It's not a matter of if the free agency floodgates will soon open, but when. Think of the situation as a dam, with the water pressure steadily increasing. That dam only has a few small cracks in it now, but the whole structure is on the verge of bursting at any moment.
Such is the case with MLB free agency as we turn the calendar another day. International free agent Shohei Ohtani has narrowed his list of preferred teams down to seven and has had meetings with at least two of them. Meanwhile, down in the Sunshine State, the Miami Marlins continue to hope for a Giancarlo Stanton trade, though nothing appears imminent.
Oh, and did I mention another free agent found a new home?
Finish that second cup of coffee, baseball fans. This is the Rumor Roundup.
Ohtani meets with Giants, Dodgers
It's a safe bet at this point that Shohei Ohtani will likely sign a west coast team and the meetings he has had so far imply that. Ohtani met with the San Francisco Giants yesterday as reported by SiriusXM's Jim Bowden, and a new twist came to light this morning with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweeting that the two-way sensation also met with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It's worth noting the Dodgers have longstanding ties to Japan, what with bringing the likes of Hideo Nomo, Kaz Ishii and, more recently, Kenta Maeda over from Nippon Professional Baseball. Adding Ohtani to the mix immediately boosts a team that made it to Game 7 of the World Series last season. If Los Angeles wasn't already stacked, then they definitely will be if Ohtani chooses the Dodgers.
The only problem is that there isn't an exact spot for Ohtani in the field as he wishes to hit on days he doesn't pitch. Between Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor, Joc Pederson and a slew of others, he's just destined for a reserve role. Moreover, unless manager Dave Roberts opted to roll with a six-man rotation, adding Ohtani would come at the expense of moving either Maeda or Hyun-Jin Ryu to the bullpen.
The Giants aren't the perfect destination either, but RealSport's own Sam Lopresti penned a great piece on each of the Ohtani finalist's chances of landing the phenom. Go give that a read for more details!
Stanton talks slow
Radio host Craig Mish reported over the weekend that a Giancarlo Stanton trade could be completed this week, but now it's looking like he may have jumped the gun. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweeted yesterday that a Stanton trade was nowhere close to happening, calling it a "complicated transaction" that would "drag on a while" despite weekend meetings between Stanton's representatives and the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals brass.
I hate to say it, but Crasnick is right. It's looking increasingly likely this trade will feature a lot of players other than Stanton changing teams, plus there will surely be a lot of money involved given the ten years and $295m remaining on his contract. Not only that, but it is important to remember that Stanton holds all the cards in any scenario thanks to his full no-trade clause.
Still, Stanton is almost definitely getting traded this winter so don't give up hope on a deal yet.
Mike Minor signs with Texas Rangers
And amongst all the Ohtani and Stanton craziness, another free agent has found a new home! According to Ken Rosenthal, left-hander Mike Minor has agreed to terms with the Texas Rangers. Financial terms have not been disclosed, but the deal is pending a physical. MLB Network's Jon Morosi and Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News both reported that despite spending last season in the bullpen, Minor could wind up being used as a starter.
Minor, who turns 30 later this month, missed the 2015 and 2016 seasons with shoulder issues but was outstanding out of the 'pen in 2017. He went 6-6 with a 2.55 ERA in 65 games and posted an incredible WHIP of 1.01. Minor's K/9 was also 10.20 and he posted a FIP of 2.62, so his performance last year was far from a fluke.
Shoulder concerns aside, Minor should provide a boost to Texas either in the bullpen or at the back end of the rotation. His being a lefty provides insurance in case Jake Diekman's health goes south, and a pitching staff that finished 21st in MLB with a 4.66 ERA could also use a boost from its starters if Minor ends up in that role. Globe Life Park in Arlington is much more hitter-friendly than Kauffman Stadium, but this is a strong signing by Texas nonetheless.