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.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.