With the holidays right around the corner, Major League Baseball’s offseason is likely about to enter a lull. That doesn’t mean the next week won’t feature any action, however, as players and teams look to complete their business ahead of the slowdown period. Below, CBS Sports will keep track of all of Thursday’s rumors, news, and moves.
Cubs sign Boxberger
The Cubs have reached an agreement with veteran reliever Brad Boxberger, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The deal will pay him $2.8 million, or just short of his $3 million club option that was declined by the Brewers earlier this offseason. (It’s worth noting that Boxberger passed through waivers at that point, meaning the Cubs passed on claiming him to save $200,000.)
CBS Sports recently highlighted Boxberger as a potential value signing.:
We’ll concede that Boxberger employs an unusual and perilous formula for success. Last season alone, he ranked in the 40th percentile in whiff rate; the third percentile in chase rate; and the 20th percentile in walk rate. In English: he’s not a big bat-misser, or zone-expander, and he’s prone to issuing his share of free passes. He’s nevertheless maintained a shiny ERA by suppressing quality of contact with a three-pitch mix: low-90s heater, changeup, and slider.
It’s not the sexiest or most reliable profile, and it’s one that could very well fall apart. Boxberger has enjoyed a good deal of success over his last 146 innings, however, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he proves to be worth more than $3 million in 2023.
Orioles interested in Wacha
The Orioles are showing continued interest in free-agent right-hander Michael Wacha, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Wacha’s market could move quickly now that Noah Syndergaard and other pitchers of similar expected value have latched on with new clubs.
Wacha, 31, started 23 games for the Red Sox last season. He amassed a 3.32 ERA (127 ERA+) and a 3.35 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 127 innings. CBS Sports ranked him as the 32nd0-best free agent available this winter, writing:
Wacha has become a back-of-the-rotation nomad, pitching for a different team in each of the past four seasons. He might make it five-for-five following his strongest effort since 2018. Wacha’s arsenal remains centered around verticality, as you would expect based on his arm slot. For our money, the most interesting part about his season was his embrace of a “sinker.” The quotation marks are necessary because this isn’t your standard sinker that aims to disrupt worms and ant colonies alike. Wacha’s ranked fifth in Induced Vertical Break, behind Kenley Jansen, Drew Smyly, Josh Hader, and Bailey Falter — or, the Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 7 sinkers most prone to being hit in the air. Put another way, Wacha’s sinker would have above-average “rise” for a four-seam fastball, meaning he’s not going to turn into Framber Valdez or Logan Webb anytime soon. (It would be cool if he did though; scientists would get a kick out of it.) We won’t go so far as to credit Wacha’s weird sinker for his year (he threw it only 13 percent of the time) or suggest it’ll change his career. We just think it’s neat.
The Orioles have already added one veteran starter to their rotation this winter, inking Kyle Gibson to a one-year pact worth $10 million.
Twins weighing post-Correa moves
The Twins are weighing what to do now that Carlos Correa has signed with the Giants, according to Dan Hayes of The Athletic. While Minnesota’s interest in Dansby Swanson and Carlos Rodón is known, Hayes adds that the Twins have been receiving calls on various veterans, including outfielder Max Kepler, starters Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda, and infielder Luis Arraez.
Arraez, 25, may be a surprising inclusion. He’s posted a 120 OPS+ for his career, and just won the American League batting title by hitting .316/.375/.420. Rest assured, the ask is high. Hayes notes that “team officials said they’d consider dealing [Arraez] as part of a package for a prominent pitcher.”
It’s unclear if the Twins will move any of the others. Kepler would seem most likely to go from a practical perspective. Not only do the Twins have other outfielders they can slot into his spot, but they would free up additional funds for other pursuits by trading Kepler and his $8.5 million salary.