MLB offseason reset: Four unfinished baseball business as spring training looms

Last week, the Houston Astros hired the former Atlanta Braves Executive Dana Brown as their new General Manager. Brown’s appointment completes a lengthy search that began shortly after the Astros won the World Series and serves as a good reminder that while the shoreline of spring training is in sight, that doesn’t mean all of the offseason Transactions are complete.

Today is February 1, and we at CBS Sports thought it would be a good time to highlight four dynamics that could happen between now and when pitchers and catchers start reporting in about two weeks.

1. Profar, Wacha No. 1 among remaining free agents

Believe it or not, there are still three unsigned players among CBS Sports’ top 50 free agents heading into the winter: right-handed starter Michael Vacha and outfielders Julik Sen Profal and David Peralta.

No. 1 Wacha, 32, is seeking a two-year, $30 million contract, according to USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale. The deal is comparable to what the Rangers handed to his former teammate Nathan Evardi ($34 million for two years, with an option year). Wacha has previously been linked to the Orioles and Twins, but each club has recently acquired pitchers through trades (Cole Irving and Pablo Lopez, respectively), which seems to lower their splurge at this point. The possibility of adding Wacha this offseason.

Meanwhile, Profar and Peralta appear to be some good candidates to serve as left fielders for some teams between now and Opening Day. The Athletic recently reported that the Yankees were unwilling to accommodate Profar’s demands, suggesting he may have to look elsewhere for work. The Yankees have shown interest in Peralta, and it stands to reason that Peralta could be signed for less than Profal.

2. Who is still in the trade zone?

At this stage of the offseason, it seems unlikely that the Buccaneers will comply with star outfielder Brian Reynolds’ trade request. Even so, there is still room for other teams to make swaps before training camp begins.

By our estimates, the most obvious candidate for a change of address between now and Opening Day remains Twins outfielder Max Kepler. Minnesota’s depth chart is full at this point. In addition to Kepler, the Twins have hired star Byron Buxton, youngsters Trevor Lanark and Alex Kirillov, and offseason additions Joey Gallo and Michael A. Taylor. The Twins could move Gallo or one of the others to first base, but that would still leave them with more players than available spots. Moving Kepler will also free up additional funds.

Elsewhere, the Red Sox are reportedly interested in more midfield help. That doesn’t have to come through trades, but it’s easier to find momentum at this point in the offseason when teams are more willing to trim rosters they no longer have in their plans.

3. Arbitration cases to be resolved

You don’t have to understand how the arbitration system works to know that February is typically filled with headlines about arbitration cases being heard or settled.That said, the Yankees and Gleyber Torres avoided trouble over the weekend Agreement reached on a one-year deal.

A total of 33 players have been scheduled for an arbitration hearing. Some, like Torres, have found common ground within their organizations. Could it be the same for Kyle Tucker, Beau Bichette, Max Freed and some other big names who had an uncomfortable afternoon before the arbitration panel?

We’ll know soon enough, because the parties have until their hearing dates — which almost always come before spring training games — to sort things out.

4. Deferments are in full swing

We’ll end this article by noting the obvious: It’s that time of year that teams are looking to re-sign certain players. Unlike arbitration, there’s no official deadline to finalize these deals, but most players like to wrap up negotiations by Opening Day so they can focus on the game.

In the last week alone, the Mets locked in a long-term contract extension for defending National League hitting champion Jeff McNeil; in addition, the Rays have reached terms on new agreements with three players: infielder Yandy Diaz, starter Jeffrey Springs and backup Pete Fairbanks. If the most free-spending and frugal organizations are hammering out long-term deals, you can bet that most teams in between those two extremes are at least considering them too.

Which team is likely to be the next to strike, and which players could end up being benefactors? Our own Mike Axisa recently highlighted 10 players he thinks could be extended, including Pete Alonso, Zach Gallen and Ian Happ.

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