A Winter Meetings Primer

All of the cool people are on their way to Indianapolis today to prepare for three days of fun otherwise known as the Baseball Winter Meetings. I, unfortunately, am not in that cool group . I am in a very cold group that gets to go to Minneapolis for the next three days and freeze my you know what off.

The Winter Meetings are always interesting because all of the decision makers for each club are in one place as well as the agents for the current group of free agents. You might recall the scene from Jerry Maguire where Jerry takes Rod Tidwell to the media blitz where Rod gets to meet team GMs, does some interviews, etc?  That’s what you’re looking at for the next three days.

If a trade or a signing is going to happen this off-season, more often than not, it comes out of these meetings. At worst, the groundwork for these types of deals are laid out during these meetings because trade negotiations typically take weeks to come about, and not just days. For instance, if the Rays do not do the long-rumored deal with Pat Burrell and Milton Bradley at these meetings, the odds of that deal happening decrease significantly.  A review of the events at last year’s winter meetings:

  • Greg Maddux retired – and cried much less than Tim Tebow
  • Rangers traded Gerald Laird to the Tigers
  • Tigers signed Adam Everett
  • Mets signed Francisco Rodriguez
  • Orioles traded Ramon Hernandez to the Reds
  • Dodgers re-signed Casey Blake
  • BBWAA included Internet-based writers for the first time (Will Carroll, Christina Kahrl, Rob Neyer, and Keith Law were the first group
  • The Evil Empire inked C.C. Sabathia
  • We traded Edwin Jackson to the Tigers for Matt Joyce
  • Mets, Mariners, and Indians pull off a 3 team, 12 player deal that includes J.J. Putz and Franklin Gutierrez. Seattle’s Jack Zduriencik wins the deal running away

All that, and it was considered a rather quiet meeting. Last year, the trading of Edwin Jackson was a surprise to many because there were no hints at anything leading up to the meeting. That is not the case going to the meetings this year as the Rays are involved in a few rumors such as:

Personally, I want to see a few things come out of these meetings for the Rays. First off – end this Burrell and Bradley dance. I would guess the top priority of the Cubs is to move Bradley before they leave these meetings and I still believe he, with the Cubs paying most of his salary, is an upgrade over the Burrell situation. Secondly, find more catching. Adding Kelly Shoppach was a nice move but they need to find someone who can hit right-handed pitching to limit Shoppach’s exposure to it. Gregg Zaun would have been nice to retain, but he took 2.15m from the Brewers rather than stay around here. Dioner Navarro is due to make more than that and I don’t see where Navarro is better than Zaun in the role needed which leads me to believe that Navarro is going to be non-tendered or moved in a similar PTBNL deal in the near future. Lastly, bring home some bullpen help and guys like Kiko Calero and Joaquin Benoit are at the top of my wish list. The problem there is that since the free agent market is flooded with Type A relievers such as Jose Valverde, Mike Gonzalez, and Rafael Soriano, some teams are going to go on the cheap with skilled relievers who won’t cost them next year’s 1st round draft pick.

Overall, I expect the Rays to remain window shoppers in these meetings simply because they are still one of the bottom feeders for payroll in the league and these meetings are mainly for the high rollers who are coming with wads of cash to sign John Lackey, Jason Bay, or Matt Holliday or work out a trade for Roy Halladay. Clearly, the more of those players that stay out of the AL East, the better it is for the Rays. In a best case scenario, Halladay is traded to the Dodgers, Bay goes to San Francisco, and Holliday signs anywhere but Boston and New York. The Rays are likely to troll through the bargain basement bin and look for complimentary pieces to an already solid roster. I strongly believe the current roster will be quite competitive in 2010, but adding a better catching option, more pen depth, and Bradley makes it that much more competitive. Additionally, the Rays are still very much likely to call up Matt Joyce and non-tender Gabe Gross and of course, Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson are in the fold in 2010 and quite possibly, Jake McGee.

I will have an appearance on The Fantasy Insiders show on BlogTalkRadio  tomorrow night at 7:15 ET to discuss these thoughts and more about the Winter Meetings. Tune in to show here.

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About Jason Collette

Writer/Analyst
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