MLB Winter Meetings Reviewed

USA Today Sports

A link-filled look back at the sometimes overwhelming but overall underwhelming week in Music City.

After four frenzied days of rumors, signings, trades and more rumors, the dust is finally beginning to settle at the Grand Opryland Hotel in Nashville. Some teams have gone home much richer than when they arrived, some preserved the status quo, and a few others left wondering just what in the hell happened to their once-masterful plans of baseball domination.

This year's meetings jumped off to a quick start, with Angel Pagan, Mike Napoli, Joakim Soria, Jason Marquis and James Loney all holding new contracts by the time dinner was served Monday night in Nashville. The wheeling and dealing of the first day was not the norm, however. Other big names found way their to new teams -- Dan Haren to the Nats, Shane Victorino to the Red Sox -- but seven of the 10 Top Free Agents remain unsigned, and just one (Haren) signed this week.

The two biggest names available -- Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke -- and the teams pursuing them effectively stalled the market on Days 2-4. The Texas Rangers, believed to be front-runners for both Hamilton and Greinke, were (and are) in talks on a blockbuster four-team trade of epic proportions, but have been hesitant to pull the trigger because their needs will change drastically depending on which top name they are able to sign on.

The delay in signing Hamilton has not had much of an effect on the free-agent outfield market -- see: Pagan, Victorino, B.J. Upton, Ben Revere, Nate Schierholtz -- but Zack Greinke's indecision has made the starting pitcher market into a complete non-starter. The only starting pitchers to sign this week were ones with serious injury concerns (Haren, again) or those whose entire careers have been mired in mediocrity (Marquis, Joe Blanton).

Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Brandon McCarthy, Shaun Marcum, et al. are all still homeless, and Greinke is to blame.

Because the week ended on such a whimper, I've decided to crown two Winter Meetings losers rather than a winner or winners. And because I'm as indecisive as the Yankees' front office seems to be, the loser of the week is a tie between the two clubs with the deepest pockets: the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.

The biggest storyline going into the week was that the Dodgers had endless gobs of money and they were going to throw it around in Nashville like the nouveau riche seem wont to do. Well, perhaps that happened in the alternative present where Biff Tannen still rules the world, but in our reality the Dodgers left the Winter Meetings having spent a grand total of $0.00.

The club sauntered into Music City with their sights set on right-hander Zack Greinke. Not only was the club "determined" to sign the right-hander, they were also reported to be the clear favorites for him early on in the week. But as the meetings came to a close, not only did Greinke remained unsigned, but Los Angeles was rumored to be out of the running completely.

Unlike the Dodgers, no one was really sure what the Yankees had planned for Nashville this year -- with their new tight-walleted ways and all -- but no one quite expected New York to be completely inactive the entire week. The tone for the club's week was set Monday with the bit of bad news that A-Rod would miss the first half of 2012. The Bronx Bombers showed interest in several corner infielders and outfielders throughout the week, but then watched them all sign elsewhere.

It's always incredible how something so busy and seemingly full of life can end without much in the way of substance. But then, I guess that's what first marriages are for. Things in Nashville began full of hope, but left us all wanting in the end.

Let's just hope Greinke and Hamilton sometime before Christmas so we don't have to carry this trepidation about our teams' futures into the new year.

Afraid you missed something? We've got you covered.

Below are links to the division roundups for each day, as well as the results from Thursday's Rule 5 draft.


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