Winter Meetings Offer Opportunity For Opportunism

Something of the neighborhood of $1.25B has already been committed through free agency. At last count, MLB teams have agreed to thirty-five multi-year deals, sixteen of which have guaranteed three or more years. While plenty of players remain on the open market, a measure of intrigue has certainly been sapped from the week's proceedings.

And with more major pieces locked up, more teams enter the meetings with relatively few significant question marks. To take a few examples, the Nationals, Athletics, Giants, and Cardinals all appear as if they could head to Spring Training with nothing more than a few minor additions. The Red Sox are among the other teams that arguably fall in that group. As GM Ben Cherington recently said, Boston has performed much of the heavy lifting it set out to accomplish.

So, will Cherington — and other GMs — kick back all week? That seems unlikely. As the Boston GM explained, his club "probably shifted more to the opportunistic part of the offseason." An intriguing description, to be sure.  

Indeed, the relatively developed free agent market could be a catalyst for considering trades that might not be possible in a less static environment. Many teams already have a grasp on their 2014 payroll obligations and have largely committed to a strategic direction. Likewise, there is relative clarity in the market value and potential landing spots of the top remaining free agents. That means greater certainty to work from in exploring deals. And, of course, front offices should have somewhat more time on their hands to dedicate to exploring creative trade scenarios.

As the week unfolds, it will be fascinating to see how teams react to the early movement on the free agent market. It could well lead to some interesting, opportunistic maneuvers. MLBTR will have everything covered, as we once again provide around-the-clock, 24-hour coverage through Thursday.

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