D.J. Short

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Winter Meetings: Day Three

Thursday, December 06, 2012


Day Three of the Winter Meetings featured a number of under-the-radar signings, but there was probably more discussion about the things that didn't happen. Or quite possibly, what has yet to happen.

The day began with a juicy little rumor that various three- and four-team trades were being discussed which would set the stage for Justin Upton to be traded to the Rangers, Asdrubal Cabrera to the Diamondbacks and a package of prospects to Cleveland. The Rays were mentioned in the initial rumor, but the Royals eventually tried to join the fray, likely as part of their continued efforts to land a frontline starting pitcher. Talks were at a standstill by the afternoon and the Mariners were reportedly in the mix by the end of the night, but it's doubtful that a big three- or four-team deal will be struck by the time everyone leaves Nashville following the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning. Of course, there's always the chance that talks could be revived or that they could morph into more traditional two-team deals in the days to come.

On a related note, there's increased chatter that the Royals are inching closer to deciding whether to trade top prospect outfielder Wil Myers to the Rays for right-hander James Shields. It would be a bold and risky move by the Royals, who would only get two years of control on Shields before he hits free agency, but they apparently think they would be ready to contend during that window. Meanwhile, Myers would be an ideal way for the Rays to finally cash in on their pitching depth, as they would have the young, cost-controlled bat that they covet. There's no sense in wasting too much time on something that might not happen, but this scenario would scare me if I was a Royals fan.

The R.A. Dickey Saga Continues

One of the most discussed topics in Nashville this week has been the future of 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. There wasn't much in the way of clarity on Wednesday, as Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said following David Wright's press conference that keeping Dickey for 2013 is a viable option even if an extension isn't reached this offseason. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson conceded that it's a possibility that Dickey could stick around for 2013 if an extension isn't worked out, but added that it's not his preference.
 
Depending on what you read, it appears Dickey is asking for a two-year extension worth $25-30 million. That actually sounds pretty reasonable if you consider some of the other contracts that have been handed out this winter, but it's clear that the Mets want to gauge interest in the trade market before coming to a decision. David Lennon and Marc Carig of New York Newsday are reporting that the Mets are currently sitting on trade proposals from three and perhaps four clubs. My guess is that the Mets will wait to see if the Rangers sign Zack Greinke before moving forward, but there should be resolution soon.

Options Falling off the Board For Yankees

When the news broke on Day One of the Winter Meetings that Alex Rodriguez needed hip surgery and would likely be out until the middle of next year, most believed that the Yankees would be aggressive in finding a stopgap option for third base. However, it appears that they will leave Nashville without making any moves.

Jeff Keppinger and Eric Chavez were mentioned as a possible platoon for the Bombers, but they both signed elsewhere on Wednesday. Keppinger got a three-year, $12 million deal from the White Sox and figures to take over as the everyday third baseman while Chavez got a one-year, $3 million deal from Diamondbacks and is expected to split playing time at third base with Chris Johnson. The Yankees reportedly offered two-years and $10 million to Keppinger, but they never made an offer for Chavez. The Yankees even lost out on outfielder Nate Schierholtz on Wednesday, as he agreed to a one-year deal with the rebuilding Cubs.

The alternatives for third base are starting to dry up, but the Yankees are reportedly interested in Kevin Youkilis, Mark Reynolds and Jack Hannahan. Youkilis is obviously the biggest name in the bunch, but he's not exactly a model of health these days and figures to get better offers elsewhere. Reynolds is a butcher with the glove, but he might do enough with the bat to be worth the sacrifice.
 
Blanton Signs With Angels

If the Angels weren't out on Greinke before, it's safe to say they are now. The club has agreed to terms with right-hander Joe Blanton on a reported two-year, $15 million contract with a club option for 2015.

Blanton, who turns 32 next week, posted a 4.71 ERA and 166/34 K/BB ratio over 191 innings this past season between the Phillies and Dodgers. He's poised to join a rotation which will likely include Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Tommy Hanson and either Jerome Williams or Garrett Richards.

The Angels also signed left-handed reliever Sean Burnett to a two-year, $8 million deal on Wednesday, so they project to have a payroll around $142 million in 2013. They don't appear willing to top last year's $159 million payroll, so that likely leaves Greinke out as a possibility. Barring something unexpected, Anibal Sanchez, Edwin Jackson and Kyle Lohse are also likely out as options. Blanton should do fine as an innings-eater -- he has surpassed 191 innings six times in nine major league seasons -- but he's not the impact starter Angels fans were hoping for.

Winter Meetings Short Hops

Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears that the Rangers prefer to sign Zack Greinke and trade for Justin Upton rather than bringing back Josh Hamilton. Meanwhile, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports that Greinke could make a decision within the next couple of days, likely deciding between the Rangers and Dodgers. The thought is that he could top CC Sabathia's $161 commitment with the Yankees as the richest contract ever given to a pitcher … As part of his new eight-year, $138 million extension with the Mets, David Wright agreed to reduce his 2013 salary from $16 million to $8 million and defer $15 million after 2020. His new deal includes a full no-trade clause … The Mariners have agreed to terms with outfielder Jason Bay, reportedly for less than $1 million … The Cardinals agreed to sign left-hander Randy Choate to a reported three-year, $7.5 million contract … The Rockies will have left-hander Jeff Francis back in their rotation next season after reportedly agreeing to a one-year contract, pending a physical … Following a resurgent second half and postseason, Nate McLouth and the Orioles have reportedly agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract which includes $500,000 in performance-based incentives … The Diamondbacks re-signed catcher Wil Nieves after non-tendering him last week … Per Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, the Nationals have set Christmas as an informal deadline for resolution with free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche … The Braves have exercised the 2014 option on manager Fredi Gonzalez's contract … The Twins reportedly have offers out to free agent left-handers Joe Saunders and Francisco LirianoScott Rolen, Jim Thome and Darren Oliver are all undecided about whether they'll play in 2013 or retire … The Orioles have signed Conor Jackson to a minor league contract … The Pirates acquired left-hander Andy Oliver from the Tigers for minor league catcher Ramon Cabrera … The Rays signed outfielder Jason Bourgeois to a minor league contract … In some non-Winter Meetings news, Padres' right-hander Andrew Cashner will likely miss the start of the 2013 season after he required surgery to repair a lacerated tendon in his right thumb which was suffered in a hunting accident …



D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
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