Not too early to pick off-season winners

By Bob Elliott

Canadian Baseball Network

NASHVILLE _ A lot has happened since Wade Davis struck out Wilmer Flores to give the Kansas City Royals the World Series in the 12th inning of Game 5 on Nov. 1.

Usually at the end of the winter meetings, you can read lists of winners and losers among major-league teams, who finished their shopping lists.

There has been plenty of wheeling, think wheel barrows of cash, and some dealing, before the 114th annual winter meetings at the Opryland Hotel even began.

There has been so much movement it’s possible to figure out a pre-winter meetings list since the Royals beat the New York Mets.

Think it is too early to pick winners and losers?

Heck no.

Remember the Boston Red Sox adding Carl Crawford and Adrien Gonzalez to win the 2010-11 off season?

Or the Anaheim Angels winning the 2011-12 off-season signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson?

Oh yes, that was the same year that the Miami Marlins won the NL by adding Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle.

How the Jays won the 2012-13 off-season.

And last year how the San Diego Padres won their own winter meetings on their home turf as Paul Beeston hi-jacked the meetings with his up-in-the-air status.

So, the horses may not have left the stable but a look at some early faves and not-so-much.

The winners

Boston Red Sox

New president Dave Dombrowski, who was interviewed for the Blue Jays presidential palace in August, has added the top free-agent ace on the market in David Price and closer Craig Kimbrel.

Price finished second in American League Cy Young award voting after going 18-5 with a 2.45 ERA. He was given a seven-year $217 million deal, with an opt-out clause after three seasons. The Jays chose to ignore Price -- even though his agent Bo McKinnis, who is not exactly Scott Boras when it comes to pronouncements, said Price wanted to re sign with the Jays.

After four seasons of 42 of more saves with the Atlanta Braves, Kimbrel saved 39 of 43 chances (91%) for the San Diego Padres last season. 

Arizona Diamondbacks

We used to tell Dave Stewart when he was assistant GM of the Blue Jays his Death Stare would not work on agents. Whether Stewart invoked the Stare or the fact Tony La Russa and DBacks management added a sixth year, they landed free-agent Zack Greinke who their division rivals -- the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants -- had been fighting over.

Greinke signed a six-year $206.5 million deal for a $34.42M annual average salary, surpassing Price’s total. Greinke, 32, led the major leagues this past season with a 1.66 ERA, the lowest in 20 years.

On the losing side

Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodger management refused to go to a sixth year on Greinke.

So there he was: Gone.

They are close to signing Seattle Mariners free agent Hisashi Iwakuma. And they have added Chase Utley. They are attempting to make a deal for Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants missed out on Greinke but after going through a season of Madison Bumgarner, Chris Heston and pray for three days of rain, they added free-agent right-hander Jeff Samardzija with a five-year $90 million deal. He was 11-13 with a 4.96 ERA with the Chicago White Sox, but has averaged 206 innings since 2012.

On the other hand no one in the majors had more losses. With the White Sox in 2015 he allowed 29 homers. 

The number of free-agent pitchers signing $100 million contracts over age 30 to win a World Series?


Mike Hampton wasn’t a good contract when he signed an eight-year, $121 million deal with the Colorado Rockies. 

Barry Zito signed a seven-year, $126 million deal with the San Francisco Giants.

Kevin Brown signed a seven year $105 million contract with the Dodgers, becoming the first  to sign a contract over $100 million.

The best long-term contract ever issued remains the one the Yankees gave Derek Jeter.

Signings: The Darren O’Day-Jose Bautista rivalry will continue. The Washington Nationals were in the hunt for O’Day, however, he will stay put with the Baltimore Orioles signing a four-year $31 million deal ... The Detroit Tigers signed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and also confirmed a  two-year, $16 million deal for starter Mike Pelfrey ... Reliever Ryan Madson signed a three-year $22 million deal with the Oakland A’s ... And the Chicago Cubs landed John Lackey to a two-year $32 million contract.

Dining: Held in conjunction with the winter meetings is the minor league convention. The Jays top executives took representatives of triple-A Buffalo, double-A New Hampshire, class-A Dunedin, class-A Lansing and class-A Vancouver out for the annual affiliates diner. 

Bob ElliottComment