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Winter Meetings Wrap: A Wild & Crazy Week
A PAIR OF DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES FROM 'HTP' WRITERS WHO WERE THERE
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Did you know…
RosterResource pegs the current Mets payroll at $335 million, meaning the team must pay luxury tax penalties approaching $60MM — more than the entire payrolls of the Pirates or Athletics in 2022 . . .
With $119 million coming off their books, are the Dodgers the most logical landing spot for Carlos Correa? . . .
Since reaching the World Series in 2013, the Cardinals have survived the first round of the playoffs only twice . . .
San Diego’s surprise signing of Xander Bogearts suggests the team is serious about winning the first world championship in team history . . .
When the winter meetings were last held in San Diego, in 2019, teams lavished $1.069 billion (with a “b”) on 19 free agents . . .
Since the start of the 2019 campaign, Trea Turner (now with Philadelphia) has hit .311 with an .860 OPS and a 162-game average of 26 homers and 35 stolen bases . . .
By adding Jose Quintana and Justin Verlander to their graybeard rotation, the ancient New York Mets got even older . . .
Are you serious? San Francisco paid injury-prone free agent Mitch Haniger $43.5 million for three years . . .
And Cleveland gave 33-year-old Juan Bell a two-year, $33 million deal in the wake of his .201 performance for San Diego . . .
The Oakland A’s can now move to Las Vegas without having to pay a relocation fee, according to Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred.
San Diego Winter Meetings Recap
By Julian Guilarte
The scene from San Diego was incredible.
The lobby was buzzing when the rumors of Aaron Judge going to the San Francisco Giants were occurring. It seemed like the New York Yankees were going to lose their pilar. How could the Yankees lose the AL MVP?
The report was premature as Judge’s camp did a great job of keeping everything tight to the vest.
The whole situation with Judge made for a mysterious three days. In the end, it was the Yanks who stepped to the plate with a nine-year, $360 million contract. The Judge was back before 5:30 a.m. local time.
That made for a fun final day of the Winter Meetings. Most people weren’t even awake when he made his decision. It was a late-arriving crowd to the Grand Hyatt with people slowly walking in with their coffee.
It looked like that would be the last huge move until the San Diego Padres were finally able to get a big free agent to take their money. There were no hometown discounts going on in San Diego with offers of $400 million to Aaron Judge and $340 million for Trea Turner. Those were both $40 million more than the deals they accepted.
Xander Bogaerts ended the drought with an 11-year $280 million contract. That was the final move of the Winter Meetings and what a deal it was. Even with most of the people gone, there was still a nice atmosphere in the final hours.
Agent Scott Boras did a great job getting Bogaerts that deal. Nobody thought 11 years was possible. But Boras was front in center on the second day of the meetings.
I got to ask him several questions in the press conference. I brought up the Yankees' interest in Carlos Rodon and he said, “The Yankees are in the infinity pool seeking great players and there’s certainly no shallow Hal in New York.”
Rodon remains unsigned, but his market is robust. The Yankees remain at the top of the list. The New York Mets could’ve been a suitor had they not signed Justin Verlander.
Verlander was the first major player off the board in the meetings. Boras was still able to get deals done for Josh Bell (Cleveland Guardians), Cody Bellinger (Chicago Cubs) and Tajiuan Walker (Philadelphia Phillies). He got Nimmo done after the meetings as he re-signed with the Mets.
There were so many big players coming off the board that the St. Louis Cardinals' move for Wilson Contreras almost got overlooked. The Boston Red Sox had the biggest loss with Bogaerts, but they were still active, signing Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida and relievers Kenley Jansen and Chris Martin.
The biggest loser of the meetings had to the Giant whiff on Judge. The biggest winner could have been the Yankees or the Phillies signing Turner.
The meetings exceeded all expectations after not being live for three years. I already can’t wait for next year!
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Wild, Wooly Winter Meetings Capture Tabloid Headlines For Baseball
By Dan Schlossberg
Scott Boras had to be the happiest man in San Diego.
The boisterous California-based super-agent behaved like a maitre d’ at a exclusive Hollywood restaurant with an elite clientele of show business celebrities.
Overpaid, over-pampered baseball players are certainly celebrities too — especially now that their wallets are so stuffed that they can’t keep them from exploding on the street, as George Costanza’s once did on Seinfeld.
As a witness to the wild winter meetings in San Diego, it was almost comical to field the constant onslaught of rumors, fueled by Boras and other agents angling to get-rich-quick, and watch the baseball landscape change by the hour.
Then again, what happens on paper in the winter does not necessarily translate into success the following summer.
Consider these prime examples:
Xander Bogaerts gets an 11-year, $280 million San Diego contract that carries him past age 41 — from a team that already has two more-than-competent shortstops
Brandon Nimmo (Brandon Nimmo!) wins eight years for $162 million from Mets owner Steve Cohen, who has so many dollars he doesn’t know where to put them
Aaron Judge uses his hometown San Francisco Giants as a wedge to squeeze the Yankees for nearly $150 million more than they had offered him in March
Andrew Heaney, a below-average pitcher by any standard, parlays his 36-42 lifetime record into a two-year $25 million contract with the Texas Rangers, who see his left arm as the perfect balance to previously-signed Jacob deGrom
The Rangers ink the injury-prone deGrom, 35, to a five-year, $185 million pact in the hope he starts pitching like the two-time Cy Young Award winner he once was
Reacting within days, the aging Mets get even older with the signings of Justin Verlander, nearly 40, and fellow pitchers Jose Quintana and David Robertson, who aren’t far removed.
Owners and executives were stumbling all over each other — and not only at the bar — in search of tabloid headlines.
The uber-wealthy Los Angeles Dodgers, for example, watched in bemusement as Trea Turner, their shortstop last year, flew east to play for the Philadelphia Phillies. An 11-year, $300 million contract was a pretty good incentive.
Another shortstop, Atlanta native Dansby Swanson, sought to stay put with his hometown Braves but wouldn’t accept their $100 million offer — mainly because he felt he was worth much more in view of what his colleagues were getting.
The San Francisco Giants kept bidding against themselves for Judge, finally settling for Mitch Haniger, a once-solid outfielder who has morphed into a walking disabled list.
Another would-be contender, the Boston Red Sox, lost their bid to keep Bogearts but did land slow-working closer Kenley Jansen, the pitcher most likely to be impacted by next year’s addition of a pitch clock. They also signed a Japanese outfielder, Masataka Yoshia, they hope will be the second coming of Ichiro Suzuki.
Since there are now a dozen playoff slots available to the 30 teams, just about everybody jumped to the red-hot cauldron of The Hot Stove League.
For nearly a week, it let off more steam than either of the twin volcanoes erupting simultaneously in the Hawaiian Islands.
Teams quickly forgot that it was less than a year ago that the game was paralyzed in the nuclear winter of a lockout that imposed an iron clamp on all negotiations between teams and players.
This winter, the cat got out of the bag with a roar, with many teams spending beyond their means and virtually everyone ignoring the salary tsunami certain to swallow the game during the Nashville Winter Meetings of 2003.
Among those likely to be available are Shohei Ohtani, the two-way superstar whose $30 million, one-year pact with the Angels is expiring, and Juan Soto, the superlative San Diego outfielder seeking to rebound from an uncharacteristic off-season.
It seems obvious that the day of the $500 million man will soon be dawning. While it’s good for the players and the media who cover them, it’s certainly not good for the fans who will have to pay the freight.
Revealing the intimate details of every big-league contract has created a circle of jealousy that pits players against each other, against owners and executives, and especially against agents aiming to make maximum commission on every deal.
Dansby Swanson’s salary demands probably doubled after he heard what the Phillies gave Turner, for example.
The late labor leader Marvin Miller, whose tight-fisted control of the Players Association stifled the game so many times, would be laughing at what his antics have wrought. But, as the Brooklyn Dodgers always said, “Wait til next year!”
HTP weekend editor Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ remembers when Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale staged a double holdout in the hope of landing contracts for $100,000 each. Today’s minimum salary has now topped $700,000. Complain to Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Teams are really excited about his bat-to-ball skills, his on-base skills. They understand he’s a guy who really provides an asset most teams don’t have.”
— Scott Boras on Japanese client Masataka Yoshida, who signed with Boston
Tampa Bay is the only major-league city that has never hosted an All-Star Game . . .
When Dodger Stadium opened in 1962, box seats cost $3.50, reserved seats $2.50, and general admission $1.50, while children got in for 75 cents . . .
The L.A. ballpark once had a gas station in the center-field parking lot . . .
New Mets lefty Jose Quintana had a 2.01 ERA for St. Louis in his last dozen starts . . .
Just as Justin Verlander (Mets) is in the NL for the first time, Kenley Jansen (Red Sox) is making his first sojourn into the Junior Circuit . . .
The long-standing rivalry between the Cubs and Cardinals has intensified now that St. Louis has signed long-time Chicago catcher Willson Contreras for five years . . .
The dumbest signing of the off-season so far is either utilityman Aledmys Diaz, who somehow got a two-year, $14.5 million deal from the penny-pinching Oakland A’s, or erratic southpaw starter Andrew Heaney, given two years and $37 million by the spendthrift Texas Rangers, who think he and deGrom will be a great left-right punch.
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HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [email@example.com] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [firstname.lastname@example.org] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [email@example.com] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.