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.
The Mets traded centerfielder Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers for cash considerations or a player to be named later, the teams announced late Friday night. Granderson was rumored to be drawing interest from teams earlier in the week, and found a landing place after slashing .256/.360/.721 since the start of the month. In a corresponding move, the Dodgers designated right-hander Dylan Floro for assignment to clear roster space for the outfielder.
As a whole, the 36-year-old’s 2017 campaign has been a tad underwhelming. Granderson entered Saturday batting .228/.334/.481 with 19 home runs and an .815 OPS through 395 PA, and accrued 1.7 fWAR to the 5.1 fWAR he produced during his pennant-winning, MVP-contending season in 2015. Still, with under $4 million remaining on his contract, another 20+ homer season around the corner and the defensive chops to man center field, it looks like a prudent deal for the Dodgers as they continue to bulldoze their way to the playoffs this fall.
The club has yet to outline their plans for Granderson, but his addition to a crowded outfield could displace centerfielder Joc Pederson, who turned in a meager .214/.329/.415 batting line through 292 PA in 2017. It could also have ramifications for fellow veteran Andre Ethier, assuming he’s healthy enough to compete for a starting role when he comes off the 60-day disabled list in September. The Mets, meanwhile, are expected to lean more heavily on rookie outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who’s made just five starts this season after struggling to get consistent playing time on the field.
Indians’ right-hander Corey Kluber was removed from the sixth inning of his start on Friday night, bringing a streak of 14 starts with 8+ strikeouts to an unfortunate end after he sprained his right ankle. Kluber stumbled off the mound while trying to field a base hit from Eric Hosmer and was seen visibly limping as he moved to cover first base. He was allowed to stay in the game for one more batter, but quickly yielded a three-pitch single to Melky Cabrera and left the mound with head athletic trainer James Quinlan.
It was a poor ending to another strong outing by the right-hander, who delivered 5 1/3 innings of one-run, four-strikeout ball and took his 12th win of the season after the Indians amassed a nine-run lead. Postgame comments by Cleveland skipper Terry Francona suggest that Kluber isn’t facing a serious setback after sustaining the sprain, however, and might even be good to go by the time his next start comes around on Wednesday.
While the Royals escaped Friday’s loss without injury, the 10-1 drubbing pushed them 6.5 games back of the division lead and half a game behind the Twins and Angels for the second AL wild card berth. They’ll host a rematch on Saturday at 7:15 ET, with left-hander Jason Vargas set to face off against Indians’ righty Trevor Bauer.