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MLB Rumors: Jason Heyward Gets NRI From Dodgers; Mets looking for more rotation help after Justin Verlander

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The 2022 MLB winter meetings are over and more than $1 billion in free agent contracts were handed out this week. However, spring training is still two months away. and exactly half of our top 50 free agents remain unsigned. There is still a lot of work to be done this offseason. Here are the rumors for Thursday’s hot stove.

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The Dodgers signed five-time Gold Glover Jason Heyward to a minor league contract, the team announced. He will be a non-roster invitee to spring training. as plannedthe Cubs released Heyward earlier this offseason and still owe him $22 million in 2023. The Dodgers will pay him the prorated share of MLB’s minimum salary as long as he’s on their major league roster.

Heyward, 33, was limited to 48 games with knee problems in 2022. He has hit just .211/.280/.326 over the past two seasons and his defense, once among the best in the game, has receded with age. The Dodgers had a quiet Winter Meetings and need a center fielder, but Heyward will not be asked to fill that void. The minor league deal amounts to a zero-risk spring training audition, even for a proven veteran.

Mets looking for another starter

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Even after signing Justin Verlander and Jose Quintana, the Mets are looking for another starting pitcher, according to the New York Post. They have interest in Japanese star Kodai Senga, as well as right-handed free agent Ross Stripling. Tylor Megill and David Peterson are the No. 5 starting candidates behind Verlander, Quintana and incumbents Max Scherzer and Carlos Carrasco.

FanGraphs estimates that New York’s competitive breakeven tax payroll for 2023 is $293.3 million. That’s just over the fourth level of the $293 million penalty, the “Steve Cohen tax” level, which comes with a 90 percent tax rate. Either the Mets will pass that threshold and run the highest payroll in baseball history, or they will cut the payroll elsewhere on the roster to add another starter.

Rangers looking for help in left field

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As expectedThe Rangers are looking for help in left field after signing starters Jacob deGrom and Andrew Heaney, general manager Chris Young told MLB.com. “We want to continue to explore left field, see what the market is and see what the options are. We feel pretty good about our receiving and our infield. So I think those are probably the biggest areas that we’ll continue to monitor and look to improve and keep an open mind,” Young told MLB.com.

Texas started 13 different players in left field in 2022 and they hit an unfathomably terrible .186/.253/.256 in 604 plate appearances. There has been speculation that the Rangers could reunite with Joey Gallo on a one-year deal to prove himself this offseason, but even if not, the bar is low. It shouldn’t be too difficult for the Rangers to significantly improve their left-field situation at a reasonable price.

Braves trade Jimenez

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The Braves acquired setup man Joe Jimenez from the Tigers for prospects Justyn-Henry Malloy and Jake Higginbotham, the team announced. Malloy, a third baseman, was arguably the best position player prospect in Atlanta’s system. The 22-year-old hit .289/.408/.454 in 2022 and made it all the way to Triple-A. Higginbotham is a 26-year-old Double-A reliever.

Jimenez, who turned 28 in January, quietly stood out as a strikeout-packed late-inning reliever in 2022. The Braves are locked in on Raisel Iglesias at the closer position, so Jimenez will join a prep team that includes fellow righties Collin McHugh and Kirby. Yates and lefties AJ Minter and Dylan Lee. Atlanta will seek its sixth straight NL East title next season.

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