Notes: Judge, White Sox, Vázquez

There is an increasing belief that the Dodgers will make a run at AL MVP winner Aaron Judge, reports Jon Heyman of the New York Post. Heyman notes that the Dodgers have freed up $100MM, with Cody Bellinger, Craig Kimbrel, Tyler Anderson, Andrew Heaney, David Price, Trea Turner, and Justin Turner no longer on the roster, and that the Dodgers have an outfield gap to fill. Justin Terranova of the New York Post adds that the Dodgers were previously viewed as being on the outskirts of the Aaron Judge sweepstakes, with the Giants posing the biggest threat in his return to the Bronx. The Yankees have already sent the superstar’s camp a new offer, but Terranova notes that the Giants have “indicated that they were willing to break the bank for Judge’s services.”

There has been speculation that Judge, who grew up outside of San Francisco, might be inclined to play closer to home, with Randy Miller of noting that the star spends “parts of his offseasons in Linden” but resides in Tampa. For his part, Judge has played coy when asked about his free agency, telling reporters after he won the AL MVP that he is “looking forward to getting the free-agent process going,” but noting that “a lot of stuff doesn’t kick in until the winter meetings in December,” per Terranova.

Elsewhere in the League:

  • White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz has indicated that his team “need[s] another starter” with Johnny Cueto entering free agency, according to Tim Stebbins of NBA Sports Chicago. Katz adds that Chicago has discussed bringing back Cueto, and it was previously reported that Cueto is open to a return to the team. Inked to a minor league contract in early April, Cueto joined Chicago in late May and posted one of his strongest seasons over the past five years. The 36-year-old worked to a 3.35 ERA in 158 1/3 innings, albeit with a career-low 15.7% strikeout rate and a strong 5.1% walk rate. As noted in MLBTR’s 2022-23 Free Agent Starters article, Cueto’s age, lack of missed bats, and 91 MPH fastball likely won’t earn him a huge deal, but he will almost surely earn a guaranteed rotation spot entering the 2023 season.
  • After winning his second World Series title, veteran catcher Christian Vazquez is entering free agency for the first time. While he is certain to have a number of suitors, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently discussed the potential for a deal between the Cardinals and the backstop. In his article, Goold notes Vazquez’s relationship with franchise fixture Yadier Molina, including Vazquez reaching out to Molina for advice earlier in his career and the fact that Molina is coaching Vazquez on Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic in March. The 32-year-old catcher has previously stated that playing time and reaching the postseason are two key factors in his free-agent decision; with four straight postseason appearances and the departure of Molina, the Cardinals fulfill both of those requirements.

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