Aaron Nola is the biggest free-agent signing of the offseason so far, though it doesn’t really feel that way since he ended up returning to the Phillies. The Cardinals were in pursuit of the righty, who reportedly turned down bigger offers than seven years and $172 million because he really wanted to stay with the only organization he’s ever known.
“This isn’t the worst day in the world by any means,” Cards president of baseball operations John Mozeliak told KMOX. “There’s still pitching out there and there are things we feel we can do to help our club.”
Though it was hardly a direct pivot from Nola, the Cardinals were able to facilitate a reunion of their own by bringing burly righty Lance Lynn back into the fold. Lynn signed a one-year, $11 million guarantee that includes $3 million in potential bonuses and a $12 million option for 2025. The 36-year-old pitched really well in St. Louis over six seasons, but hasn’t been as consistent as something of a journeyman.
Lynn has pitched for five teams over the last six seasons, the biggest chunk of which came on the South Side. He had a very rough go of it during a tumultuous campaign with the Sox this past summer and finished out with the Dodgers after a trade shipped him to a more competitive team. Now we just have to hope the diminution of his skill has progressed too far for even the most powerful devil magic to work.
Speaking of former White Sox, Reynaldo López just inked a deal with the Braves that will pay him $30 million over the next three years. This first looked like another move to bolster a bullpen that had already re-signed Joe Jimenez and former Cubs great Pierce Johnson and traded for former Sox groundball specialist Aaron Bummer, but the reports out of Atlanta are that the Braves want to stretch López out.
The righty struggled as a starter and then took off as a reliever due to upticks in his velo and stuff, which is why I wanted the Cubs to go after him. He might end up back there if the Braves make good on their reported interest in Sonny Gray, but this is a good fallback option for a team that is even deeper and more balanced than before.
Another name being thrown around quite a bit in trade talks is Dylan Cease, who is reportedly drawing interest from the Dodgers. With the Sox looking to retool yet again after failing miserably to do anything with what looked like the best farm system in the game following all their sell-trades a few years back, Cease might be more valuable to them playing somewhere else. Nothing appears to be close on that front, which makes sense considering Yoshinobu Yamamoto‘s courtship will lead the market for the next month and a half.
The Orix Buffaloes officially posted the ace on Monday, so his negotiating window will be open from 7am CT on Tuesday to 4pm CT on January 4. With so many teams around MLB getting in on the action, it may be a while before other big pitching moves take place. Unless, of course, a team that’s eliminated from the Yamamoto race sees fit to pursue Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, or a trade instead.
We’ll probably see things slow down over the next few days, then the simmer could boil over in the wake of the holiday. If the Cubs are really involved with Yamamoto, however, they might remain pretty quiet on the pitching front for a while yet. Except for low-profile moves like signing Edwin Escobar, that is. It’s also very possible that we see them pull off a pretty big trade over the next few weeks.
Just remember that not every move will be for an impact player and that every team makes plenty of trades and signings meant to do little other than add organizational depth.