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Rumours and Notes from Day One of MLB’s Winter Meetings

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Photo credit:© Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
4 months ago
Things are about to kick off.
Sunday marked the start of the annual Winter Meetings, where general managers, executives, journalists, and fans all meet at one destination. It is the busiest time of the off-season, as a flurry of moves tend to happen during this period or just after it.
The first day was a slow one, as there were no notable transactions (until nearly 11:00 PM at night). This could be in large part due to everyone arriving in Nashville on Sunday.
Either way, let’s dig into some rumours that have been circulating pertaining to the Blue Jays.

What’s the ask for Juan Soto?:

The San Diego Padres may need to lower their expectations here. According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Padres asked the Yankees for Michael King, Clark Schmidt, Drew Thorpe, Randy Vásquez, Jhony Brito, and two prospects, as well as taking on Trent Grisham’s contract. 
So yeah, it’s understandable why the Padres could’ve leaked the news that the Blue Jays were the favourite to land Soto. But the question is, what do the Padres want from Toronto?

Alek Manoah for Juan Soto?:

Per Jon Heyman, Alek Manoah’s name has come up in recent trade talks with San Diego.
The 25-year-old right-handed pitcher had a tough season in 2023, posting a 5.87 ERA and a 6.01 FIP in 87.1 innings pitched. In reality, this was his first bit of adversity at the professional level, as he broke into the league after just 35 innings pitched in the minor leagues, and was even nominated for the American League Cy Young award in 2022.
In a Sportsnet article towards the end of November, Ross Atkins essentially said that they’re treating Manoah’s trade value similar to his 2022, and not the rough season he had in 2023.

Juan Soto a more realistic option than Shohei Ohtani:

According to Zach Worden of Sportsnet, Jon Morosi reported on MLB Network that Juan Soto is a more realistic option for the Blue Jays.
Personally, I just don’t see that as being plausible considering how much the Padres want for the 2024-2025 free agent. Juan Soto is obviously great, but trading a bunch of players for a rental who’ll more than likely sign elsewhere is how you cut your window of contention down drastically.
On the other hand, signing Shohei Ohtani for over $500,000,000 will obviously cost a lot towards salary, but the Jays will easily make that and more from marketing, ticket sales, and merchandise. Not just that, but the only asset the Jays would give up would be a second-round pick, which would make me sad as the draft is a busy time for me, but you do that 100% of the time.

Padres may wait to move Soto until after Ohtani signs:

According to The Athletic’s Brendan Kuty, the Padres may wait until after Ohtani signs to make a move.
Say the Jays don’t land Ohtani, then they could pivot to the 25-year-old outfielder who had a 155 wRC+ in 2023. As the only superstar left on the market, the Padres would gain a ton of leverage and could more easily demand what they have been.

Unless the price drops, the Jays may not have a ton of interest in Soto:

Late Sunday evening, Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae released two videos on Twitter with colleagues Shi Davidi and Ben Nicholson-Smith outlining the rumours that they’ve heard.
One such rumour was the fact that unless the Padres get realistic with what they want for Soto, the Blue Jays “may not be involved” as Shi Davidi put it.

George Springer could be moved:

This one is a weird one. On Sunday afternoon, Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair reported that he’s heard the Jays may try to off-load George Springer’s contract, although it’s not a priority.
My take is that it’s way too soon to think that Springer is declining. The 34-year-old slashed .258/.327/.405 with 21 homers in 683 plate appearances in 2023 for a career-low 104 wRC+. It doesn’t look great after posting a 140 wRC+ in 2021 and 133 wRC+ in 2022, but it’s important to remember that Springer was not healthy for large stretches of both those seasons.
It’s not unnatural for a player on the wrong side of 30 to start declining, but Springer was one of the best hitters in the game with a skill set that generally ages well. After one bad season, it’s too soon to say he’s declining, but that may change depending on his 2024.
Not just that, but opening another outfield hole in a weak free agent class seems less than ideal to me.

Are the Blue Jays in on Isaac Paredes:

Another Morosi rumour here, so take it with a grain of salt.
According to Morosi though, the Tampa Bay Rays are listening to offers for the third baseman, mainly because he’s hit arbitration and the Rays refuse to pay players. For example they actually traded Austin Meadows months after he signed his first deal in arbitration for Paredes, so the Rays actually do this sort of stuff.
The 24-year-old had a career-year, slashing .250/.352/.488 with 31 homers in 571 plate appearances with the Rays. He had a wRC+ of 137, as well as an fWAR of 4.3. Defensively, he’s fine, but he likely won’t be winning any gold gloves in the future.
There’s actually a fit here, but the Rays happen to be in the same division as the Blue Jays, and I can’t see them trading Paredes to a divisional rival. Plus teams usually don’t win trades with the Rays, so I’m not even sure if I’d do this.
We’ll see if Paredes’ name is thrown around more as the Winter Meetings continue.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.

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