2011 Draft – Day one wrapup: Nationals, Red Sox are winners

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A few winners and losers after 60 picks…

Winners

Nationals – Anthony Rendon’s injury history is a big concern, but he looked like the best bat in the draft and the Nationals took advantage of him slipping to No. 6. They’ll probably try him at second base, and since he’s quick and not too big, he could be solid there. The Nats also got a high-ceiling right-hander in Alex Meyer at No. 23 and a speedy outfielder in Brian Goodwin at No. 34.

Red Sox – Possessing four early picks and plenty of money, the Red Sox were sure to have a field day. They opted for quite a mix, picking college right-hander Matt Barnes at No. 19, high school catcher Blake Swihart at No. 26, high school left-hander Henry Owens at No. 36 and college outfielder Jackie Bradley at No. 40. Barnes projects as a starter for the long-term, but he might be able to make an impact as a reliever next year if the Red Sox want to go in that direction. Swihart is iffy to last behind the plate, but he had one of the highest offensive ceilings in the draft.

Brewers – The Brewers need pitching and they got two very good arms at No. 12 and No. 15. Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley were both considered top-10 picks at times. It remains to be seen in Jungmann’s curve will be enough of a strikeout pitch to make him a No. 2 starter in the majors, but he should be a mid-rotation guy at least. Both guys could be factors in the second half of next year if things break right.

Losers

Mets – With some very talented pitchers and quality up-the-middle players on the board, the Mets rolled the dice on outfielder Brandon Nimmo at No. 13. He’s terribly raw, but he’s going to have to hit to make it an outfield corner. It seemed like the Mets felt they had to have left-handed power in Citi Field and reacged to get some. RHP Michael Fulmer at No. 44 was another iffy pick, though he has a big fastball.

Mariners – The Mariners could have used the bat and were connected with Rendon for the longest time before his shoulder problems scared them off. Instead, they settled for Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen with the second pick. He projects as a nice mid-rotation guy, but since he was their only pick in the top 60, they’re going to have to get lucky to come out of the draft with any offensive talent.

Padres – Some teams deserve the benefit of the doubt when they appear to reach, but the Padres don’t have that kind of track record. Cory Spangenberg has a nice line-drive stroke, but with no position and not all that much home run power, he wasn’t worthy of the 10th pick in the draft. In their defense, the Padres had so many picks that they didn’t want to spend on some of the higher-upside guys and they did do better in getting right-handers Joe Ross at No. 25 and Michael Kelly at No. 48. Still, they missed an opportunity at No. 10.

2017 Winter Meetings Preview

Craig Calcaterra
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL — The baseball world has descended on the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Disney World for the 2017 Winter Meetings. There’s a lot of work to be done.

The two biggest names on the market — Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton — have found new homes, but so far only 33 of baseball’s 249 free agents have signed, almost all of them minor. Still looking for a home: Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Jake Arrieta, CC Sabathia, Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, Lance Lynn, Greg Holland and many, many more. In early November we ran down the top free agents, position-by-position, to help you get a jump on who is available and what your team is looking at as it seeks to fill its needs.

It’s not just players looking for homes this week, however. It’s teams looking to make up for their failures in the Ohtani and Stanton derbies. The Cardinals and Giants both went big to get Stanton and came up empty. The Giants were likewise in Ohtani, but no dice. Baseball’s worst team in 2017 is obviously willing to spend some money to improve, and now they will look elsewhere to spend it. The Red Sox weren’t in on those two, but since it’s biggest rival landed Giancarlo Stanton, GM Dave Dombrowski will no doubt be kicking the tires hard on J.D. Martinez or Eric Hosmer to try to keep pace. The Mariners acquired a lot of international pool money in their quest for Ohtani, but they could still use a starting pitcher or two, so perhaps they may look at, say, Jake Arrieta? Lance Lynn? Yu Darvish? Well, they should, but who knows if they will.

Despite the sheer number of available free agents, this is a thin free agent class in terms of talent. That means that, for a team to improve significantly, they may be better served by making a trade. The Marlins already traded Stanton, but their fire sale does not seem to be over. Could they deal the newly-acquired Starlin Castro? Christian Yelich? Marcel Ozuna? Bet on yes, and bet on any team wishing to spend prospects instead of free agent cash to take what Miami is unloading. Other potential trade candidates: Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, Rays starter Chris Archer and third baseman Evan Longoria and Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler.

Trade deals and free agent negotiations take place behind closed doors at the Swan and Dolphin. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press. This year there are six new men at the helm: Dave Martinez in Washington, Mickey Callaway with the Mets, Gabe Kapler — Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager — in Philly, Alex Cora in Boston, Aaron Boone with the Yankees and Rob Gardenhire with the Tigers. I’ll be in the scrum for a lot of these guys — they do them two at a time so I can’t see everyone — and will let you know if they say anything fun. Or if any of them slug me for saying that they’re ugly.

Outside of the transactions and the Hall of Fame stuff, we have the more mundane Winter Meetings business. Indeed, the vast majority of the people at the Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings. The big one everyone is talking about this offseason is the possibility of a pitch clock.

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected are, but here’s a good place to start your research on that. If your team takes someone in the draft, the most important thing to know is that he’ll either be on the big league roster all year or he’ll have to be returned to his original team. Well, they could be stashed on the disabled list with phantom injuries so they won’t have to be returned, but no team would ever do that, would they? Perish the thought.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene down here at Disney World, bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event.