MLB: Winter Meetings

It was a tough act to follow, really. The insanity of the last few weeks couldn’t possibly carry over to the Winter Meetings, could it? As it turns out: no. There just weren’t enough players out there to sustain such levels of activity and movement. The assembled writers devolved into a writhing mass of karaoke-singing grabass, thanks to twitter the world was a worse place for it.

The moves will come but day one of the Winter Meetings resulted in a whole lot of smoke but very little fire.

The Big Names

Shin-Soo Choo attracted a lot of attention, with the Arizona Diamondbacks emerging as a darkhorse, gaining an edge because of their proximity to Choo’s off-season home. The Yankees and Rangers are also in play on the former Reds outfielder, who is looking to get P-A-I-D.

Feels like the Rangers are the only real destination for Choo, who will benefit from hitting in that ballpark as everyone does.

Roy Halladay signed a one-day contract and retired as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, drawing his Hall of Fame career to a close. Your childhood means nothing to the world at large. Teams such as the Rangers actually contacted the big right-hander about pitching in 2014 but it appears his retirement plans were long decided.

David Price‘s market narrows by the day, as the Mariners, Rangers (them again?), and the Dodgers remain in play for the former AL Cy Young winner. I
I struggle to see how the Dodgers can put together a worthwhile package in exchange for an ace with two years of control remaining. Corey Seager is a nice piece but the Rays typically aim higher when gutting their club for the benefit of an uncertain future.

The Mariners have zero chance of getting out of a deal with Tampa Bay alive so here’s hoping this deal happens just so we might all witness a franchise’s demolition in real time (although adding David Price and Robinson Cano in the same offseason is not a bad haul by a damn sight.)

If the White Sox decide to move Chris Sale, it will take an even bigger package than David Price expects to cost. Sale has more control and the White Sox don’t have any pressing need to move him. The unorthodox mechanics of Sale might scare execs away from paying top dollar for a pitcher their eyes tell them is an extreme injury risk. Like the White Sox, somebody will roll the dice and reap the rewards as Sale is the truth.

The Next Guys

Lots of good players and non-superstars saw their names bandied about yesterday. Big trade rumors swirl around Mark Trumbo of the Angels. Power like his is hard to come by and the Angels covet pitching. A few teams kicked the tires but the Diamondbacks emerged as the favorites.

The Snakes have quite a bit of pitching depth to deal with, starting with prospect and former Angels farmhand Tyler Skaggs. Passed on the organizational depth chart by the likes of Archie Bradley, Skaggs’ stock took a real hit in 2013. Question remain about his ability to start at the big league level without a great breaking ball, questions his teammates and friends are willing to answer on twitter.

Trumbo is the only realistic trade chip the Angels have so they must maximize their return. They’re also dangling Howie Kendrick, as they have all fall long.

Matt Kemp is a superstar who hasn’t really played like a superstar because of injuries. The Dodgers are believed to have his name live in many trade talks as they attempt to free up their outfield log jam.

The Rakuten Golden Eagles will post Masahiro Tanaka. Or perhaps they will not. Who knows?

Jon Morosi reports the Blue Jays and Rangers reached an agreement to send Sergio Santos to Texas but it fell through because of a medical issue on the other side of the deal. Riiiiggghhht. Santos is a fragile monster signed to a very manageable contract, so just about any team in baseball would consider gambling on his tantalizing stuff.

The Rangers bullpen is a little thin right now, with Neftali Feliz and Joakim Soria far from sure things. This pen needs more high impact arms to full insulate itself from Ron Washington‘s bumbling ways.

The ever-active Rangers are willing to listen on Elvis Andrus, as though teams will line up to trade for a player with a .348 slugging percentage while playing his home games in Arlington. His contract is lengthy and costly and, despite my reservations, he’s actually a valuable contributor.

Nelson Cruz reportedly turned down a massive five-year deal from the Mariners. Which is interesting because Nelson Cruz sort of sucks. He has power but is a terrible fielder who also got popped for PEDs and also recently cost his team the World Series single-handedly. He’s an older, more expensive version of Mark Trumbo and isn’t half the guy. Run away, Seattle. Run away.

Brett Gardner continues attracting attention on the trade market, though the Yankees demands of a #4 starter seem a little steep. Gardner becomes a free agent at the end of the season and his combination of on-base skills and defense always finds a market. He isn’t the greatest base stealer for a player so fleet and injury concerns might cloud the mind of prospective suitors as well.

Realistically, Gardner is a good fit for nearly every team in baseball. His faults are many but there simply aren’t enough great outfield defenders with enough offense to hold down a full time job.

Look for Cleveland to shop Justin Masterson a little bit. He’s a very good pitcher but one year from free agency and the Tribe showed last year that trading one of your top performers does not preclude a team from a run to the playoffs. Masterson would help…any team in need of a 2/3 starter who also happens to be a horse.

Both an innings horse and an enormous human man. A team like Toronto would improve their lot in life considerably by adding Justin Masterson. He did a better job getting ahead in 2013 which set him up to increase his strikeout total and juice his swinging strike rate. Seems unlikely any team that trades for Masterson will keep him from free agency but he’s only 28. A very nice piece for a team looking to push into the playoffs. Like Cleveland, for example…

Logan Morrison is probably going to get traded. He’s isn’t very good. Analysis!

Rajai Davis expects to sign in the next day or two. Davis works well in a platoon and he’s a terrific base stealer but far too vulnerable against right-handed pitching to warrant an every day job. Despite my best wishes, the Tigers appear as a front runner rather than his rightful home with the San Francisco Giants.

Check out theScore’s MLB tracker for all the up-to-the-minute facts and baloney associated with the Winter Meetings.