From the Ohtani Sweepstakes to Giancarlo Stanton’s Potential Landing Spots and Everything In-between

Now that we’re one month removed from one of the most memorable and dramatic World Series matchups in recent history, the MLB hot stove is set to heat up as the winter meetings kicked off on December 10.

Over the next handful of months, we will likely see at least one blockbuster trade, several big-ticket signings, and newly-hired managers trying to shape their teams and organizations to their liking. The landscape of Major League Baseball occasionally changes dramatically from year-to-year, and that is precisely what will likely happen for the upcoming 2018 season.
In order to get dialed into the changes and storylines set to unravel over the next few months, we’ve conveniently compiled some of the most important storylines for you to digest.

The Ohtani Sweepstakes

Perhaps the most interesting offseason storyline is the sweepstakes to land international free agent Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani, a 23-year-old from Japan, is one of the most intriguing prospects/free agents in quite some time due to the fact that he can pitch, hit, and play the field all exceptionally well. In his five seasons of professional baseball in Japan, Ohtani hit .286 with 48 home runs and made 82 starts as a pitcher, posting a 2.52 ERA and a 10.3 SO/9. The player dubbed “the Japanese Babe Ruth” has narrowed his potential landing spot down to seven teams: Dodgers, Mariners, Padres, Angels, Rangers, Giants and Cubs. The hype surrounding him has reached a fever pitch but can you blame people for getting excited about the possibility of a two-way player?

The Rest of the Free Agent Class

Outside of Ohtani, the free agent class for the 2018 season is less-than-stellar but has a few high-profile players mixed in. Two of the most widely recognized pitchers in the league are set to hit the free agent market as former Rangers and Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish and 2015 Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta are both out of contract.

There are quite a few power bats available for teams looking to bolster their lineups for 2018 as the likes of Jose Bautista, Matt Holiday, Eric Hosmer, J.D. Martinez and Jonathan Lucroy are all available on the free agent market. Given the fact that the free agent class of 2019 will likely contain superstars like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, some teams might opt to pass on spending big this offseason to keep their options open.

Giancarlo Stanton Set to Be Traded?

After being bought by venture capitalist Bruce Sherman in October, the Miami Marlins are looking to rebuild their franchise and have toyed with the idea of dealing megastar Giancarlo Stanton. The 28-year-old signed a monster contract back in 2014, a 13-year contract worth upwards of $325,000,000. Stanton is coming off of a season where was voted the NL MVP thanks to a 59 homer, 132 RBI season where he hit .281 and had an OPS of over 1.000.

The Marlins are looking to significantly reduce their payroll as they enter a rebuild, and it seems as though the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals have both offered enticing trade packages involving high-profile prospects. Should Stanton be dealt, he would immediately bolster the Giants or Cardinals roster and make them threats in the stacked National League for 2018.

A New Crop of Managers are Set to Make a Splash in 2018

It should come as no surprise that a few high-profile managers were relieved of their duties after tough seasons in 2017. However, there has been a significant changing in the league’s landscape as there were five managers hired that do not have any Major League managerial experience.

Among the new crop of coaches are names like Dave Martinez, Gabe Kapler, Alex Cora, and Mickey Callaway who all have experience as a big league coach. Perhaps the most surprising new manager is Aaron Boone, who was hired as the manager of the New York Yankees despite being a broadcaster for the past seven years–he has no coaching experience whatsoever. It’ll be interesting to see how this new crop of managers start to shape their teams, as most of them are in high-profile baseball markets such as Boston, Philadelphia, and New York.