Thoughts About the MLB Winter Meetings (and Before)
Yes, the MLB Winter Meetings............for baseball fans this is one of the bright spots to the off-season as you can get. This is where trades are made and big free agent signings rule the roost. And aside from the Chris Sale trade, there really wasn't a whole lot of snap, crackle, and pop to it. Sorry Nationals fans who think Eaton is a big trade. To be fair, he is, but not a major household name, yet. Anyway, this year was just different and plays into some odd ways of how strategies have panned out as well. Dumbfounding strategies at that, so let's go with some thoughts about what happened.
1. SLUGGERS ARE OUT, RELIEVERS ARE IN: Here's my "wait, what?" moment. Since the whole Moneyball thing happened, the push with metrics and everything really came to be a whole thing of if you have guys who can get on base and hit the long ball, you're in great standing, regardless of their batting average and other contributions (or lack thereof). It was impressive to see this and some times I scratched my head on how some of them got that dough. However, given the likes of Encarnacion, Bautista, and Trumbo not getting anything for a deal yet it an indicator of players are not going to end up with those big contracts for just being HR hitters. I've gone through debates on how that is just silly to see a guy that hits 30 or more HR and have a .220 average can net a mega contract (Chris Davis anybody?) while others who do more but might have a few less HR's didn't. That might change now, thank God, but now a sillier thing has gone on: 1-inning relievers that pitch maybe 80 innings the entire season at the most are now netting $15 million or higher. That's excessive. And yet guys like Melancon, Chapman, and Jensen are getting those offers or trying to get those offers. Melancon got it with San Francisco, and Chapman got an insane contract to go back to New York. I just don't see the overvalue of this at all.
2. THE YANKEES OVERSPENT ON AROLDIS CHAPMAN: Yes, the numbers showed in 2016 he DOMINATED with the Yankees and Cubs. Chapman and 100+ MPH fastball is deadly to go against. But at $86 million for 5 years? Granted, he has been awesome since entering the bigs, but there are times where he doesn't get it done in big games, even this year. Now those games are few and far between, but still. Will the money change him? Most of these guys who get the big paydays end up having major issues with their new teams. Now more dumbfounding than that, the Yankees opened up the wallet books, given that they are in line to make a massive splash in the 2018 off-season of probably landing you-know-who out of Washington.
3. DESPITE NOT GETTING SALE OR MCCUTCHEN, THE NATIONALS ARE GOING ALL IN: Speaking of you-know-who, the report is the Nationals are going to be moving past Harper when he becomes a Free Agent. Meaning, they're going to make sure they get SOMETHING from Harper when he remains in the Beltway. So they're trying to go all in. They failed in getting Sale (Boston had better prospects), and McCutchen (Pittsburgh's demand was too high) so they went an alternative route and got Adam Eaton from Chicago. A nice alternative. I like what they did, but I know they felt disappointed in not getting more. But hey, they remain the favorites in the NL East.
4. BOSTON IS NOW THROWING CAUTION TO THE WIND: The one thing I mentioned about the Red Sox when they hired Dave Dombrowski was that he was a guy who was willing to ship prospects for star players. He did it with the Marlins in 97 and the Tigers from 07-14. That is a good thing if you have the "win now mentality." And they definitely went that same route with trading for Sale and having Price, Porcello to go along that, giving Boston probably the strongest rotation in the AL. It is great now, and the Red Sox have an excellent farm system, but if those moves continue, the farm will get depleted and fast. That said, nothing is given in the future.
5. DETROIT'S FIRE SALE IS MORE OF A SMOKE SCREEN (AT LEAST RIGHT NOW): When Al Avila said the Tigers would be cutting back with payroll, many automatically assumed they would just say "that's it! Verlander, Cabrera, The Martinez Boys, Kinsler, Iglesias, and everybody else wearing the English D will be traded now!" Aside from the rumors of Justin Wilson & JD Martinez on the move, Detroit, while taking some calls, was fairly quiet at the meetings. Many assumed JD would have been gone somewhere like San Francisco, Texas, or Los Angeles, but that didn't come to fruition. Kinsler, having a no-trade clause has already exercised that and said he would only approve a trade to a team who will give him a contract extension, to where teams have balked on. And moving Verlander or Cabrera, while both having great rebound years in 2016, have insanely expensive contracts for teams who would want to take them on. It would take a team like the Yankees, Red Sox, or Dodgers once again to be the lone takers. And from what is said, Detroit's price for anybody is sky high. Don't blame them. Plus, I don't think Detroit is going full-blown fire sale either. It might be similar to after 2009 when the team traded off Granderson and let Polanco walk and still kept the main core in tact. It might be a few moves that the Tigers will make, but nothing over the top.....at least I hope.
There's still plenty of time for moves to be made before the 2017 season begins, but so far, it has been an odd, yet uneventful off-season (probably why it is odd). Will things pick up with trades soon or will it continue the rest of the way? Time will tell.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat