Jason Heyward is set to return to the Dodgers next season with the two sides nearing a one-year, $9 million deal. John Froschauer/Associated Press

The Dodgers have yet to make a major roster addition during the opening month of Major League Baseball’s offseason. But on Monday, they ensured another important piece of their 2023 team would be back in the fold in 2024.

The club is nearing a new one-year contract with outfielder Jason Heyward worth $9 million pending a physical, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who was unauthorized to speak publicly. The deal, which was first reported by ESPN, is a straight-up contract with no incentives or options for the 34-year-old veteran.

Heyward’s new deal will keep him in Los Angeles after his breakout 2023 campaign, in which the former All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner batted .269 with 15 home runs in a productive right-field platoon role.

It also addresses an area of need for the Dodgers, who were looking to bolster their corner outfield depth in the free-agent market, especially with star right fielder Mookie Betts expected to split his time at second base again next year.

Originally signed by the Dodgers to a low-risk, minor league contract last offseason (Heyward was also being paid more than $21 million by the Chicago Cubs after they released him with a year remaining on his contract), Heyward reworked his swing in L.A. to become one of the more consistent left-handed bats on a platoon-heavy 100-win Dodgers team.

He posted his best batting average in five years and his most home runs since 2019 and ranked fourth on the Dodgers with an .813 on-base-plus-slugging percentage — better than both Max Muncy and Will Smith.


Unlike Muncy and Smith, Heyward wasn’t a full-time player. Of his 377 plate appearances, all but 28 came against right-handed pitchers. While he appeared in 124 games, he played a full nine innings only 59 times.

CARDINALS: St. Louis made its biggest splash yet in an attempt to revamp its lackluster rotation, agreeing with AL Cy Young runner-up Sonny Gray on a three-year contract to anchor their staff heading into next season.

John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ president of baseball operations, already had signed free agent right-handers Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn to one-year deals. Mozeliak indicated during a news conference announcing their arrivals that the Cardinals were not done, saying “this is not the finish line” and that “there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Turns out the work produced the 34-year-old Gray, who went 8-8 with a 2.79 ERA for Minnesota last season. Gray turned down a qualifying offer from the Twins, and St. Louis will lose its second-highest pick in next year’s amateur draft for signing him.

HALL OF FAME: Hall of Fame players Jeff Bagwell,Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones, Ted Simmons and Jim Thome are among 16 members of the contemporary era committee that will consider an eight-man Hall of Fame ballot that includes managers Jim Leyland, Lou Piniella, Cito Gaston and Davey Johnson.

Retired manager Joe Torre and former Commissioner Bud Selig, both elected to the hall, also are on the committee that convenes Sunday at the winter meetings in Nashville, Tennessee, along with executives Sandy Alderson, Bill DeWitt, Michael Hill, Ken Kendrick, Andy MacPhail and Phyllis Merhige plus media members/historians Sean Forman, Jack O’Connell and Jesus Ortiz.


The ballot also includes umpires Joe West and Ed Montague, former National League President Bill White and former general manager Hank Peters.

FREE AGENCY: Shōta Imanaga, who earned the win for Japan in this year’s World Baseball Classic final against the United States, will become a free agent Tuesday and major league teams can sign him through 5 p.m. on Jan. 11.

Naoyuki Uwasawa, a 29-year-old right-handed reliever with the Pacific League’s Nippon Ham Fighters, also will become a free agent Tuesday and be available through Jan. 11.

Imanaga, a 30-year-old left-hander, was 7-4 with a 2.80 ERA in 22 starts this year for the Yokohama BayStars of Japan’s Central League. He struck out 174 and walked 24 in 148 innings.

Imanaga, recognizable for throwback style high socks, became the second prominent Japanese pitcher on the free agent market after 25-year-old right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who can sign through Jan. 4.

Imanaga is 64-50 with a 3.18 ERA in eight season with Yokohama, striking out 1,021 and walking 280 in 1,002 2/3 innings.


Uwasawa was 9-9 with a 2.96 ERA in 24 relief appearances this year.

GUARDIANS: Manager Stephen Vogt has rounded out his staff, retaining Sandy Alomar Jr. and Carl Willis – two long-tenured coaches under former manager Terry Francona.

Vogt was hired earlier this month by Cleveland despite not having any managing experience. He’ll have continuity in Alomar, who will coach first base and the catchers, along with Willis, who has had a major impact in the Guardians developing one of baseball’s best pitching staffs.

A six-time All-Star catcher with Cleveland, the popular Alomar has been on the team’s staff for 15 seasons, and Willis 14. They were instrumental in helping Francona, who stepped away after leading the Guardians to the playoffs six times in 11 seasons.

Vogt also named Craig Albernaz his bench coach, replacing DeMarlo Hale, who was recently named Toronto’s associate manager.

TIGERS: Free agent right-hander Kenta Maeda and the Detroit Tigers agreed to a $24 million, two-year contract, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Sunday night because the agreement was subject to a successful physical and had not been announced.

Maeda, who turns 36 on April 11, spent the past three years with the Minnesota Twins. He was 6-8 with a 4.23 ERA in 20 starts and one relief appearance this year in his return from Tommy John surgery on Sept. 1, 2021.

He was hit on the left ankle by a 111.6-mph drive off the bat of Boston’s Jarren Duran in his third outing on April 20. After giving up career highs of 10 runs and 11 hits against the New York Yankees six days later, he went on the injured list because of a strained right triceps, an injury that sidelined him until June 23.

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