Biggest Winners and Losers of MLB's 2013 Winter Meetings

Karl Buscheck@@KarlBuscheckContributor IIIDecember 13, 2013

Biggest Winners and Losers of MLB's 2013 Winter Meetings

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    MLB's 2013 winter meetings are officially in the books, and while some struck it big, others simply struck out.

    The Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks were among the busiest clubs at the meetings but not necessarily the most productive. Nelson Cruz has yet to find a new home, but his prospects are looking far better than those of a number of other big-name stars still out on the market.

    Plus, there was even time for a few legends to receive some much-deserved recognition, while at least one giant from baseball's past was snubbed once again.

    Here's a rundown of the biggest winners and losers of MLB's 2013 winter meetings.

Winner: Nelson Cruz

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    There is no more polarizing player on the free-agent market than Nelson Cruz.

    For some, Cruz is a one-tool, PED-linked, age-related decline waiting to happen. For others, he's a rare slugger on a market devoid of power bats. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Mariners are part of the latter group.

    Heyman writes, "there was a report Cruz turned down $75 million from the Mariners." Heyman adds that he was unable to "confirm" that report, but still, it's a fortuitous sign for the two-time All-Star.

    That there is even a whisper that Cruz would land such a lucrative deal suggests that he's due to score a major payday in the coming weeks.

Losers: Boras Clients

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    Shin-Soo Choo should be just fine.

    The leadoff man might not grab Jacoby Ellsbury money or even Jayson Werth money. Still, he looks like a lock to crack the $100 million plateau.

    However, for several other clients of agent Scott Boras, the outlook is not nearly as bright. As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN notes, Kendrys Morales is in a particularly dicey spot: "Boras has proved in the past that he can find good deals for players who are being squeezed by the market, but he certainly appears to be in a box with Morales."

    Ultimately, Stephen Drew and Ubaldo Jimenez could end up in that box as well. As Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer observes, "So far, there's been little, if any, buzz" surrounding Jimenez. The same can be said of Drew.

    For now, all three are early contenders to become this offseason's version of Kyle Lohse.

Winners: Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre

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    On Monday morning, to open up the winter meetings, there was the announcement that Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa had been unanimously elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    The Expansion Era Committee voted in the trio of managers, who will be inducted into Cooperstown next July. However, not everyone agreed with the vote. ESPN's Keith Olbermann labelled the decision to vote in La Russa as "farcical" according to Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    Olbermann's comment was in reference to La Russa benefiting from managing steroid-era poster boys like Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. The same critique applies to Torre, who led clubs anchored by tarnished stars like Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez.

Loser: Marvin Miller

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    While La Russa, Torre and Cox got in, another legend was left out. Marvin Miller, the former head of the MLBPA, was rejected for admission to the Hall for the sixth time. 

    Donald Fehr, who succeeded Miller as the executive director of the MLBPA, had high praise for Miller, per Dayn Perry of CBS Sports:

    In the first half of the 20th century, no person was more important to Baseball than was Jackie Robinson. In the second half of the 20th century, that honor unquestionably belongs to Marvin Miller.

    Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated agrees with Fehr's take. From Jaffe's perspective, the Hall is "simply incomplete" without Miller, who helped players earn the right to free agency, among other accomplishments.

Winner: Bartolo Colon

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    The New York Mets could have done much worse than the two-year, $20 million deal they handed Bartolo Colon.

    From the right-hander's perspective, he couldn't have done much better.

    Colon is coming off a stellar campaign in which he posted the second-best ERA in the AL and earned All-Star honors along the way. But the Mets are opening themselves up to some serious exposure by giving Colon, who turns 41 in May, a two-year pact.

    The veteran possesses remarkable command; he issued just 29 walks in 190.1 innings in 2013. If that control deserts the right-hander, though, the Mets will be in a major bind.

Loser: The Seattle Mariners

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    After signing away Robinson Cano from the New York Yankees, the Mariners were expected to make big moves at the winter meetings.

    Instead, the club plucked Corey Hart off the free-agent market and traded for Logan Morrison. Hart represents an intriguing buy-low option, but the slugger is coming off surgeries on both of his knees. Morrison, meanwhile, has totaled just 17 home runs in the last two seasons after clubbing 23 in 2011. 

    Both could prove to be nice pieces, but neither addition is anywhere near the splash that the club was expected to make. There's still plenty of time for the Mariners to add another impact player such as Cruz or David Price before the 2014 season gets underway.

    For now, though, Cano has to be seriously wondering just what he's gotten himself into.

Winner: The Los Angeles Angels

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    It was no secret. Entering the winter meetings, the top priority for Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto was to upgrade the team's dismal starting rotation.

    One three-team trade later, that's exactly what Dipoto accomplished.

    In exchange for Mark Trumbo, the Angels received Hector Santiago from the Chicago White Sox and Tyler Skaggs from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Buster Olney of ESPN dubbed the swap a "tremendous trade" for the Angels because both pitchers are "rotation options." As Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets, the Angels even managed to save $4 million in completing the deal.

    The loss of Trumbo's bat will hurt the Angels, no doubt. Still, a return to health for Albert Pujols will (hopefully) offset the departure.

Loser: The Arizona Diamondbacks

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    The Diamondbacks paid a steep price to acquire Trumbo.

    To land their new outfielder, the club had to part with Skaggs and center fielder Adam Eaton. Skaggs is a former first-round pick who struggled in 2013 but is still just 22. Eaton hit just .252 in 66 big-league games in 2013, but he comes with a monster track record.

    In 2012, Eaton hit .375/.456/.523 with 47 doubles and 44 steals while playing in the minors. In parts of four minor league campaigns, Eaton owns a remarkable .450 OBP. Those numbers make him an ideal fit atop the lineup for the White Sox.

    Suffice to say, the Diamondbacks sold low on both prospects.

    The club will certainly benefit from all the home runs Trumbo provides. Still, the long balls will come with a number of drawbacks, as one scout explained to Jayson Stark of ESPN:

    Oh, he can hit 40 [home runs] there...They'll get some home runs, and some game-breaking homers. But with the home runs are going to come a ton of strikeouts and a ton of lousy at-bats. And I'm not sure if he can play the outfield. So, he's a mixed bag for me. 

    A mixed bag, indeed. The Diamondbacks would be thrilled with 40 home runs. However, Trumbo's massive strikeout totals (184 in 2013), his career .299 OBP and the fact that he will be patrolling left field make this deal a head-scratcher. 

    If you want to talk baseball find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.