MLB Rumors: Angels Add Former Yankee, Justin Turner Nears Decision, Red Sox Eye Kickback Candidate
January is coming to an end, and soon it willand offseason. You wouldn’t know it based on how well-behaved teams have been behaving lately, as four of the top 10 free agents (Cody Bellinger, Matt Chapman, Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery) are still unsigned. There were not even many rumors about them. You think that should change soon. Why not today? With that in mind, let’s get into the news, trends, and rumors for Monday.
Angels sign Hicks
The Angels have agreed to a major league deal with outfielder Aaron Hicks for the league minimum, the team announced Monday. The Yankees are still responsible for paying Hicksthrough the length of his contract (through the 2025 campaign) after he was released last year. He later continued with the Orioles and posted a 127 OPS+ in 65 games with Baltimore. Hicks figures to see action in left field and at DH, depending on what the Angels do the rest of the winter.
Turner decision coming soon?
Veteran DH Justin Turner is “increasingly likely to join a new club this week, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com. It is unclear which teams are still in the running for Turner, but he has been linked to several during the offseason, including the Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, and Mets. (The Diamondbacks have since signed Joc Pederson, suggesting they are out.)
Turner was ranked by CBS Sports as the 21st best free agent available this winter. Here’s what we wrote at the time:
At this point in Turner’s career, it’s safe to write him off as a factor both defensively and on the basepaths. That’s okay because he’s still a force at the plate. Turner is very adept at communicating and managing the zone, and it is clear that he is still capable of shooting mistakes. Age and health caveats apply, but Turner showed no problem with speed – and it wasn’t because he cheated and left himself vulnerable to off-speed and secondary offers. If he wants to keep playing, he should find a welcoming home somewhere as a designated hitter and occasional first baseman.
Rangers have considered Belt
Count the Rangers among the teams that have at least discussed internally about adding DH Brandon Belt to their lineup, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. Belt, of course, knows Rangers skipper Bruce Bochy from their days with the Giants. He is having a great season with the Blue Jays that saw him post a 136 OPS+ in 103 games. Earlier this winter, the Rangers lost current DH Mitch Garver to free agency.
Red Sox interested in Cooper
If the Red Sox don’t re-sign Adam Duvall, they could turn to Garrett Cooper as Plan B, according to MassLive’s Chris Cotillo. Cooper doesn’t have as much defense as Duvall, but he has experience at first base and in the outfield.
You might think we’d be out on this one. After all, Cooper is a 33-year-old right-handed first baseman coming off a subpar season in which he pitched and missed more than usual. But we think there is evidence that he is in for a better 2024. His ball tracking data, specifically his proportion of batted balls that had an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher and a launch angle between 10 and 30 degrees, put him in the vicinity of Luis Robert Jr., Jorge Polanco, and Zack Gelof, among others. In other words, batters who had more productive seasons. Cooper certainly wasn’t the first of his kind to burn out before reaching his mid-30s. We just think he deserves the chance to prove he has more in the tank before we write him off like that.
The Red Sox are rumored to be searching for a power corner bat throughout the winter.