MLB Insider: What I’m hearing about Josh Hader, Dylan Cease, Brewers, White Sox, Cubs, more

The latest from FanSided's MLB Insider Robert Murray on this offseason's moves yet to come.

San Diego Padres v Chicago White Sox
San Diego Padres v Chicago White Sox / Quinn Harris/GettyImages

While there have been some big additions (Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Aaron Nola) and mid-level signings and trades, the MLB offseason has been mostly quiet.

It has puzzled agents and executives, and left many wondering when the flurry of activity will come and just how many players will be left unsigned when pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

Here’s what I’m hearing around baseball, via major-league sources.

Martin Maldonado

Free-agent catcher Martin Maldonado’s one-year, $4 million contract with the Chicago White Sox includes a $4 million club option ($250K buyout) for the 2025 season.

The club option would vest if Maldonado plays 90 games at catcher in 2024, sources say.

Milwaukee Brewers

As FanSided reported last week, the Brewers have had conversations with free-agent first baseman Carlos Santana. Another option the team has also considered is free agent Garrett Cooper, sources say.

Cooper, 33, was originally drafted by the Brewers in the sixth round of the 2013 MLB Draft. He’s coming off a season with the Miami Marlins and San Diego Padres in which he hit .251/.304/.419 with 17 home runs and 61 RBI.

When asked about Cooper’s fit at a more hitters’ friendly ballpark in Milwaukee, one rival scout predicted that he could hit 20-25 home runs.

An additional note: Here’s a breakdown of Devin Williams’ new contract with the Brewers to avoid arbitration, per league sources:

  • 2024: $7 million
  • 2025: $10.5 million club option ($250K buyout)

The club option can increase by $1 million if Williams throws…

  • 52 games ($200,000).
  • 57 games ($250,000).
  • 62 games ($250,000).
  • 66 games ($300,000). 

Cincinnati Reds

In free agency, Brent Suter drew interest from eight teams, with one being the Chicago Cubs that would have reunited him with manager Craig Counsell.

“Reuniting with Counsell was very intriguing and the Cubs definitely had a lot of interest,” Suter told FanSided. “Counsell is simply one of the best managers I have ever seen in my life and I love that guy.”

But the opportunity to play with the Reds, his hometown team, was an opportunity Suter felt he couldn’t pass up.

“Signing with the hometown team was and has always been the pinnacle of this crazy dream that I’m living of playing baseball in the major leagues,” Suter said. “When free agency started and it became apparent that they had interest in signing me I was so excited but it still felt like a distant dream for some reason. But as soon as they offered and everything started coming together it became very real very quickly and then it’s just been cloud nine since that day.

“The opportunity to play for such an exciting young team 15 minutes away from my offseason home for a group of coaches, teammates and fans that seem so bought into each other was simply too good to pass up. Being able to have the team over at the house for parties and cookouts, giving back to the city in ways I couldn’t before, and seeing my family and friends all year long are just a few of the dozens of benefits of playing for Cincinnati. I’ve always looked forward to baseball seasons, but I’ve never looked forward to a baseball season more than I am this year.”

Chicago White Sox

Entering the offseason, the expectation in league circles was that the Chicago White Sox would trade ace Dylan Cease. But despite interest from many teams, general manager Chris Getz doesn’t appear any closer to moving the star right-hander.

“It’s ever-evolving in terms of the urgency of other clubs,” Getz told reporters recently. “It could be in the offseason. It could be at the deadline. It could be in May. There’s just so many different factors when you’re talking about 29 other clubs.”

Cease, 28, is under contract for two more seasons and is earning $8 million in 2024, a bargain in today’s market for frontline pitching. So the White Sox can afford to be patient in trade talks. But Cease’s value will never be higher than it is this offseason and by waiting for the July deadline, Getz runs the risk of potentially losing suitors who fall out of contention or Cease getting hurt.

But one option that Getz did not mention: keeping Cease long-term, which further indicates that he will be traded. It just may not be until the deadline.

Josh Hader

Free-agent reliever Josh Hader continues to draw interest from big market teams. He has received feedback from teams that he has one of the cleanest medical files that they have seen in a free agent, sources said. 

Hader’s workload surely has something to do with that. He hasn’t thrown more than one inning in a regular season game since Sept. 7, 2019 and has only thrown 184 innings since the 2020 season. Once he secures a long-term deal, he will be open to different usage, a source said.

On the mound, Hader has established himself as arguably baseball’s most dominant closer. He has a 2.50 ERA and 648 strikeouts in 348.2 innings. He’s the modern baseball leader in career opponents batting average and strikeouts per nine innings.