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Recapping the Winter Meetings and looking ahead to the rest of the offseason

Dec 13, 2013, 7:10 AM EDT

Winter Meetings pic

A week in the sun and warmth is over. A week of the hottest hot stove action in recent memory preceded it. It’s pretty easy to say that a great bulk of the work teams needed to do before Opening Day 2014 has been accomplished since we tossed the last of our Thanksgiving leftovers. But there is still more to do, obviously. There are still many free agents out on the market and trade possibilities dancing along with the sugarplums in general managers’ heads.

So, first, let’s look at the big things that happened during the Winter Meetings:

So obviously there’s a lot left. For one thing, Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka is expected to be posted by his NPB team, and if that happens he will instantly be the most sought-after free agent of them all. Indeed, by HardballTalk’s reckoning, eight of the top 20 free agents plus Tanaka are still available, and that means a lot of heat still to come off the hot stove.

It’s a time when a lot of people are talking about the offseason’s winners and losers. But there is still a lot of offseason to go. While 20 years ago everything was pretty much done by Christmas, the baseball offseason has now come to be active all offseason long, with signings in late December, all through January and even after spring training begins. As many at the Winter Meetings say, there is no real offseason anymore.

And that’s why HardballTalk is here. For you to keep track of all the comings and goings and the state of your team and others as the new season approaches. Always keep a tab up dedicated to HBT and you’ll be the first to know what’s going on.

  1. proudlycanadian - Dec 13, 2013 at 7:32 AM

    There was also a lot of BS posted by the usual cabal of rumor mongers. I just can’t believe that many of the rumors were reliable even if they were accepted as the gospel truth by some, just because the stories appeared on the internet.

    • paperlions - Dec 13, 2013 at 8:21 AM

      Jesus PC, how often to you think talks with an agent or a team result in a signing or a deal? The answer is likely far less than 10%. Just because a player isn’t signed or a deal isn’t completed doesn’t mean there weren’t discussion and even meaningful discussions. Smart teams explore every avenue to fill a need and then do the best deal they can. Dumb teams identify one option and pursue only that option.

      • sbmcintosh36 - Dec 13, 2013 at 9:10 AM

        I get what you’re saying but PC’s has a point, look at the UT Mack Brown thing as a perfect example of made up BS by a writer..”Harbaugh and Tomlin have expressed interest in the job and are on the short list”
        That was the most ABSURD rumor I’ve ever heard in my life they both have one of the 5-6 premier NFL jobs why in the world would they step down to college and have to recruit and all the other garbage college coaches have to do??

      • paperlions - Dec 13, 2013 at 9:27 AM

        PC thinks every rumor regarding the Blue Jays can’t be true because they don’t leak information (he thinks). Of course, agents talk, players talk, friends of players talk, people from other organizations talk (you can’t have trade talks by yourself).

      • proudlycanadian - Dec 13, 2013 at 9:24 AM

        You seem to be a tad confused paperlions. Jesus was born on Dec 25, but I wasn’t born until Dec 28. Yes teams talk. The smart ones keep their mouth shut. Some of the reports on the internet are completely bogus. In other cases, Team A talks with team B. Team B says no. Team A then goes out and leaks that they talked with team B about a certain player. Subsequently a reporter on the receiving end of the leak than makes the bogus claim that a trade is possible or that a certain player is in play. Team B learns that Team A is not to be trusted and completely refuses to deal with team A.

      • paperlions - Dec 13, 2013 at 9:29 AM

        Jesus was most definitely not born on December 25th. Christmas as a holiday and the fabricated reason for it was created so that Christians didn’t feel left out during the solstice pagan celebrations.

      • proudlycanadian - Dec 13, 2013 at 9:46 AM

        So you do not believe everything you read after all.

      • paperlions - Dec 13, 2013 at 9:48 AM

        Of course not, but I also don’t deny everything I read that I wish or hope isn’t true.

      • proudlycanadian - Dec 13, 2013 at 3:02 PM

        Regardless, I do sincerely wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  2. hittfamily - Dec 13, 2013 at 7:54 AM

    Cubs and Orioles fans should be disappointed. The O’s are, at best, a 4th place team, and have done nothing to change that. I thought they traded away 9 mil per year Jim Johnson to go after a second baseman like Infante, or a DH like Corey Hart. Nope. They traded an overpaid closer to sign an overpaid closer.

    The Cubs are sitting on a pile of money, and doing nothing with it. Trade Barney for Uggla, eat all of Uggla’s salary, and get a top 5 prospect from the Braves. Not that Barney has any value, but Uggla has negative value, and a prsopect would have to be added just to get him out of Atlanta. Uggla could then be moved to a handful of teams needing a secondbaseman, for yet another prospect. They also should have signed Morse, or Corey Hart, or Johan Santana, or someone like that. Somebody who used to be really good, but has a lot of question marks. If Morse sucks, well you just wasted 5 mil. If Hart sucks, well, you just wasted 7 mil. If they turn out to be any good, then you trade them, and add to a stacked minor league farm system. The Cubs don’t need money, they need future talent. The Mets have been good at this recently, with the Dickey and Marlon Byrd signings. Cheap vets turned into top prospects, and the risk was minimal.

    • paperlions - Dec 13, 2013 at 8:17 AM

      It is not the right time for them to spend money. Next year, maybe. Signing FAs is buying into a declining market in which the first year or two are likely to be their best years after signing. It is a poor strategy to sign FAs when your team isn’t ready to compete, so that when the young talent is ready, your FAs are declining. There is no reason to spend an extra $40M on payroll to win 75 games instead of 70.

      • hittfamily - Dec 13, 2013 at 8:51 AM

        I agree with everything you said. I don’t think you read what I wrote though. I don’t think the Cubs are ready to win. I think they need more prospects. The draft is one way to acquire prospects, but trades are another. The Cubs have a 50 million dollar payroll next year, and only 30 million in 2015. They are the third largest market, and have a payroll 50% less than the Rays. Call up Atlanta, and see who they’d throw in to take BJ and Uggla off their hands. BJ is owed 60 mil through 2017. They could cut him a check for the remaining balance next year, and still have a payroll less than the 2013 Reds. If Theo calls Frank Wren and offers a slice of Chicago deep dish pizza for BJ, Uggla, and the Braves top 5 prospects, I see some serious negotiations going on.

        Then, let them play. Maybe BJ and Dan are truly the 2 worst players in baseball, but maybe they aren’t. Maybe BJ hits 30 jacks in Wrigley, and now he has trade value. Trade him to someone who needs a CF, and pocket a few more prospects. It’s not about competing in 2014, but it is about spending money in 2014 to improve in 2015, 2016, 2017… New TV contracts gave every team an additional 25 mil per year last year, and another 27 mil this year. The Cubs have a payroll less than what they get in additional TV money. It’s time to put it to use, because the fans deserve better than a crap product that doesn’t cost the owner a penny.

      • hittfamily - Dec 13, 2013 at 9:05 AM

        Essentially, I want the Cubs to buy other team’s prospects. Since they aren’t allowed to do that, sign some vets to 1 or 2 year contracts, then trade them at the deadline. My idea is to legally buy prospects.

        Best case scenario, Corey Hart returns to the 30 homer guy he was. Some team trades a Zach Wheeler, or Mike Olt. Or maybe you don’t trade him, make him a qualifying offer, and get a first round draft pick as compensation. Worst case scenario, the 2014 payroll is 57 million instead of 50 million.

    • josephmacera - Dec 13, 2013 at 9:12 AM

      Signing those types or FAs that you’re talking about (Santana or Uggla) don’t need to be done during the Winter Meetings. They’re not high priority guys. Those are the deals that can be done hastly before Spring Training. Plus, after all these surgeries I don’t think Johan Santana can even come close to touching 90 MPH on his fastball. He barely could before this surgery, so he probably doesn’t have any value left in him anymore.

  3. unclemosesgreen - Dec 13, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    Smoak & Montero stink; and Cano is still 4-5 years away from moving off 2B. LoMo can play a little bit of OF, and there’s always the DH role to fill. The way I see it they have room for Kendrys Morales as well. It’s not really a logjam yet.

  4. metrocritical - Dec 13, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    And while the Detroit Tigers made some moves over the past few weeks to increase speed on the major league roster and improve overall organizational health, the team, as currently constructed, is inferior to the 2013 team in many respects. The team remains one viable, professional caliber bat away from keeping the rest of the division at bay. The Andy Dirks/Rajai Davis duo in left, combined with the weak hitting of Inglesias, Avila and Jackson and a collection of zeros off the bench will not scare opposing pitchers and this could be the year that Cleveland or KC surpasses Detroit as division leader. History shows that championship windows are small and close quickly. After years of aggressive spending, the organization now appears to be fiscally handcuffed. With little help in the minors to help or to trade and Max Scherzer likely to leave after the season, this could be the last year for Detroit to make a run. Starting pitching will keep the respectable for several more seasons but the organization’s failure to develop any minor league talent whatsoever (outside of some pitching) looks like it will finally catch up to them soon. Unless, of course, the team decides it has more money to spend.

  5. natstowngreg - Dec 13, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    Mike Rizzo has checked the three main items off his holiday shopping list.

    Good SP, trade for Doug Fister. Check.
    Lefty reliever, trade for Jerry Blevins. Check.
    Lefty bat off the bench/4th OF, sign Nate McLouth. Check.

    He may add organizational pitching depth (incuding another lefty reliever), a backup C, a untilty INF, and another lefty bench hitter. But thus far, not bad, IMHO.

  6. spc7ray - Dec 13, 2013 at 9:41 PM

    The Angels made the worst deal of the season so far again–Except for the signing of Cano-that was the worst of all!

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