Team-by-team AL winter meetings outlook
The baseball world is converging this week on the Hoosier State, home to Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Scott Rolen and the 2009 Midwest League champion Fort Wayne TinCaps.
Just think: What happens if, on the same day this week, there is a news conference in South Bend to announce Notre Dame’s new football coach and another in Indianapolis to announce Roy Halladay’s new team?
News and notes
Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi have their fingers on the pulse of the MLB offseason news. Get all the
Here’s a team-by-team look around the majors, with the winter meetings set to begin Monday:
American League |
Baltimore: The Orioles have the makings of a nice rotation and would like to add a veteran (Kevin Millwood?) to mentor the likes of Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman. But the Orioles aren’t going to surrender a big part of their future in a trade at a time when an AL East title remains a faraway goal. They will probably stay short-term as they address their needs on the infield corners, with Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder not far away.
Boston: Don’t you get the feeling that they’re going to end up with Matt Holliday or Jason Bay, no matter what? The Red Sox have a lot going on, as usual, even after signing shortstop Marco Scutaro to fill one of their biggest needs. Mike Lowell is available on the trade market, and the free-agent market is full of options to replace him as the everyday third baseman. Adrian Beltre would be a good fit.
Chicago: Perpetually one of the majors’ most unpredictable teams, the White Sox might be up to something without a lot of people knowing. (I trust you remember Jake Peavy.) Until further notice, they have the best rotation in the AL Central. Their offseason focus should be the bullpen, where they need another arm, and the lineup, which lacks a full-time solution at center field, designated hitter and the leadoff spot. It doesn’t appear Paul Konerko will be traded.
Cleveland: Time to start over under newly installed manager Manny Acta. As evidenced by the recent trade of Kelly Shoppach to the Rays, the Indians haven’t stopped selling yet. They are not going to be involved in high-end free agents. About the only significant move involving Cleveland this week would be a trade of, say, Jhonny Peralta.
Detroit: I don’t know what the Tigers are going to do this week. The Tigers don’t know what the Tigers are going to do this week. As many as two of The Detroit Three — Miguel Cabrera, Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson — could be sent away for prospects. (Granderson and Jackson are the stronger candidates.) This is a team in flux more because of bad contracts than the economy.
Kansas City: The Royals are still short on impact players, and that’s not likely to change over the course of one offseason. In fact, they might move a couple of their higher-salaried players later this winter; our senior national baseball writer Ken Rosenthal reported the team believes starter Gil Meche and outfielder David DeJesus will draw interest later this offseason. If general manager Dayton Moore spends money, it will probably be on a center fielder to replace Coco Crisp.
Los Angeles: If you’ve paid even casual attention to the Hot Stove, you know the general contours of the Angels’ offseason: They need a bat in left field, where the possibilities include free agents Jason Bay and Mike Cameron and Detroit trade candidate Curtis Granderson … but not Matt Holliday, if you ask Arte Moreno. And unless they’re comfortable with Brandon Wood, they’re about to start looking for a third baseman to replace Chone Figgins. Oh, and they want to re-sign John Lackey.
Minnesota: The biggest storyline of the Twins’ offseason — whether Joe Mauer’s contract will be extended — is one that affects next winter more than this one. But general manager Bill Smith is also trying to upgrade for 2010. He’s looking at the free-agent market for rotation upgrades, with Rich Harden and Carl Pavano among the options he has considered. The Twins would also do well to add a run producer at third base. Would they want Pedro Feliz, a career National Leaguer?
New York: The Yankees won’t duplicate last offseason’s splurge. They don’t need to. But don’t be surprised if they lurk on the fringe of a major free-agent pursuit — John Lackey? — and strike when it seems someone else has submitted the winning bid (see Teixeira, Mark). Brian Cashman needs to resolve openings in left field and at designated hitter, while trying to convince Andy Pettitte to come back for another year. Expect to hear plenty about Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. Will they be in the rotation? The bullpen? Or will one be traded for Roy Halladay?
Oakland: As usual, the A’s are more interested in low-profile trades than big headline signings (although they did bid on Marco Scutaro). They acquired potential slugger (but not expert defender) Jake Fox from the Cubs last week, a classic A’s trade if there ever was one. Oakland is likely to go with a young everyday lineup in 2010, supplemented by the customary January bargains. Jack Cust has been mentioned as a non-tender and trade candidate. He has been with the team for three years, so that sounds about right.
Seattle: Jack Zduriencik’s first trade as a general manager was a 12-player deal, so we’ve known for some time he’s not the timid type. But this is a different sort of offseason for the Mariners, one intended to complete their rebuild after an 85-win season. They are on the verge of signing away Chone Figgins from the rival Angels and have been linked to free agents Jason Bay, John Lackey and Rich Harden. Expect at least one more move from Zduriencik this week.
Tampa Bay: The story remains the same in St. Petersburg: The Rays are trying to compete with the Red Sox and Yankees while spending a fraction of the money. GM Andrew Friedman has already made two trades this winter, sending Akinori Iwamura to Pittsburgh and acquiring catcher Kelly Shoppach from Cleveland. Two big questions: Will Friedman finally consummate a deal for Milton Bradley? And will anyone give him a compelling offer for B.J. Upton?
Texas: It has been years since the Rangers had such a complete roster so early in the offseason. Because they have so much young, big-league-ready talent, the Rangers could be competitive in the American League as they stand right now. But they will need a little more power and a little more pitching if they want to beat the Angels and ascending Mariners. Unfortunately for them, an unsettled ownership situation will keep them from any big spending this winter.
Toronto: Need a 148-game winner who wants nothing more than to pitch in the postseason? Then introduce yourself to Alex Anthopoulos, new Blue Jays general manager and the unofficial chairman of this winter’s swap meet. Roy Halladay’s availability is sure to dominate the Jays’ conversations with other clubs, not to mention many of the media dispatches from Indianapolis. You know the main contenders: the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and Mets. It seems likely he will be dealt. But where? The Jays could move Lyle Overbay, too. But not Vernon Wells.