The Opener: Christmas Signings, Correa, Dodgers

    Here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:

    1. Last chance for moves before Christmas

    During the offseason, major holidays are occasionally used by teams and players as soft deadlines for deals to get done. Some free agents like to know where they’re going to live next year before a holiday, and GMs at the one-yard line on a trade may have a little extra incentive to get it over the line before they go home to celebrate. The day before Thanksgiving was rather quiet this year, perhaps partially because the flood gates of transactions really only opened once the Winter Meetings had begun. Will it be different today, the Friday before Christmas weekend?

    2. When will we hear how Correa’s physical yesterday went?

    Carlos Correa reportedly underwent his physical with the Mets yesterday, a necessary step toward finalizing their 12-year, $315MM deal. This is a typical, routine step in a new deal with a club, but it has taken on added significance in this case. That’s because the Giants pulled back from their 13-year, $350MM agreement with Correa after flagging something in his physical with them, which is what opened the door for the Mets to swoop in in the first place. With Correa’s physical completed, the Mets are reportedly expected to take roughly 24-48 hours to review the information before the deal is finalized, meaning if all goes well, Correa should be a Met before Christmas. It will be worth watching to see if word comes down about how the physical went, as that news could be available as soon as today, and in the event the Mets do find something concerning, as the Giants did, it would be another shocking turn of events in what’s already become one of the strangest forays into free agency by a player in recent memory.

    3. With newfound payroll certainty, how will the Dodgers conduct the rest of their offseason?

    Yesterday, a decision was handed down that Dodgers right-hander Trevor Bauer would have his suspension reduced to 194 games. This leaves him reinstated ahead of the 2023 season, meaning that LA will be on the hook for most of his 2023 salary (Bauer’s pay has been docked for the first 50 games of the 2023 season, which cuts into his final payday considerably). The news leaves the Dodgers barely $100K under the first luxury tax threshold, per RosterResource, giving them essentially no breathing room if they wish to stay under the luxury tax, as has been rumored following their unusually quiet offseason. If they truly wish to stay under the tax this year rather than face penalties as a third-year offender, it’s possible they’ll have to consider moving salary out, whether that’s in the form of a smaller, one-year commitment like Daniel Hudson or a more significant contract like that of Chris Taylor. Such a move would represent a considerable shift from LA, who has been one of the league’s biggest spenders in recent years, but it wouldn’t be unheard of. Prior to the 2019 season, the Dodgers swung a massive deal with the Reds, sending Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, Kyle Farmer, and cash to Cincinnati in exchange for Homer Bailey, Josiah Gray, and Jeter Downs. The trade ended up a resounding success for the Dodgers, as it allowed them to duck under the luxury tax for the 2019 season and acquire two prospects who would grow into top-100 types in LA’s farm system before being flipped in buy-side trade to acquire Mookie Betts, Max Scherzer, and Trea Turner. While it seems unlikely that another deal of this impactful could come together, it still shows the Dodgers are quite willing to get creative in an attempt to duck under the luxury tax for a year to reset their penalties.

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