As this time of year roles around every year, everyone in baseball gets their hopes up about the Hot Stove and the potential it has for blockbusters to go down.
Well, in the 2014 MLB Winter Meetings, we had to wait until late on the 2nd day for the first big free agent deal to go down. That happened to be Jon Lester signing a mega deal with the Chicago Cubs.
This move seemed to be the domino effect for the rest of the league, but we have yet to see that play out. Many teams were waiting on him and now that he has signed, we might get some more action in regards to teams signing free agents. Clubs around baseball were waiting to see his decision because they needed to know how much money they had to spend on other targets.
Lester makes the Cubs instantly credible and pushes them into a tier that makes them contenders to make the playoffs. With the young nucleus around a now centerpiece pitcher, the Cubs will be looking to make some noise in the upcoming season.
Because the storm of Jon Lester passed, the market was supposed to open up and it did in one sense. It wasn’t free agents signing like a lot of people may have thought. It was in the trade department.
What may have started everything came on behalf of the White Sox late on day one. The South-siders preceded the Cubs in making the big move in Chicago by signing closer David Robertson to a big 4-year deal along with trading top infield prospect Marcus Semien with other prospects to the Athletics for starter Jeff Samardzija.
This move worked out well for both clubs. The A’s needed a way to cash in on Samardzija and they did that by getting a club control middle infielder, which is what they needed and got in Semien. The White Sox now have a solid 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation with Chris Sale and now Jeff Samardzija.
Then, the Dodgers really got going.
Early Wednesday, they made the first of their flurry of moves acquiring Jimmy Rollins from the Philadelphia Phillies. The Dodgers needed to fill the void at shortstop left by Hanley Ramirez and they got that done by acquiring the 2007 NL MVP in Jimmy Rollins. He may be a bit old at 36, but he should be able to fill in just fine while giving hotshot prospect Corey Seager another year to get ready for the MLB.
New Dodgers GM Andrew Friedman was brought in to be the new GM because the Dodgers wanted more creativity. Well, he wasn’t done with just Rollins.
A few hours later, he acquired top pitching prospect Andrew Heaney from the Miami Marlins in exchange for speedy second baseman Dee Gordon along with Dan Haren and Miguel Rojas. This was a good deal for both sides because the Dodgers got a club control pitcher at a cheap price which is something they lack and the Marlins got a proven second baseman and a quality starter in Dan Haren.
But, Friedman wasn’t quite done.
He turned around less than a few hours later and traded Heaney to the Dodgers cross-town rival in the Angels in exchange for Howie Kendrick.
This was quite an afternoon for the Dodgers and Andrew Heaney. How many players can say they were on the Dodgers for less than a couple of hours(!)?
Andrew Friedman really worked his magic on this evening and made some great deals that solidify the Dodgers middle infield with two all star caliber players to go along with the rest of the star studded Dodgers. The Angels also needed pitching and they got a good one in Heaney. Being under club control for the next 5 years also doesn’t hurt either.
And you thought they were done, didn’t you? NOPE!
Because the Dodgers traded Heaney right away, they needed another starter. They are reportedly very close to a deal with Brandon McCarthy who will be a great fit in an already very impressive Dodgers rotation headed by Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers,in my opinion, can be crowned winners of day 3 of the Winter Meetings.
- Aside from the Dodgers deals, early this morning the Astros signed two relievers, Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek, to deals that will improve one of the worst bullpens in baseball from a season ago. If they think they are close to competing, they had to solve the bullpen problem and they did with two quality pitchers.
- And because it is the Winter Meetings, there are always rumblings about rumored blockbuster deals. According to FOXSports.com, the Nationals and Mariners have reportedly been in preliminary talks that would send Ian Desmond to Seattle. This would be a good trade for Seattle even if they only have Desmond for one year.
- The Pirates needed another left handed reliever and they picked one up by trading minor league pitcher Joely Rodriguez for Antonio Bastardo. This gives the Pirates the lefty option they needed out of the bullpen and they got him at a good cost as well.
- In another fairly major deal, the Red Sox acquired Wade Miley from the Diamondbacks for RHP’s Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, and a minor leaguer. The Red Sox had some pitching depth that they dipped into to make this deal for a quality lefty starter who is proven in the big leagues. The Diamondbacks got two good young pitchers that will probably be used in the majors this season. Look for the Red Sox to potentially still be looking to trade an outfielder as well because of their depth at the position.
- Another rumor, this one courtesy of MLB.com. Jed Lowrie is reportedly looking for a three year deal. He has been in talks with the Astros in what could be a possible reunion for the infielder and the team.
- Jon Heyman is reporting that the Red Sox, Yankees, Giants, and Dodgers are all interested in Sergio Romo. The Yankees missed out on David Robertson who went to the White Sox, so look for them to be active.
- The Padres seem like the favorites to land Matt Kemp from the Dodgers but that is not a certainty.
Like always with the Winter Meetings, deals can strike fast but they may not happen in San Diego. There are still a lot of big names left and the Hot Stove should still be hot well past the end of the meetings. It’s going to be fun to see how this all plays out.
Seattle sports fan and MLB writer for International Sports Hub