Next three days are the apex of baseball's offseason. Over 4,000 people are in Nashville for the Winter Meetings where plenty has to be sorted out this week as teams prepare for the 2016 season. Here are the story lines that I'm paying attention to:
Watching Zack Greinke signing with Arizona Diamondbacks and Jeff Samardzija joining the San Francisco Giants, late Sunday night the Los Angeles Dodgers had a deal in place for former Seattle Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma. The sidekick to Felix Hernandez, Iwakuma posted a 117 ERA+ and 13.9 bWAR in his four years in Seattle. A solid addition, but one that comes with many concerns with Iwakuma turning 35 in April and of course, his history of injuries. If Opening Day were tomorrow, this is what the Dodgers starting staff looks like:
Solid, but not great, which is why we are starting to hear that the Dodgers are looking to add a young, controlled starting pitcher, like every team in MLB. What the Dodgers do have is young, talented players that they can assemble to acquire another starter. One of those teams we will hear in discussions is the Chicago White Sox as both Chris Sale and Jose Quintana fit what the Dodgers are looking for. Another name that was talked about late Sunday was Miami Marlins fire-baller Jose Fernandez. These type of deals seem far-fetched, but if a team were to make a big blockbuster deal, its easy to see the Dodgers pull it off. They need to win, and win now.
About that last point, Dodgers are hot for Cincinnati Reds closer, Aroldis Chapman, despite already having Kenley Jansen in the closer role. Both become free agents after the 2016 season. Also reported that the Houston Astros are in the mix, and many believe that Chapman will be traded this week. So stay tuned.
Where are the Outfielders going?
Prior to the Winter Meetings, the big free agent splashes have been starting pitchers. There are still some key pitching targets available, such as Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, that teams will be negotiating with. What we should see is traction on the following: Jason Heyward, Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton, and Alex Gordon.
A lot of people in baseball believe that Heyward is going to set the market, like David Price did for starting pitchers. I don't think the market will wait, as I expect the first outfielder to sign is Yoenis Cespedes. Unlike the other three, Cespedes can be signed without giving up a draft pick and he made a huge impression on how well he played for the New York Mets during the second half of 2015.
On MLB Network, USA Today's Bob Nightengale was asked to guess where the top four positional players will go. His response: Heyward to the Giants, Cespedes to the Los Angeles Angels, Ben Zobrist to the Washington Nationals, and...
Justin Upton to the White Sox.
What was interesting watching it on television, was the reaction from current MLB Network analyst and former Colorado Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd.
For me, the White Sox have some talented players, but in a way they are a one-gated type of player. I think they need a jolt of energy day-in and day-out in that lineup. I'm not sure Upton is the type of player that takes them to the next level. I think Cespedes would be a really good fit there.
Cespedes brings energy to the ballpark every single day. Upton is that steady, professional performer but stays at the same level during the season. Cespedes would bring some flare to the club.
I agree with O'Dowd. Cespedes would be more ideal. Still, any team that signs either of these outfielders is looking at a nine-figure contract, which would be the first time in history the White Sox would commit to such a deal. We'll see if that continues to be a sticking point.
Who is selling?
While free agents have to find a new home, we'll see plenty of trades reported from Nashville as new GM's enter in the fold. Not everyone is buying as the following teams are looking to sell off assets:
- Cincinnati Reds - Reported that everyone is available, including Todd Frazier. Except, Joey Votto has a no-trade clause that he is not willing to waive. Chapman will be the first to move, Frazier probably second and they would love to move Brandon Phillips.
- Atlanta Braves - Shelby Miller can be had.
- Tampa Bay Rays - Everyone is available, except Chris Archer.