A week in the sun and warmth is over. A week of the hottest hot stove action in recent memory preceded it. It’s pretty easy to say that a great bulk of the work teams needed to do before Opening Day 2014 has been accomplished since we tossed the last of our Thanksgiving leftovers. But there is still more to do, obviously. There are still many free agents out on the market and trade possibilities dancing along with the sugarplums in general managers’ heads.
So, first, let’s look at the big things that happened during the Winter Meetings:
- The biggest free agent deal at the Winter Meetings: Bartolo Colon’s $20 million pact with the Mets. Not bad for a guy on the wrong side of 40 who was thought washed up a few years ago, but nothing approaching the crazy activity the week before when Robinson Cano singed with the Mariners and Carlos Beltran signed with the Yankees.
- The biggest trade: a three-way with the Angels, Diamondbacks and White Sox, shipping Mark Trumbo to Arizona, Tyler Skaggs to Anaheim and Adam Eaton to Chicago;
- The biggest head-scratcher: the Mariners acquiring two first basemen — Corey Hart and Logan Morrison — in the space of an hour on Wednesday. It’s hilarious when you realize that they still have Justin Smoak and that their real first baseman of the future is probably Cano, but we also learned this past week that the Mariners aren’t like all of the other teams.
- The biggest non-transaction news at the Meetings? Two agents fighting in the parking lot. We still don’t know the details or participants, but we’re happy it happened all the same.
- OK, that’s not true. The biggest non-transaction was the rule change that will eliminate home plate collisions. Well done, MLB.
- The biggest things that didn’t happen? A LOT. Rumored trades of Matt Kemp, David Price, Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon remained nothing but rumors. The parade of second-tier starting pitchers who many thought would sign this past week but didn’t, from Ervin Santana to Matt Garza to Ubaldo Jimenez. Once one of them does the market should be set and the rest should fall into place, but it just hasn’t happened yet. Shin-Soo Choo started the week with as many as five teams interested in him and a demand of $140 million and ended the week with perhaps one offer, but no long list of suitors.
So obviously there’s a lot left. For one thing, Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka is expected to be posted by his NPB team, and if that happens he will instantly be the most sought-after free agent of them all. Indeed, by HardballTalk’s reckoning, eight of the top 20 free agents plus Tanaka are still available, and that means a lot of heat still to come off the hot stove.
It’s a time when a lot of people are talking about the offseason’s winners and losers. But there is still a lot of offseason to go. While 20 years ago everything was pretty much done by Christmas, the baseball offseason has now come to be active all offseason long, with signings in late December, all through January and even after spring training begins. As many at the Winter Meetings say, there is no real offseason anymore.
And that’s why HardballTalk is here. For you to keep track of all the comings and goings and the state of your team and others as the new season approaches. Always keep a tab up dedicated to HBT and you’ll be the first to know what’s going on.