Winter Meetings Blog: Day 1
The Major League Baseball Winter Meetings have kicked off in Dallas. I'll write a piece each night on the major and minor news of the day, especially involving the Philadelphia Phillies. -The Phils have been the class of the NL East for years. The remainder of this off-season will go a long way into determining how long they will stay there.
Will Jimmy Rollins be at shortstop for the franchise as they try to defend their crown? If the meeting between his agent and Ruben Amaro Jr. from earlier today is any indication, the answer is no. Per Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Phillies officials have met with Jimmy Rollins’ representative and the meeting “did not go all that well,” according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
Seemingly minutes later, rumors began about Philadelphia's interest in moving third baseman Placido Polanco in order to create an open spot for Cubs free agent Aramis Ramirez. It seems, just like in the case of the snag in the Ryan Madson contract talks that led to Papelbon, Amaro is planning a contingency plan to upgrade his offense if Jimmy Rollins indeed doesn't return.
The question becomes: Are the Phillies a better team with Ramirez at third or Rollins at shortstop? You could make the case that the players are on near equal footing -- both good, top tier of their position, but neither elite players -- in terms of talent and age. Re-signing Rollins probably guarantees Polanco back for another season at third base, but the team is reportedly worried about his injury history, age, and lack of pop. Ramirez would effectively end the Jimmy Rollins era, provide a big, middle-of-the-order bat (.306/.361/.510 in 2011), and open the door to brand new left side of the infield. Prospect Freddy Galvis would be the cheapest, logical choice to play short. A veteran like Rafael Furcal could provide a one year stop gap solution.
All things being equal, I believe the team wants Rollins back for another run and to upgrade at third base down the line. If Rollins insists on five years, which a desperate Brewer team might give him (just ask Ron Roenicke), I believe there will be a new, power hitting third baseman in Citizens Bank Park next year.
-C.J. Wilson reportedly has a six-year offer from the Washington Nationals. The former Ranger lefty has pitched 427.1 innings to a 3.14 earned run average over the last two seasons since becoming a starting pitcher. He has had postseason issues, is on the wrong side of 30, and probably doesn't warrant a contract as long as he will get, but he is a very good pitcher right now.
-Jose Reyes is officially a Miami Marlin. The two sides kicked off the Winter Meetings by agreeing to a six-year, $106MM deal on Sunday night. As a free agent shortstop in his prime, Reyes was a very rare commodity. The 28-year-old had one of the finest seasons of his nine-year Mets career in 2011, winning the first batting title in Mets history. He is injury prone and come come off as aloof, but could turn out to be a great move for a Miami franchise that is clearly trying to change their image. Heath Bell and Jose Reyes in one week would be a great step for any team. How about adding Albert Pujols to the fold, too? The team is planning on meeting with Pujols' agent, Dan Lozano, tonight. This would be their second meeting of the day together.
-According to Jon Heyman, the Red Sox are pretty confident that they will be able to re-sign David Ortiz to a two-year deal, assuming he doesn't accept arbitration.
-According to MLB.com's Greg Johns, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik seemed to suggest today that the Mariners have discussed Prince Fielder with Scott Boras.
-Roy Oswalt's representatives are waiting for C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle to sign so their guy is the biggest arm left on a thin pitching market.
-Expect the New York Yankees to remain very quiet this week. General Manager Brian Cashman is waiting for the market to shake out before trying to improve the team. We are far from the days of the free wheeling Yankees making moves just to make moves. The richest team in sports still goes hard after the players they want, but Cashman has change the philosophy to which they don't have to overpay OK players to appease an ownership base.
-I expect the Mets to listen and entertain offers on David Wright, especially since the immediate future looks bleak after Jose Reyes' departure to division rival Miami. Don't expect a trade this off-season, though. First, Wright is coming off of two straight years of declining OBP and a precipitous drop in power production since the franchise moves to Citi Field. With the walls coming in at Citi, Wright could re-establish himself as a star and become a major trade chip in July.
-Keep an on Matt Garza, Jair Jurrjens, John Danks, and Gio Gonzalez as trade alternatives to teams who think the free agent prices are outrageous for Wilson, Buehrle, and Oswalt.
-One of my favorite sluggers of a generation, Dmitri Young, is attending the festivities in Dallas. Reports having him down 70 pounds and willing to play in Japan if there isn't an offer from a MLB team.
-Nationals manager Davey Johnson plans on giving 19-year old phenom Bryce Harper a chance to win the starting right field job in Spring Training. He compared his belief in Harper to the faith he had in Dwight Gooden in 1984.