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Greetings from the Winter Meetings

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I’ve been in Orlando for a little over 12 hours and it has already been a busier and crazier Winter Meetings than last year’s fete in Indianapolis.  For those of you who stay away from the web on the weekend, here’s what went down yesterday, with a taste of how the lobby (i.e. the hotel lobby full of drinky, chatty baseball executives, agents and press) was processing it all last night:

  • The Nationals gave Jayson Werth a seven-year, $126 million deal. No one understands this. It’s too much money. It’s too long a deal. It’s to a guy past 30.  This contract has the entire Winter Meetings crowd shocked. The fun game is for everyone to guess what, based on this deal to Werth, the younger, superior Carl Crawford can expect. The consensus: 112 years, 346 gajillion dollars;
  • The A’s said thanks but no thanks to Adrian Beltre. Most agree that the A’s were right to do so. It’s one thing to have a free agent turn you down. It’s another thing to have him ignore you while still being able to hold your offer to him out to other teams with whom he’d rather engage and say “see, I’m a hot property.”  The A’s don’t want to be used.
  • The Brewers traded second base prospect Brett Lawrie to Toronto for Shawn Marcum.  While Lawrie is technically the Brewers’ top prospect, some people I was talking to last night were less-than-impressed with him, believing him to be a head case and, frankly, not as good as some of the prospect-ranking types think he is.

And all of that was just the stuff that went down after I got off the plane.  The Meetings officially start today.  I’ll be posting from down here in Orlando all week, so like they used to say back when people listened to the radio: lock us in and rip off the dial.

Padres sign Trevor Cahill

Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Trevor Cahill (53) during the seventh inning of Game 3 in baseball's National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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The Padres have signed Trevor Cahill to a one-year, $1.75 million contract.

As recently as the middle of the 2015 season it looked like Cahill’s career would meet a premature end, but after being released by the Braves and signing with the Cubs in August of that season he has been a remarkably effective reliever. He has posted a 2.61 ERA in 61 games in Chicago and has posted a strikeout rate far above his career norms.

He’s not someone you necessarily want taking the hill when the leverage is high, but in San Diego the leverage won’t be all that high all that often.

Justin Verlander: “I’m too old to be part of a rebuilding process”

DETROIT, MI - JULY 20: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the eighth inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on July 20, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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The Tigers have sent some mixed signals this winter. The offseason began with widespread reports that GM Al Avila was going to break up the team. Indeed, it was reported that he was willing to field offers for any and all players, on up to Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera.

As the offseason has unfolded, however, a rebuild has not materialized.

Avila traded away outfielder Cameron Maybin. He signed old friends Omar Infante and Alex Avila. He made the usual sorts of minor league signings every team makes to fill out the roster. Detroit still needs a center fielder and there continue to be rumors that outfielder J.D. Martinez and second baseman Ian Kinsler could be had for the right price, but it’s been pretty quiet at 2100 Woodward Avenue.

If that changes, however, and the Tigers do start to rebuild, there’s one key member of the team who doesn’t really want a part of it. From the Detroit Free Press:

Justin Verlander is 33 years and 330 days old.

He’s not that old.

But the Detroit Tigers ace right-hander – a 12-year major league veteran – is old enough in baseball years to know that he doesn’t really want to be part of a rebuilding process.

“Would it have been upsetting for me if we started trading away everybody?” he told MLB Network Radio on Friday morning. “I’m too old to be part of a rebuilding process.”

Verlander will make $28 million a year for each of the next three seasons and has a vesting option for 2020 if he finishes in the top 5 of the 2019 Cy Young vote. He had an excellent return-to-form in 2016, but his contract is still pretty big for a pitcher with his mileage, making it seem unlikely that he would be moved absent the team eating a huge portion of his salary. The same could be said for Miguel Cabrera who, despite still being one of the best hitters in baseball, is making between $28-32 million between now and 2023. A wonderful player, but an extraordinarily difficult contract to move. Both superstars have full no-trade protection as 10-5 men as well.

At the moment the rebuild does not seem to be materializing and the Tigers — as I think they should, probably — will enter 2017 aiming for the AL Central crown, not aiming at restocking their farm system.

But what will Verlander think, however, if the Tigers find themselves out of contention come May? What will he think if Ian Kinsler — a valuable player on a tradable contract — is sold off? Or Justin Upton? Or J.D. Martinez?

It’s worth watching.