By Oliver Connolly, Editor-In-Chief
The Winter Meetings are upon us!
It truly is the most wonderful time of the year; baseball bloggers getting drunk, people searching for jobs, trades, free-agent pickups and GM’s (also drunk) regretting moves they made at the bar the night before.
Yes, it’s time for the baseball world to lose its mind. At Call to the Bullpen we have broken down each teams needs, possible targets and predictions on their quest to Nashville.
What to expect:
The Winter Meetings were created to get all the league’s decision makers in one building to make transactions easier. That tradition lives on today with the meetings being a spark plug for mega-deals and unexpected trades.
Already, as I write this, the Dodgers just traded for Aroldis Chapman and we’re already off and running. The Chapman deal should lead to a major domino effect; Will LA keep both Chapman and closer Kenley Jansen? Both are in walk years and both will want to close. Can new manager Dave Roberts talk one into a setup role? How about the Dodgers’ brain trust flips Jansen? Or maybe they’ll flip Chapman? Or maybe they’ll talk Chapman into starting? Man, I love baseball.
Outside of trades we still have a number of free-agents remaining on the market. Many of the high-end pitchers came off the market this week but the likes of Johnny Cueto sit out there and there are many position players (HEY, JASON HEYWARD IS STILL OUT THERE) who could drastically change a teams fortunes heading into 2016.
Though, as fans, we focus on the mega-money deal and potential shocking trades the teams also have to deal with a number of jobs they’re looking to fill, run through the rule of five draft and those pasty old white guys have a Hall of Fame ballot to get too. Really we’re being served a platter full of smoking hot takes, anonymous sources and second guessing of guys ten times smarter than us. What’s more fun than that?
Who to watch for:
Here’s a quick rundown of each team’s primary decision maker and their current/projected payroll (Via baseball reference);
Baltimore Orioles – Dan Duquette (GM), $61.5m/$109.3m
Boston Red Sox – Dave Dombrowski (President of baseball ops), $189.4m/$204.1m
Chicago White Sox – Kenny Williams (Executive VP), $96.7m/$108.6m
Cleveland Indians – Chris Antonetti (President), $42.1m/$64.9m
Detroit Tigers – Al Avila (GM), $145.3m/$166.4m
Houston Astros – Jeff Luhnow (GM), $51.3m/$83.7m
Kansas City Royals – Dayton Moore (GM), $79.2m/$103.7m
Los Angeles Angels – Billy Eppler (GM), $135m/$162.3m
Minnesota Twins – Terry Ryan (GM), $75.8m/$109m
New York Yankees – Brian Cashman (GM), $183.8m/$212m
Oakland Athletics – Billy Beane (Executive VP of baseball ops), $46.1m/$72.9m
Seattle Mariners – Jerry Dipoto (GM), $98.9m/$112.8m
Tampa Bay Rays – Matt Silverman (GM), $29.1m/$68.4m
Texas Ranges – Jon Daniels (President of baseball ops), $110.4m/$132.5m
Toronto Blue Jays – Mark Shapiro (President/CEO), $98.8m/$139m
Arizona Diamondbacks – Tony La Russa (Chief baseball officer), $34.4m/$61.1m
Atlanta Braves – John Hart (President of baseball ops), $79.3m/$93.9m
Chicago Cubs – Theo Epstein (President of baseball ops), $85.1m/$123.3m
Cincinnati Reds – Walt Jocketty ( President of baseball ops), $81.2m/$110m
Colorado Rockies – Jeff Bridrich (GM), $66.7m/$94.6m
Los Angeles Dodgers – Andrew Freidman (President of baseball ops), $159.4m/$188.3m
Miami Marlins – Jeffrey Loria (Owner), $31.4m/$62.5m
Milwaukee Brewers – David Stearns (GM), $45.6m/$66.3m
New York Mets – Sandy Alderson (GM) – ill, will not attend winter meetings, $60m/$96.5m
Philadelphia Phillies – Andy MacPhail (President of baseball ops), $67.3m/$90.8m
Pittsburgh Pirates – Neal Huntington (GM), $58.8m/$103.6m
St. Louis Cardinals – John Mozeliak (GM/Senior VP), $106m/$131.8m
San Diego Padres – A.J. Preller (GM), $63m/$96.6m
San Francisco Giants – Brian Sabean (Executive VP of baseball ops), $127m/$142.9m
Washington Nationals – Mike Rizzo (GM) $96.7m/$135.2m
Andrew Friedman; Friedman came out swinging on Sunday night/Monday morning. Landing Chase Utley, Aroldis Chapman and Hisashi Iwakuma. The Dodgers continue to check in and work on a blockbuster deal to land Jose Fernandez after missing out on Zach Greinke to the division rival Diamondbacks. Friedman is loaded with payroll, some A prospects and an ownership demand to win a championship each and every year. Ken Rosenthal reports that Friedman ‘prioritises’ different players to that of former manager Don Mattingly. With Mattingly now in Miami it frees up the Dodgers front-office to get creative and there’s a chance we see a major overhaul with the likes of Fernandez incoming and Yasiel Puig outgoing. Though those chances are slim, it’s extremely fun to imagine.
A.J. Preller; Preller was the darling of last year’s Winter Meetings making big trade after big trade and signing James Shields to a contract that looks horrible in hindsight. A year later and Preller is now looking to undo what he did last year. The Padres sit in a division where even if they landed the best two free-agents on the market (Johnny Cueto and Jason Heyward) they would still be a ways away from contention. Preller moved on from Craig Kimbrel and Justin Upton is a free-agent, he’ll likely continue to rebuild and tear down his roster as they move into their next team cycle. The Padres have some interesting trade pieces, though by all accounts they’re asking for unreasonable amounts for their starting arms.
Johnny Cueto; Cueto and his team have made it abundantly clear that they were waiting until the Winter Meetings to sit down with teams. They’re playing the waiting games in the hope teams get desperate after missing out on David Price, Zach Greinke, Jeff Samardzija and Iwakuma. it will be interesting to see if Cueto’s tactic pays off or if he continues to sit out well beyond the meetings. Cueto is the next big pitching domino, yet, according to Buster Olney it seems nobody is clear who is interested.
Hanley Ramirez; Speculation continues to swirl around the Red Sox and new decision maker Dave Dombrowski. Will the Sox look to make another major move? It’s unlikely unless they can get out from under either the Pablo Sandoval or Hanley Ramirez contracts. All indications seem to be that Dombrowski is comfortable with Sandoval but is looking to ship Ramirez out of town. That seems nearly impossible given his play and contract, but were Boston to pull of the unexpected it would be a significant domino in any further Boston big-money deal.
Billy Beane; You cannot discuss transactions in baseball without mentioning Beane and the A’s. Last year Oakland shipped out 2015 American League MVP Josh Donaldson for Brett Lawrie and are now looking to move on from Lawrie himself. Not a great look for Beane and company who continue to get the benefit of the doubt on all deals “oh, Billy Beane did it? It must be a good decision then.” This despite the flops that were the Jeff Samardzija, Yoennis Cespedes and Donaldson deals. With Beane having back-to-back poor transaction windows (the 2014 trade deadline and 2015 offseason) it will be fascinating to see how he rebounds at this year’s meetings.
Rule of five draft; often overlooked by fans but last year’s draft yielded an unlikely number of contributors to big league rosters; the Rangers claimed Delino DeShields and the Phillies grabbed Abdul Herrera. This year’s draft looks like it will also be fruitful. The Phillies hold the number one pick thanks to their ghastly 2015, with Mariners right fielder, Jabari Blash, anticipated to be the pick. Blah clubbed 32 homers in 2015 in AA and AAA.
Wait, you thought you could get out of here without me offering some reckless speculation? These deals are often rooted in my OOTP16 franchises, but hey, are we going to pretend that’s not also how A.J Preller mapped out last offseason?
As has often been reported the Dodgers aren’t overly fond of Yasiel Puig. The Dodgers are interested in Jose Fernandez. Fernandez is a fan favorite and is running down his contract to become the highest paid pitcher in history. Is there any reason why we couldn’t have a Dodgers-Marlins trade that features around Puig and Fernandez with the Dodgers sending one of their top-prospects in the deal as well? Of course, It’s highly unlikely and I’m sure personnel staff would laugh the idea out of the building. But it’s fun and I really want it to happen, in part, because I want to see the internet meltdown and ALL the Puig stories that would leak out (if they haven’t already) once the Dodgers kick him to the curb.
I loved discussing all things Boston on this podcast with Edward Overend. We broke down the David Price deal in Boston, the film spotlight, Fenway Park, JFK and a whole lot more. Boston is one of the greatest cities I have ever been too and I’d encourage everyone, particularly sports fans, to make the pilgrimage at some point. Seriously, Fenway Park, Tom Brady, Larry Bird, Bill Russell and an original six hockey franchise. It’s an awesome town and the greatest sports town.
Zach Bernard gave his three takeaways from the Jeff Samardzija 5-year $90m deal.
I love Casey Boguslaw’s ‘stopper stat’ I really think it’s an underrated aspect of a pitchers game. Casey ran a fantastic statistical series this past week. Here’s his final stopper stats for the year.
After reading this, be sure to check out our division-by-division breakdowns with in-depth looks at each team.