Other than the Braves/Mariners deal from late Sunday night, the Winter Meetings have been fairly tame thus far especially when it comes to the Houston Astros. The Astros' self-proclaimed payroll limitations are well-known at this point, but they still need to build a bullpen and a couple spots on their roster could use some upgrades.
However, one update that we did get that could not be anymore clear is that general manager Dana Brown is not interested at all in trading Alex Bregman. Bregman has been the source of several trade rumors lately given that he is entering the last year of his contract and is unlikely to sign an extension at this point. Brown squashed that speculation yesterday, though, as he noted that Alex is a critical part of Houston's roster and that they were looking to compete in 2024.
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Actual Astros connections on the free agent and trade markets have been few and far between this offseason. but one name that has popped up is reliever Jordan Hicks. The Astros certainly could use a high upside bullpen arm like Hicks given the loss of Hector Neris and Phil Maton and Hicks is from the Houston area, but the competition to sign him looks fierce including the Cardinals, Orioles, and unfortunately the Rangers.
Other teams in the AL West seem to be decidedly more active this offseason including at the Winter Meetings. Seattle has already been wheeling and dealing, although to what end is anyone's guess. The Rangers seem to be in the middle of a bunch of rumors and the Angels, for all of the talk of them being dead in water, still seem to be very much in the running to keep Shohei Ohtani around. If they pull that off, that could change the complexion of this offseason significantly for the entire league and the action should pick up after he signs regardless.
Ohtani's market has been far from limited to the AL West as his market seems to be cooking along and it sounds like a decision could be coming soon rather than later. The situation seems to be a very fluid one as rumors are constantly swirling in multiple directions, but the current word is that Ohtani recently met with the Blue Jays, but it still seems like everything is still up on the air with multiple teams still very much in the Shohei derby.
Beyond the wheeling and dealing, the Winter Meetings will also host the second ever Draft Lottery today with coverage starting at 5:30 PM EST. 17 of the 18 non-playoff teams all have a chance to land a top 6 pick in the 2024 MLB draft with the odds of getting said picks being based on their 2023 records. The Athletics, Royals, and Rockies are tied for having the best odds for the #1 overall pick at 18.3%. The Nationals are ineligible for the lottery this year because they pay into revenue sharing and got a lottery pick last year.
With most of the big free agents still on the market as well as Dylan Cease, Juan Soto, Shane Bieber, and others available in trades, the MLB offseason is only just getting started. The only real question is whether we will see a flurry of activity at the Winter Meetings themselves or we will have to wait until closer to Christmas or even the new year.