MLB rumors: Yankees still pitching Aaron Judge; Dodgers and Mets both like Justin Verlander

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Tuesday is an important date on the offseason calendar. It is the deadline for the 14 eligible free agents to accept or reject the $19.65 million qualifying offer. Once the deadline passes, the free agent market should begin to heat up. Until then, here are Tuesday’s hot stove rumors.

Yankees won’t let Judge go? 

The biggest-name free agent in a sea of big names this offseason is Aaron Judge. There’s been speculation that other teams (Giants?) will get in on the bidding, but it seems likely the Yankees aren’t going to let him walk. Sure enough, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner spoke to reporters at the owners meetings Tuesday and, according to Newsday, “said in strong terms how much he wants Judge back and made it sound like [the] Yankees won’t be outbid.” 

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Given the Yankees’ deep pockets and desire to keep Judge, it would probably take an overwhelming offer from elsewhere to lure the outfielder away from the Bronx. 

In related matters, the Yankees agreed to re-sign Anthony Rizzo to a two-year deal with an option for a third year on Tuesday

Yankees backup plan

If the Yankees do somehow lose out on Judge in free agency, they’ll need to shift gears and find a way to replace some of the lost production. Star shortstops Carlos Correa, Trea Turner and Xander Bogaerts along with center fielder Brandon Nimmo appear to be on the list of backup plans, as Jon Heyman reports the Yankees have been in contact with representation for all four. 

Still, a “backup” plan is just that. The Yankees are likely doing all they can to retain Judge while discussing the other players is simply due diligence with a deep and talented free agent class. 

Mets considering Senga, Verlander

The Mets are considering pursuits of Japanese righty Kodai Senga and future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander, reports SNY. The club is debating whether signing Verlander to a a high-salaried short-term contract similar to Max Scherzer’s would be preferable to re-signing Jacob deGrom. Senga, a true free agent who doesn’t have to be posted, will likely require a longer commitment.

Our R.J. Anderson ranked Verlander and Senga the No. 6 and No. 23 free agents available this offseason, respectively. The Mets could lose Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker to free agency in addition to deGrom, so they need to add starters one way or another. At the moment, Scherzer and Carlos Carrasco are the only holdovers who are locks for New York’s 2023 rotation.

Dodgers for Verlander? 

Of course, let’s not forget about the Dodgers when discussing Verlander. Walker Buehler will likely miss all of 2023 after having Tommy John surgery and Clayton Kershaw is playing on another one-year deal. Tyler Anderson reached an agreement with the Angels on a three-year deal, too, so cross him off the list. The Dodgers have the financial clout to pull off a short and expensive free agent deal for Verlander. Both Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal have mentioned as much in reports. 

Mariners discussing Winker

In addition to starters Chris Flexen and Marco Gonzales, the Mariners are also discussing outfielder Jesse Winker in trade conversations, according to MLB.com. Winker is our No. 3 trade candidate this offseason and not only because he is coming off a disappointing first season in Seattle. There are also reportedly some clubhouse issues that have him on the outs with the organization.

Winker, 29, is owed $8.25 million in 2023 and has been a well-above-average hitter the majority of his career. His defense is bad enough that he’s essentially a DH, however. The Mariners don’t figure to get much in return at this point, though Winker’s track record is strong enough that DH-needy clubs figure to inquire and try to buy low on a talented hitter.

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