Thoughts on the Winter Meetings

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Two or three years from now this will all be old hat for me. I’ll be of the Winter Meetings, not merely at them. For now, however, I wish to preserve some observations taken as an outsider to this mad process:

  • The central dynamic of the first day of the meetings was the extreme activity of nothing happening.  Whereas, I’m told, in years past slow news was met with a lot of reporters standing around talking about the lack of news, now it’s met with everyone tweeting about either (a) the lack of news; or (b) the smallest nothing of a rumor in an effort to bootstrap it into something approaching news, usually unsuccessfully.

  • I won’t complain about Twitter’s impact on the meetings itself — it is what it is — but it has the strangest impact on the writers using it.  Mostly I’m struck by how much content and, subsequently, pageviews writers are giving away to Twitter.  Sure, we here at CTB tweet, but not everything and not constantly.  A lot of writers who have primary online outlets, however, are racing to tweet things rather than racing to write even the most basic of blurbs about it on their own websites. Are they “extending their brand,” or are they “robbing their employer of web traffic”?  That’s for the web philosophers to decide, I suppose, but it strikes me that it’s better for me and NBC if you all are reading my b.s. here rather than on Twitter.  Dissenting views appreciated.

  • I’m struggling to think of anywhere I’ve ever been where the male-to-female ratio is so extreme. It’s like Amalie Benjamin and a thousand dudes. 

  • Peter Gammons doesn’t go anywhere without his iPod.

  • Tracy Ringolsby doesn’t go anywhere without his cowboy hat.

  • The Japanese reporters don’t go anywhere without each other. Ever watch the “Planet Earth” documentaries? You know the amazing scenes showing the schools of fish dashing around in perfect unison, darting left and right as if guided by a hive mind?  That’s the Japanese reporters.  They’re mostly interested in where Hideki Matsui is going and they really want to know why anyone would not want to sign Hideki Matsui.

  • I know I shouldn’t be, but I continue to be amazed that I can just leave my laptop in the big press room and no one will mess with it while I’m away.

  • They don’t have coffee in the press room. They have water and soda, but not coffee. I’m guessing the people that run the Starbucks in the hotel lobby have something to do with that.

That’s all I got right now.  We’ll be back at it all day today.  Yesterday we had 50+ posts, and that’s without much of anything happening. Imagine how much we’ll shoot your way in the event some actual news transpires.

Mariners interested in free agent outfielder Nori Aoki

AP Photo/Ben Margot
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New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has kept pretty busy in his short time on the job and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that free agent outfielder Nori Aoki could be his next target. The club recently pursued a trade for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, but the asking price has them looking at alternatives.

Aoki, who turns 34 in January, has hit .287 with a .353 on-base percentage over four seasons since coming over from Japan. He was having a fine season with the Giants this year prior to being shut down in September with lingering concussion symptoms.

The Giants decided against picking up Aoki’s $5.5 million club option for 2016 earlier this month, but he should still do pretty well for himself this winter assuming he’s feeling good.

Report: Johnny Cueto is believed to be looking for a $140-160 million deal

AP Photo/Matt Slocum
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It was reported Sunday that free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto had turned down a six-year, $120 million contract from the Diamondbacks. He’s hoping to land a bigger deal this winter and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has heard some chatter about what he’s looking for.

Jordan Zimmermann finalized a five-year, $110 million contract with the Tigers today, which works out to $22 million per season. Arizona’s offer to Cueto checked in at $20 million per season. A six-year offer to Cueto at the same AAV (average annual value) as Zimmermann would put him at $132 million, which is still a little shy of the figure stated by Crasnick. Of course, Cueto owns a 2.71 ERA (145 ERA+) over the last five seasons compared to a 3.14 ERA (123 ERA+) by Zimmermann during that same timespan, so there’s a case to be made that he should get more. Still, he’s the clear No. 3 starter on the market behind David Price and Zack Greinke.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the other teams who have interest in Cueto. One variable in his favor is that he is not attached to draft pick compensation, as he was traded from the Reds to the Royals during the 2015 season.

Report: Around 20 teams have contacted the Braves about Shelby Miller

AP Photo/John Bazemore
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The rebuilding Braves have already been active on the trade market and they might not be done, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that right-hander Shelby Miller has been a very popular name. In fact, around 20 teams have checked in.

Nothing is considered close and the Braves have set a very high asking price, mostly centered around offense. They asked for right-hander Luis Severino in talks with the Yankees and would expect outfielder Marcell Ozuna among other pieces from the Marlins. The Diamondbacks and Giants are among the other interested clubs.

Miller is under team control through 2018, so there’s not necessarily a sense of urgency to move him, but anything is possible with the way the Braves are doing things right now. The 25-year-old is coming off a year where he went 6-17, but that was about really rotten luck more than anything else, as he had a fine 3.02 ERA and 171/73 K/BB ratio over 205 1/3 innings. The Braves gave him the worst run support of any starter in the majors.

Mets expected to tender a contract to Jenrry Mejia

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 12:  Jenrry Mejia #58 of the New York Mets reacts as he walks off the field after getting the final out of the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on July 12, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Jenrry Mejia appeared in just seven games this past season due to a pair of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets are expected to tender him a contract for 2016.

While the Mets were vocal about their disappointment in Mejia’s actions, it makes sense to keep him around as an option. Had he played a full season in 2015, he would have earned $2.595 million. He’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and figures to receive a contract similar to his 2015 figure, but he’ll only be paid for the games he plays. He still has 100 games to serve on his second PED suspension, which means that he’ll only be paid for 62 games in 2016. This likely puts his salary closer to $1 million, which is a small price to pay for someone who could prove useful during the second half and beyond. He also won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster until he’s active.

Mejia, who turned 26 in October, owns a 3.68 ERA in the majors and saved 28 games for the Mets in 2014. He’s currently pitching as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.