Predicting Domino Effect of Recent Wave of MLB Moves on 2013 Winter Meetings

Jason Catania@@JayCat11MLB Lead WriterDecember 4, 2013

The flurry of activity this offseason could continue at the upcoming winter meetings with a trade of David Price.
The flurry of activity this offseason could continue at the upcoming winter meetings with a trade of David Price.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Science says that every action has a reaction. Same goes for baseball.

Any one transaction in Major League Baseball has a domino effect, some of which are limited to a team or two, while others ripple throughout the sport.

And while there's already been a flurry of activity this offseason, much of which has come in just the past 48 to 72 hours during a nonstop day of wheelings, dealings and signings on Tuesday, there's still plenty more to come.

Is it actually possible for the hot stove to get any hotter? You bet your skillet.

After all, the winter meetings start up on Dec. 9 in Orlando, and the annual get-together of general managers and other front-office executives is always good for a major move...or five.

While it seems impossible that anything could top what went down Tuesday, the burners just might reach full blast between now and Monday.

There are two reasons for this. First, because so many of the most recent moves have been trades, there are still all sorts of free agents out there.

And second, all this action requires—you guessed it—reaction.

With the winter meetings on tap, here's a rundown of some key storylines, rumors and topics to monitor on that front. That is, if they're not obsolete by the start of next week.


Reactions Required

Obviously, the two biggest signings so far are those of Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury with the New York Yankees, neither of which have been responded to yet by the American League East teams, namely the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.

Sorry, but the Red Sox inking A.J. Pierzynski and Rays trading for Ryan Hanigan and Heath Bell don't count. Not when those two clubs made it to October and have designs on doing so again next year.

Boston's been mentioned as a team in the hunt for Matt Kemp, per Ben Shapiro of Mass Live. The Los Angeles Dodgers star is on the block in part due to a glut of outfielders in Hollywood. And now that Ellsbury is in New York, well, the Red Sox just so happen to have a potential fit in center field. Hmmm.

Agent Dave Stewart says Kemp does not want to leave L.A., but that he accept the possibility. Said Stewart, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:

He’s not comfortable with it. Matt wants to be a Dodger. That’s where he wants to play, where he hopefully wants to end his career. On the other side of the coin, you can only control the things you control — and that’s to go out and play.

What’s more discouraging is that his name is out there a lot. We don’t know if the Dodgers are shopping him or if teams are asking for him. We don’t know what the circumstances are. That could be discouraging. But it could be encouraging, if he ends up in the right situation.

With Jacoby Ellsbury gone, are the Red Sox thinking Matt Kemp could be his replacement?
With Jacoby Ellsbury gone, are the Red Sox thinking Matt Kemp could be his replacement?Mike McGinnis/Getty Images


Tampa, on the other hand, is unlikely to make any such move where it takes on much salary, but that doesn't mean it won't shop—and perhaps even swap—ace David Price soon. The left-hander, who won the 2012 AL Cy Young, is getting expensive by the Rays' standards, which is why he's arguably the most sought-after trade target of the winter.

It won't be easy for Tampa to get better in 2014 by trading Price now, but it has enough young arms ready to step into the rotation (Jake Odorizzi, Alex Colome, Enny Romero). And like with last year's trade built around James Shields for Wil Myers, the Rays might not lose all that much if they can find the right fit in a trade partner. The line of suitors is a long one, according to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe.

The Braves could use an upgrade on Uggla.
The Braves could use an upgrade on Uggla.Chris Gardner/Getty Images

Over in the East division's counterpart in the NL, the Washington Nationals obtained Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers for, well, not all that much. While that helped Detroit free up enough cash to bring in closer Joe Nathan, it did wonders for the Nationals' formidable rotation that features baseball's best front four.

Might that trigger the Atlanta Braves to make a move? The Braves' young roster was good enough to upset the Nats for the division crown last year, but now that they've lost longtime vets McCann and Tim Hudson, they could benefit from shoring up with a tweak or two, ideally at second base.

The other response that could come as a reaction to Tuesday's trades involves the Texas Rangers. They already pulled off the Ian Kinsler-for-Prince Fielder deal last month, but may want to answer the Oakland Athletics' acquisitions of relievers Jim Johnson and Luke Gregerson—not to mention lefty Scott Kazmir— with a new arm of their own.

The Rangers are motivated to re-take the AL West from the two-time defending champion A's. They have been linked to Price for a while and may have what it takes to land him, as Phil Rogers writes for

While Maddon loved what he got from Yunel Escobar last season, the Rays would jump if the Rangers offered shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar. That could happen if Texas jumped into bidding for Robinson Cano, but there are other ways for Texas to construct a strong offer for Price.

The addition of ol' No. 84, Prince Fielder, makes 28-year-old first baseman Mitch Morelandavailable, even though Texas GM Jon Daniels talks about using him as a designated hitter and even a left fielder. Moreland intrigues the Rays, as some see him as a two-way player who would thrive with a clear place in the lineup -- somewhat like Chris Davis did after moving to Baltimore. Left-hander Martin Perez, just signed to a four-year, $12.5 million deal, could be part of the trade

Could the A's acquisition of new closer Jim Johnson prompt the Rangers to go hard after David Price?
Could the A's acquisition of new closer Jim Johnson prompt the Rangers to go hard after David Price?Rob Carr/Getty Images


Rampant Rumors

Let's see, there's that doozy from Tuesday about the Seattle Mariners in on Robinson Cano, who still may wind up back with the Yankees, presuming it's at the team's price. The Mariners, though, appear willing to go above and beyond New York's offer, and may have already done so, per Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News.

If Cano walks, expect the Yankees to go after the Cincinnati Reds' Brandon Phillips via trade or free agent Omar Infante.

The Seattle Mariners are making a push to land Robinson Cano.
The Seattle Mariners are making a push to land Robinson Cano.Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images


Also on the big-name free-agent front, there's a lot surrounding Shin-Soo Choo, who is now clearly the best outfield option—and second-best overall after Cano—on the open market. There are a number of teams who would like the OBP machine atop their lineups, including the uber-busy Tigers and the Rangers, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.

Going back to the trade front for a moment, there are other names popping up every day, if not every hour, ranging from proven starters to youngsters with upside.

Among them? Jeff Samardzija, the Chicago Cubs right-hander, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN...

...and young outfielder A.J. Pollock and big league ready lefty Tyler Skaggs, who are being dangled by the Arizona Diamondbacks, per Ken Rosenthal, in an attempt to narrow the gap between them and the Dodgers.


Right-Handers at the Ready

In case you haven't noticed, there hasn't yet been much activity at all among the top pitchers available in free agency, all of whom are righties.

At some point soon, though, one of the big names—Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana or Matt Garza—is going to sign on the dotted line, setting up the other chips to fall. It's only a matter of time.

Speaking of timing and staying on the topic of right-handed starters, Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka may soon be added to the mix. It appears that MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball, Japan's professional league, are on the verge of an agreement to resolve the posting process that has kept the 25-year-old's fate up in the air to this point.

The details, it seems, are still being worked out. But here's the latest, from Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, as of Wednesday evening:

If an agreement is, in fact, reached soon and Tanaka is posted, he would be the top target among all pitchers on the market.

As if baseball needed something else to make this winter's already hot stove even hotter.


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