The Winter Meetings have concluded in Nashville but the offseason is just underway in Major League Baseball. Though the groundwork has been laid in many cases, many of the biggest free agents remain unsigned. Two such free agents are Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke. Most recently, Greinke is rumored to be connected to the Texas Rangers. If the Rangers do make the substantial offer that Greinke is believed to be seeking, more than CC Sabathia’s record contract, they would be out of the running for Hamilton. The prized outfielder has several suitors, including the Seattle Mariners who seem poised to reload after a couple of dismal seasons. Look for teams like the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees to also be involved. Just over the last 24 hours, rumors have surfaced that the Yankees have checked in on Hamilton, despite their intentions to get below $189 million in payroll by 2014.
The biggest trade target thus far has been Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton. The Rangers and the Cleveland Indians are both involved in talks for Upton, as are several other teams to varying degrees. Just before the Winter Meetings ended, the Rangers, Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays were trying to facilitate a three-team blockbuster that would land Upton in Texas. The Mariners were also rumored to be the third team in that deal. Another player on the trade wire is reining NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. The Mets are handling the situation with great care as they would need a substantial package of young talent in return for the knuckleballer in order to sell it to their fan base. The newly revamped Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals seem to be the most likely trade targets for the Mets due to their respective stocks of young talent. Of course, the possibility still remains that they will extend Dickey just as they did with David Wright who got a new eight-year contract.
Even with all the rumors still floating around, some moves have already gotten done. Outfielder Shane Victorino signed a three-year, $39 million deal with the Red Sox. Victorino likely displaces Cody Ross in the Boston outfield. The much maligned Jason Bay has a new home in Seattle, where he will attempt to resurrect his career after a couple of lost seasons with the Mets. The Red Sox also signed Mike Napoli who is likely to play first base for the club. Starter Dan Haren will be heading to the east coast for the first time in his career as he signed a one-year, $13 million contract with the Washington Nationals. With the move, Washington has added to their already stellar rotation consisting of Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg. The Yankees resigned their iconic closer Mariano Rivera but lost out on their free-agent catcher Russell Martin to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
This is a critical time for all MLB teams as well as for the fans. The moves that are made, or not made, can define your team for years to come.