Bud Selig defiant

The GM/Owner meetings are kicking off in Orlando

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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.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.