Takeaways from the first big deals at Winter Meetings

So! Remember when everyone was hoping to maybe get a little free agent movement after the winter meetings started? Consider these hopes fulfilled! By the time the second afternoon game of the World Cup was over, two of the biggest names in baseball had agreed on huge deals, with the Mets including right-hander Justin Verlander on a two-year, $86 million contract (with a third-year vesting option), according to a source. Not to be outdone, their division rivals in Philadelphia turned around and agreed to a deal with shortstop Trea Turner that will be worth a whopping $300 million over 11 years … with a no-trade clause, a source told MLB.com.

Their heads are spinning. Our heads are spinning. And that’s just day 1! Here are 11 takeaways from a wild, wild start to winter meetings.

1. Phillies fans have a pretty tight grip on their next decade!
In 2031 my son will be a junior in college in fifth grade. We will already have had two presidential elections and are preparing for a third. That’s more than two men’s world championships as of now – we don’t even know where that world championship will be held in 2030. The Los Angeles Olympics will be in our rearview mirror for three years now. One more thing, we know that Bryce Harper and Turner are both approaching 40 and (unless they waive their no-trade clauses) will be playing for the Philadelphia Phillies. It’s fair to say that you can comfortably invest in a jersey, although if one of the players leaves you might not fit in anymore.

2. Carlos Rodón probably smiles.
Well, the two top pitchers (Jacob deGrom and Verlander) are off the market, so if you’re a team desperate for a quality starter, Rodón is the last guy sitting at the bar. The New York Post’s Jon Heyman recently reported that Rodón was seeking a six-year, $30 million-a-year contract, and that was before Verlander signed for $43 million a year. Rodón isn’t the pitcher that Verlander or deGrom are, and he’s only pitched 140+ innings twice in his career, but he’s got the best left on the market, which means his price has almost certainly just gone up is.

3. These shortstops are likely to smile even more.
The general assumption was that the other three prime shortstops in the market – Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson – would wait and see what Turner got before taking their own negotiations very seriously. Why not wait and see what the market has to offer? Well, now we know: It can take a beating! $300 million over 11 years is quite a number, in dollars of course, but mostly in years — Turner turns 30 in June, after all. Of these shortstops, only Bogaerts is older than Turner, which must make all three feel pretty good.

4. Max Scherzer has a more logical teammate… and maybe a new contract target.
As great as the deGrom/Scherzer combo was, there was a slight sonic disconnect: deGrom is incredible and throws hard like Scherzer, but he’s never been particularly durable, not to mention his face-melting, intimidating, and competitive way Scherzer is. But do you know who it is? foreigners. Having these two back-to-back over a weekend streak feels like an unofficial and never-ending battle waiting for more K’s tonight. Not for nothing, by the way, but Scherzer definitely has an exit option after the 2023 season if he wants to take it. Could he get more than the $43.3 million he’s supposed to make? Now that there’s this deal, maybe!

5. The Braves need to sweat a bit.
The Braves and Mets, as you may recall, had a pretty spirited pennant race in 2022, which the Braves narrowly won thanks to a series sweep in the final week of the season. The two teams ended in a 101-win tie, and well, it’s fair to ask if the Mets could have made up that game had they had Verlander on their team. (He would have thrown more than deGrom, at least.) The Braves may lose their shortstop, but they’re still pretty stacked otherwise. But when it comes down to a series again in 23… will they be able to beat Verlander and Scherzer? Oh, and now they’re getting it both ways because these third-place Phillies (and NL pennant winners) just walked out and got the best shortstop on the market. Let’s put it this way: The NL-Ost certainly looks like the division with the traditional arms race, not the AL-Ost, as is usual.

6. Shohei Ohtani may have lost a suitor, either at close or next year.
The Angels have said they won’t sell him, and it’s probably wise to believe them: they could still be a playoff team. But as we all wrote our “potential Ohtani suitors” articles this offseason, the Mets were always at the top of that list. But as much as the Mets have shown a willingness to run a big payroll, they really have the guts to trade whatever it would take to get Ohtani in addition to attempting to sign him for an extension while they spend the highest dollar on Scherzer and Verlander ?

7. Buck Showalter will never have a better chance.
With the Astros winning the World Series, Dusty Baker ended his tenure as the most successful active manager never to win a World Series. Guess who’s next on this list? That’s right, it’s Showalter, who ranks 19th on the all-time wins list and has the third-most wins of any active manager behind Baker and Terry Francona (who, you might recall, has won a few World Series himself). Showalter won his fourth Manager of the Year award in 2022, but of course he’d trade them all for that elusive World Series ring. He may never have a better shot than ’23.

8. Francisco Álvarez, the spotlight is yours.
Hey kiddo, we know you’re an incredible hitting prospect who’s still figuring out how to hit in the big leagues. Guess what? You are about to become the battery mate of two of the fiercest rivals in baseball history. They’ll end up learning so much…if they don’t stare several holes into you before the season is over.

9. Who owns the Big Apple?
The Yankees may and may not sign Aaron Judge. But even if they did, there’s no question that the days when the Yankees had the city to themselves are over. The Yankees are the team to grab the big-name free agents because they’ll do anything to win. But that’s been more of the Mets’ MO these past few winters. That’s okay if the Yankees get further in the playoffs than the Mets, like they did last season. But even with the Yankees’ AL East title, they won fewer games than the Mets did in 2022. Most projection systems predict the same for 23. Who rules this city anyway?

10. The Astros’ young starters need to step up.
It’s certainly no surprise that Verlander left the Astros: after all, it was a much-discussed subplot during the World Series. But no matter how well you’ve built your roster, no team likes to lose a Cy Young winner. The Astros are chock-full of pitching talent, of course, but asking one of those pitchers (even the team’s new ace, Framber Valdez) to be a Verlander is asking a lot.

11. The market moves!
Maybe it’s the waning of the pandemic, maybe it’s the return to normal, maybe it’s the new labor deal, but one thing is clear: At the forefront of the market, teams are competing for the best talent in freelance. Turner is a speed player who will make $27 million by 40. That seems like quite a risk, to say the least. But another risk is not having Turner on your team, and if you wanted Turner on your team like the Phillies did, you had to pay for it. It can be assumed that the markets for Judge, Correa and others will be similarly robust.

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