How do you grade a team that did not make a major move? Simple. Sometimes you have to look at the potential progress rather than the tangible result.
Just because there were no deals done that made headlines does not mean the week was a failure. In order to build any structure, including a baseball franchise, you must lay the foundation first. It is a very realistic possibility that in the next month, the winter meetings will prove to have been the catalyst for some deals rather than the finale.
For historical reference, look no further than last season. The Rays went through the meetings without a major deal until the Sunday following the meetings. On that day, they traded James Shields and Wade Davis to the Kansas City Royals in the deal that brought Wil Myers to the Rays.
A similar scenario could play out this year. Rays Executive VP Andrew Friedman told Marc Topkin from the Tampa Bay Times that he believes a deal for a first baseman could be resolved within a week.
"In the next week, I feel very confident that we'll be able to figure something out," he said. "I think the conversations have kind of reached a point where I don't see them dragging on much longer than that time period. It's tough to say with an extremely high level of conviction, but I'd be surprised if it went past five, six, seven days."
The Rays would love to be able to bring back James Loney if his asking price can fall within their budget. One team rumored to have high interest in Loney is the Milwaukee Brewers, especially with their loss of Corey Hart to the Seattle Mariners.
If Loney is not in the cards for the Rays, other options include trading for New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis or either Logan Morrison or Justin Smoak from the Seattle Mariners.
Speaking of trades, the big trade that would send David Price away from the Rays never happened during the winter meetings.
That does not mean he will still be on the roster Opening Day.
The situation could play out like the Shields trade where the transaction happens soon after the meetings. In order for the trade to be a success for the Rays, they have to receive a major league ready player and a player that is not far from ready as part of the package. Other teams would be silly to jump into a transaction that large without weighing their other options that would cost them less in free agency or other trades.
Of course, there is still plenty of interest in the former Cy Young winner.
The Mariners recent acquisitions of Morrison and Hart give them three players on their roster that can play first base. They can easily include one of them in a package for Price. The Rays, though, may want a deal that includes pitcher Taijuan Walker.
Time will tell how the Rays ultimately handle their vacancy at first base and if they deal their ace.
They did not make any major moves in the meetings to improve the team and give them high marks. They also did not find themselves on the losing end of a major transaction that could result in a failure. In the end, you have to trust that the team is making significant progress to build another roster that can win 90 games.
Rays winter meetings grade: C
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