The MLB Winter Meetings will commence on Monday, Dec. 6 in Nashville, Tennessee. Rather than touring the music scene, however, MLB general managers and support staff will convene to discuss the future of baseball.
Expect several free agent deals and trades to materialize during the meetings. Players and agents will gather alongside management. There is an expectation that Shohei Ohtani could make his final decision in Nashville. He is the offseason's great white whale — the biggest domino left standing. If Ohtani signs, expect the floodgates to open.
On the trade front, several noteworthy names have been circulating the rumor mill lately. There is still much unknown about the exact dimensions of the market, but blockbusters are coming down the pipeline. It's a matter of when, not if.
Here are five trades that could shake the foundation of the MLB next week.
Guardians could offload Shane Bieber in the final year of his contract
Shane Bieber enters the final year of his contract with the Cleveland Guardians. As FanSided's Robert Murray reports, the free agent pitching market is "nuts," with teams starting to look for alternative options. That places Bieber squarely on the chopping block.
"The Guardians have an extensive history of trading players before having to pay them big contracts, evidenced by the Francisco Lindor, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger, Carlos Carrasco and other trades. And Bieber, who is 28... will be an appealing trade target for teams considering he’s controllable, his past performance, and that he’s still arbitration eligible."
Bieber won't come cheap, but last season qualified as a mild disappointment. That, combined with the short-term nature of his contract, could keep the price reasonable. Murray projects the odds of a Bieber trade at "5/10." Cleveland GM Mike Chernoff expressed a desire for Bieber to start the 2024 season with the Guardians, but circumstances change fast in the MLB. If the right offer comes along in a market desperate for pitchers, it would behoove the Guardians to act — especially if there aren't plans to re-sign Bieber next offseason.
The 2023 campaign was a mixed bag for Bieber, who went 6-6 on the mound with a 3.80 ERA and 1.234 WHIP — his worst marks since his rookie season. Bieber doesn't have much velocity behind his fastball (91.3 MPH), but he sports a vast collection of off-speed pitches and he's not mistake-prone, posting a low 6.4 walk percentage in the MLB's 80th percentile.
Teams trading for Bieber will bank on past performance. He won Cy Young during the COVID-shortened 2020 season and he has two All-Star appearances on his résumé. Bieber posted a 2.88 ERA in 2022 and a 1.63 ERA in 2020, prior to the shutdown. When he's right, Bieber is a proper ace.