While the Houston Astros celebrate their championship, the rest of us get to start making MLB offseason predictions for 2023.
As always, it’s bound to be a busy offseason with most teams likely to enter 2023 believing they have a chance to make the playoffs. That means there are MLB offseason trade predictions, contract projections, and MLB free agent predictions to think about before the hot stove kicks into high gear.
MLB offseason predictions 2023
While making our MLB offseason predictions, we wanted to straddle the line between bold and crazy. Obviously, we want to get some of these right. But we also wanted to keep an open mind because you never know what’s going to happen on the hot stove. With that in mind, here are some bold but possible MLB offseason predictions in 2023.
Athletics continue fire sale
The A’s held a massive fire sale last winter, and somehow they aren’t done yet. Catcher Sean Murphy is very much on the trade block this winter and will hold plenty of value on the trade market.
Brewers hold fire sale
Following in Oakland’s footsteps, look for the Brewers to start dismantling their roster this winter. They traded Josh Hader last summer when they were in the playoff hunt, so clearly they aren’t committed to being in win-now mode.
There are several key players who are one or two years away from free agency, inspiring Milwaukee to trade those players and build a farm system that can help them win in the future. Look for players like Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Willy Adames to be in the rumor mill this winter.
Clayton Kershaw retires
The most shocking thing to happen this offseason will be Kershaw retiring. The lefty is a free agent and continues to be plagued by injuries.
At this point, he has nothing left to prove. If he doesn’t get a multi-year deal for a decent amount of money, he might just choose to hang up his cleats and retire with three Cy Youngs and an MVP Award on his mantle.
Michael Conforto enters Spring Training without a team
Conforto never signed with a team in 2022, so after a year without playing, why would teams line up to sign him now?
Remember that he had a disappointing season in 2021, batting just .232 with an OPS of .728. His stock is down despite what agent Scott Boras thinks. By the start of spring training in 2023, Conforto will still be searching for a team, forcing him to ultimately sign a one-year deal for a modest salary.
Justin Verlander and Jacob deGrom stay with their current teams
One of the most important MLB offseason predictions for 2023 is where these two veteran aces will end up.
Ultimately, both will recognize that they need to stay put. Verlander might be able to squeeze out one more championship in Houston while deGrom knows that he belongs in New York, leading him to re-sign with the Mets.
Braves and Dodgers swap Trea Turner and Dansby Swanson
Obviously, this isn’t a formal switch. But the Dodgers signed Freddie Freeman last winter while longtime Los Angeles closer Kenley Jansen ended up in Atlanta. Why not have a similar situation unfold this winter?
The Dodgers will prefer Swanson because he’s younger than Turner and starting to come into his own both offensively and defensively. Of course, if the Braves lose out on Swanson, they’ll push hard for Turner, who they know well from his days in the NL West with Washington. Atlanta will definitely prefer to have Turner than go back to playing against him.
Red Sox trade Rafael Devers
The Red Sox haven’t been able to sign Devers to an extension, so it might be prudent of them to trade him before he hits the open market next winter.
This is certainly a time of transition for the Red Sox, especially coming off a last-place finish in 2022. While the Red Sox are capable of reloading quickly, it might be best to tear it all down and start from scratch, which is why trading Devers could be the right move for them.
Red Sox lose Xander Bogaerts in free agency
Trading Devers and starting over makes even more sense once the Red Sox realize that Bogaerts won’t be staying in Boston.
There are other teams that will likely pursue him with far more urgency. Plus, why would Bogaerts want to stay with a team that finished last in 2022? He’ll surely be playing elsewhere in 2023.
Yankees sign Carlos Correa
The Yankees didn’t sign Correa last offseason. For that matter, they didn’t sign Trevor Story, Javier Baez, or Corey Seager either. But despite having some young infielders in the upper levels of their farm system, the Yankees have to make a hard push for one of the top-notch shortstops on the free-agent market this winter.
Given his age and postseason pedigree, Correa could be the best fit to wear pinstripes. Plus, with the Astros being their main competition, why not use Houston’s former shortstop to take down Correa’s old team?
Cubs sign multiple players to nine-figure deals
The Cubs could end up being one of the biggest spenders this winter. They probably haven’t liked losing during the last couple of seasons and they have found some decent building blocks. That means it’s time to throw money around and get back to competing with the Cardinals at the top of the NL Central.
Chicago will be aiming to sign a shortstop with Xander Bogaerts being a good fit for them. Also, look for them to find a big-time pitcher, perhaps Carlos Rodon.
Phillies lose shortstop musical chairs
If you’ve made it this far, you might be starting to realize that there aren’t enough quality shortstops on the market this winter for the Phillies. The reigning National League champs would like to find a permanent solution at that position after surviving with Bryson Stott during the playoffs.
However, they aren’t going to be able to snag Turner, Swanson, Bogaerts, or Correa, forcing them to consider other options or stick with Stott for another year.
Marlins trade two starting pitchers
At this point, it looks like Pablo Lopez will be moved this winter after the Marlins nearly pulled the trigger on a trade involving him last summer.
However, the Marlins might need to trade more than one pitcher to sufficiently address their offensive shortcomings. Fortunately, they have enough depth to trade Lopez and another member of their rotation without having to part with Sandy Alcantara or leave the cupboard bare.
Mets trade for Shane Bieber
Bieber has reached the point where the Guardians typically trade their quality starting pitchers to get something for them before losing them in free agency. Meanwhile, the Mets need to work on their pitching staff despite needing to commit a lot of money to Jacob deGrom and Edwin Diaz.
That means a trade could be their path to another frontline starter. The Mets and Guardians have a good relationship after the trade involving Francisco Lindor two years ago worked out for both sides. That will make the Mets a good fit for Bieber this winter.
Mets land Kodai Senga
Of course, the Mets aren’t going to stop with Bieber. The deep pockets of owner Steve Cohen could lead the Mets to become serious contenders for Senga, a Japanese pitcher who appears to be on his way to the big leagues.
With Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom likely leading the rotation, the Mets won’t need Senga to be a star, although he will be a key piece to their rotation for a few years to come.
Rangers make three big trades
A year ago, Texas made a big splash in free agency, but this winter, the Rangers will switch gears and focus on the trade front.
They’ve already made one deal, acquiring Jake Odorizzi. The Texas farm system has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. But based on their spending last winter, they don’t want to be patient. Look for the Rangers to push the envelope by trading some top prospects for players who can help them compete in 2023.
Mariners acquire established ace
Seattle’s playoff drought finally ended in 2022, so the Mariners would be foolish to not make one or two bold moves this winter.
Even with Luis Castillo and Robbie Ray, look for the Mariners to chase after an established ace. Even if they can’t find one in free agency, Jerry Dipoto loves pulling off trades. If necessary, he’ll get creative in order to add to Seattle’s rotation.
Giants add three big bats
Look for San Francisco to do some big spending this winter. The Giants are clearing on their payroll and will be looking to reshape their lineup the way the Rangers did last season with Corey Seager and Marcus Semien.
The only difference is the Giants will add three big bats, even without getting one of the big shortstops on the market. Look for Willson Contreras and Brandon Nimmo to be their top targets. After that, Jose Abreu, Josh Bell, Anthony Rizzo, and Trey Mancini could all end up being the third and final piece of the puzzle for San Francisco’s offseason.
10 players get nine-figure deals
A year ago, nine players got contracts worth at least $100 million. This offseason, we’re bound to see some of the biggest contracts in the history of baseball free agency. We’re also going to see spending that gets a little out of control, which is why we think 10 players will hit nine figures.
The Mets re-signed Edwin Diaz quickly, so there is already one nine-figure contract on the books. There are plenty of obvious candidates, most notably Aaron Judge and the four big shortstops on the market, as well as pitchers like Jacob deGrom and Carlos Rodon. But don’t forget about Brandon Nimmo, Jose Abreu, Willson Contreras, and a few other sleepers who could help get at least 10 players paid nine-figure contracts.
Aaron Judge re-signs with Yankees (with an opt-out after first year)
Who signs Judge is surely one of the biggest MLB offseason predictions that everyone is trying to make. The Yankees are always going to be the favorite to bring him back.
They need him and they are one of the few teams with the money to sign him. The Mets also have the money, although most of their spending this offseason will revolve around pitching. If Judge isn’t ready to take off for the West Coast and sign with the Dodgers, he’ll end up back in the Bronx.
The catch is that he’ll insist on having an opt-out in his contract after the first year, just in case he has a change of heart.
Shohei Ohtani traded to Dodgers
Ohtani is surely at the top of the list of offseason trade candidates, even if the Angels have already said he won’t be traded. However, the Angels would be foolish not to trade Ohtani.
He has one year left before free agency and an extension looks unlikely. He’s also making $30 million in 2023 on a team that hasn’t been able to win with both Ohtani and Mike Trout on the roster.
There’s no point in keeping him for another losing season before losing Ohtani in free agency. Instead, the Angels need to trade Ohtani to help restock their farm system. Fortunately for them, the Dodgers will be more than willing to take him, pay him, and use Ohtani to chase another championship.