Craig Calcaterra

2018 Winter Meetings Wrapup

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IN AN AEROPLANE OVER THE MOUNTAINS — I’m on my way back to the wonderful Midwest, my 10th Winter Meetings in the rearview mirror. Do planes have rearview mirrors? No? Eh, just go with it. I’m tired.

As has increasingly become the case in the past few years, the Winter Meetings were something less-than-eventful, transactions-wise. The biggest deal was probably the three-team trade I wrote about a little bit ago, and it’s not even official yet. As for the official deals, here is everything that was done since Monday:

DECEMBER 10TH

  • Baltimore Orioles – Claimed RHP Rio Ruiz off waivers from the Atlanta Braves.
  • Boston Red Sox – Signed free agent RHP Nathan Eovaldi.
  • Cincinnati Reds – Claimed LHP Robby Scott off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.
  • Detroit Tigers – Signed free agent RHP Tyson Ross.
  • San Diego Padres – Signed free agent RHP Garrett Richards.
  • San Francisco Giants – Claimed OF Michael Gerber off waivers from the Detroit Tigers.
  • Seattle Mariners – Claimed INF Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels.
  • St. Louis Cardinals – Claimed RHP Ryan Meisinger off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles.
  • Texas Rangers – Claimed INF Carlos Asuaje off waivers from the San Diego Padres.

DECEMBER 11TH

DECEMBER 12TH

  • Cincinnati Reds – Acquired RHP Tanner Roark from the Washington Nationals for RHP Tanner Rainey.
  • Philadelphia Phillies – Signed free agent OF Andrew McCutchen.

That may seem like a lot, but compared to the way the Winter Meetings were even five or six years ago, it’s pretty slow. Bill talked about that a little bit yesterday.

The Rule 5 Draft went down this morning. Here are the picks:

As is usually the case, we’re more likely to hear about a Rule 5 available player who was not picked and who makes an impact in 2019, a-la Max Muncy in 2018, than any of these guys. To the extent you’d like to get an expert’s breakdown on all of this, though, I highly recommend checking out J.J. Cooper’s takes on it all at Baseball America.

Beyond the transactions, the big news of the Winter Meetings, as always, involved the Veterans Committee’s Hall of Fame election. You know by now that Harold Baines and Lee Smith made the cut. Here’s our initial take on that. The next day I tried to explain how Baines actually made it (short answer: cronyism). The day after that I ripped Tony La Russa a new one for, well, being Tony La Russa, which is always fun. Oh, and it’s not just players: the great Jayson Stark received the Spink Award, which was well-deserved.

Another winner: Brad Ausmus, who is once again Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager. My apologies to Charlie Montoyo of the Blue Jays for ranking 30th even though there were only 29 managers at the time I made the rankings. That’s kind of sad, but if you read the post it makes sense.

And that, it would seem is that. With scores and scores of free agents left, all manner of open spots on teams’ depth charts and, one hopes, some teams who actually want to improve themselves this winter, there’s still a lot of work to be done this offseason. Continue to come back to HardballTalk to keep abreast of all the news that’s fit to print and a great deal of nonsense too. All of it has its place and we like having you around for it.

And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Braves 3, Reds 1: I was at this game with 12,948 of my closest friends, many of whom were disguised as empty seats. We had a good time, though. Ozzie Albies‘ leadoff homer allowed me to launch into a jag about how bad his contract extension is, Yasiel Puig‘s fifth inning two-base error that allowed what proved to be the winning run allowed me to launch into a jag about the pros and cons of Puig as a player and the Braves victory allowed me to talk about my mixed feelings as a Braves fan given the front office’s miserly and cynical approach to the club. Which means that I drove a couple hundred miles, got home late last night and I’m sleep-deprived this morning to, you know, be at work. Oh well, at least baseball is pretty.

Cubs 7, Dodgers 6: The Dodgers had a 3-0 lead when the Cubs scored six runs in the sixth inning via two three-run homers, both of which came with two outs. Walker Buehler gave up one to Javier Báez and Scott Alexander gave up the other to Jason Heyward. Talk about not being able to buy a friggin’ out. The Cubs won for the seventh time in eight games. Oh, and this is fun: Pedro Strop got the save for the Cubs. On a night when his car was stolen before the game, he had to talk to the cops about it during the game before he pitched and in which it was reportedly involved in a police chase while he pitched.

Cardinals 5, Brewers 2: Macrell Ozuna hit a three-run homer and Yadi Molina added a solo shot in the Cards’ four-run fourth inning. Adam Wainwright allowed one run in six innings for his 150th career victory. After the game he said, “It means something to me. I’m proud to have been a Cardinal for the whole time of it, too.” Which seemed off to me because my mind still has him having made his debut with the Braves but, nah, he didn’t. He was just a prospect I was wishcasting on and for whom I was merely imagining major league glories at the time Atlanta traded him to St. Louis. But hey, I still have all of those sweet J.D. Drew memories. The Brewers have dropped seven of eight.

Rockies 9, Nationals 5: Raimel Tapia had two doubles and drove in three runs and Germán Márquez allowed three runs over seven, striking out seven. Daniel Murphy returned after 20 games lost to the injured list and then almost went back on it after nearly getting run over by a giant racing tooth, toothbrush and tube of toothpaste. I wish I was making that up.

Royals 10, Rays 2: Blake Snell‘s return from the injured list did not go according to plan: three runs — two earned — on five hits and he couldn’t even get the second out in the fourth inning. Adalberto Mondesí hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs for Kansas City and Billy Hamilton had two hits and two RBI. The Royals snapped their five-game losing streak.

Speaking of “snapped,” I’m taking the kids to Avengers: Endgame tonight. Forgive me if I’m distracted today. I promise I won’t spoil anything tomorrow. But that’s just because I’m taking tomorrow off. If I was working I’d totally spoil stuff because I can’t help myself.

Indians 6, Marlins 2: José Ramirez hit a solo homer in the first, had an RBI single in the third, and hit a two-run double in the eighth, so I guess he’s pulling out of that slow start. Jefry Rodríguez got the start for Cleveland and allowed only one run on three hits through seven. He didn’t get the win, though, as this was a close one, with the Tribe blowing a 2-1 lead thanks to a Martín Prado homer in the eighth before putting up a four-spot in the bottom half of the inning.

Athletics 6, Rangers 5: Chad Pinder hit a two-out RBI bloop single in the ninth to give the A’s the walkoff win. Earlier he made a diving catch to rob Shin-Soo Choo of a hit leading off the fifth inning when the game was tied at three. Matt Chapman and Marcus Semien homered as the A’s completed a three-game sweep. Nomar Mazara hit two homers for Texas.

Padres 1, Mariners 0: Chris Paddack outdueled Félix Hernández, tossing seven one-hit shutout innings and striking out nine. Ian Kinsler‘s second inning homer was the only run scored in the game, which lasted a crisp two hours and five minutes. It’s appropriate, then, that Hernández passed Don Drysdale on the all-time strikeout list during this one, as the game may as well have taken place in 1968 or something.

Giants 4, Blue Jays 0: Drew Pomeranz tossed six shutout innings and two relievers finished the job, holding the Jays to only two hits on the afternoon. That’s OK, though. Jays fans have their mind on something else now.

Phillies 6, Mets 0:  On Tuesday, Mets reliever Jacob Rhame buzzed Rhys Hoskins‘ tower in a way neither Hoskins nor the Phillies appreciated. Last night Hoskins got his revenge, facing Rhame in the ninth inning, he drove a 1-1 fastball over the left field fence for a two-run home run. He then broke out a slower-than-molasses home run trot:

It was the slowest trip around the bases in baseball since 2015, according to the folks who keep track of such things. Hoskins also walked and tripled.

Diamondbacks 11, Pirates 2: Ketel Marte homered twice, once as a lefty, once as a righty, as the Dbacks romped. They’ve been romping for three straight days, actually, outscoring the Pirates 25-7 in the first three games of this four-game series. It’s getaway day today, so I imagine the Pirates are hoping Arizona just mails it in.

Orioles 4, White Sox 3: Stevie Wilkerson of the Orioles came to bat in the fourth, a ball came close to him, he acted like it hit him, the up directed him to first base and he began walking down the line. The White sox challenged the call, it was overturned, Wilkerson came back to bat and promptly hit a solo homer to give the O’s what turned out to be the winning run. That’ll show ’em.

Red Sox 11, Tigers 4: J.D. Martinez hit two singles, a double and drove in a run, Christian Vázquez had two RBI singles and Eduardo Rodríguez allowed only one run over six as the Sox got an easy win. Haven’t been many of those so far this year.

Astros 7, Twins 1: Justin Verlander gave the Astros the strong start they’ve been needing of late, going eight innings, allowing only one run on four hits while striking out eight. Josh Reddick and Michael Brantley each drove in a pair as those two and Carlos Correa all homered.

Yankees 6, Angels 5: The Angels led 5-0 heading into the sixth inning, didn’t score another run and watched a Yankees comeback capped by D.J. LeMahieu singling in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth. Andrelton Simmons hit two homers but the Angels lost for the ninth time in ten games.