Top 5 Storylines of MLB Winter Meetings

1) The White Sox rebuild is real, and it's spectacular 

Sorry about the Seinfeld pun, but it felt appropriate here. In all seriousness, we are looking at the beginning steps of an absolutely incredible rebuild so far. In two trades, the White Sox just acquired the top position player prospect in all of baseball in Yoan Moncada, and the top pitching prospect in all of baseball in Lucas Giolito. On top of that, they added two other top 40 arms in Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez to all of a sudden flip their farm system from one of the worst in the game to very good. The best part yet is that three of the four just mentioned will either start the year in the big leagues or at least in AAA, making the rebuild a little more palatable for fans. So far, this is Theo Epstein level front office work. At this point, they should not be done. They need to continue to load up on talent. Some other names that might go in the next few weeks could be Todd Frazier and Jose Quintana. 

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2) Relief Pitching is in high demand

We talked about it a few weeks ago, last year’s trade deadline and postseason changed the market for relief pitchers. Guys like Mark Melancon and Brett Cecil should send Andrew Miller a personal thank you card for the monster contracts they just got. Melancon set a record for biggest contract ever by a relief pitcher at $62 million, and Aroldis Chapman a few days later shattered that with his $86 million deal with the Yankees. Kenley Jansen should be the next free agent reliever to sign a huge deal. On top of free agent deals, the Cubs also dealt youngster Jorge Soler to the Royals for Wade Davis to fill their void at closer left by Chapman. 

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3) The market for sluggers is lukewarm

So far, we’re not seeing the big deals for sluggers like we usually do. The biggest signing was Yoenis Cespedes returning to the Mets for 4 years and $110 million. Outside of Cespedes, there really has been no market for sluggers. Guys like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Mark Trumbo still remain unsigned. With teams embracing new age statistics and sabermetrics, it appears the market has slowly been drying up for guys who hit home runs but don’t do much else. Teams are realizing there are more aspects to the game than just hitting home runs. 

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4) Contenders go all in

When the Red Sox won the bidding war against the Nationals for Sale, other dominos fell. The Red Sox officially went all in on the World Series in 2017 with the move, and other contenders knew they needed to make moves to compete. The Nationals made what looks like a panicked move by dealing three stud pitching prospects for Adam Eaton. Eaton is a VERY good player, one of the more underrated guys in the league, but this trade was very lopsided in the White Sox favor. The Cubs were unwilling to shell out the big money to free agent relievers, and decided to deal Soler to fill their void at closer with Wade Davis. Houston, believing they can contend in 2017, signed Carlos Beltran, Charlie Morton, and Josh Reddick, in addition to trading for Brian McCann. The Dodgers brought back Rich Hill on a 3-year deal. The Giants gave a record deal to Mark Melancon. St Louis gave a head scratching deal to Brett Cecil. The Blue Jays gave a big deal to Kendrys Morales to try to replace Encarnacion. All these moves were made by these teams with the World Series in sight in 2017.

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5) Yankees (mostly) stay the course with rebuild (and reload)

The Yankees committed to a rebuild at the trade deadline in 2016 and to this point have stayed the course with keeping their prospects and maintaining flexibility, while adding guys to keep them competitive in the interim. Everyone knew they would be in the Chapman bidding as soon as they traded him at the deadline, and the Chapman deal does take away some flexibility, but was not the same type of crippling deal they have been made famous for in the past. They also kept their cool and did not panic when the Red Sox traded for Sale. The Yankees of old may have made a counter move, dealing several of their top prospects, but decided to keep their top prospects intact and continue to grow with them. The 1 year deal for Matt Holliday is another deal that helps them maintain flexibility while staying competitive. Holliday adds a little boost to the middle of their lineup and comes without the long-term commitment. The Brian McCann trade increased flexibility and opened the starting catching spot for Gary Sanchez with no competition. Look for the Yankees to stay competitive with another 84 win or so type of season this year, while continuing to build for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. 

What do you think the biggest stories of the winter meetings are so far? Do you like the moves teams have been making? Are some of the moves making you scratch your head? Comment and let us know! Stay tuned for more current sports stories. Don't forget to follow us on social media. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram @beyondthemetrics, and Twitter @byondthemetrics.