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The Opener: Cooper, Padres, MLBTR Chat

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On the heels of an overnight splash on the free agent market, here are three things for MLBTR readers to keep an eye out for today:

1. Cooper nearing a decision?

One area of the free agent market that remains fairly deep as Spring Training begins is the first base market, where the likes of Joey Votto, Brandon Belt, and Donovan Solano linger as available options. According to Craig Mish of SportsGrid and the Miami Herald, the list of available veteran first baseman in free agency could thin out a bit in the coming days, as he writes that slugger Garrett Cooper “could make a decision soon” with around five teams in the market for the 33-year-old’s services. Cooper struggled somewhat in 2023, slashing a slightly-below-average .251/.304/.419 in 123 games with the Marlins and Padres last year.

Prior to that dip in production last year, however, Cooper had established himself as a reliably above-average hitter at first base who could also moonlight in the outfield corners. From 2019-22, Cooper slashed .274/.350/.444. The righty-swinging slugger sports a notable platoon split for his career, as he’s hit .286/.338/478 (120 wRC+) against lefties and .262/.337/.417 versus righties (107 wRC+). It’s solid production against pitchers of both handedness, but he’s been particularly potent against southpaws. Speculatively speaking, Cooper could be a sensible target for clubs like the Red Sox, Pirates, or Guardians which struggled against left-handed pitching last year and could use another veteran bat in the mix for reps in a corner spot.

2. Preller to hold spring presser:

Padres president of baseball operations AJ Preller is set to be made available to the media at noon CT today, per a team announcement. The Padres have faced a great deal of upheaval this offseason as they watched three-time Reliever of the Year award winner Josh Hader and rotation arms Seth Lugo, Michael Wacha, and Nick Martinez all depart via free agency. Reigning NL Cy Young award winner Blake Snell is likely to follow them out the door, setting the stage for further turnover, but as of now he remains unsigned. To help address the club’s sudden exodus of pitching talent, Preller dealt superstar slugger Juan Soto to the Yankees back in December alongside center fielder Trent Grisham.

That left San Diego to enter camp with just two outfielders on the club’s 40-man roster in Fernando Tatis Jr. and Jose Azocar, though the club did reunite with Jurickson Profar yesterday on a one-year deal to help fill out its outfield mix somewhat. Still, with question marks remaining in the outfield, at DH, and in the rotation, plenty of uncertainty remains for the Padres as Spring Training begins. Preller’s presser this afternoon could begin to shed some light on the club’s plans for those areas headed into the season.

3. MLBTR Chat:

While teams around the league gear up for Spring Training, a handful of the winter’s top free agents remain unsigned and plenty of offseason shopping lists around the league remain unfulfilled. Are you wondering if there’s more in store for your team as camps open in Arizona and Florida? If so, tune in this afternoon when MLBTR’s Steve Adams hosts a live chat with readers at 1pm CT. You can click here to ask a question in advance, and that same link will allow you to join in on the chat once it begins or read the transcript after its completed.





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