Baseball’s Winter Meetings are the busiest time of the MLB offseason – and with the 2010 edition of these meetings officially in the books – there are plenty of free agent signings, trade rumors and other MLB hot stove information to go around.
Here’s some of the latest news, rumors, thoughts and grades for the American League during the week of the Winter Meetings:
American League East
If not for the Red Sox, it could easily be said that the Orioles were the winners in the AL East over the last week. Baltimore addressed a number of needs, most notably adding more pop to an offense that struggled through most of 2010. On day one, the Orioles traded two relievers to Arizona for slugging 3B Mark Reynolds, and by the end of the meetings, Baltimore had also resigned Koji Uehara and made a trade with Minnesota for SS J.J. Hardy and utility infielder Brendan Harris.
Latest Rumor: The Orioles still need someone to play first base – and while the biggest splash would be Prince Fielder – it appears that Milwaukee’s price tag is too high, and the O’s may look at a player like Adam LaRoche, who reportedly is interested.
KP’s Take: Relievers are a dime a dozen, and Baltimore was able to unload a handful of arms to add necessary pop to the lineup, while not forfeiting any major pieces of its future. Grade: B
Boston Red Sox
The Sox easily had a better week than any other team in baseball, landing two of the most talented bats in the game. At the beginning of the week, Boston traded for superstar slugger and gold glove first basemen Adrian Gonzalez, and later stole away speedy free agent outfielder Carl Crawford (7 yr, 142 million), formerly of the division rival Rays, and also heavily rumored to be headed out west to Anaheim.
Latest Rumor: The Red Sox are still looking to add a catcher, and Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com recently reported (via Twitter) that the Sox had extended an offer out to Russell Martin, formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
KP’s Take: This isn’t just like adding two potent bats to the Boston lineup, but even more, considering that a number of players will be returning from injury, including Dustin Pedroia, Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury. Grade: A+
New York Yankees
Before the meetings began, the Yankees had sealed up extensions with closer Mariano Rivers and SS Derek Jeter. Both moves were expected. During the meetings, while New York was mentioned in a handful of rumors, the widespread attention was around SP Cliff Lee, who the Yankees covet. Reports had New York extending a six-year offer to Lee midway through the meetings, and after Boston signed Crawford, the Yankees reportedly upped the offer to 7 years.
Latest Rumor: Buster Olney of ESPN reported today that Cliff Lee will make a decision in the next 48 hours or so, and it’s assumed by many that his decision will likely come down to resigning with the Rangers or heading to New York to play for the Yankees.
KP’s Take: Everyone knows that the Yanks will not sit on their hands – and it’s not a matter of whether the team will make a free agent splash – but when they will. An educated guess: The Yankees want pitching, and if they don’t manage to reel Lee in, the Yankees would likely push to acquire Zack Greinke. Grade: Incomplete
Tampa Bay Rays
It was understood that heading into this offseason, there were going to be many changes in Tampa, with the Rays likely losing out on a number of stars from the team’s recent successful seasons. Plain and simple, the Rays don’t have the cash to keep up with the big markets, but they certainly have a deep and talented farm system – and could also seek to beef up that system even further via trade. During the Winter Meetings, free agents Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena both signed elsewhere. The Rays also nearly dealt away SS Jason Bartlett to the Orioles, and eventually traded him to the Padres.
Latest Rumor: The latest news is circling around SP Matt Garza, who has been popping up in numerous trade rumors, including to teams such as the Cubs and Brewers. The Rays have plenty of young pitching ready to replace Garza.
KP’s Take: It’s hard to grade a team positively when they are only losing talent – and the Bartlett trade didn’t bring in a major haul. This grade could improve if Tampa Bay makes a trade for some top-notch talent, but for now… Grade: D
Toronto Blue Jays
It was a pretty quiet week for the Jays – a team that opened the meetings by trading away SP Shaun Marcum to the Brewers for second basemen Brett Lawrie. Still, Toronto has been rumored to be seeking out a number of potential talents to add to its roster.
Latest Rumor: During the Winter Meetings, Toronto was rumored to be one of the parties seriously interested in Royals ace Zack Greinke. The Jays – according to Gorden Edes of ESPN Boston – are also in on Russell Martin.
KP’s Take: Right now, the Jays are mostly staying the course this offseason, but don’t be shocked to see one or two major moves that could make Toronto an even bigger threat. For now though… Grade: C-
American League Central
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have been one of the most active teams in December, making a few minor trades, plus a few free agent splashes. The biggest news lies within the middle of the batting order. Chicago was not only able to resign 1B Paul Konerko, but also it was able to lure left-handed, power hitting free agent 1B-DH Adam Dunn.
Latest Rumor: The White Sox still may not be done, and it’s quite possible that they could make another significant trade before Spring Training – and both Gavin Floyd and Carlos Quentin have been mentioned in various trade rumors. Otherwise, the Chicago Tribune reports that the White Sox may also look to bulk up the bullpen.
KP’s Take: Adam Dunn is going to be a beast playing at U.S. Cellular – and with him and Konerko anchoring that lineup, this could wind up the most productive offense in the Central division in 2011. Grade: A-
The Indians are currently rebuilding. As a result, Cleveland was rarely mentioned during the Winter Meetings. Cleveland did sign a few players to minor league contracts during the week, but little else.
Latest Rumor: There were times during the Winter Meetings where Grady Sizemore’s name was mentioned in trade rumors – and with Grady being as injury prone as he has been, it might be a good idea for Cleveland to consider dealing him away. In other rumors, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com mentions that Cleveland’s interest in adding Edwin Encarnacion “has cooled”.
KP’s Take: It’s hard to grade a team that did next to nothing. Usually, one would post a failing grade, but the Indians are in a rebuilding phase, and therefore… Grade: N/A
The biggest splash this offseason came before the Winter Meetings, when Detroit signed Victor Martinez to a four-year deal. Other than this acquisition, the Tigers did not make the news all that much during the actual meetings. With the big bat, plus Benoit in the pen, it’s overall been a solid offseason to this point.
Latest Rumor: Per Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, Ryan Ludwick’s name was recently brought up as a potential addition by the Tigers.
KP’s Take: Overall, it’s been a good start to Detroit’s offseason, but there was next to no activity during the Winter Meetings. Grade: B+ offseason, D for Winter Meetings
Kansas City Royals
The Royals do not have the same cash flow as the big boys in baseball. Still, KC should receive praise for the creative additions of Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera. It is also widely speculated that Zack Greinke will be traded. However, the Royals’ current asking price is through the roof.
Latest Rumor: The latest is that the Greinke market will likely heat up once Cliff Lee signs, potentially in the next couple of days. The number of suitors should be high, as should the return package of prospects to Kansas City.
KP’s Take: Considering the cash flow, KC made a couple of decent moves that could pan out. Cabrera plays hard and should be a nice addition to the lineup. Also, it’ll be curious to see what the Greinke haul will be – if a deal happens. For now… Grade: C+
For now, it’s been a fairly quiet offseason for the Twins. Minnesota, however, did win the rights to Japanese SS Tsuyoshi Nishioka – and traded away J.J. Hardy and Brendan Harris to the Orioles during the Winter Meetings. Also, Minnesota is in the mix for a number of pitchers.
Latest Rumor: StarTribune.com reports that the Twins still have a shot to resign Carl Pavano.
KP’s Take: It will be interesting to see if 1) Minnesota can sign Nishioka and 2) How his game translates to the States. Also, the Twins will need to find some pitching in order to take the next step in the playoffs. Also, the Hardy haul wasn’t all that significant. Quiet start, but this grade could change by the end of the offseason. Grade: C
American League West
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
It’s been a disappointing offseason so far for the Angels. The only addition is SP Hisanori Takahashi, who signed a two-year deal a week ago. Carl Crawford – widely assumed to be signing with the Angels – signed a seven-year megadeal with the Red Sox.
Latest Rumor: Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports (via Twitter) reported that the Angels are indeed interested in Cliff Lee.
KP’s Take: Losing Crawford stung, but it’s expected the Angels will find some way to make a splash during the offseason – and don’t be shocked if they move in the direction of Adrian Beltre, or become a surprise player for a marquee starting pitcher. Grade: D-
Like the Angels, the A’s have had a tough offseason. In Oakland’s case, the A’s have attempted to sign a number of bats. To this point, no free agent has been willing to take the team’s money. All the A’s have managed is a few minor league signings and a couple of trades – but nothing major.
Latest Rumor: The latest news is that the A’s may wind up being the right fit for free agent Hideki Matsui – and he would be a welcomed bat to the lineup.
KP’s Take: The A’s have put in the effort, attempting to sign a handful of players. At this point, no one has taken the bait. If Oakland can reel in Matsui, that would be a nice find. Grade: D
Like the A’s and Angels, the Mariners also have yet to make any major moves. However, Seattle is in more of a rebuilding mode. The Mariners did deal away Jose Lopez and resigned the injury prone Erik Bedard to a one-year deal. During the Winter Meetings, Seattle added Jack Cust and Miguel Olivo.
Latest Rumor: John Hickey (AOL Fanhouse) says that the Mariners have also offered a contract to Laynce Nix.
KP’s Take: There is little to grade in Seattle right now, and Seattle didn’t pop up in the headlines very often during the Winter Meetings. Currently, it’s only fair to give the Mariners a grade similar to the Indians. Grade: N/A
The Rangers have popped up frequently throughout the Winter Meetings, most often tied to Cliff Lee. Nolan Ryan is desperately trying to find a way to resign the team’s ace. Texas also popped up in a number of other rumors. One was the possibility of dealing away Michael Young.
Latest Rumor: Until Cliff Lee signs, there are no other Rangers rumors. According to the Dallas Morning News, the Rangers recently presented Lee with multiple offers.
KP’s Take: The Rangers don’t have any moves to show for it yet, but the team has been very aggressive, including throughout the Winter Meetings, most notably with their attempts to resign Cliff Lee. It’s safe to say that by the end of the offseason, the Rangers will have made multiple moves. This grade could change drastically in the next 48 hours, but… Grade: B-