As far as the hot stove season in baseball goes, the first few days in December are when things really get going.
Now for those of you who didn’t understand anything I said in the first line welcome to baseball “nerd jargon” 101. For those who know exactly what I’m talking about you’re looking for a tidbit, a nugget, a gem, or a something indicating what your favorite team will and will not do.
Well this isn’t the place for any of that. You see I tend to follow yearly trends based on agents, hot free agents, general managers, and team needs. I’m that guy who doesn’t wait to be told what will happen but tend to follow everything necessary and come up with my own deduction as to who is going where. A major piece to that puzzle are is the yearly winter meetings. In my opinion (and again, take it for what it’s worth) I don’t feel as if a whole lot will happen next week as far as major signings. The marquee guy(s) (Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, and Zack Greinke) I see going into the holidays before they land with a club.
Trades, however, will be going down.
Before I get ahead of myself there are two guys (Shane Victorino and B.J. Upton) who I fully expect to sign with a new team within the next week. Upton, whose primary suitors seem to be the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies, could do a lot in determining where Victorino and, conversely, the other big fish land. My gut feeling tells me he ends up in Atlanta for two reasons. First, Atlanta’s offer to Upton, which is rumored to be in the 5-year, $75 million range, allows for them to go out and continue to add a piece or two at a high-end price. The Braves are being aggressive with Upton because that fact isn’t lost on them and they can ill-afford to wait for Bourn, a Scott Boras client, to take negotiations into the New Year while everyone else starts preparing for pitchers and catchers in February. The second reason is because of all the teams with free-agent cash to spare and pitching/top-notch prospects coming from every corner of their organization my feeling is that Upton sees the potential for this commitment to be as fruitful as his last few years with Tampa Bay. That extra salary space allows them to add a quality leadoff hitter (Victorino), or flip the prospects for someone he’s wanted to play with for quite some time.
(Update: While writing this, B.J. Upton agreed to a 5-year, $70-$75-million dollar contract with the Atlanta Braves)
His brother, Justin Upton, in Arizona.
It’s no secret what Arizona wants in return (quality shortstop, pitching), and those two factors could lead to it happening. On the trade side expect a lot of activity; initiated when the general managers met earlier this month at the conclusion of the World Series. Some names I expect to see pop-up often are Justin Upton, Dan Haren, James Shields, Dexter Fowler, and Denard Span. I think teams saw what a legitimate leadoff threat can do this day and age, and are reverting back to finding that true prototype instead of filler. With Pagan and Span on the table, expect to see young players and prospects being pursued heavily.
This years meetings won’t lack excitement, and I expect to see many players (expected and unexpected) swapping uniforms next week.