The Opener: Shortstops, Astros, MLBTR Chat


With a frenzied Winter Meetings in the rear-view mirror, here are some things we’ll be watching around baseball throughout the day:

1. After Bogaerts stunner, what’s next for the shortstop market?

Late last night, the Padres and Xander Bogaerts agreed to a massive 11-year, $280MM deal. While things seemed to be progressing toward a reunion between Bogaerts and the Red Sox as recently as yesterday afternoon, the Padres managed to pry away Boston’s longtime shortstop with a huge offer that runs through Bogaerts’ age-40 season, wildly surpassing even optimistic predictions; MLBTR predicted Bogaerts would receive a seven-year, $189MM deal. Such an expectation-shattering deal could certainly come with implications for the top remaining shortstops on the market, Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson. With Bogaerts approaching the $300MM mark, and fellow top shortstop Trea Turner reaching it, it seems reasonable to expect that Correa will surpass that benchmark. Swanson isn’t likely to push into that stratosphere, but he could also benefit and beat expectations — particularly given the wide breadth of teams still looking for a shortstop. The Cubs and Twins are both known to be in on both remaining shortstops, but they’re far from the only suitors, even with the Dodgers reportedly bowing out of the Correa market. The Giants are pursuing Correa after missing on Aaron Judge, while both the Red Sox and Cardinals have been linked to Swanson. However, both Boston and St. Louis made significant signings yesterday that could theoretically take them out of the inflated shortstop market: a deal with Willson Contreras for the Cardinals, and deals for both NPB star Masataka Yoshida and closer Kenley Jansen for the Red Sox.

2. Where will the Astros turn at catcher?

The aforementioned five-year, $87.5MM deal between Contreras and St. Louis leaves Houston in a difficult position, as they were the other main suitor for Contreras. The reigning World Series champs have a clear need at catcher, where Martin Maldonado and Korey Lee are the current tandem. The next-best free agent on the market, Christian Vazquez, has been clear about his desire to receive more playing time than he did following an August trade to Houston, where Maldonado remained the starter behind the plate even after Vazquez was accquired. This could leave the Astros pursuing cheaper options behind the plate, such as Tucker Barnhart, to whom they were recently connected. It’s also possible the Astros could dive into the trade market, where each of Sean Murphy, Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk, and Gabriel Moreno have been discussed in trade scenarios by their respective teams. The Astros have already been connected to Murphy in recent days, though the acquisition cost could be exorbitant for a division rival. Whether the Astros pursue a lower-tier free agent or a trade for a younger catcher, they won’t be spending anything close to the $87.5MM guarantee Contreras landed with the Cardinals. Given that, it’s possible the Astros could reallocate any money they had set aside for Contreras to other parts of the roster, whether that means signing a pitcher after reigning AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander departed for the Mets, or bolstering their outfield corps with an outfielder like Brandon Nimmo or Andrew Benintendi, as they have been rumored to have interest in doing.

3. MLBTR Chat with Anthony Franco today at 1pm CT

After the whirlwind of the Winter Meetings, do you have any burning questions about your favorite team’s offseason? If so, tune in at 1pm CT for a live chat MLBTR’s Anthony Franco, where he will be taking questions from readers. With so much having happened in the past few days and a few of the biggest free agents on the market yet to sign, there’s plenty to talk about! You can submit a question in advance, and use that same link to check back and participate live.



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