Will Red Sox GM Ben Cherington make news at MLB's GM meetings?
Major League Baseball's general manager meetings begin Wednesday, Nov. 7 in Indian Wells, Calif., and go through Friday.
What will happen at these GM meetings? Historically, not much happens when MLB front-office executives get together for their annual pow-wow. Though, as MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reminds us, the occasional big signing will happen, as it did in 2006 when the Houston Astros inked Carlos Lee to a six-year, $100 million contract.
The MLB doesn't even list the GM meetings on its calendar of "important dates," which might tell you something about their perceived importance.
If anything, these events are a precursor to MLB's winter meetings, which take place in Nashville from Dec. 3 to Dec. 6. The groundwork for the big trades and signings that will happen in December could very well be established in November.
But that doesn't mean no baseball news of significance will come out of Southern California during the following three days. Here are seven things that could happen.
The Colorado Rockies have narrowed their managerial search down to four finalists.
The last of the quartet, Arizona Diamondbacks third-base coach Matt Williams, interviewed for the job on Monday, Nov. 5, according to the Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post.
The other three candidates are Rockies bench coach Tom Runnells, former Rockies shortstop Walt Weiss and Rockies first baseman Jason Giambi.
Williams told Saunders that the team gave him no timetable for coming to a decision. He assumed that a decision wouldn't be made until after the GM meetings.
It seems pretty clear that ownership and the front office likely know who they want to hire, so why not do so when the Rockies will have some spotlight and not get lost among the big transactions that will occur at the winter meetings in Nashville?
As Saunders' Denver Post colleague Troy Renck wrote, Giambi is the only choice that will "move the needle." Even if a majority of the response is "What the bleep are the Rockies doing?" hiring Giambi would draw major media attention.
Of course, that could be a terrible reason to hire a manager.
Williams appears to be the most qualified candidate, based on being a key assistant for a division rival that has enjoyed recent success. He also has front-office experience with the D-Backs. That might make him overqualified for the position, considering that the Rockies are probably looking for a puppet that can be controlled by assistant GM Bill Geivett.
So why not hire the guy with the least experience as a manager? At the least, Giambi has the best biceps of the Rockies' four candidates.
Mariano Rivera says he is returning for a 19th major league season.
There is some question as to how much the Yankees are willing to pay Rivera, as he earned $15 million this year in what was presumed to be his final season.
Rivera will likely be expecting a similar paycheck for 2013, but could the Yankees be hesitant to pay that salary with the 43-year-old coming off a major layoff?
General manager Brian Cashman has shown in his negotiations with Derek Jeter that he's not beholden to the team's longtime veterans, but this isn't the same situation.
Rivera is likely seeking a one-year deal, preferring to play out his final season on the field rather than sidelined by injury. Maybe Cashman will push for a slight decrease in pay, but perhaps the $14 million that was going to Rafael Soriano before he opted out of his contract could then go to Rivera.
The point is that this deal will get done—and probably sooner rather than later—so why not just get it taken care of before having to worry about all of the team's other concerns?
The local media is ready for the Boston Red Sox to do something big this offseason.
Of course, that's the typical expectation for this team every winter. But with the team's new payroll flexibility in light of trading Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto and $260 million in contracts to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston fans and media are eager to see what general manager Ben Cherington will do.
The Boston Globe's Kevin Paul Dupont points out that Cherington is basically on notice this offseason. He has his manager, John Farrell, in place now, and with the wiggle room in payroll, has a chance to assemble a revamped roster.
Dupont's Globe colleague, Nick Cafardo, outlines the Red Sox's shopping list, which includes corner outfielders, a first baseman, a starting pitcher and possibly a shortstop.
Though many will hope that the Red Sox get started on these moves at the GM meetings, it seems unlikely since negotiations with free agents or fellow front-office executives will be getting started or ongoing.
Maybe the team could re-sign Cody Ross, but if he's serious about wanting a three-year, $25 million contract, as ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted, he will have to shop around for it.
Outfielder Josh Hamilton is the top prize in this year's class of free agents. Several teams would love to add his left-handed power bat and athletic outfield play to their rosters.
But Hamilton is reportedly—according to Baseball Prospectus' John Perrotto—looking for a contract in the range of seven years and $175 million.
That could scare many potential suitors, such as the Milwaukee Brewers or Baltimore Orioles, away from bidding altogether. A return to the Texas Rangers is probably out of the question under those terms as well.
But MLB's big spenders all have a need for Hamilton, even if a few of them—like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies—say they intend to rein in their spending. Yeah, right.
Before December's winter meetings, will any team step up and say they're willing to meet Hamilton's price?
Maybe, if it means stirring up some interest among fans and getting the media to take notice. But most clubs seem likely to let a competitor make the first offer and go from there.
Will any of these teams try to indirectly—because doing it directly and communicating that fact would be collusion—lower the market value of the superstar outfielder?
That is a more likely scenario, as the teams interested in Hamilton all have other needs to fill. Even the Los Angeles Dodgers, who some expect to eventually make a run at Hamilton, will make starting pitching—particularly Zack Greinke—their priority as the spending season begins.
How did the trade between the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago Cubs involving Dan Haren and Carlos Marmol fall apart?
The Angels and Cubs reportedly had a deal in place that would send Haren to Chicago in exchange for Marmol, but the trade didn't go through for reasons that aren't yet clear.
Marmol has a no-trade clause, but apparently said he would be willing to go to Anaheim. Did the Cubs eventually decide they didn't want to pay the $15.5 million on the option year of Haren's contract? Or was this, as many are increasingly suspecting, a concern about Haren's health?
Haren admitted to ESPN Los Angeles that he never felt 100 percent healthy this season due to a back injury. As a result, the right-hander had his worst season, compiling a 12-13 record and 4.66 ERA while throwing fewer than 200 innings for the first time in his past seven seasons.
So were the Cubs scared off by questions about Haren's back, perhaps lacking the full medical information that the team preferred to see?
If so, Haren will have to prove his back is healed. And it will take more proof than his agent telling ESPN's Buster Olney that his client is healthy.
Haren will probably have to throw for scouts and general managers at some point this offseason. It would be in his best interests to do so before the winter meetings too. So why not throw during the GM meetings with all of the MLB executives in Southern California?
New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson already has plenty on his plate with trying to work out contract extensions for third baseman David Wright and starting pitcher R.A. Dickey.
Alderson may even be mulling over whether or not it's best to trade Dickey at the height of his value, coming off a 20-win, 230-strikeout season. He could surely use the knuckle-baller to add depth to the minor league system or help fill the holes in the outfield, the bullpen and at catcher.
But as the GM meetings are set to begin, Alderson may be receiving several sympathetic pats on the back or complimentary adult beverages from his colleagues around MLB after the news that outfielder Lucas Duda broke his right wrist while moving furniture.
According to ESPN New York's Adam Rubin, Duda had surgery to repair the fracture on Monday and is expected to be ready for spring training. However, the injury kills whatever trade value Duda might have had.
That gentleman sitting at the hotel bar could very well be Alderson. And he could use some support.
Though he may have tried to angle for an interview with the Colorado Rockies for their managerial job, former major leaguer Jose Canseco is still looking for employment as a player.
The boxing thing really didn't work out for Canseco. A disgraced major leaguer showdown with Lenny Dykstra fell through last November when Dykstra failed to show up for the event. Nearly nine months earlier, Canseco was caught substituting his twin brother, Ozzie, in the ring for a different boxing match.
It has to irk Canseco that his former Bash Brother, Mark McGwire, has worked the last three years as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals and will reportedly take the same position with the Los Angeles Dodgers next season.
In his defense, Canseco slugged at least 40 home runs three times among his 17-year major league seasons. His career on-base percentage was .353 with an OPS of .867. Those are some bona fides to offer a coaching staff.
But is Canseco willing to pay some minor league dues like Ryne Sandberg has done? Or does he think he's entitled to a major league position from the start, like McGwire received?
This is one instance where some humility may be necessary. However, humility is not exactly Canseco's thing.
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