Heading into the Winter Meetings, baseball fans were paying attention to two things that seemed imminent: the signing of Edwin Encarnacion, and the impending trade of Andrew McCutchen. With the climax of the Winter Meetings having been reached, and the denouement arriving, it appears neither of those things will happen.
Despite those two huge storylines remaining unresolved, the Winter Meetings didn’t lack any excitement. In fact, in the course of a couple days, one team has likely built the best farm system in baseball, while other teams addressed critical needs. In the short days prior to today of the Winter Meetings, we posted nearly 50 articles. That’s a lot to keep up with, so let’s wrap it all up here:
The Preamble: The Table-Setting
Just prior to the first day, the Astros settled on a deal with Carlos Beltran. The 39-year-old will likely snag full-time designated hitter duties for the team likely looking to contend in 2017. This was the first knock to Encarnacion’s free agency value; the loss of a perceived bidder.
On top of that, Chris Sale’s name started really gaining notoriety in trade rumors. At the time, the Braves and Nationals were believed to be making the biggest push to acquire the elite left-hander.
The Astros were also interested in Sale, but splitting their efforts for a potential Chris Archer trade as well.
The Rockies were rumored to be interested in bringing on Mark Trumbo at the time.
Finally, this was the last time Miguel Cabrera’s name came up in trade rumors, as the Tigers put the thought of trading their superstar to rest.
Day 1: The Rumors Swirleth
The Dodgers were the team most aggressively pursuing the Twins’ Brian Dozier. The second base situation is still unresolved for the Dodgers, but the Rays’ Logan Forsythe and the Tigers’ Ian Kinsler may still be options as well.
After the White Sox reportedly told the Braves that any deal involving Sale would have to involve Dansby Swanson, the Braves started pursuing Archer instead. That has yet to materialize. The Braves have added R.A. Dickey, Bartolo Colon, and Jaime Garcia to the rotation this offseason and could stand pat.
Meanwhile, the Nationals added McCutchen to their list of trade targets. Already rumored to be in on Sale, the Nats seemed poised to do something huge during these Winter Meetings.
The Marlins really wanted a closer. They were already in on Kenley Jansen, but wanted everyone to know that they also like Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon. Without giving anything away, they’ve only got one option left now.
The Yankees signed Matt Holliday to a cool one-year, $13 million deal. With McCann of the roster, Holliday looks like the incumbent designated hitter. The 36-year-old has been great at the plate and bad in the field for most of his career, so this could be end up being a big, lowkey signing for the Yankees. Also, Holliday wants Oakland to know that he hates it there.
Interesting wrinkle in Matt Holliday's deal with Yankees. Contract allows him to block trades to one team: Oakland Athletics.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) December 7, 2016
At the time, the Rangers and Ian Desmond seemed like they would continue working together following their mutually-successful 2016 campaign.
Looking for a designated hitter replacement, the Red Sox were rumored to be interested in Pedro Alvarez.
Justin Turner and the Dodgers seemed close to agreeing on a deal. That still hasn’t happened.
The Indians were looking to fill the hole in their roster left by Mike Napoli with either Chris Carter or Napoli himself. With Mitch Moreland off the market now (spoiler alert), perhaps the markets for Napoli and Carter will finally materialize.
Day 2: The Signatures Begin
Rich Hill signed a three-year deal to remain with the Dodgers. The 36-year-old has had one of the most astounding late-career renaissances to date, and will earn $48 million on his new contract. I guess he wasn’t that upset about being removed from a perfect game bid by Dave Roberts after all.
The Giants addressed their biggest weakness of the 2016 campaign and signed Melancon to a four-year, $62 million contract. Just in case you still believe, that four-year deal will take Melancon through two even years with the Giants. Unless, of course, he uses his opt-out following the 2018 campaign, because even relievers get opt-out clauses now. What a time to be alive.
Meanwhile, rumors started to swirl wildly. The Dodgers found themselves involved in a few, shopping pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir. They also jumped into the McCutchen rumors, but that never seemed to materialize. Still some time to work that out, but the Dodgers don’t seem like a particularly good fit for the star centerfielder.
The Rangers also kicked up some rumors, saying they’ve been checking in on the availability of Reds’ centerfielder Billy Hamilton. Furthermore, the Rangers always seemed like a good potential fit for Encarnacion as well and that seemed to start coming to fruition as well.
Encarnacion’s market started to look like it would be unfazed by the loss of the Astros as a bidder in fact. Not only did the Rangers seem interested, but the Cleveland Professional Baseball Team was also rumored to be involved. It all seemed to be working out in Encarnacion’s favor at this point, having turned down a reported four-year deal worth $80 million to remain with the Blue Jays.
McCutchen wasn’t the only elite centerfielder having his name bandied around the rumor mill, as the Cardinals had been seen kicking the tires on the Royals’ Lorenzo Cain. With the new CBA being less beneficial for teams with departing free agents, there is some conjecture on whether the Royals should turn completely into sellers this season. Cain along with Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas, Jarrod Dyson, and Danny Duffy are the pending free agents for the Royals. Expect their names to come up as the trade deadline draws nearer.
Cain wasn’t the only Royals name to start surfacing in the rumors on day two; Wade Davis also started popping up. At the time, the Dodgers were interested in acquiring both Cain and Davis... But more on that later.
The Padres are reportedly interested in selling Yangervis Solarte and the Dodgers were among the most interested teams. While trading for Dozier seemed like a remote possibility, Solarte seems a lot more likely despite being an inter-divisional deal. If the Padres don’t want to deal Solarte within the division, another potential fit might be the Angels.
The Nationals were looking for bullpen help in Brad Ziegler or Neftali Feliz. It’s no Melancon, but Ziegler is no stranger to the closing role.
Meanwhile, the Orioles offered Trumbo a four-year deal. That stalled with Trumbo’s camp saying that he wanted $80 million and a full no-trade clause *gulp*.
With Melancon off the board, Aroldis Chapman announced that he wanted a six-year deal as a closer.
Setting up the events of day three though: the Nationals and White Sox were in deep about a trade involving Sale. It was rumored to involve at least both of Victor Robles and Lucas Giolito—the two top prospects in their system.
Day 3: Wait. What just happened?
The Red Sox made the first trade of the day by acquiring Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers, giving up Travis Shaw. This acquisition helps the team cope with the losses of Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, and Brad Ziegler this offseason. That won’t be the trade they’re known for this Winter Meetings though.
In the blockbuster of the 2016 Winter Meetings, Dave Dombrowski and the rest of the Red Sox front office put together an unbelievable package of prospects to pull Sale away from the White Sox despite rumors that a Nationals deal was all-but-done. It cost them Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz. Maybe the Nationals were just being used for leverage after all.
The Orioles and Trumbo scheduled themselves a little meeting. Despite talks stalling, they just can’t quit each other.
The Dodgers were still looking for an infielder, and might be asking the White Sox about the availability of Todd Frazier.
Remember way back on day one when the Braves chose to focus on Archer? Well, with Sale gone, it appears the Rays definitely want to unload some starting pitching. Perhaps to the dismay of the Braves and their fans though, the Rays likely prefer trading away Drew Smyly or Alex Cobb. The Rays are definitely a team to watch for the remainder of the offseason.
The Red Sox were able to find a replacement for the designated hitter vacancy in Mitch Moreland, who signed to a one-year, $5.5 million deal. Cross another potential suitor off the list for Encarnacion.
With Jansen and Chapman still on the board, the Yankees decided to offer them both contracts. Spoiler alert: only one is still available.
Late in the evening, the Rangers agreed to a one-year deal to bring back outfielder Carlos Gomez. At $11.5 million, it looks like a pretty nifty short-term signing.
Day 4: Fallout
While the fireworks of the Sale deal were still settling, day four also impressed early.
The Rockies opened the day by signing Desmond to a five-year, $70 million deal. There is some conjecture about where Desmond will play for the Rockies, with some suggesting first base is the likely landing spot. However, this likely signals more future deals for the Rockies.
While at one point for a few seconds there the Dodgers seemed like they might be trading for Wade Davis, it was the Cubs that snatched him from the Royals on day four. It ended up costing them Jorge Soler in a one-for-one swap that looks like it helps both teams.
A few small one-year deals were handed out that are worth noting. The Marlins added Jeff Locke for $3 million and re-signed Dustin McGowan. The Diamondbacks also grabbed aging closer Fernando Rodney for a $2.75 million deal reportedly loaded with incentives.
After trading away Sale, the White Sox seemed to be a little more prepared to sell some key assets. That’s led to the Astros and Nationals checking in on the availability of Jose Quintana. While he doesn’t boast the same name recognition as Sale, he has been outstanding over the past four seasons and will likely be attached to a hefty price tag.
For the Nationals, it started with Sale. Then it seemed to turn toward Quintana. Then, after reportedly offering Robles and Giolito for Sale, the White Sox ended up actually receiving Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning for Adam Eaton. Of all the names involved, the Nationals end up with Eaton out of all of this. This ends one need the Nationals were looking to address, and likely wraps up any talk of trading for McCutchen now. Welcome to the Winter of the White Sox.
The Giants aggressively started shopping Chris Heston and the Mariners bit, agreeing to send back a PTBNL.
Perhaps in a play to woo free agent closer Jansen to the team, the Marlins signed catcher A.J. Ellis to a one-year, $2.5 million deal. Ellis has caught nearly half of Jansen’s major league innings.
Lastly, Chapman agreed on a five-year deal to return to the Yankees. Totalling at $86 million, Chapman’s deal includes an opt-out after three seasons, a full no-trade clause for those seasons, and a partial no-trade clause for the entirety of his contract that blocks out the state of California.
The final day consisted of the Rule 5 Draft and some pondering over what still remains to be done.
Will McCutchen end up in Spring Training with the Pirates after all?
Will the White Sox sell off all remaining assets?
Why does nobody seem to want Encarnacion?
Why didn’t Jose Bautista’s name come up at all?
Who wants to see Trumbo hit home runs at Coors Field?
So many questions. Here’s one for you:
Who won the 2016 MLB Winter Meetings? Answer in the comments section or with a FanPost!