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The Major League Baseball offseason has been underway for nearly two months now, but the trade market didn’t heat up until Monday afternoon. That’s when the Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers and Oakland Athletics agreed to a three-team, nine-player blockbuster involving catchers Sean Murphy and William Contreras. (You can read CBS Sports’ full analysis of that trade here.)

Given how many teams were involved in Murphy’s negotiations, it stands to reason that a decision on that front could cause movement elsewhere in the market. Add in how the first half of the offseason has played out in regards to free agency, and we felt like this was as good a time as any to bring up some of the questions we’ll be asking about the trade market in the coming weeks.

With that confirmed, here are four questions we ponder.

1. Will the Pirates honor Reynolds’ request?

Earlier this month, quarterback Brian Reynolds made a rare trade request. The Pirates are under no obligation to deal Reynolds, who will remain under team control through the 2025 season, but they will certainly continue to make calls to assess his availability and Pittsburgh’s asking price.

You can understand why other teams would be interested in Reynolds. He’s a 27-year-old switch-hitter who posted a 127 OPS+ in nearly 500 big league games while playing mostly center field. (He’ll likely slide to corner for his next employer.) In all, Reynolds has amassed nearly 14 wins above replacement over parts of four seasons, or more than three per season (and that’s without adjusting for the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign). .

So will the Pirates move Reynolds this winter? Right now, the answer seems to be no. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic recently quoted an executive as saying the Pirates were looking for a “Soto-type package” in exchange for Reynolds. The Nationals, for those with short memories, picked up five young players (plus Luke Voight) in exchange for Juan Soto (and Josh Bell) at the trade deadline. The Pirates are unlikely to get such a return for a number of reasons, including: Soto, for example, is a top player, and there’s no Bell there.

If and when the Pirates lower their question marks, whether this season or next, expect Reynolds to resume his status as a walking trade rumor.

2. Can the Blue Jays capitalize on the catching market?

It’s always hard to find a good catcher, and we’re at the point in the winter where it’s getting closer and closer to impossible. Wilson Contreras is a Cardinal. Murphy is brave. and Christian Vasquez is a Gemini. That leaves some valuable backs, whether on the free agent or trade market.

Enter the Toronto Blue Jays, a team with an abundance of catchers in the enviable position. They currently employ Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk and Gabriel Moreno, each of whom could start for several other teams. Predictably, the Blue Jays are willing to deal from their bullpen if they can find a trade that makes their roster better.

Jansen seems the most obvious candidate to go. He is the oldest of the group at 27 and is two seasons into free agency. He also had the best effort of his career as he posted a 141 OPS+ in 72 games. Teams may question whether Jansen can keep up his numbers if asked to carry a 120-plus game workload, but let’s face it; level free agents.

The Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox are among those who could be in the market for a new backstop. Whether any of them can or will make the Blue Jays a compelling proposition remains to be seen. Either way, the Blue Jays seem confident of trading the catcher before the deadline.

3. Will the Red Sox avoid another Bogaerts-like mistake?

The Red Sox entered last spring knowing that longtime shortstop Xander Bogaerts would likely opt out of his contract at the end of the season. They didn’t trade him when they had the chance, either before or during the season, when it was clear they weren’t going to realistically contend for a playoff spot. Instead, he was tendered in the spring and then in the winter, only to see him sign a long-term contract with the San Diego Padres.

The Red Sox now face a similar situation with third baseman Rafael Devers, who will be eligible for free agency at the end of the year. Will Chaim Bloom and company be able to prevent history from repeating itself? Maybe not.

Team president Sam Kennedy was asked about the Devils’ situation on Tuesday. “We’re going to continue to do what I’ve said we’re going to do,” he told reporters. including Chris Cotillo“which makes the right decisions”.

What exactly the “right decision” implies here is anyone’s guess. Normally, you’d think that would mean extending an important part of the franchise, but Bogaerts (and Mookie Betts before him) proved the Red Sox won’t bend over backwards to satisfy their fan base. The Red Sox were reported to be “a long way off” from meeting Devers’ price back in April. It’s unclear if anything has changed in that regard, but clearly no deal has been made.

As such, the Red Sox will likely need to hear what the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cubs, San Francisco Giants and others would be willing to part with in order to secure a full season of Devers. That doesn’t mean they will, of course — they’ve indicated they intend to compete for a postseason spot next year — but it would be nice to see them take a pragmatic approach to team building outside of contract negotiations. with their best players.

4. Should the team take advantage of the pitching market?

We’ll end with the more philosophical question of whether the team will make the best starting leathers available to offer an alternative to the free agent market.

So far, this winter has been devoid of attractive trade options. The Cleveland Cavaliers don’t appear to be moving Shane Bieber (although they may have a few other players), nor are the Milwaukee Brewers interested in parting ways with Corbin Burns or Brandon Woodruff. The Miami Marlins were expected to move Pablo Lopez, but nothing happened on that front either.

That seems to set the stage for some team to step up and take advantage of the acquisition of a number of prospects by a team looking to revamp its rotation without handing over a huge starting free agent contract. Perhaps it’s not so surprising, then. that’s Jim Kallis suggested Tuesday that he had heard The Atlanta Braves are interested in left-hander Max Fried. (Then others rebuke Callis’ report.) Even if the Braves don’t buy into Fried, he makes a useful example of the point we’re trying to make here, which is that it can pay off to be anyone and knowledgable. all arbitrage opportunities.


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