Thanksgiving is in the rear-view mirror and the Winter Meetings, the four busiest days of MLB's offseason each year, are less than two weeks away. Until then, here are Saturday's hot stove rumors.
Twins interested in Rodón
Count the Twins among the teams with interest in free agent southpaw Carlos Rodón, according to The Athletic. At this point just about every team in the league has checked in on Rodón, though some are more likely to sign him than others for a variety of reasons (payroll, competitive window, etc.). Our R.J. Anderson ranked Rodón the eighth best free agent this winter.
The only locks for Minnesota's rotation at the moment are Sonny Gray and Joe Ryan. Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda will be in the rotation if healthy, though Mahle finished 2022 on the injured list with a shoulder issue and Maeda missed 2022 while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Bailey Ober, Louie Varland, Josh Winder, and Simeon Woods Richardson are also rotation candidates. The Twins have inventory but are short on impact. Rodón would give the club a bona fide ace.
Rays have interest in Murphy
Many teams have interest in Athletics catcher Sean Murphy, including the Rays, reports MLB.com. Murphy is our No. 1 trade candidate this offseason. The A's are in a deep rebuild and Murphy's salary is projected to climb into the $4 million range through arbitration in 2023. He has three seasons of control remaining and should fetch a significant prospect package.
The Rays have been looking for a quality catcher basically their entire existence. The franchise WAR leader among catchers is Toby Hall at 5.7, and that was spread across parts of seven seasons. Incumbents Christian Bethancourt and Francisco Mejía were both tendered contracts for 2023, though Murphy would be a massive upgrade over either. He is one of the game's best all-around backstops and he just turned 28, so he's in the middle of his peak years.
Orioles want multiple starters, impact bats
The upstart Orioles want "multiple veteran starting pitchers and a couple of potentially impactful bats," according to MASN Sports. That's a pretty long shopping list -- veteran starters and impact bats usually aren't easy to acquire -- but after the jump the O's made in 2022, they should be thinking postseason in 2023. More pitching, more offense, more everything.
This past season the Orioles ranked 30th with a $43.7 million payroll on Opening Day. FanGraphs estimates their current 2023 payroll at $41.1 million, which includes arbitration projections. A $40-something-million payroll in 2023 would be embarrassing, full stop, and would raise questions about ownership's commitment to winning. There's no reason the O's shouldn't increase payroll -- significantly -- to get the arms and bats they need this winter. You can spend without sabotaging the long-term plan.
White Sox interested in Clevinger
The White Sox have strong interest in free agent right-hander Mike Clevinger, reports The Athletic. Chicago needs a No. 5 starter behind Cy Young finalist Dylan Cease and fellow righties Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, and Lance Lynn. Johnny Cueto filled that role admirably in 2022 after signing a minor league contract in April.
Our R.J. Anderson did not include Clevinger among his top 50 free agents. The soon-to-be 32-year-old was up and down in 2022, his first season following his second career Tommy John surgery. Clevinger pitched at an ace-level in spurts earlier his career, and it's reasonable to think his performance will steady as he gets further away from elbow reconstruction. And, of course, the White Sox know him well from his years with Cleveland in the AL Central.