The Opener: Giants, Rule 5, Mid-Rotation Market

The stove is so hot that we couldn’t even get this post out this morning! Judge, Quintana, Jansen, Contreras! Here’s what else we’re looking at:

1. How Will The Giants React To Missing Out On Judge?

Perhaps the biggest news of the offseason came in this morning, as reigning AL MVP Aaron Judge re-signed with the Yankees on a monster contract. In yesterday’s Opener, we discussed how the Judge decision was likely holding up most of the remaining top players on the market. With Judge’s decision now made, it’s possible we’ll see movement on other top players, and any such movement will likely involve the Giants and Padres, the losing bidders on Judge. The Giants signed Mitch Haniger last night, but San Francisco will likely be thinking much bigger with regard to future pursuits, as they’ve been connected to Carlos Correa at the top of the shortstop market, have interest in bringing back Carlos Rodón, the top pitcher left on the market, and may turn to Brandon Nimmo in their pursuit of a second outfield signing. Nimmo, of course, is the top outfield free agent available now that Judge has signed. With the Giants reportedly having offered Judge a deal in the range of $360MM, they should have plenty of money available for pursuits of any of these top free agents.

2. The Rule 5 Draft Is Today

The Winter Meetings are set to end today, and they’ll likely feature the same flurry of activity the past two days had. Today won’t be entirely the same, however, as the Rule 5 draft will occur at 4 PM CT this afternoon. Any players that were 18 and under at the time of signing and were signed in 2018 or earlier, and any players 19 or older and signed in 2019 or earlier who are not on a club’s 40-man roster are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft. Teams must have space on their 40-man to accommodate their Rule 5 selections. Currently, the 40-man rosters of the Angels, D-Backs, Rangers, Rays and Royals are full. This year’s Rule 5 draft is of particular note because the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft did not occur last year, leaving more players than usual freshly vulnerable in the draft this time. Between the Rule 5 draft and a likely third straight busy day of rumors and signings, the final day of this year’s Winter Meetings looks to be one to watch. Be sure to check in here at MLBTR throughout the day today for all the latest coverage and analysis of the Winter Meetings. You can also download our free Trade Rumors app on iOS or on Android and set up notifications for your favorite teams or any players of particular interest!

3. Who’s Left On The Mid-Rotation Market?

Yesterday saw the market for mid-rotation starters heat up in a big way, as the Rangers signed Andrew Heaney, the Phillies inked Taijuan Walker and the Cubs landed Jameson Taillon. It isn’t slowing down today, with the Mets and José Quintana agreeing on a deal. Walker and Taillon landed similar deals of four years, with Walker’s $72MM slightly outdoing Taillon’s $68MM, while Heaney took a different approach to his free agency, settling for a guarantee of just two years, $25MM in order to secure an opt-out that will allow him to test free agency again next offseason if he so chooses. In any case, the deals indicate that the market has gotten much stronger for mid-rotation starters since Tyler Anderson’s three year, $39MM deal with the Angels last month. With prices soaring, the supply of mid-rotation options in free agency is shrinking rapidly, with Kodai Senga and Chris Bassitt the best options remaining behind Rodón, the last remaining ace. Looking a bit further down the free agency tier list, the likes of Nathan Eovaldi and Sean Manaea also remain on the market. Any of these pitchers could see their markets heat up as the Winter Meetings come to a close, now that the mid-rotation market has been established and their fellow free agents are beginning to sign.

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