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MLB Rumors: Dodgers Eyeing Giolito; Blue Jays Seeking Left-Handed Bats; Teams Inquiring About Arozarena

The 2023 Winter Meetings begin in earnest Monday in Nashville. The Winter Meetings are traditionally the busiest week of the offseason, chock full of trades and free agent signings and rumors. Here’s the latest on Shohei Ohtani’s free agency and Juan Soto’s trade market, plus Saturday’s hot stove rumors.

Teams have asked about Arozarena

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Several teams have contacted the Rays about outfielder Randy Arozarena, reports ESPN. With Arozarena’s salary climbing to a projected $9 million in 2024, he is approaching the point when the Rays usually trade their best players. The Rays have an estimated $125 million on the books for next season and are expected to subtract money this offseason to get payroll in order. The franchise record is an $84 million payroll in 2022. It was $73 million in 2023.

With the free agent market thin on impact bats, the Rays could demand a haul for Arozarena, who will remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2026. All those additional years of control suggest Arozarena could bring back more than Juan Soto, who is the better player but is only a year away from free agency. In addition to Arozarena, the Rays could also move Tyler Glasnow, Brandon Lowe, and Manuel Margot to get their payroll back down into its normal range. 

Dodgers interested in Giolito

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The Dodgers have interest in free agent righty Lucas Giolito, according to the Los Angeles Times. Jack Flaherty and Seth Lugo are also on their radar. Walker Buehler, who is returning from his second Tommy John surgery, and impressive youngster Bobby Miller are the only locks for the Dodgers’ rotation in 2024. Even if they re-sign Clayton Kershaw, he is expected to miss much of next season recovering from shoulder surgery. The Dodgers need multiple starters.

Giolito, Flaherty, and Braves ace Max Fried were high school teammates in Southern California, so signing with the Dodgers would represent a homecoming for the first two. The Dodgers are said to have significant interest in Shohei Ohtani, though he won’t pitch in 2024 following elbow surgery. Los Angeles is also said to have interest in touted Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto. It’s unclear whether the Dodgers would splurge for Ohtani and Yamamoto this offseason.

Blue Jays have interest in Brantley, Pederson

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In an effort to balance their lineup, the Blue Jays have interest in left-handed hitters Michael Brantley and Joc Pederson, reports Sportsnet. They also have interest in utility man Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Cavan Biggio and Daulton Varsho are the only lefties penciled into Toronto’s regular lineup. They received the third fewest plate appearances from left-handed batters in 2023 and that imbalance was costly, particularly in late-inning matchup situations.

At this point in their careers Brantley and Pederson fit best as full-time DHs. Their time roaming the outfield should be limited. They are very different hitters too. Brantley is more of a high-contact doubles hitters. Pederson does not strike out excessively, though he does tend to hit for a lower batting average with more home runs that Brantley. The righty hitting Kiner-Falefa would give the Blue Jays depth at third base in the event Matt Chapman leaves as a free agent.

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