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The Opener: Yankees, Reds, Ohtani

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On the heels of last night’s blockbuster trade and a pair of notable free-agent signings, here are three things for MLBTR readers to keep an eye on today…

1. What’s next for the Yankees?

The Yankees hearkened back to their Evil Empire days with yesterday’s blockbuster acquisition of Juan Soto, who came to the Bronx alongside Trent Grisham in a trade sending five players back to the Padres. The Yanks now have a projected $278MM payroll and an even heftier $290MM worth of luxury-tax obligations, but it doesn’t seem they’re done. Because the Yankees traded four pitchers — current starter Michael King, depth arms Jhony Brito and Randy Vasquez, and top prospect Drew Thorpe — in order to add Soto, further maneuvering to bring some starting pitching into the fold seems likely. That could even be a high-end arm. Yoshinobu Yamamoto remains a free agent, and he’s slated to meet with the Yankees on Monday. They’ve also been tied to a (much) lower-cost reunion with rebound candidate Frankie Montas after an injury-ruined Yankees tenure.

2.  Will the Reds move an infielder for pitching help?

There’d been plenty of talk about the Reds possibly trading Jonathan India even before last night — though president of baseball operations Nick Krall has worked to downplay it. Cincinnati already had a wealth of infield talent in the form of India, Spencer Steer, Matt McLain, Noelvi Marte, Elly De La Cruz and Christian Encarnacion-Strand all having reached the big leagues. Wednesday evening’s surprise addition of Jeimer Candelario on a three-year deal likely pushes Steer into left field on a full-time basis. Even still, that leaves the Reds with six infielders for four spots — five if you include a potential rotational usage of the designated hitter spots.

There’s plenty of versatility among the bunch. Candelario can play both corners. De La Cruz can play third and short, as can Marte. McLain can play both middle infield spots. Krall spoke just yesterday about India possibly moving around the infield in a utility capacity. And, of course, injuries are a near inevitability for any big league club. Still, as the Reds look to bolster their rotation, it’s hard not to wonder whether that infield depth will be used to facilitate a trade. They’ve balked at the price for Dylan Cease thus far and might be loath to part with a controllable infielder for one year of either Shane Bieber or Tyler Glasnow, but there could yet be other creative opportunities for Cincinnati to explore. The Marlins are again listening on their bevy of arms, for instance, and with so much infield talent to peddle, Krall might be able to convince another team that’s not an obvious seller of starting pitching to part with an unexpected arm.

3. All eyes (still) on Shohei:

Shohei Ohtani continues to hold up the top end of the free-agent and trade markets, to varying extents. However, he’s ostensibly met with the majority (if not all) of his suitors by now, and MLB.com’s Jon Morosi suggested yesterday that Ohtani is “expected” to make a decision on his free agent destination before the conclusion of this weekend. The Dodgers, Blue Jays, Giants and Angels are believed to be finalists, and Cubs president Jed Hoyer earlier this week denied reports that his club has become pessimistic in its quest to sign the two-way star.



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