January is coming to a close, and soon so will Major League Baseball’s offseason. You wouldn’t know it based on how indifferently teams have behaved lately, as four of the top 10 free agents (Cody Bellinger, Matt Chapman, Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery) remain unsigned. There haven’t even been many rumors regarding them. You figure that should change soon. Why not today? With that in mind, let’s get into the news, moves, and rumors for Monday.
Angels sign Hicks
The Angels have agreed to a big-league deal with outfielder Aaron Hicks for the league minimum, the team announced Monday. The Yankees are still responsible for paying Hicks for the duration of his contract (through the 2025 campaign) after releasing him last year. He latched on with the Orioles afterward 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 MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. It’s unclear what teams remain in the running for Turner, but he’s been linked to several throughout the course of the offseason, including the Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, and Mets. (The Diamondbacks have since signed Joc Pederson, suggesting they’re 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 OK because he remains a force at the plate. Turner is highly adept at making contact and commanding the zone, and he’s clearly still capable of burning mistakes. Age- and health-related caveats apply, but Turner showed no problems with velocity — and it wasn’t because he cheated and left himself vulnerable to offspeed and secondary offerings. If he wants to keep playing, he should find a welcoming home somewhere as a designated hitter and occasional first baseman.
Rangers have discussed Belt
Count the Rangers among the teams to have at least internally discussed adding DH Brandon Belt to their lineup, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. Belt is, of course, familiar with Rangers skipper Bruce Bochy from their shared days with the Giants. He’s coming off a good season with the Blue Jays that saw him post a 136 OPS+ in 103 games. Earlier this winter, the Rangers lost their incumbent DH Mitch Garver to free agency.
Red Sox interested in Cooper
If the Red Sox fail to re-sign Adam Duvall, they could turn to Garrett Cooper as a Plan B, according to Chris Cotillo of MassLive. Cooper doesn’t have as much defensive versatility as Duvall, but he does have experience at both first base and in the corner outfield.
CBS Sports recently highlighted Cooper as a solid candidate to have a bounce-back season:
You might think that we’d be out on this one. After all, Cooper is a 33-year-old right-right first baseman coming off a subpar season in which he swung and missed more than usual. Yet we do think there’s evidence that he’s in for a better 2024. His ball-tracking data, specifically his share 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 wouldn’t be the first of his kind to flame out before he reaches his mid-30s. We just think he deserves the opportunity to prove that he has more in the tank before we’ll write him as such.
The Red Sox have been rumored to seeking a corner bat with power all winter.