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.

Dodgers clinch NL’s top seed, West title with win over A’s

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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Wrapping up an NL West title has become routine for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but in a year in which no one was sure three months ago if there would be a baseball season, manager Dave Roberts wanted his team to still savor the moment.

The Dodgers clinched the NL’s top postseason seed and eighth straight division title Tuesday night with a 7-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics. They are third team to win at least eight straight division titles, joining the Atlanta Braves (14 straight from 1991-2005) and New York Yankees (nine straight from 1998-2006).

“To fast forward a couple months and be crowned NL West champs is a credit to everyone. It should never be taken for granted,” Roberts said. “Truth be told a lot of guys didn’t know we could clinch. We were responsible but I let it know that it has to be appreciated.”

The Dodgers, who own the best record in the majors at 39-16, were the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff berth on Sept. 16. They will open postseason play on Sept. 30 by hosting every game in a best-of-three series against the No. 8 seed.

Los Angeles came into the day with a magic number of two and got help with the Angels’ 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.

Instead of a wild celebration on the mound after Jake McGee struck out Sean Murphy for the final out, players briskly walked out of the dugout to celebrate with teammates. Everyone grabbed a division clinching shirt and cap before heading to the mound for a group photo.

The clubhouse celebration was also muted. Champagne was still involved, but it was players toasting each other with a glass instead of being showered in it.

“We talked about it instead of dumping stuff on people. It’s a moment you need to celebrate and we did,” said Corey Seager, who had three hits and one of Los Angeles’ four home runs, “It stinks not being able to do champagne and beer showers because some of the younger guys haven’t been able to experience that.”

Max Muncy, Chris Taylor and AJ Pollock also went deep for Los Angeles, which leads the majors with 104 home runs.

“This whole year has been weird. There’s no other way to describe it,” Muncy said. “It’s sad not to be celebrate as usual but we know there is a lot more at stake.”

Dustin May (2-1) went five innings and allowed two runs on three hits. The 22-year-old red-headed righty set a team record by not allowing more than three earned runs in his first 13 career starts, which include 10 this season.

Robbie Grossman homered for Oakland, which clinched its first AL West crown in seven years on Monday during a day off. The Athletics, in the postseason for the third straight year, currently are the AL’s No. 3 seed.

Mark Canha had two of Oakland’s five hits.

Seager tied it at 1 in the first with an RBI single and then led off the fifth with a drive to center off T.J. McFarland to extend LA’s lead to 6-2.

Muncy gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the third inning with a two-run homer. Taylor and Pollock extended it with solo shots in the fourth off Oakland starter Frankie Montas (3-5).

Grossman quickly gave Oakland a 1-0 lead when he homered off the left-field pole in the first inning. Sean Murphy briefly gave the Athletics a 2-1 advantage when he led off the third with a walk and scored on a wild pitch by May with two outs.

Montas, who allowed only four home runs in his first seven starts, has given up six in his past three. The right-hander went four innings and yielded five runs on seven hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

“They’re a pretty good team that when you make mistakes, they make you pay,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “They’re pretty good laying off and making you throw it over the plate. They made Montas pay, unfortunately.”

Cody Bellinger added two hits for the Dodgers, including an RBI single with the bases loaded in the seventh.

ATHLETICS ADVANCE

The A’s have a team text thread they used to celebrate clinching their first AL West title since 2013 during their off day Monday, when the Mariners beat Houston.

“We didn’t really celebrate too much yet. It’s exciting,” Chad Pinder said. “We wanted to do it on our own terms. We still won the division and that was our goal. It’s nice to know we’ll be playing home for the series.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Athletics: INF/OF Pinder (strained right hamstring) planned to run at Dodger Stadium and test his leg with hopes of still playing before the conclusion of the regular season. …. RHP Daniel Mengden has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Las Vegas. He was designated for assignment after being medically cleared and reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list following a positive test from Aug. 28.

Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner was scratched from the lineup less than an hour before first pitch due to left hamstring discomfort He came off the injured list on Sept. 15 and has not played in the field since Aug. 28. … Joc Pederson was in the lineup at DH after missing five games while on the family emergency medical list. Roberts said before the game that he wasn’t sure if Pederson will remain with the team during the entire postseason.

UP NEXT

Athletics: LHP Sean Manaea (4-3, 4.50) is 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA over his last five starts dating to Aug. 20.

Dodgers: LHP Julio Urias (3-0, 3.49) will make his team-leading 11th start.

AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this story.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports