Vegas baby, Vegas.
The MLB world descends on Las Vegas this week for the annual Winter Meetings. Representatives from all 30 teams and most of their 160 minor league affiliates will invade Sin City to discuss league business and discuss trades. This year, we can probably expect plenty of chatter about the possibility of a “shift ban,” as Commissioner Manfred pushes the change to increase offense.
As far as player movement is concerned, the hot topics will be Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Where will they sign and how astronomical will their contracts be? Similar to the J.D. Martinez sweepstakes last year, it’s likely that much of the free agent economy will revolve around where these two superstars go, and once they are off the market, teams will scramble for the remaining available guns-for-hire.
Some of the other key names include: Nick Markakis, Greg Holland, Daniel Murphy, Mike Moustakas, A.J. Pollock, Carlos Gonzalez, Adam Jones, Hunter Pence, Craig Kimbrel, Ian Kinsler, J.A. Happ, Andrew McCutchen, Michael Brantley, Andrew Miller, Jed Lowrie, and Nelson Cruz.
Some teams, however, have already snatched up some pieces. A trio of starting pitchers are no longer on the market: The Nationals bolstered their rotation by signing Patrick Corbin, while the Padres picked up Garrett Richards, and the Red Sox resigned Nathan Eovaldi. The Twins added two infield pieces in Jonathan Schoop and Ronald Torreyes.
Regarding trade bait, much of the baseball world is watching where catcher J.T. Realmuto will go. Both New York markets have been rumored to be interested. Another intriguing story revolves around the Cleveland Indians pitching staff. It’s been trending on social media that the tribe is looking to move either Trevor Bauer or Corey Kluber. The Dodgers outfield seems to be mostly for sale, as Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson, and Yasiel Puig have been rumored to be on the market.
Since my last post, two major deals have been made, one of them involving the ever-active Seattle Mariners. This time, they shipped SS Jean Segura, RHP Juan Nicasio, and LHP James Pazos to the City of Brotherly Love, for the Phillies’ Carlos Santana and SS J.P. Crawford. And the big buzz this last week was Paul Goldschmidt’s trade from Arizona to St. Louis. The Diamondbacks salvaged Goldy’s remaining year under contract by acquiring C Carson Kelly, LHP Luke Weaver, and 2B Andy Young. There are two different camps regarding the winner of this trade. Many people think the Diamondbacks got much too little in return for the perennial MVP candidate Goldschmidt. But, with one year left on his contract, the Cardinals were clearly not willing to sell bigger pieces.
What do you think? Did Arizona short themselves? Or did they take what they could get before Goldschmidt left in free agency and they got nothing in return?
Personally, I think the Diamondbacks made a reasonable trade. While Carson Kelly isn’t a household name, he was a former top 50 prospect and is known for solid defense. He potentially offers offensive upside in a league in which catchers as a whole aren’t hitting well. Weaver finished 2018 with a 4.95 ERA over 136 innings for the Cards. He’s only 25 and pitched to a 3.88 ERA in 60 innings in 2017. He’s struck out more than a batter per inning (238 K in 233.0 innings) in his young career. He was demoted to the bullpen last year after consistently struggling, but still projects to be a mid-rotation starter.
There will be plenty of baseball news this week, so stay tuned!