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MLB Notebook: Rhys Hoskins and Joc Pederson sign, Jorge Soler might be next, and more

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Brett Holden
3 months ago
The big names still won’t budge, but we had some movement this week, and there appears to be more on the horizon.

Rhys Hoskins signs with the Brewers:

The Milwaukee Brewers have agreed to a deal with 1B Rhys Hoskins on a two-year, $34 million contract. Hoskins did not play a single game in the 2023 season after tearing his ACL a week before the Phillies season opener. The injury required Hoskins to undergo reconstructive surgery on the knee and sidelined him for the rest of the season. There was hope that Hoskins could recover to play in the Postseason, but he was unable to do so. 
After winning the World Series with the Phillies in 2022, Hoskins’s first MLB game will be with the Milwaukee Brewers who were looking for an offensive upgrade. The Brewers have already lost first base options Rowdy Tellez and Mark Canha, and both Carlos Santana and Darin Ruf are still free agents. 
The Brewers lacked depth before signing Hoskins, Jake Bauers and Owen Miller stood as the most likely picks for the first base spot. In 242 at-bats with the Yankees in 2023, Bauers finished the season with a .202 batting average, 13 home runs and 30 RBIs. Owen Miller, who is primarily used as a utility guy, played 35 of his 90 games at first base in 2023.
Hoskins has spent his entire eight-year career with the Phillies and has hit at least 27 homers in four of the last five seasons. The one season he did not reach 27 home runs was the COVID-shortened 2020 season, where he had 10 in 41 games for a 5.4% HR percentage, the third-highest rate in his career.
The Brewers’ 2023 season came to a disappointing end when the Arizona Diamondbacks swept the Brew Crew in the NL Wildcard on their way to a World Series appearance. After the loss to the D-backs, the Brewers would lose their manager, Craig Counsell, as he signed with division foe Chicago Cubs to become their new bench boss. Pat Murphy, who was the Brewers bench coach in 2023, will take over the reins from Counsell next season. Murphy, who coached Counsell at Notre Dame, has managed in the big leagues before when he took over for Bud Black in 2015 when he was fired from the San Diego Padres. 
The Beermakers are in a transitional period of sorts at the moment and while this may not be as stable of a destination for Hoskins as the Phillies, he will likely be slotted as their clean-up hitter and a massive part of the Brew Crew’s development next season. 

Joc Pederson signs with the D-Backs:

The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to terms with lefty DH, Joc Pederson on a one-year, $12.5 million deal. The D-backs will be Pederson’s third NL West team as he started his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers and is coming to Arizona from the San Francisco Giants. 
Pederson brings a lot to Arizona. The former World Series Champ with the Atlanta Braves will bring ten years of experience plus almost 80 games of Postseason baseball. Something a young and exciting Arizona Diamondbacks team could really benefit from. Coming off an unlikely run to the World Series, eventually losing to the Texas Rangers, some of the D-backs key pieces are young and relatively inexperienced. Corbin Carroll, Gaby Moreno, and Alek Thomas are all 23 years old and Geraldo Perdomo is 24.
Joc Pederson also adds some serious pop. His home-run numbers have been on the decline a little, but he sat in the 92nd percentile in average exit velocity in 2023, 95th percentile in hard-hit percentage and 91st percentile in walk percentage. Given the opportunity, Pederson can contribute with some major power. 
Earlier this offseason, the Arizona Diamondbacks swung a deal with the Seattle Mariners, sending two minor leaguers to Seattle in exchange for Eugenio Suárez. Along with Pederson, Suárez adds that defensive bump that Pederson does not supply. Obviously, Pederson and Suárez play two very different positions, and the outfield for Arizona is relatively set with Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., so, adding a power bat in Pederson and a reliable glove in Suárez, the Diamondbacks are making this impressive, young team even better.

Blue Jays favourites for Jorge Soler:

As teams continue to fall out of the race, the Toronto Blue Jays now lead the way for slugging righty, Jorge Soler. According to a report from Mark Feinsand from MLB.com, the Mariners, Jays, Diamondbacks, and Red Sox are in the hunt for Soler, but after some recent moves from those teams, the Blue Jays could be the last one standing. 
The Diamondbacks made their move for Joc Pederson earlier this week, and acquisitions of Mitch Garver, Mitch Haniger, and Luke Raley, may have taken the Mariners out of the race as well. As for the BoSox, they are still interested in adding a right-handed bat but are strapped for money right now and Soler is likely out of their range. 
Soler is one of only three free agents who hit over 30 home runs in 2023, the other two being Shohei Ohtani and J.D. Martinez. If he were to join the Jays, he would be a perfect fit. The Toronto Blue Jays sat 16th in the MLB last season in homers, despite a lineup that included Bo Bichette, Vladamir Guerrero Jr., Matt Chapman, and George Springer. Last year, the Jays scored 4.55 runs per game and also sat 16th in that stat. The Jays need help with offensive production and Soler would be an excellent piece to help contribute. 
In ten games at the Rogers Centre, Soler has hit three homers, six RBIs, and a .270 batting average with a .514 slugging percentage. Toronto is a place he does not have a whole ton of familiarity with, but he does have relative success at the dome.
If the Jays were to shore up the signing of Jorge Soler, that would likely be the last we see from Toronto this winter. In a press conference at the start of January, GM Ross Atkins suggested the Jays had to add during the offseason but that they would likely only have “closer to one” signing left to make. Although, Bo Bichette suggested the Jays could be interested in players other than Soler.
Bichette recently appeared on Sportsnet’s Blair & Barker where he said that the market still had “great players out there.” He went on to suggest some particular players as well, saying “Justin Turner and J.D. Martinez are two guys that come to my mind, veteran bats that can help not just on the field but off the field as well.” 
Justin Turner, 39, and Martinez, 36, are experienced bats who, as Bichette said, can help on and off the diamond. Both World Series Champions, Martinez in 2018 with the Red Sox and Turner in 2020 with the Dodgers, would add the winning veteran pedigree that Brandon Belt brought last season while still being able to produce. As mentioned earlier, Martinez hammered 33 homers with the Dodgers last season and, at certain points throughout the season, was one of the hottest hitters in baseball. For Turner, he slugged 23 home runs in Boston, with a .276 batting average and 96 RBIs. 
If the Jays were to miss out on Soler, one of, if not both of, Turner and Martinez would be a very welcome addition. 

Quick Notes:

  • David Robertson signs a deal with the Texas Rangers. Former Yankee and, most recently, Miami Marlin, Robertson agreed to a one-year contract worth somewhere between $11 million-$12 million. 
  • Matt Moore returns to the Angels after signing a one-year deal. Moore, who played in Los Angeles at the start of 2023 but was traded twice, will return for 2024 with a one-year, $9 million deal. 
  • Three new players were named to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Joe Mauer, Todd Helton, and Adrian Beltré were voted in on Tuesday as the 344th, 345th, and 346th hall of famers in baseball history.

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