The first two days of the winter meetings in Nashville were sort of like the Kill Bill movies.
Day 1 of the meetings had considerably more action, while Day 2 was much slower and measured by comparison. It was, however, still enjoyable in its own way.
Some of you are nodding your heads right now. Others of you are probably wondering what the heck I'm talking about and are looking to be filled in on all the juicy details.
Very well. If you weren't plugged in to the happenings in Nashville on Tuesday, here's what you missed.
Free-agent right-handers Zack Greinke and Anibal Sanchez are still looking for work, but one big-name pitcher did come off the board on Tuesday.
As reported by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, the Washington Nationals agreed to sign former Los Angeles Angels right-hander Dan Haren:
Sources: Dan Haren in agreement with #Nationals, one year, $13M. Pending physical.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2012
Haren will join a rotation that already includes Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann. If he reverts back to the form he had from 2007 to 2011—a five-year span in which he compiled a 73-49 record and a 3.33 ERA—the Nationals are going to have one heck of a rotation.
However, there are red flags where Haren is concerned. He struggled to the tune of a 4.33 ERA in 2012, in part because he was dealing with a bad back for much of the year. If his 32-year-old body is officially past its prime, Haren will struggle to provide good value for his contract.
Speaking of guys who could struggle to provide good value for their contracts, the newest member of the Boston Red Sox could be headed down that road. As first reported by Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe and confirmed by Alex Speier of WEEI.com, the Red Sox agreed to sign Shane Victorino to a three-year contract.
The deal was initially reported to be worth $38 million, but Speier says it's actually worth $39 million. If so, then the Red Sox gave Victorino the exact same contract they gave to Mike Napoli on Monday.
Victorino's deal carries some significant risk for the Red Sox. He posted a career-low .704 OPS in 2012, a sign that he may be heading into a decline as he progresses into his 30s. (Victorino just turned 32 in late November.)
Still, I suppose you have to give the guy some credit for taking a little less money to sign with the Red Sox. Ken Rosenthal reported that Victorino had an offer on the table from the Cleveland Indians that was worth more money in the long run:
Maybe Victorino didn't want to commit to Cleveland for the rest of his prime years. There's a LeBron James joke to be made here.
Aside from Haren's and Victorino's deals, it was a pretty quiet day. The Arizona Diamondbacks signed veteran utility man Eric Hinske to a one-year contract, which was first reported by Ken Rosenthal. In Tampa Bay, the Rays avoided arbitration with infielder Sean Rodriguez with a one-year deal, which was reported by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. According to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Atlanta Braves did the same with infielder Paul Janish.
Elsewhere, the Texas Rangers finalized their deal with right-handed reliever Joakim Soria. It's a two-year pact worth $8 million with a vesting option for a third year.
The New York Mets also finalized star third baseman David Wright's extension, which is worth $138 million spread out over eight years.
As for deals that might be going down soon...
The Hottest of the Hot-Hot-Hot Rumors
As they are wont to do, trade winds were blowing at the winter meetings on Tuesday. And wherever trade winds are blowing, it probably won't be long before you hear Justin Upton's name.
The most explosive Upton rumor of the day came straight from ESPN's Pedro Gomez:
Phillies and Diamondbacks are discussing Justin Upton for Cliff Lee. Money coming to AZ would also be involved.— Pedro Gomez (@pedrogomezESPN) December 4, 2012
Yeah, that actually happened.
But as it turned out, maybe it didn't. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports came forth and shot the rumor out of the sky, and then Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. killed it for good when he told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that the rumor was "false."
Still, there was some legit action on the Diamondbacks right fielder on Tuesday. Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com pointed out three teams that were particularly active in discussions:
Justin Upton has drawn active interest from 3 teams today: Mariners, Rangers, Indians. @mlbonfox— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 4, 2012
Of the teams on that list, the Mariners may stand the best chance of acquiring Upton. They desperately need an impact bat for their lineup, and they have the talented prospects to entice the Diamondbacks into dealing Upton. Especially if the D'backs are looking for a young arm or two.
Upton isn't the only star hitter the Mariners have set their sights on. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the Mariners are taking a look at speedy leadoff man Michael Bourn, and Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com tweeted that the Mariners are still in play for slugging outfielder Josh Hamilton.
The Mariners could also be in play for a Diamondbacks outfielder whose name isn't Justin Upton. Jon Morosi wrote late Monday night that Seattle is one of several teams that could be a fit for left fielder Jason Kubel, who posted an .833 OPS and hit a career-high 30 home runs in 2012.
Danny Knobler tweeted that the Diamondbacks are actively trying to move Kubel, and he hinted that a deal could happen very soon:
Diamondbacks sign Eric Hinske. Meanwhile, they're trying to trade Jason Kubel. Some think a deal could happen today.— DKnobler (@DKnobler) December 4, 2012
Kubel isn't the only lefty-swinging slugger on the market. ESPN's Buster Olney reported early Tuesday that New York Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson is on the block. He's a target for any team with $15 million in hand to pay his salary and a need for an outfielder with 40-homer power. I came up with a list of five potential suitors.
However, much of the attention in New York is on Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who is a candidate to be traded after winning the N.L. Cy Young in November. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News noted that the Mets are still "undecided" whether they want to trade him, but the list of interested suitors only seems to be growing.
Jon Heyman says that "at least" eight teams have checked in on the veteran knuckleballer, including the Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers. Coincidentally, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com says that the Mets covet Royals top prospect Wil Myers, who was showered with awards for the season he had in 2012.
The Dodgers, however, may be willing to offer the Mets two prized youngsters. This according to John Harper of the New York Daily News:
Source says Mets could get speedy SS Dee Gordon and top pitching prospect Zach Lee from Dodgers for Dickey. But that doesn't help OF.— John Harper (@NYDNHarper) December 4, 2012
If the Dodgers would rather not give up any of their young players, they could always throw a small mountain of cash at Zack Greinke or Anibal Sanchez. Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times says that the Dodgers still look like a favorite for Greinke, but Bob Nightengale of USA Today says there is a mystery team in the mix for Sanchez:
Mystery teams snatched up Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder last offseason. Perhaps one will snatch up Sanchez this year. You never know with mystery teams, for they are unpredictable creatures.
As for some of the smaller rumors that passed by under the radar on Tuesday...
Quieter Rumors Worth Your Attention
Everyone wants the Miami Marlins to trade Giancarlo Stanton, but they've made it clear enough that their preference is to keep him for ever and ever and ever.
But according to Danny Knobler, teams are calling about Stanton anyway. Though the Marlins say they aren't planning on trading him, they do have a price tag for their young right fielder. It would supposedly take three top-level prospects and two other players to pry him from Miami.
This doesn't mean that a deal is going to get done. But the fact that the Marlins are listening and telling teams that there's a price for Stanton is a clear indication that they're not completely ruling out a trade either. If somebody floors them with an offer, they could reverse course and send Stanton on his way.
In the meantime, the Marlins have plenty of interested parties on the line for recently acquired shortstop Yunel Escobar, who they do want to trade. Danny Knobler has labeled the Yankees, Rays and Oakland A's as the teams most likely to make a deal for Escobar.
The Yankees stand out among those suitors because of how desperate they are for help on the left side of their infield, with Alex Rodriguez due for major hip surgery and Derek Jeter recovering from a broken ankle. Brian Cashman is in a position where he must make a move.
Jeff Passan reported that the Yankees have a "very strong" interest in utility man Jeff Keppinger, who is coming off a strong season with the Rays. Jon Heyman says Keppinger is looking to capitalize by scoring a three-year deal worth $12 million.
As far as future Yankees targets go, we may be able to take one off the board in the near future. Jon Heyman says that the Mariners are considering a long-term extension for ace pitcher Felix Hernandez:
#mariners broached multiyear deal w/ king felix. want to make him "mariner for life." talks very preliminary. sea pushing— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 4, 2012
King Felix has long been viewed as a potential target for the Yankees once he hits free agency, which will happen in 2015 if he doesn't sign an extension. Also poised to hit free agency that year are Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander, who are also extension candidates.
The smart money is on Kershaw sticking around in Los Angeles and Verlander stick around in Detroit. The Mariners would seem to be less of a lock to ink Hernandez to an extension, but it's a legit possibility given all the TV money that's going to be finding its way to Seattle in the next few years.
If Hernandez does sign an extension in Seattle, no doubt a few tears will be shed in big-market baseball towns.
The Day's Biggest Winner and Loser
For the day's biggest winner, I have to go with all the free-agent starting pitchers who could be affected by Dan Haren's deal with the Nationals.
Haren's deal won't have an impact on pitchers seeking long-term deals like Zack Greinke and Anibal Sanchez, but it may have set the market for pitchers looking to prove their worth in one- or two-year deals. This is a group that includes the likes of Brandon McCarthy, Joe Blanton, Jair Jurrjens, Francisco Liriano, John Lannan and several others as well.
If Haren can get a deal worth $13 million for one year in this market—which is roughly equivalent to what the qualifying offer was worth this year—then these pitchers may be able to add an extra million bucks or two to their own price tags.
The biggest loser of the day has to be the Cleveland Indians. They offered Shane Victorino a fair deal that would have taken care of their need for an outfielder, but he turned it down to go sign with the Red Sox.
This could be a sign that the Indians are going to have to drastically overpay in order to draw free agents, and that may prove to be exceedingly difficult for them. They're not broke, but they're not rich either.
It also makes little sense for them to break the bank for one or two free agents, as it's going to take more than a couple new pieces to turn them into legit contenders.
As such, maybe the Indians should just sell off what they have and start from scratch. Because, you know, another rebuilding team is exactly what the city of Cleveland needs.
What To Watch for on Wednesday
Plenty of rumors came to light on Day 2 that concerned smaller-named infielders on both the trade and free-agent markets. Don't be surprised if the market is active again on Wednesday, with one or two moves potentially going down.
On this front, the team to keep an eye on is the Yankees. They need help for their infield, and they can't rest on their laurels with the market as hot as it is right now.
Concerning the two big-name free agents still out there, it doesn't sound like anything is imminent with Zack Greinke. Bill Shaikin has said that the Dodgers aren't expecting anything to happen before the end of the winter meetings, which is an indication that Greinke is in no hurry to sign with the pitching market still wrapped around him.
Who will sign first?
Josh Hamilton could be a different story. Though Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and others that reports of a deal between Hamilton and the Rangers happening soon were overblown, a report did come out from the usually reliable Ken Rosenthal that the two sides were "making progress" on Tuesday.
The market for Hamilton doesn't seem to be going anywhere, so he may decide to shrug his shoulders now and take what he can get.
Aside from these things, I'll once again warn everyone to keep an ear out for the words "are interested in" and its derivatives. There are usually about a million such rumors to go around every day.
Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
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