The winter meetings went cold on Wednesday.
The first two days of the meetings saw a few big-name players pick up shiny new contracts. Angel Pagan, Mike Napoli, Joakim Soria, Dan Haren and Shane Victorino all agreed to deals worth millions.
Things slowed down a little bit on Day 3. The buzz coming out of Nashville, Tennessee, was subdued, and the contracts that were handed out went to players with little-to-no star power.
But if you happened to miss anything, I've got you covered. Here's a rundown of everything you need to know about Day 3 of the winter meetings, complete with cool things like words, tweets and pictures.
Remember when Jason Bay signed a contract with the New York Mets a few years ago? It was kind of a big deal.
Well, Bay signed a new contract on Wednesday with the Seattle Mariners. This one is considerably less of a big deal, but it was probably the biggest thing to happen on Day 3.
Andy Martino of the New York Daily News was the first to break the news:
Source: mariners sign Jason bay. Deal agrees to pending physical— Andy Martino (@MartinoNYDN) December 5, 2012
The deal has yet to be announced by the Mariners, but Greg Johns of MLB.com has heard that it's going to be worth less than $1 million.
But don't worry, Bay's bank account will be just fine in 2013. He's still owed plenty of money from the $66 million contract he signed with the Mets three years ago, which bought them only 26 home runs in three seasons.
Bay wasn't the only former All-Star outfielder to find a home on Wednesday. As reported by Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, the Baltimore Orioles agreed to re-up with Nate McLouth on a one-year deal worth $2 million.
McLouth found new life in Baltimore this season after he was released by the Pittsburgh Pirates, posting a .777 OPS and hitting seven home runs in 55 games with the O's. He's a candidate to be their starting left fielder in 2013.
A couple of infielders found new homes on Wednesday as well. Veteran utility man Jeff Keppinger signed with the Chicago White Sox for three years and $12 million, a deal first reported by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman also reported Eric Chavez's one-year, $3 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The big starting pitcher to find a new home on Day 3 was Joe Blanton. As reported by Jon Heyman, Blanton got two years and $15 million from the Los Angeles Angels. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com says that Blanton's deal also includes an option.
Blanton may be nothing special as a pitcher, but that deal could work out well for the Angels. As a contact pitcher, Blanton ought to enjoy pitching at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
Wednesday was also a busy day for relief pitchers. According to Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com, the St. Louis Cardinals signed lefty specialist Randy Choate to a three-year deal. Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reported that the Angels signed lefty reliever Sean Burnett to a two-year deal with a club option for a third.
A couple of lefty starters were also involved in transactions. As reported by Jerry Crasnick, the Colorado Rockies re-signed Jeff Francis to a one-year deal. The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Andrew Oliver in a trade with the Detroit Tigers. Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that minor league catcher Ramon Cabrera is going the other way to Detroit.
A couple of noteworthy moves also went down late last night when Tuesday was about to become Wednesday, including trades that sent righty reliever Wilton Lopez from the Houston Astros to the Rockies for right-handers Alex White and Alex Gillingham, as announced by the clubs.
Elsewhere, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that the Tampa Bay Rays had acquired shortstop Yunel Escobar from the Miami Marlins, after the Rays had recently acquired him in their mega-trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Rays only gave up infield prospect Derek Dietrich to get Escobar, meaning the deal could turn into a steal for them if he stays out of trouble and gets back to where he was in 2011, when he hit .290 with a .782 OPS.
The biggest deal of the night, though, involved a World Series hero staying put. Here's Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com:
Source: Scutaro in agreement with #SFGiants, $20 million for three years.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 5, 2012
A bit of an overpay? Absolutely. But when you hit .362 after coming over in a trade and then dominate in the postseason, you deserve a little extra coin.
As for deals that may be going down in the near future...
The Hottest of the Hot-Hot-Hot Rumors
If you're waiting on a mega-trade to go down in Nashville, you may get your wish.
Ken Rosenthal reported that a deal was brewing between the Diamondbacks, Indians, Rangers and Rays that could involve names like Justin Upton, Asdrubal Cabrera and James Shields changing addresses.
The deal on the table has a ton of ins and outs, but Rosenthal managed to come up with a simple summary:
The Rangers want Upton. The Diamondbacks want a shortstop. The Indians want to turn expensive veterans such as Cabrera into younger pieces and the Rays want to trade a pitcher for a hitter.
Fairly straightforward. It's too bad the same cannot be said of the actual construction of the deal.
Assorted scenarios involving were tossed around on Wednesday, but Jon Heyman has indicated that the talks slowed to a crawl and may go no further:
3-way and 4-way at standstill for moment. Dbacks need more than asdrubal for upton. Not sure what holdup is tho.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 5, 2012
Heyman has since said that the sides are "not optimistic" that something will get done. As explosive as a deal like this would be, it may be too complicated and unrealistic to leave the drawing board.
As for the other big trade target drawing interest at the winter meetings, David Lennon of Newsday reported that the New York Mets are not without trade options regarding ace knuckleballer R.A. Dickey:
Heard #Mets sitting on number of potential trades for Dickey. If a team caves and adds piece, deal could get done quick. Hasn't happened yet— David Lennon (@DPLennon) December 5, 2012
The Mets and Dickey have talked about an extension, but the word from Jon Heyman (via CBSSports.com colleague Scott Miller) is that Dickey wants $10 million more than what the Mets have offered him in a two-year deal. The Mets may not be able to make up the difference after inking David Wright to a franchise-record extension.
If teams looking to land an ace aren't able to pry Dickey from the Mets, they could always aim (much) lower and try to pry Jon Lester from the Boston Red Sox.
However, ESPN's Buster Olney says that the Red Sox won't let their 28-year-old lefty go for nothing. The same goes for center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury:
Rival official on Red Sox: "Boston is listening on... Ellsbury and Lester, but not motivated to move them unless teams overpay."— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 5, 2012
I wish the Red Sox good luck with that. Lester is coming off the worst season of his career, and Ellsbury had a season ruined by injuries for the second time in three years. Neither of them has much value right now.
Meanwhile, on the free-agent front, Jon Heyman says that the price for ace right-hander Zack Greinke is escalating to absurd levels:
That would be the Dodgers' cue to come running with their massive checkbook, but ESPN's Jayson Stark cautioned not to overlook the Rangers and Heyman himself hinted that a mystery team could swoop in and steal Greinke.
A mystery team could always come in and snatch Josh Hamilton too, but it doesn't sound like that's going to happen. Ken Rosenthal reported on Tuesday that the Rangers are "making progress" on what would likely be a four-year deal with Hamilton, and Jon Heyman says that the Mariners are still in on him as well. The Hamilton sweepstakes appears to be down to the two of them.
The Nick Swisher sweepstakes, on the other hand, is wide open. Ken Rosenthal listed the Mariners, Orioles, Indians, Red Sox and Giants as the teams still in the mix for the veteran switch-hitter. Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM went one step further and narrowed down the favorites to sign him:
Swisher most likely landing spots are now Phiilies, Mariners and Indians— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) December 5, 2012
Yup, there are the Mariners again. They're in on Hamilton, they're in on Swisher, and Jon Heyman says they really like Michael Bourn too.
They may have some tough competition there, though. The Philadelphia Phillies haven't made a big move yet, and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports indicated that Bourn may be the guy to end the spell:
With the outfield market dwindling, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is past the tire-kicking stage with Michael Bourn and trying to gauge price.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 5, 2012
Sounds like desperation to me. If Bourn's people are smart, they'll raise his price tag by about $10 million and then call up Ruben Amaro to see what he's thinking about.
Quieter Rumors Worth Your Attention
With so many Indians-related rumors taking center stage on Wednesday, the first thought that came to my mind was whether they may be ready to jettison their assets and go into a full-on rebuilding mode.
Exactly which direction the franchise was going to go this winter has been unclear thus far, but this tweet from Jon Heyman may shed some light on their thinking:
Very available: shin-soo choo as well as cadrubal. #indians looking for long-term assets— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 5, 2012
You hearing this, baseball? If you need a right fielder and/or a shortstop and you have young players to deal, you should give the Indians a call. While you're at it, you may as well check in on Justin Masterson and Carlos Santana. Where there's smoke, there may be a fire sale.
Elsewhere, any team looking for an underrated slugger should give the Milwaukee Brewers a call about Corey Hart. According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, Hart can be had:
Brewers have considered trading Corey Hart to free up money for pitching search. Without some type of move, can't play on bigger pitchers.— DKnobler (@DKnobler) December 5, 2012
In the last three seasons, Hart has compiled an .857 OPS and hit a total of 87 home runs. He'd be a good fit for any club with a hitters' park that Hart could abuse the same way he's abused Miller Park.
If a team would rather find some speed, Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon is a good target. Scott Miller says that many teams are already asking about him:
The #Dodgers are fielding tons of inquiries about SS Dee Gordon. Not looking to deal him, but lots are askin'— Scott Miller (@ScottMCBS) December 5, 2012
Danny Knobler says that the Dodgers have placed a "high price" on Gordon, but there's a limit to how high they can raise it. Gordon has stolen 56 bases in only 143 major league games, but he's compiled a mere .614 OPS and has been erratic in the field.
Nevertheless, Gordon has star potential. If he goes on to iron out his plate discipline and his defense, any team that pays the Dodgers' price for him will be glad it did. In the long run, a trade for Gordon could end up being a bargain.
There aren't many bargain buys out on the free-agent market, but one guy who has been largely overlooked to this point is recently non-tendered right fielder Nate Schierholtz. For a guy who's never logged more than 362 plate appearances in a season, Buster Olney says he's generating plenty of interest:
Nate Schierholtz, who has generated a lot of interest since being non-tendered by PHI, is making good progress toward his next deal.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 5, 2012
Olney says that the Yankees are one of the interested parties, and it wouldn't be much of a shock if they turned to him as an answer for their vacancy in right field. With regular playing time at Yankee Stadium, Schierholtz could easily improve on his .727 career OPS and maybe hit as many as 20 or more home runs.
But speaking of the Yankees, Wednesday wasn't really a good day for them...
The Day's Biggest Winner and Loser
I'll start with the biggest loser, which has to be the Yankees.
With Derek Jeter a question mark for Opening Day and news coming out this week that Alex Rodriguez could be out until June after surgery on his left hip, the Yankees are suddenly in desperate need for help on the left side of their infield.
Several different options have been taken off their board in the last 24 hours. The Yankees won't be able to bring back Eric Chavez to spell A-Rod at third base, and they missed out on two versatile infielders with Marco Scutaro re-signing with the Giants and Jeff Keppinger signing with the White Sox.
The pickings on the free-agent market are getting to be pretty slim now. Come the regular season, the Yankees could be lamenting the fact that they missed out on the likes of Scutaro and Keppinger.
Yeah, things are like that in The Bronx these days. It's weird.
As for the day's biggest winner, I have to give it up to Scutaro. His season was a lost cause in July, as he had a .684 OPS and was being wasted on a lousy Rockies team. Next thing you knew, he was dealt to the Giants, won the World Series and then put his John Hancock on a $20 million contract.
Not a bad couple of months for Mr. Scutaro. You have to tip your cap.
What To Watch for on Thursday
The winter meetings will come to an end on Thursday. Will they end with a bang or with a whimper?
I get the sense that it's going to be the latter. Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton both look like they're taking their sweet time, and several other big-name players are waiting for them to set the market before signing contracts of their own.
In addition, it doesn't sound like that Diamondbacks-Indians-Rangers-Rays mega-trade has much hope of getting done. It doesn't sound like a fair deal can be made for all sides, and D-Backs GM Kevin Towers admitted to Jack Magruder of FoxSportsArizona.com that he's not a big fan of multi-team trades in the first place.
The Diamondbacks may make a trade, though. Ken Rosenthal reported on Tuesday that they were more likely to trade Jason Kubel than Upton. They may do that before packing up and going home.
Beyond these things, here's your daily warning to keep your eye out for the phrase "are interested in." It will be out in force on Thursday, as it always is this time of year.
Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
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