Teams from MLB’s biggest markets are expected to be active this offseason with the winter meetings looming. Several contracts worth more than $100 million will be given out over the next couple of months, and teams from New York, Los Angeles and Chicago will be at the center of the action.
Some of baseball’s top teams from last season will be losing key free agents. There’s little chance that the New York Mets will re-sign Yoenis Cespedes, and the Toronto Blue Jays aren’t expected to keep David Price. Even the World Series champs could lose their top pitcher, as Johnny Cueto hits free agency.
Below is a look at what the biggest spenders in MLB might do during the 2015-2016 offseason.
New York Yankees
After making a brief appearance in the playoffs, the Yankees are ready to retool and do more than reach the wild-card game next season. General manager Brian Cashman isn't expected to pursue a top free agent, but could potentially make a trade or sign players that won’t garner a nine-figure contract.
The Yankees are looking for help in their starting rotation, and they have explored trading Brett Gardner to improve their staff. According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, the Yankees have spoken with the Seattle Mariners about a potential deal involving the All-Star outfielder. Seattle reportedly won’t discuss trading pitcher Taijuan Walker, but left-hander James Paxton could potentially be dealt. Paxton is 12-8 with a 3.16 ERA in 30 career starts.
Wei-Yin Chen could be the biggest free agent New York goes after. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports that the Yankees are interested in the starter, who went 11-8 with a 3.34 ERA for the Baltimore Orioles last season.
Los Angeles Dodgers
L.A.’s one-two punch at the top of their rotation was maybe the best in MLB history last season. Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke finished in the top three in ERA, but there’s no guarantee that the latter will return in 2016.
Greinke, the favorite to win the NL Cy Young award, opted out of his contract and is now a free agent. The Dodgers are the favorites to sign Greinke, but CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that Los Angeles could sign David Price instead. The team is high on Price, who could earn more than $200 million in free agency. Price is two years younger than the 32-year-old Greinke.
Second baseman Howie Kendrick is also a free agent. Kendrick hit .295 in 117 games with the Dodgers last season, but he could have several suitors competing with L.A. to sign him. At the trade deadline, the Dodgers acquired 21-year-old second baseman Jose Peraza, who is expected to compete for the starting job.
The Cubs lost in the NLCS, and they could find their way to the 2016 World Series by making a few key moves. An upgrade in the rotation and the outfield could give the Cubs the edge over every NL team, and Chicago is already favored to reach the Fall Classic next season.
The Dodgers might be exploring the possibility of signing Price, but Chicago appears to be his most likely destination. Multiple reports give the Cubs the best chance to sign the left-hander, who went 18-5 with a 2.45 ERA last season. If the Cubs miss out on Price, they could sign Jeff Samardzija, according to Heyman. Samardzija was traded by Chicago to the Oakland Athletics in 2014, and he had a 2.83 ERA in his last season with the Cubs.
The Cubs are one of a few teams that reportedly have shown interest in Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Boston Red Sox. WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford says there is growing sentiment that Boston President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski is looking to trade one of the team’s outfielders. The Cubs and Kansas City Royals are reportedly looking into acquiring Bradley. Bradley is 25 years old, and he had a .833 OPS in 74 games in 2015.