Baseball’s Winter Meetings always provides fascinating theater, and this year was no different. There’s quite a lot of information to digest with the meetings wrapped up — and also some interesting reading for those who are curious about how it all goes down. Writing for ESPN.com, Eno Sarris provides a fascinating look at some underappreciated elements of baseball decisionmaking, ranging from the mandates of owners to the frequent lack of understanding that the general public has as to what alternatives organizations realistically have when they decide upon their moves. The increasing complexities of baseball dealing are also covered by ESPN.com’s David Schoenfield, who discusses the impact of the largely ubiquitous utilization of advanced analysis in the game. With virtually all of the thirty MLB organizations employing fleets of sophisticated staffers, he argues, it’s harder to extract value from trades — which may help to explain the risks taken in some of the Winter Meetings’ biggest deals.
With the Winter Meetings in the books, here are some notes on the work that was completed and that remains to be done:
- On Wednesday, the White Sox shipped ace lefty Chris Sale to the Red Sox in exchange for a heralded foursome of prospects. That swap, and its build-up, dominated the headlines at the Winter Meetings. Boston president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski discussed the process that led to the move in an excellent interview with Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. He not only provided an interesting account of the information gathering and processing that goes on at the Winter Meetings, as teams jockey for position and look to arrange fits on trades and signings, but went into the details on the pursuit of Sale. The sides built off of their prior “preliminary conversations,” and honed in on an agreement late Tuesday night as the sides began to line up on the complementary pieces that would go to Chicago along with the two headlining prospects (Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech). Momentum seemingly began to build as early as Friday, before the meetings kicked off, as Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com explains. It was at that point that White Sox GM Rick Hahn notified Dombrowski that he’d be willing to consider a different sort of return — presumably, top minor leaguers rather than young MLB assets — than had been discussed over the summer. The Nationals and Astros also dangled significant pieces; Hahn notes that “there were similar-type players being offered from other clubs,” leading to “a level of excitement in that room as we debated which was the best path for us.”
- In the aftermath of the Sale trade, as well as the ensuing swap that sent Adam Eaton to D.C., the White Sox are prepared to part with other notable veterans if they can generate sufficient interest, as Hayes further reports. That could potentially include first baseman Jose Abreu — a former teammate of Moncada’s in Cuba — though it’s fair to wonder whether his market will develop with so much power still available in free agency. It’s also reasonable to expect that the South Siders are willing to listen on Jose Quintana, though there’s no real pressure to move his lengthy and affordable contract. It does stand to reason, though, that shorter-term assets (including Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera, and David Robertson) will be shopped more heavily.
- Before pulling the trigger on Eaton, the Nationals at least checked in with the Rockies on center fielder Charlie Blackmon, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). While that obviously won’t be a match at this point, and the Cardinals no longer appear to be a possible suitor after signing Dexter Fowler, it remains to be seen whether Colorado will look hard at a deal involving one of its best players. The team made a notable free-agent splash by adding Ian Desmond, with reports suggesting that he’ll spend time at first base, but it still seems to make sense for the organization to consider addressing other needs — most notably, in the pitching staff — by exploring deals for Blackmon or one of its other left-handed-hitting outfielders. (Last we heard, a trade remains a real possibility; while the team is said to be holding some extension talks with Carlos Gonzalez, those reportedly haven’t progressed, so he too remains a plausible candidate.)
- For the Rays, there are still a lot of interesting opportunities remaining even after the team took an interesting gamble on injured catcher Wilson Ramos, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The team’s still-loaded rotation remains an area to watch. “It’s hard to anticipate timing, it’s hard to really know where all this is going to end up,” said senior VP Chaim Bloom, “but we obviously have a number of talented pitchers in our rotation, and I think we had a lot of conversation on pretty much all of them.” Whatever a trade of a starter might yield remains unknown, but Topkin says that Tampa Bay is looking to add some pop at some point. That could involve waiting to see what “leftovers” remain with plenty of sluggers still available; Topkin even mentions, at least hypothetically, the possibility of a move on a player such as Jose Bautista. Ultimately, said Bloom, there’s a better sense internally as to where things could be headed. “There’s still a lot of dominoes to fall, potentially, with us and certainly around the industry, but the conversation this week was really helpful,” he said. “We got, I think, a much better idea of what may be available to us.”
- The Mets are still working to tweak their roster after Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker decided to return, as Marc Carig of Newsday reports. It seems that the focus remains on finding a taker for outfielder Jay Bruce to clean up the team’s rotation and shed some salary, but Carig suggests that progress has been slower than hoped on that front and GM Sandy Alderson notes that many free-agent outfielders remain unaccounted for. The Mets “laid some groundwork” at the meetings, says Alderson, though it seems that the organization will take its time in making further moves. Carig further reports on possible trade assets that could conceivably be used to find relief pitching. That includes outfielder Brandon Nimmo as well as catchers Kevin Plawecki and Tomas Nido, all of whom were discussed to some extent in recent days.
- The Winter Meetings weren’t quite as busy for the Phillies, but as Ryan Lawrence of the Philly Voice notes, there’s still plenty time for some moves. GM Matt Klentak noted both that the flurry of moves creates “a ripple effect” and also that there’s plenty of information gathering which can “help you make decisions down the road.” In Philadelphia’s case, there’s “not a lot cooking” at the moment, per Klentak, but with “a lot of dialogue on a lot of different fronts” there’s always the potential for something to come together. Klentak notes that he expects at least one or two of the team’s 40-man spots to turn over between now and the start of Spring Training.
- Meanwhile, the Giants may largely be done with their winter work, Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area tweets. That being said, San Francisco is interested in adding some pop to its bench mix. The club has inquired on free-agent slugger Mark Reynolds and other “similar players,” per the report.
- The Cubs took care of their bullpen during the Winter Meetings, but are still eyeing free-agent starter Tyson Ross, according to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com. At this point, it’s not even clear precisely when Ross will sign, but it’s interesting to note that the defending World Series champs seem to have more than a passing interest in the veteran righty, who is working back from thoracic outlet surgery. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein spoke generally of the idea of signing injured starters, noting that there’s demand for “really talented pitchers” even if they have recently been hurt. “We’ll stay engaged on some of those guys,” he said, “but they’ll have to be just the right talent.”
Jose Abreu to Rockies for Rodgers, Pint and Wolters
Frazier to the Giants for Blackburn and Crick
Crick is garbage now
People aren’t garbage. If a minor leaguer can’t quite make the adjustment to success in the bigs, I’m not sure that equating them to trash is a reasonable expectation…
I don’t necessarily disagree, but it’s pretty obvious that the comparison is to his baseball ability, bot his humanity.
It’s Jung Ho Kang who is garbage as a person.
Good ballplayer, though.
wahhh waaahhhh wwwaaaaaahhhhhh
need a slugging outfielder wayyy more than Frazier
Nunez has played in left field occasionally, so a possible Frazier deal could work. However, Blackburn and Crick would not even get the conversation started.
Krick has no trade value anymore, but I’d take that trade in a heartbeat
Unfortunately, I don’t see any way the Rockies would part with that package for Abreu. That’s closer to a Quintana package.
Would rather have multiple bats.
Way too much for Abreu
Too much.. there’s no way the Rockies will trade Rodgers for abreu
Abreu to Pittsburgh for Osuna and Heredia
Abreu would cost Bell and, either, Glasnow or two-three other top ten prospects.
If there weren’t a draft pick attached, I’d say sign Bautista. I’m sure he has fond memories. He could play 1B and backup RF.
Or if they want to go cheap….Chris Carter was everything they hoped Pedro could be two years ago….
I think you are overrating him and his trade value tbh.
Abreu is an MVP-caliber first baseman who can flat out rake. How many of those are available right now?
There is 2 that put up better numbers than him last year
He is definitely solid, but with the market flooded with sluggers, plus his WAR has dropped by at least one game each year since signing with Chicago….I just don’t know if right now is the best time to deal Abreu. Frazier, D.R., and Quintana are better trade options for CWS right now.
EE is still out there, who is better
Last year Trumbo was better and both Carter and Napoli weren’t too far behind him.
Other than his first 3 months back in 2014, I’m not sure how you see him as an MVP caliber player. He is a below average defensive player and baserunner. He also has below average power for a first baseman. Abreu is still an above average hitter overall, but he has been steadily declining each season and will be 30 next season. Combine that with his pretty expensive upcoming arbitration seasons and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is a non-tender candidate in a season or two. At this point I would be really shocked if he returns anything close to what White Sox fans seem to think he is worth.
One year means nothing. He’s a high-ceiling player, earned ROY and came close in MVP voting. He’s capable of hitting .300, 40 HR, 120 RBI in any given year.
Rockies literally need to give up whatever it takes for Abreu, having Abreu, Desmond, Story and Gonzalez all in one lineup , my god
Abreu ranked 13th in WAR for qualified 1B, right in line with the like of Steve Pearce, Sean Rodriguez, and CJ Cron. That 13th doesn’t include players like Matt Carpenter, David Freese, EE, Jefrey Marte, and Carlos Santana who all had roughly equal WAR or better. I don’t know where you get that he was only worse than 2 players.
He is not an MVP caliber player
That was his point ChiSoxCity, one year (even 3 months) means nothing. He had a hot 3 months that had him with overall good numbers for one year. That being his first year. His rookie year. That was years ago.
After a hot 3 months he has not come close to that in years. So who cares about ROY from years ago. No one is paying for that. Sure once upon a time he came close in MVP voting (his first year based on 3 good months before the league adjusted to him).
So for you to think he is an MVP first baseman and can trade him for that kind of value is absurd.
Wow I guess Rocky fans should be glad 1738hotlinebling is not running the team. Sure give up whatever it takes for an average firstbaseman
“He had a hot 3 months that had him with overall good numbers for one year.”
Well, if you want to play that game, he had an absolutely brutal first 2 months to the season last year and OPS’d about .680, which completely killed his overall numbers. For the rest of the season, he OPS’d right around .900. So yeah, he has come pretty close to his previous highs…
For the record, I do think a couple posters have overrated his trade value, but he does have a very good bat
Yknow you may be right about Carter. However other players already slated for first.
Word is Jaso is working out at 3B and in the OF. If he can play both and we lose Kang, I’d keep him as a bench piece.
Otherwise DFA Jaso and sign Carter. The Pirates have ZERO power right now. Cutch and Marte are the mashers as of this moment.
They need a bat with power in the 4 or 5 hole to keep the pitchers honest.
You’ve gotta be trolling here.
Osuna hardly cracks the Pirates Top 30, and over the past two years, Heredia has posted a 1.68 WHIP and 1.28 K/BB ratio as a reliever in the lower minors.
For three-arbitration years of a guy who has posted three consecutive .290+, 25+ HR, 100+ RBI, 125+ OPS+ seasons.
The Pirates should at least kick the tires on Todd Frazier.
If Jung Ho Drunk is going to rot in a Korean jail, the Buccos might want to have some power to replace him.
Pirates have drafted a lot of infielders lately. One of them must be expendable.
I don’t like you, but Jung Ho Drunk was kinda good
Good to hear. I care about your opinion very much.
Love Jung Ho Drunk
Jay Bruce for a bucket if balls
So no deal if the bucket is empty?
The Giants need a left fielder. They can talk about being done with most of their business all they want, but I still see them adding an outfielder.
Question I’ve got is do they expect Span to play 162 games in center or will they spell him with Parker and/Hernandez? If so then SF plans to go with an OF roster of Pence, Span, Parker, Williamson and Hernandez. That OF does not scare any team (apart from Pence) and it certainly doesn’t give the Giants another 20-30 HRs a year that Evan came out and said he wanted.
I wonder if toronto could fit with colarado in a blockbuster deal. CarGo and Blackmon heading to toronto (Desmond Dahl and Parra would patrol colorados OF) Heading to the rox would be Stroman, Alford, Reid-Foley, Mcguire and Smoak to fill their 1b needs.
I can see a trade but not for both Blackmon and Cargo. Jay’s aren’t going to sacrifice all of their best prospects for 1yr of Cargo and 2yrs of Blackmon
That’s a HUGE overpay from Toronto. They’ve already talked, and Toronto wouldn’t even trade Stroman for Blackmon straight-up.
Adding CarGo to the deal just hurts the Rockies as he’s a negative value at this point with his salary, and even if they ate the entire amount, there’s still not much. He’s an aging, oft-injured player who has awful splits outside of Corrs and is a negative-value defender.
So why would they do the original deal, plus give up two likely Top 100 Prospects, one of the few catching prospects around, and throw in Smoak?
A’s trade for Bruce and sign Joey Bats. Khrush, Bruce, Bautista hitting 3,4,5 and slamming 125 hrs while K’ng 500 times would be fun to watch.
nice, but Bruce ain’t hitting 40 dingers
lol you never know
He’ll be lucky to hit 22 as bad as he’s been. Especially if he were in Oakland
You guys can bash Bruce all you want, but you’re dead wrong about him. The guy is still a very good player, and perception is deceiving.
He’s an atrocious defender and a very one dimensional player, I wouldn’t say he’s a very good player
He is indeed a poor defender and pretty one dimensional…but that one dimension is power. He is a 30HR, 100RBI guy….which still plays in MLB. The Mets can sit on him until someone gets injured, and then they can pry away a pretty good piece (7th/8th inning BP arm). There are still teams that need a 30HR/100RBI guy who would be willing to sacrifice on defensive skills.
A team can go sign EE or Joey Bats for $70m-90m over 4-5yrs….OR they can get 85% of the offensive output and only be on the hook for $13m and 1 yr.
so, what is the value of Adam Eaton compared to Charlie Blackmon?
Eaton is signed through 2020, Blackmon signed through 2019, same as Bryce.
Eaton close to 2 years younger (wouldnt have thought that without looking).
Blackmon more power and a little more production..some of that Coors related, but good numbers on the road and against lefties at least this year…
with Colorado’s outfield depth and difficulty acquiring pitching, would they have given him to the Nats for Giolito and Lopez? maybe Nats only would give Giolito and Dunning?
Eaton’s very affordable contract currently runs for 2017, 2018, and 2019 with team options for 2020 and 2021. Combine that with excellent defense. and Eaton has great value. Blackmon is controllable through arbitration for 2017 and 2018. It seems teams are always cautious too (rightfully so) about predicted performances coming out of Coors. Those differences make for a HUGE difference in value.
But remember, Eaton was not a good defensive CF. His defensive value came in RF. Isn’t Blackmon a good defensive CF?
Don’t think Blackmon would get that type of return. Colorado should be looking to move him and maybe a top 10-15 prospects for a young SP like Stroman, Matz or someone like that
Eaton is signed through 2021 including the inexpensive team options.
And Blackmon is only signed through 2018, not 2019. Plus he’s arbitration eligible, not locked in a cheap contract like Eaton. Blackmon is projected to earn $9.0 million next season, which will increase even more in 2018. Eaton is earning an average of $7.7 million over the next five years.
Mets should really not trade Nido…2017 should be the final test for d’Arnaud…
You mean April-May 2017. D’arnaud has been given plenty of time to prove he is a AAAA player, that’s it.
He did decide to show up for a bit and hit .800OPS to go along w. his top notch framing.….too bad he can’t stay healthy and his other catching skills are quite poor.
Cubs should look at Blackmon. He would be a perfect fit in center and would hit a ton at Wrigley
They have Almora for CF. If they had any intention of adding an established OFer, they would’ve resigned Dexter Fowler as opposed to giving up the prospects it would take to get Blackmon.
No… not needed until proven almora jr can’t cut it in the MLB.
Mets trade Bruce to STL for Broxton. Cards need fourth OF
Bruce for Wade Miley from the Orioles. He could pitch from the bullpen.
The Mets don’t need an over-paid under performing pitcher….aka…Miley; part of the reason they want to move Bruce is their ownership is cheap and wants his $ off the books. The Mets have enough young arms they can try out in the BP for the rookie minimum. No thank you.
I would love to see Jankowski or Nimo patrolling CF in Comerica Park. Both seem to have good OBA and look to be an improvement defensively. There’s been speculation involving Iglesias going to SD. I’m wondering if Justin Wilson might be of interest to the Mets.
The Bruce market is not going to develop until some of the power signs their contracts more than likely. But 1 scenario I would find interesting is the Giants have claimed to be done since they are tapped out but if the Mets were to offer to pay some of his salary I could see them being backmopen for business. I don’t think they get much but the more money they eat the better the return I would suppose
Yeah, Sandy and the Cheapons have to get that big-Market payroll down to $135 Million. Now that’s called seeing the ring and stopping short of it…They plan to pull another wool-over-the-eyes on Mets fans. Almost be competitive but not quite.
I hate that you are right about the abomination that is ownership under the Coupons-Wilpons.
The Giants need to find a way to get Blackmon I know inner division trade and all but he’s exactly what they need. He can play center or left and hits for a really good avg ang has a high on base. Now some people want to say oh they need power but sitting a guy in their order and in at
Agree totally and he would be ideal for SF. Not sure they have or can afford to lose prospects though. They have a crappy farm but they do have money so I’ve maintained they should be buying someone (if they can).
I don’t see any way that could happen but not because it’s in the division. I don’t think it’s possible because the giants farm is bone dry and the Rockies think they can be legitimate contenders with 2 bullpen arms and possibly EE or Trumbo
Abreu to Rockies for Rodgers, McMahon, and Welker. White Sox needs bats.
Abreu to rSox
Do they even have anything to trade anymore?
Frazier to Dodgers for Alex Verdugo? or Willie Calhoun?
What about Frazier and Robertson for Calhoun or Verdugo, Kike Hernandez, Austin Barnes, and Ross Stripling?
Kike, Barnes, and Stripling are all still young, and have shown glimpses to be pretty good players, however they don’t get much opportunity in LAD. They will get that in Chi-Town
Everyone is way overvaluing Abreu here. I like the guy but no way would the Rockies part with a top 3 prospect in their system for him. if they decided to trade for him I could see it being for Tapia, Freeland and McMahon but Rodgers is untouchable unless for a legitimate ace
Anyone else want Cubs to go after Tyson Ross?
More than anything. Tyson Ross would be huge if he’s anything near the same guy he was before injury. We almost traded javy for him.
Padres asked for Javy. Cubs said no. That is not almost trading Javy for him but the Cubs should and are trying to sign Ross now and I agree with you that they should
Lol excuse the fu*k out of me
I’m trying to read this ESPN article and I think it’s cutting off early, does someone have to be a subscriber to read the whole article?
Am I missing something?
Cubs are going over his medicals and I’d say he’s close to being a sure sign, but the Cubs are still looking into trades — probably Smyly, if they can’t work out a better price on Archer; maybe Cobb or Odorizzi but I think they have the most interest in Smyly. And he’s arb eligible, with that they could even sign Ross in addition.
Yah maybe make a trade for Archer/Cobb/Oddorizzi/Smyly and then also sign Tyson Ross. Said Rays pitcher would be 5th starter while Ross starts season in rehab eventually joins bullpen, goes as a swing starter and have him and lackey switch at end of season
Very unlikely but would be co
Smyly would probably be the easiest (cheapest) to pry from Tampa. He’s the only one they have seemed to shop, which they don’t do much openly. What hey would ask for him though, I don’t know.
Rox are in great shape. We can wait out teams desperate for a quality outfielder. Could use another starter and relief and won’t have to give up a top 10 prospect in return.
Cubs took care of their bullpen during the winter meetings? Really? I sure as heck hope not. I assume/hope Zastryzny is at least written down as a left hander in the pen right now and will only lose that spot if he performs exceptionally poorly in spring training. Because other than him the only lefty they have in the pen is friggin Duensing…. who has been incredibly below average his entire career. I’m hoping they sign one of Blevins, Dunn, Logan, or even Howell. None of those guys are exactly lights out lefties but they have at least been…. adequate over the years. Leaving Zastryzny and Duensing competing for the 2nd lefty spot in the pen. Right now here is the pen
Assuming Davis’ arm holds up all year and he pitches like he has been the last few years, and that Rondon and Strop’s late season injuries come back to haunt them, that back end of the bullpen is disgustingly strong and insanely good. Uehara’s age though and 2016 drop off though is worrisome. The left handed duo they currently have penciled in (better be penciled in) is a big question mark too. Is Zaz really as good as he showed in limited play last year? If so, hot da**. But if it was just rookie/debut season luck, good grief. Duensing…… just sucks. They might as well have brought back Clayton Richard IMO. Same pitcher. If they can convince Travis Wood to take less money than he made last year (which he made through arbitration which took into account his starting past so despite being a reliever he was paid as a reliever/starter….. he made $6+M last year, to come back on as a reliever I think he is worth no more than $5M/season) then I’d like to see him come back. If Montgomery struggles then or should one of the starters gets hurt Wood can be stretched out and be slotted in as the 5th starter. I guess you can do that with Zastryzny too, but in the minors it wasn’t like Zastryzny was blowing people away with his stat sheet. Who knows how he’d do in more than 1-3 innings of work.
Point is, I’d like to see them add at least a more solid choice for a LHRP. A possible trade might return a higher quality one than the ones available in the FA market.