MLB free agency: Aaron Judge, Willson Contreras, Red Sox big winners as rumors, news sizzle

The MLB Winter Meetings shopping spree continued Wednesday with the biggest prize of the free agent market, AL MVP Aaron Judge, returning to the New York Yankees for a nine-year, $360 million deal.

But that wasn't the only activity as player agents and team executives gathered in San Diego.

Even with Judge, Trea Turner, Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander no longer available, there's still plenty of talent to go around.

FREE AGENT RANKINGS: The top 87 players on the market this offseason

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Here are the latest developments and signings as the Hot Stove continues to sizzle:

Red Sox make splash

Even as they await closure on the return of their franchise shortstop, the Boston Red Sox made a lightning-quick strike on a potentially premier addition on the final day of baseball’s winter meetings.

The Red Sox are in agreement on a five-year, $90 million contract with outfielder Masataka Yoshida, according to multiple reports, just hours after the Japanese star was posted by the Orix Buffaloes and made available to major league clubs.

Including the $15.375 million posting fee, the Red Sox’s total commitment to Yoshida will approach $106 million. It’s a hefty price to pay for a 5-foot-8 left fielder with limited range – but the Red Sox are paying big for him to inject significant life into the lineup. Yoshida won consecutive Pacific League batting titles in 2020-21 and posted a .449 on-base percentage last year, striking out just 41 times in 508 plate appearances.

Coupled with the addition of closer Kenley Jansen on a two-year, $32 million deal and significant progress made in talks with shortstop Xander Bogaerts, Wednesday was a significant day of progress for the Red Sox. Closing the deal with Bogaerts – who opted out of a five-year, $125 million deal last month – would make this winter a net gain already. — Gabe Lacques 

Masataka Yoshida has reached an agreement with the Boston Red Sox.
Masataka Yoshida has reached an agreement with the Boston Red Sox.

Cardinals hit target with catcher Willson Contreras

Catcher Willson Contreras says goodbye to the fans at Wrigley Field after the Cubs' season finale. He played seven seasons in Chicago before becoming a free agent.
Catcher Willson Contreras says goodbye to the fans at Wrigley Field after the Cubs' season finale. He played seven seasons in Chicago before becoming a free agent.

With Yadier Molina finally retiring after a 19-year career in St. Louis, the Cardinals are in need of a starting catcher. So why not start with the top one available in free agency? And if you happen to snag one away from your archrival, even better.

The Cards have set their sights on former Chicago Cub Willson Contreras, with ESPN's Jeff Passan reporting a five-year, $87.5 million agreement has been struck.

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A three-time All-Star, Contreras is clearly the top free agent catcher, ahead of Christian Vazquez, Tucker Barnhart, Omar Narvaez and Austin Hedges.

Utilityman Aledmys Diaz lands in Oakland

Versatile infielder/outfielder Aledmys Diaz has agreed to terms with the Oakland A's on a two-year, $14.5 million contract, according to the New York Post's Joel Sherman.

Diaz spent the last four seasons in Houston, playing every infield position and even seeing some time in the outfield.

Red Sox get closer Kenley Jansen

Kenley Jansen ranks second among active pitchers with 391 career saves, just three behind Craig Kimbrel.
Kenley Jansen ranks second among active pitchers with 391 career saves, just three behind Craig Kimbrel.

Longtime Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen left L.A. as a free agent last season and thrived after signing a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves. Jansen, 35, led the National League in saves with 41 -- which strengthened his case for another big-money deal.

He'll move to the American League for the first time in his career after agreeing to a two-year contract with the Boston Red Sox, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.

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The addition of Jansen will allow the Red Sox to move Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock into the starting rotation after both occasionally served as closers over the past couple seasons.

Mets bolster rotation with lefty José Quintana

Jose Quintana had a career-best 2.93 ERA last season in 32 starts for the Pirates and Cardinals
Jose Quintana had a career-best 2.93 ERA last season in 32 starts for the Pirates and Cardinals

Left-hander José Quintana revitalized his career at age 33 after a midseason trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the St. Louis Cardinals.

In his final dozen starts for the Cardinals, Quintana posted a 2.01 ERA and finished the season with a 2.93 ERA.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reports Quintana is headed to the Mets on a two-year deal, joining Verlander in a rebuilt rotation that also includes Max Scherzer, Tylor Megill and Carlos Carrasco.

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Cubs pick up starter Jameson Taillon

In two seasons with the Yankees, Jameson Taillon went 22-11 with a 4.08 ERA.
In two seasons with the Yankees, Jameson Taillon went 22-11 with a 4.08 ERA.

The Chicago Cubs are expected to be major players in the free agent market, with most of the attention centering around shortstops Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson.

They did add former NL MVP Cody Bellinger on a one-year deal Tuesday.

However, they also have some holes in the starting rotation to fill. One of those rotation spots will go to Jameson Taillon, who spent the past two seasons with the Yankees.

ESPN reported late Tuesday night Taillon will receive a four-year deal.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB rumors, news updates from Winter Meetings: Red Sox make big splash