MLB Rumors: Justin Verlander Fits Yankees, Dodgers, Mets;  Astros after Anthony Rizzo in free hands

MLB Rumors: Justin Verlander Fits Yankees, Dodgers, Mets; Astros after Anthony Rizzo in free hands

Major League Baseball’s offseason is in full swing. We are now more than a week from the end of the World Series, the General Manager Meetings took place last week and Free Agency is officially underway. Well, it might still be pretty slow for a couple of weeks. First off, players who have received extended qualifying offers have until Tuesday to accept or decline them. Things are generally moving slowly anyway, but that’s the lag here in the immediate future.

Be sure to check out Mike Axisa’s handy list important dates out of season for more information. Also here are RJ Anderson’s 50 Best Free Agents.

As for Monday’s rumors, let’s take a look.

Verlander thinks it’s appropriate to spend a lot of money

Free agent and probable AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander could be going elsewhere after winning his second ring with the Houston Astros. Ken Rosenthal reports that the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer may be open to a bigger deal with a big-spending competitor like the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Yankees or the New York Mets. The Mets could be hit hard by a free hand on the rotation, which explains their potential interest. As for the Yankees, they could use an additional frontline starter, and the Dodgers have a rich recent history of bringing superstar depth to a roster that’s been a colossus for some time. Yes, Verlander is approaching 40, but the skills appear to be very intact. It is an ideal fit for a win-now club with designs for the World Series.

Astros takes aim at Rizzo

Rosenthal also reports that world champion Houston Astros have named Anthony Rizzo as “their #1 free agent target at first base.” Reigning first baseman Yuli Gurriel is also a free agent, and he showed signs of a sharp decline on the plate last season. However, Rosenthal notes that reuniting with Gurriel remains a possibility, as does pursuing José Abreu.

Rizzo, 33, has had a productive 2022 season with the New York Yankees. In 130 games, Rizzo batted .224/.338/.480 (131st OPS+) with 32 home runs. The Yankees likely have some interest in bringing Rizzo back, and that interest could be mutual. If that’s the case, the Astros might need to step in higher than New York.

Pérez is likely to accept a qualifying offer

Left-hander Martín Pérez ends his career year. He made the All-Star team for the first time and was 12-8 with a 2.89 ERA (136 ERA+), 1.26 WHIP and 169 strikeouts vs. 69 walks in 196 1/3 innings for the Rangers. He compiled 5.0 WAR and his previous career high was 2.3, back in 2017. At age 31, this looks like an opportunity for the biggest payday of his life.

Instead of this, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that Pérez is likely to accept Texas’ qualifying offer. It’s a one-year deal for $19.65 million, so it’s not pennies or anything, but it sure looks like he could land a multi-year deal in free agency.

Several teams are interested in Lugo as a starter

Just to illustrate how much teams are willing to pay to start pitching, the market for former Mets starter Seth Lugo is “robust,” according to The Athletic, with several teams considering Lugo as a rotation option.

In 38 career starts, Lugo is 15-10 with a 4.35 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 174 strikeouts in 194 2/3 innings.

In 237 relief appearances, Lugo has a 2.91 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 334 strikeouts in 300 innings.

Rays continues to explore 40-man trades

The Rays have already traded Ji-Man Choi and declined the option on Kevin Kiermaier’s contract. Let’s go back about a week…

Sure enough, the Rays have been actively working on tweaking their roster for the past few days, and they’ll continue to do so. Morosi reported on Sunday that the Rays are “engaged in advanced trade negotiations” and that we should expect multiple trades before Tuesday’s deadline to add players to the 40-man roster to target them ahead of Rule 5’s draft protection. That means they’re trying to let veterans out of the 40-man to protect themselves from losing younger players to Rule 5.

Sure, there are plenty of teams looking towards Tyler Glasnow and Randy Arozarena, but in all likelihood – with deadline looming and the mess around – the roster will be adjusted around the edges rather than being dismembered.

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