Drew Silva

Winter Meetings Live

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Six Lessons From Day One

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The first day of the Winter Meetings came and went without a whole lot of major activity, but dig deep enough and you can always find a storyline. The Rotoworld crew pumped out over 150 blurbs on Monday and we'll do our best to top that on Tuesday. Stay tuned to the Rotoworld news page as we cover all the bases. Heck, you can even follow us on Twitter.

The Mariners Came To Play

This Jack Zduriencik fella is really growing on me. So far he's signed third baseman Chone Figgins, contacted the representatives of starter John Lackey and made his interest known in reliever Darren Oliver. What do these three have in common? They're all ex-Angels, and were at one point division rivals of Jack Z and his Seattle Mariners.

The M's scored a great deal on Figgins -- four years, $36 million for a guy with a .395 on-base percentage and 42 stolen bases in 2009, and a stellar glove at third base -- and are poised to add to their harvest. Zduriencik recently expressed a desire to sign highly coveted outfielder Jason Bay and the interest is thought to be mutual. Bay is from British Columbia, the Canadian province that stands just to the north of Seattle.

Arbitration Can Be A Risky Venture

Only three free agents accepted arbitration offers at Monday's deadline, which isn't surprising. In this age of free agency and lucrative multi-year contracts, it usually makes sense for a player to take advantage of the open market whenever possible. Carl Pavano and Rafael Betancourt will be welcomed back to their respective teams with open arms. Rafael Soriano, on the other hand, will not.

Soriano accepted arbitration on Monday evening to the chagrin of the Braves, who have already gone out and signed relievers Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito this winter. Soriano could make up to $8 million through the arbitration process, which would give the Braves an $18.2 million three-pronged relief attack in 2010. You can look at that however you like, but Atalanta management certainly isn't happy about the way things have played out.

The Big Moves Will Take Time

Matt Holliday, John Lackey, Jason Bay and Aroldis Chapman remain unsigned. They're the biggest names on the free agent market and probably won't be moved until well after the baseball world departs Indianapolis. Holliday's agent, Scott Boras, likes to drag negotiations out with his big-ticket clients and we shouldn't expect differently this winter.

The Nationals Must Be Lost

The Nats made the most surprising move of Day One, inking 38-year-old catcher Ivan Rodriguez to a two-year, $6 million contract. Aaron Gleeman called it a "head-scratcher" over on NBC's Circling The Bases; I'll go ahead and call it stupid.

Jesus Flores, a 25-year-old promising backstop, will now have to share time behind the plate with a veteran. The move does nothing to help the Nationals, who should be in full rebuilding mode. Not only is the club blocking its younger talent, but they also just gave a pay raise to a guy who hit .249/.280/.384 in 2009. Pudge made $1.5 million this past year. He'll make $3 million next year. My head is scratched.

Milwaukee May Be Committed To Improving

The Brewers scored 785 runs in 2009, a total that ranked third in the National League and ninth in all of baseball. Their offense was playoff-caliber, and that's not up for argument. Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are among the best hitters in the game, as any fantasy draft will confirm. On the other side of the ball, however, the Brewers fell short.

Milwaukee posted a 4.83 team ERA in 2009. Only the Nationals, Indians and Orioles were worse. Behind Yovani Gallardo, that staff was suspect and held the club back in a winnable NL Central division. Things changed Monday when the Brewers bucked up and agreed to terms with left-hander Randy Wolf on a three-year contract. The financial terms have not yet been revealed, but it matters not. Wolf, 33, went 11-7 with a 3.23 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 160 strikeouts in 2009 for the Dodgers and will immediately bring some respectability to the Brewers' pitching staff.

The Cardinals Won't Wait For Holliday

Brad Penny found a new home on Monday, agreeing to a one-year, $7.5 million contract with the Cardinals. While it can be debated whether or not he deserves that salary, it appears the Birds on the Bat have begun to move forward with a plan that does not involve re-signing highly coveted outfielder Matt Holliday.

St. Louis GM John Mozeliak came close to confirming that idea in a meeting with reporters on Monday. "For us, as a group, we're going through all of our options and trying to decide what makes the most sense for us," the general manager told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "They want to maximize his market and I can't speak for when that would unfold. … We are not setting the pace." The Cardinals have already missed out on Chone Figgins, who signed an affordable four-year contract with the Mariners, and need to come up with an offseason game plan before the free agent market escapes them. They have holes at third base, left field and in the bullpen that need to be addressed.

Drew Silva is a baseball editor for Rotoworld and also contributes on NBC Sports' Hardball Talk. He can be found on Twitter.
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