The Winter Meetings — also at Disney World — are a month away. Those get more press. But a lot of news can happen at the GM/Owner meetings which kick off today. Here are the big items on the agenda of the assembled brass:
- Instant replay: the plan to expand replay next year has been announced but not finalized. It still has to be voted on by the owners, who may or may not have been swayed by arguments explaining how dumb a manager challenge system is. It also still has to pass by the players and umpires too. The owners will no doubt talk about this more this week and, in all likelihood, will vote on the plan they’ll submit to the other stakeholders;
- Home plate collisions: this subject came up again in the postseason and likely isn’t going to go away. How to make the game safer for catchers and base runners who have competing claims to the plate. Thanks in part to the increased awareness of the seriousness of concussions, the tide seems to be turning toward some sort of rule change aimed at reducing or eliminating such collisions, but it’s not at all clear if there is a consensus about the best way to handle the matter.
- The Japanese posting system: We discussed this back in September. The upshot: the Japanese players will have more freedom to pick which offers to accept rather than be forced to negotiate with the highest bidder. This seems like something more in the hands of Japanese teams, but agreement from the owners would be required to ratify any changes.
Beyond those league-wide issues, the GM/Owner meetings have slowly morphed into a somewhat better environment for teams to talk to one another about trades and things than the Winter Meetings are. There will be media there, but less of it. There will be fans and job-seekers swarming, but less of them. Most deals are done via cell phone these days, but deals which may require some owners pressing flesh to deal with transactions that big salary implications are aided by this week’s brief face-to-face. It’s not yet the Winter Meetings in all of its glory, but the GM/Owner meetings are significant.
The first round of possible news could come shortly after 5PM today. That’s the deadline for the 13 free agents who were given qualifying offers to either accept or reject them. After that: the free agent class for 2013-14 is set in stone and the real games will begin.
Yesterday it was the top farm systems, today it’s the top-100 prospects from ESPN’s Keith Law.
As Law notes, there’s a HUGE amount of turnover on the list from last year, given how many top prospects were promoted to the bigs in 2015. Kris Bryant seems like a grizzled old veteran now. Carlos Correa too. Eleven of the top 20 from last year’s list have graduated into the bigs. Are we sure it’s only been a year?
So, obviously, there’s a new number one. It’s Corey Seager, the Dodgers’ infielder. Not that everything has changed. Byron Buxton is still number two. This will obviously be his last year on the list. If you want to see and read about the other 98, go check out Keith’s excellent work.
And yes, like yesterday’s farm system rankings, it’s Insider subscription only. There were comments about how much you all hate that and I am sure there will be many more of them today. I get that. No one likes to pay for content. I was somewhat amused, however, by comments that said things like “hey, maybe if we don’t click it, they’ll have to give it to us for free!” Maybe! Or, more likely, the content simply will cease to exist!
It’s good stuff, folks. There aren’t many paid sites I say that about.
With Dusty Baker getting back into action with the Nationals and with there being at least some moderate sense that, maybe, inexperienced dudes might not be the best choice to manage big league clubs, I sorta hoped that someone would give Ozzie Guillen another look. Nah. Not happening.
Not that I’m shocked or anything. I can imagine that, under the best of circumstances, a guy like Guillen is hard to have around. He tends to find controversy pretty easily and, unlike some other old hands, Guillen never claimed to be any kind of master tactician. He famously said that he was bored during games until the sixth or seventh inning when he had to start thinking about pitching changes. Refreshing honesty, yes, but maybe not the sort of dude you bring on to, say, be a bench coach or to mentor your younger coaches or to show your hand-picked manager the ropes. Nope, it seemed like Guillen was destined to stay in broadcasting with ESPN Deportes or someone and that his days in uniform were over.
But they’re not over! Guillen was hired yesterday to manage the La Guaira Sharks of the Venezuelan Winter League next offseason. It’s not the bigs, but it is is first on-field gig since he was canned by the Marlins in 2012.
Guillen managed the White Sox from 2004-11 and was voted AL Manager of the Year in 2005, when Chicago won the World Series. He may be a bit of a throwback now, but he knows what he’s doing. While I can’t really say that a major league team would be wise to hire the guy — I get it, I really do — a selfish part of me really wants him back in the bigs. He was fun.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.
Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.
The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.
Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.
As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.
Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.
If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.