Alas, winter meetings. We hardly knew ye!
The annual gathering of general managers, front-office pencil-pushers, players, agents, writers and pretty much anyone and everyone with ties to Major League Baseball came to a close on Thursday. From now until spring training, all business will be carried out via carrier pigeons rather than face-to-face meetings.
Outside of the Rule 5 draft—an event that pleases only the geekiest of baseball geeks—the final day of the winter meetings was fairly light on action. Events did transpire, though, and there were plenty of rumors that came out about moves that may happen in the future.
If you missed anything, pull up a chair. Here's what you need to know.
The final day of the meetings didn't bring the blockbuster centered around the Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Justin Upton (more on this in a moment) that many were hoping for, but it did bring a fairly noteworthy trade that shook up the NL East.
As Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reported, the Philadelphia Phillies finally found a center fielder, acquiring Ben Revere from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for young right-handed pitchers Vance Worley and Trevor May.
Revere doesn't have a single home run in 1,064 major-league plate appearances, but he's coming off a season in which he hit .294 with 40 stolen bases. He's also an excellent fielder, so he'll at least be able to provide value for the Phillies on the basepaths and in the outfield.
The notable free-agent signing of the day saw right-handed reliever Koji Uehara sign a one-year contract with the Boston Red Sox, a deal that Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News first reported.
Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com had the financial terms of Uehara's deal:
Source: Koji Uehara's deal with the #RedSox has $4.25MM base salary.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 6, 2012
That's a bit of a high price to pay for a middle reliever, but nobody should be surprised after the Red Sox just gave Shane Victorino a contract worth nearly $40 million (for some darn reason).
Besides, Uehara is one of the more underrated relievers in the league. Since 2010, he leads all qualified relievers in strikeout-to-walk ratio by a wide margin, according to FanGraphs.
The day's other signings were much smaller in scale. As Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported, the Rangers picked up three right-handers in Jake Brigham, Evan Meek and Randy Wells, along with first baseman Brandon Allen.
Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reported a one-year agreement between the Atlanta Braves and outfielder Reed Johnson. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported a one-year deal between the Chicago Cubs and third baseman Ian Stewart.
If you want a complete rundown of what happened in the Rule 5 draft, B/R's Adam Wells put together a nifty piece on who went where and whom you should have your eyes on.
As for the latest and greatest of the day's rumors, read on.
The Hottest of the Hot-Hot-Hot Rumors
If there's a major trade that could go down in the near future, it will probably be the one that the Rangers and Phillies have hammered out.
As Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News first reported, the Rangers and Phillies were in talks on Wednesday about veteran infielder Michael Young. The deal the two sides have discussed involves Young going to Philly for a reliever and a low-level prospect, with the Rangers eating the bulk of his 2013 salary.
The deal isn't done yet, but Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com indicated that's only because Young hasn't approved it:
Source: it is in Michael Young's hands whether he wants to be a Phillie. He is deciding whether to waive no trade.— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) December 6, 2012
I'm highly skeptical as to whether the Phillies would actually get any value out of Young, who is a declining hitter with a lousy glove, but he should approve this trade and take his chances. He could start at the hot corner for the Phillies, whereas there's no obvious place for him in Texas.
As for the big trade that everyone's waiting on involving Justin Upton to the Rangers and the sun switching course and rising in the west, it doesn't sound like there's much hope of it happening.
When Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com first reported on the talks Wednesday, the Rangers, Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays were all involved. As of Thursday morning, Rosenthal said that only the Rangers, Diamondbacks and Rays were still involved. Then he said this:
About the only thing that's still certain is the Rangers really, really want Upton, who would be a significant upgrade for them in right field and a nice fit for their payroll.
The reason they want Upton so badly may have something to do with their desire to sign Zack Greinke. ESPN's Jayson Stark stirred things up a bit with this tweet:
Buzz this morning points toward Rangers zeroing in on Greinke &trading for a bat instead of signing Josh Hamilton & dealing for an arm— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 6, 2012
Greinke may be the Rangers' to lose if they really want him. Their main competition in the Greinke sweepstakes is the Los Angeles Dodgers, but Ken Rosenthal says L.A. may soon give up on him and consider other options.
The Dodgers have the need for Greinke, and goodness knows they have the money. This may be a case where they're just plain frustrated. Scott Miller of CBSSports.com said in a tweet that the Dodgers feel that Greinke would already be theirs if he wanted to play for them.
If the Rangers can be considered the favorite to land Greinke, they can't be considered the favorite to sign Hamilton. By default, that may make the favorite to sign him...
...The Seattle Mariners?
Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM says that the Mariners are on Hamilton's radar:
Josh Hamilton first choice remains Texas but if they sign Greinke & decide they don"t want to spend on both then Seattle is his fall-back.— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) December 6, 2012
The interest is mutual, as Ken Rosenthal has reported that the Mariners are discussing three-year deals with Hamilton in the neighborhood of $20-25 million per year.
That's not much money compared to what Hamilton probably figured he would get this winter, but that may be the best he can do in this market if the Rangers bow out of the running to sign Greinke.
This is unless the Red Sox want to enter the equation and blow Hamilton away with an offer. Seemingly everyone and their uncle wants it to happen, but the Mariners will be glad to know that the Red Sox are "very unlikely" to sign Hamilton, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
Meanwhile in New York, the Mets are still scanning the trade market for can't-miss offers for 2012 Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News has reported that the Mets have at least one acceptable trade proposal on the table, but Jon Morosi has it on good authority that Dickey is probably going to end up staying put:
Exec with club that has tried to trade for RA Dickey: "I think the Mets are going to sign him." @mlbonfox— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 6, 2012
Somebody here has to lower their price. If Dickey wants to stay, he's going to have to demand less money in an extension. If the Mets want to trade him, they need to stop asking teams for more than one top prospect.
That does it for the big stuff. In regard to the smaller stuff, read on.
Quieter Rumors Worth Your Attention
You know who was awfully quiet during the winter meetings?
The New York Yankees.
Short of announcing Alex Rodriguez's hip is a mess that needs a major repair job, the Bombers didn't really do anything at the meetings. They couldn't even manage to sign Eric Chavez, Jeff Keppinger or Nate Schierholtz.
Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com may know why:
An agent said Cashman told him he can not spend money. Seems like he needs approval for any outlays.— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) December 6, 2012
If this is true, I'm assuming the order came directly from Yankees boss Hal Steinbrenner. If that's true, well, that's kinda funny.
Under George Steinbrenner, Cashman could never do enough. Under Hal Steinbrenner, he apparently can't do anything. These new Yankees are weird.
Then again, Marchand's report should be taken with a grain of salt. If Cashman had been ordered not to spend money, he wouldn't have been able to make a significant offer to former Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis.
Here's Bryan Hoch of MLB.com:
The Yankees' offer to Kevin Youkilis is one year at $12M, according to source.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) December 6, 2012
That's a lot of money for an aging player with declining power, but that's what it's come to for the Yankees. They need a sturdy replacement for A-Rod at the hot corner for a couple of months, and the third-base market has gone bone dry.
The Yankees aren't just trolling the free-agent market for answers. Andrew Marchand says they're also shopping right-handers Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes and center fielder Curtis Granderson.
None of the three is a hot trade chip, but they're the best Cashman has at his disposal. Exactly how he's going to help the team by trading any of the three is anybody's guess.
But hey, at least Cashman seems to be doing better than Scott Boras. According to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, Boras made a scene at the meetings on Wednesday when he all but begged the Detroit Tigers to make a play on free-agent closer Rafael Soriano.
"The Tigers' position is one where they’re trying to put together their best team," Boras said, presumably while choking back his desperation, "and they haven't made those decisions."
It gets better. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle said late Wednesday night that Boras even talked to the San Francisco Giants about their closer's role, which is occupied by the perfectly capable Sergio Romo.
Boras will get what he wants in the end, as he always does. But he's doing that thing right now where he's stomping his feet in front of everyone.
Dragging his feet, meanwhile, is free-agent outfielder Ryan Ludwick. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reported that Ludwick has a two-year offer from the Cincinnati Reds on the table, but he might be able to do better if he heads elsewhere.
Heard Ludwick could get as much $3 million more over 2 years elsewhere compared to current #reds' offer.— John Fay (@johnfayman) December 6, 2012
I get the whole familiarity thing, but I don't see why Ludwick would want to settle at his age. He likely only has a couple of good years left, so he should take the best offer he can get and live happily ever after when he retires.
The Day's Biggest Winner and Loser
The day's big winner is one of the clubs involved in the Ben Revere trade.
No, not the Phillies. The other one.
For a guy with no power and limited on-base skills, the Twins acquired two young pitchers who should help them in the long run. Vance Worley has been a solid performer since he entered the big leagues in 2010, posting a 3.50 ERA in 53 appearances. May was one of Philly's top prospects entering 2012, and he's heading to an organization that should be able to straighten out his command problems.
The Twins needed to find pitching depth more than anything else this winter, as their starters posted a 5.40 ERA in the regular season. They've since acquired a handful of youngsters who should make their rotation a strength within the next couple of years.
There were no really big losers on Thursday, but the trade of Revere to the Phillies took one less center-field-needy team off the market. That's not good for free-agent center fielder Michael Bourn, who is quickly running out of suitors and thus running out of leverage.
To a lesser extent, the Revere trade wasn't so good for the Red Sox. With the Phillies taken care of, they have one less potential trade partner for Jacoby Ellsbury. They may be forced to retain him for 2013 and ultimately walk away with nothing but a draft pick next winter.
They could always sign him to an extension, of course. Based on their recent spending habits, I'm guessing the Red Sox would love to sign Ellsbury to a three-year deal worth around $39 million.
Now there's a winter-meetings joke that will only be good for a few more days, at most. Cherish it.
Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
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