández deal. Robertson made 18 appearances in 2023, split evenly between the Dodgers and Red Sox. The results weren’t great, posting a 6.04 ERA in 22⅓ innings in his MLB debut season. But he did strike out 26. Santos did not pitch in 2023 due to an arm injury.


The Injured List


Former Chicago White Sox closer Liam Hendriks, who returned from a battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma only to see his season end due to Tommy John surgery, is looking to return around the trade deadline in 2024.

Pirates catcher Endy Rodríguez, who made his MLB debut, will miss the 2024 season after having Tommy John surgery. Rodriguez was injured Nov. 13 while playing for Estrellas Orientales in the Dominican Republic.

New York Mets prospect third baseman Ronny Mauricio will have surgery to repair a torn right ACL. Mauricio, who made his MLB debut in September and figured to be in the mix to make the Opening Day roster, is likely to miss a good chunk of the 2024 season.


Around the Horn


Atlanta acquired catcher Max Stassi and infielder David Fletcher from the Los Angeles Angels for first baseman Evan White and left-handed reliever Tyler Thomas. Atlanta then shipped Stassi to the White Sox for a player to be named and cash.

Former Orioles right-handed reliever Jorge López and the New York Mets have come to terms on a one-year, $2 million contract.

Former Milwaukee Brewers left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin is returning to the Tigers on a one-year, $4.75 million contract.

Former Rangers catcher Austin Hedges has agreed to a one-year, $4 million contract with the Cleveland Guardians.

The Miami Marlins acquired catcher Christian Bethancourt from the Guardians for cash considerations.

To clear room on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers traded left-hander Victor González and prospect second baseman-third baseman Jorbit Vivas to the New York Yankees for shortstop Trey Sweeney.

The Guardians signed former Reds right-hander Ben Lively to one-year, $750,000 deal.

Former Rays right-handed reliever Cooper Criswell agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Red Sox.

Former Twins right-handed reliever Dylan Floro signed a one-year, $2.25 million contract with the Nationals. The Nats designated infielder Jeter Downs for assignment.

Right-handed reliever Daniel Hudson is remaining with the Dodgers, agreeing to a minor-league deal that will pay him $2 million if he makes the team.

Former Brewers first baseman Rowdy Tellez has agreed to a one-year, $3 million contract with the Pirates.

The Brewers acquired right-handed reliever Taylor Clarke from the Royals in exchange for a pair of minor-leaguers, right-hander Ryan Brady and infielder Cam Devaney.

Catcher Austin Wynns, who played for three NL West teams in 2023, has agreed to a one-year split contract with the Reds. Wynns saw action with the Giants, Dodgers and Colorado Rockies in last season and would get $950,000 playing in the majors.

The Pirates acquired outfielder Billy McKinney from the Yankees for international pool money. McKinney had just signed a minor-league contract with the Yankees.

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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