This week, baseball executives, agents and media have descended upon Nashville, Tenn. for the annual MLBl Winter Meetings.
The Winter Meetings mark the most active part of the baseball offseason. Unlike the other major sports, baseball’s offseason is longer and more in depth, but the hottest part is this week in Nashville.
Teams will be going in looking for the perfect free agent or trade to either round their team out, or build a new franchise around. The biggest markets this year is for outfielders and starting pitchers.
At the start of the offseason the outfield market was one of the best in years with star free agents Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, B.J. Upton and Angel Pagan, as well as players like Denard Span and Justin Upton possibly available by trade.
But in a pre-meetings move, the Atlanta Braves locked up their replacement for the departing Bourn by signing B.J. Upton to a five-year, $75.25 million contract. Upton, 28, relies on his speed to play excellent defense in centerfield, while bringing more power hitting to the position than usual.
The next day, the Braves’ division rival, the Washington Nationals, traded for Span, who is a leadoff hitter extraordinaire and is probably the best fielder of the lot.
These moves trimmed the market of both teams looking for outfielders going into the meetings, but it has still been a hot market.
On the first day of the meetings, the San Francisco Giants re-signed Angel Pagan to a four-year, $40 million contract. Pagan, believed to also be a target of the Philadelphia Phillies, is probably the least talented of the bunch, but is still a quality player.
Those Phillies are still searching for their answer in centerfield, and many have linked them to Michael Bourn. However, Bourn, whose agent is the notorious Scott Boras, is looking for a nine-figure contract, which many teams have hesitated to give him. The Phillies could explore the trade market during their time at the meetings instead.
Meanwhile, Bourn could end up signed by a team on the rise looking to make a splash. Similar to the Jayson Werth signing by the Washington Nationals in 2010, a team could give Bourn the big contract he wants to signal a new era in the team’s history.
But the big target is former Texas Ranger and MVP Josh Hamilton, who is a corner outfielder. However, Hamilton has dealt with serious personal problems in the past, which may scare some teams off. He also has injury concerns that could lower his contract value. Many teams have been linked to Hamilton including his old team, the Rangers, as well as the Boston Red Sox.
In the pitching market, the big target is former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke. Many have speculated Greinke will be the beneficiary of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ newfound riches, but the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers are also involved.
Outside of Greinke, the pitching market is fairly deep with names such as Anibal Sanchez, Dan Haren, Kyle Loshe, Ryan Dempster and Edwin Jackson. All of these pitchers are quality pitchers who can change a team’s fortunes without the big contract Greinke will certainly garner.
The Nationals signed Haren on Tuesday to a 1-year, $13 million contract to fill out the 5th spot in their rotation, but the rest of these pitchers are available and many teams have been linked to them.
Teams to watch are the Detroit Tigers, the Angels, the New York Yankees, the Dodgers and the Baltimore Orioles. All of these teams consider themselves contenders in 2013 and need some rotation help.
All this week, rumors will be flying around Nashville as everyone tries to find the next big signing. For baseball fans, this is an early look at what to expect when the 2013 season begins.