MLB rumors: Shohei Ohtani not as concerned with geography during free agency, Aaron Nola garnering interest

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The MLB offseason is nearly two weeks old and fans are still waiting for the first major move. That’s not unusual. The offseason is a marathon, not a sprint, much like the season itself. It should be noted Friday is the non-tender deadline. There’s usually a flurry of activity leading up to the deadline, so things should pick up soon. Here are our top 50 free agents and top 25 trade candidates. Now here are Monday’s hot stove rumors.
Geography may not be Ohtani’s top priority
Shohei Ohtani LAA • DH • #17 BA 0.304 R 102 HR 44 RBI 95 SB 20 View Profile
Joining a competitive team, not geography, could be Shohei Ohtani’s greatest priority this offseason, according to MLB.com. It is no secret Ohtani wants to join a contender — “It sucks to lose,” he said in July — though it is also believed he prefers the West Coast. The Angels failed to make the postseason (or even post a winning record) in any of Ohtani’s six seasons.
East Coast teams like the Braves, Mets, Phillies, Red Sox, and Yankees all figure to be in the mix for Ohtani to some degree, though some (Braves and Phillies) are better equipped to contend right away than others. The Phillies (Kyle Schwarber) and Yankees (Giancarlo Stanton) already have a full-time DH, but it’s Shohei Ohtani. If he’s willing to join your team, you sign him, and make the pieces fit later.
Nola with plenty of interest
Aaron Nola PHI • SP • #27 ERA 4.46 WHIP 1.15 IP 193.2 BB 45 K 202 View Profile
Free-agent starting pitcher Aaron Nola is bound to drum up plenty of interest on the open market. He’s coming off a down year, though he threw like an ace in a few playoff starts and he finished fourth in Cy Young voting in 2022. He’s also topped 200 innings three times in his career and worked over 190 last season. Workhorses are very valuable in this day and age.
Among the interested suitors are the Cardinals and Braves, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network. Expect the pool of interest parties to extend beyond those two teams and the Phillies, but it’s nice to have specific teams.
The Cardinals had a disaster of a season from their rotation. Jordan Montgomery and Jack Flaherty were traded. Adam Wainwright has retired. The veteran holdovers in the rotation right now are Miles Mikolas, Steven Matz and Dakota Hudson. Youngster Matthew Liberatore should figure in their plans, but still, the Cardinals figure to add at least two starting pitchers from outside the organization this offseason if they plan on contending in 2024.
As for the Braves, see below.
Angels strongly interested in Anderson
Tim Anderson CHW • SS • #7 BA 0.245 R 52 HR 1 RBI 25 SB 13 View Profile
The Angels are strongly interested in former White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, reports USA Today. In deference to Zach Neto, the Angels could move Anderson to second base, where he played two games in 2023 and also in the World Baseball Classic. Luis Rengifo is penciled in at second base but is versatile enough to play elsewhere should the Halos land Anderson.
Anderson, 30, had a wretched 2023 season, prompting the White Sox to decline his $14 million club option. That said, Anderson hit at least .301 every year from 2019-22, and he’s still young enough that there’s reason to believe he could regain his previous form with a change of scenery. In a free agent market thin on middle infielders, there are worse rolls of the dice than Anderson.
Braves want to add a starter
The defending NL East champion Braves want to add a starting pitcher and could spend big to do so, according to The Athletic. The Braves picked up their $20 million club option on Charlie Morton earlier this offseason, and they have an opening in the No. 5 spot behind Morton, Bryce Elder, Max Fried, and Spencer Strider. Michael Soroka could be a candidate for that spot. As noted above, they are showing interest in Nola.
Nola has strong ties to Atlanta pitch coach Rick Kranitz, who was with the Phillies from 2016-18. It should be noted Fried and Morton will be free agents after 2024. Signing a starter to a multi-year contract this offseason would give the Braves another top starter to pair with Strider in 2025 and beyond. It wouldn’t prevent the Braves from re-signing Fried either.

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