MLB Winter Meetings: 7 Unfulfilled Chatters
The 2011 Winter Meetings have concluded in baseball, leaving the usual combination of disappointment, shock and satisfaction. Teams like the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the new-look Miami Marlins walked away with most of the chips, acquiring superstars that should bolster their playoff chances significantly.
Many other players and teams were left behind, however, with rumors of trades and signings unfulfilled. Here are seven chatters that will have to wait for the rest of the offseason to pan out.
Gio Gonzalez Stays Put
Hidden behind big signings like Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes was possibly the most exciting pitcher on the market, Gio Gonzalez. The 26-year-old left-hander plays for the Oakland Athletics, but became available during the meetings for the first time, and showed a lot of play.
The Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Phillies showed interest in the young pitcher, and with good reason. Gonzalez, though starting his career a bit slowly, has turned into another solid player in Billy Beane’s Athletics’ system. He went 16-12 in 2011 with a 3.12 ERA on an offensively lackluster team.
It’s surprising that more teams didn’t dive into the sweepstakes for him with such quality attached, but we will have to see if the Tigers, Phillies or another team finds a trade for Gonzalez over the course of the offseason.
Kuroda Doesn't Sign
Unlike Gonzalez, 36-year-old Hiroki Kuroda was the target of many teams, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees. With such big names involved, it would have seemed a sure-fire signing for somebody.
Kuroda, however, has made it known his options are very limited. He either wishes to stay in Los Angeles for the Dodgers or return to Japan, where he pitched from 1997-2007 before moving to the United States. Though teams like the Yankees made offers, nothing happened.
For the Yankees, it could be a good thing. Like many pitchers they sign, Kuroda has proven to be good, but would be out of his environment and older than you would like a signing to be. It might be a blessing in disguise, allowing them to find someone younger with more potential.
Prince Fielder Is Still Available
With Albert Pujols signing with the Angels, Prince Fielder has instantly become the biggest free agent in baseball. The 27-year-old first baseman has spent the beginning of his career in Milwaukee, but it seems probable that the team will not be able to sign him back for the money he’s worth.
Though the Winter Meetings are very short in comparison to the entire offseason, it seems strange that he wasn’t even shown major interest by any team. It certainly could have been because everyone put their bets on Pujols, leaving little to offer for Fielder once the dust settled.
One thing is certain. When spring arrives, Fielder will have a massive contract for some team, but for now, he remains on the market.
The Rays Don't Improve
Coming off of the most exciting final day of the baseball season since the Wild Card was created, the Tampa Bay Rays could have made a splash in the Winter Meetings, making surprising signings to make serious competition with the Red Sox and Yankees for 2012. For the first time in four years, however, they went home empty.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, this could be part of the plan, as progress was reportedly made for future deals through negotiation. But progress for the future has been something that Rays fans have been hearing for years now, and it might be time for the team to pull some triggers for their fans.
Unlike a team like the Yankees, people don’t know if the Rays will make acquisitions or not, where as everyone is fairly certain New York will be an offseason player. It is therefore very surprising that Tampa Bay has not been aggressive so far, especially at the Winter Meetings.
David Wright Is Still a Met
After losing Jose Reyes to the Marlins and Angel Pagan to the San Francisco Giants, it looked as though the New York Mets were being ripped apart at the seams, being left for the wolves of baseball for years to come. Thankfully for their fans, one icon still remains.
Though David Wright has not been a superstar that he was portrayed to be when he entered the league, the third baseman has been something worth keeping in a town like New York. When the Boston Red Sox showed interest, however, it may have been the beginning of the end for the Mets.
Management, quick to squash any rumors of trading their final golden boy, claimed that Wright will be untradeable and that a full rebuilding process will continue around him. These talks were quiet ones at the Winter Meetings, but they are relieving ones for the city of New York and the Mets.
A.J. Burnett Doesn't Move
If there’s one scapegoat that the Yankees can point to for any sense of failure on the team in the last two seasons, it’s clearly A.J. Burnett. The 35-year-old right-handed enigma has proven time and time again that he is the most consistently inconsistent pitcher in baseball, mixing incredible stuff with an inability to streak together good starts.
Burnett’s psyche has been known to be fragile, and the mention of him being available at the Winter Meetings will not help it. With the failure to move him, the team may have hurt themselves even more with Burnett remaining on the team. They were even willing to pay eight of the $33 million left on his contract, proving they are completely ready to get rid of him for any improvement.
To Yankees fans, Burnett staying in pinstripes will be a detriment to their chances of winning in 2012. If he can’t handle the thought of being traded, it may be an even longer season for the team than ones with him before this.
The Yankees Remain Quiet
The biggest free agent and trading market in sports, the Yankees, remained surprisingly quiet at the Winter Meetings. It’s not the worst thing ever, jumping on deals like Hiroki Kuroda that will not help the team in the long run.
It is a bit shocking, however, that not one significant move was made. Call it reputation, or call it an arrogance of having more money and capabilities than other teams, but the Yankees usually go for the biggest signing of the offseason every season. Maybe times have changed, as Pujols moves to the Angels for a massive contract, but it will be interesting to see what direction the Yankees will move over the course of the winter.