Winter Meetings, Day Three: The Calm Before the… Calm?

The Winter Meetings technically last through tomorrow, but to be honest, the final day barely counts. After the Rule 5 draft, everyone splits town as fast as possible, and little actually gets done.

That makes today the last “real” day for activity before the traditional post-Meetings lull, and so far we’ve heard a ton of talk but little in the way of real movement, at least for the Dodgers. (Well, okay, I have enjoyed watching the Giants spend $78m on Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro, & Jeremy Affeldt, nearly as much as seeing the Red Sox give three years (!) to Shane Victorino.) It’s been so slow that I find myself desperately hoping the reported-but-in-no-way-going-to-happen four team mega deal involving Arizona, Cleveland, Texas, & Tampa Bay that could find Justin Upton, Asdrubal Cabrera, James Shields, Mike Olt, or Elvis Andrus finding new homes actually happens, just to have something to talk about.

For the Dodgers, their needs haven’t changed. They need two starting pitchers, a veteran reliever (preferably lefty), left-side infield depth, and a righty outfielder who can play center field. They’re not going to fill all those needs this week, but I’m still hoping they find movement on at least one today. (The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of trading Dee Gordon and something else – a starting pitcher, maybe? – to Seattle for Kyle Seager, who can have Alex Liddi step in.)

Zack Greinke remains the big prize, and I believe the reports which indicate that it’s down to either the Dodgers or Texas. When you compare the two… well, who knows what Greinke is thinking, but the Dodgers would seem to be a preferable landing spot, right? They’re clearly not going to be outbid, and they offer a better ballpark for pitching, a team clearly doing everything it can to win, the opportunity to hit and avoid the DH, the chance to pair with Clayton Kershaw in the rotation, and would allow Greinke the chance to remain in Southern California, which he reportedly enjoyed during his time with the Angels. Texas doesn’t take as big of a cut as California does in income taxes, which affects the dollars slightly, though I’m guessing that’s not going to matter much; it may come down to Greinke being interested in working with Mike Maddux & Nolan Ryan.

Still, the Dodgers badly desire Greinke, and I think they’ll get him. For my part, I really hope they do, and not just because of all the obvious reasons we’ve discussed previously. If they lose him to Texas, Ned Colletti is going to feel pressure to obtain a partner for Kershaw somewhere else, and there’s no more dangerous Colletti than a desperate one.

Winter Meetings, Day Two: Much Ado About Nothing

So after all the buildup to the winter meetings… things have been really, really quiet today. Unless you’re a Boston fan, of course, in which case – enjoy three years of Shane Victorino, guys! Things have reached the point where Ned Colletti is telling people that he doesn’t expect to have Zack Greinke or much of anything else complete before the end of the meetings, and while I don’t really think they’ll end the week having accomplished nothing, I do believe it’s possible the Greinke talks could drag on.

To other news of the day…

* Hyun-jin Ryu receives and rejects an offer.

Snooze. I have to be honest, I’m having a hard time getting invested in this. Everything Scott Boras says is merely posturing – I’m pretty sure “having Ryu play in Japan” isn’t even a thing that can happen – and no one should hate on him for doing it, because he’s the best at what he does. If anything, I’m somewhat surprised at the amount of people who heard this news and assumed that means Ryu is definitely not coming to the Dodgers; far from it. As I’ve said, the only way I see this deal not getting done is if the Dodgers somehow come out of the meetings with Greinke and James Shields or R.A. Dickey, and that’s incredibly unlikely. Boras wants a short deal so Ryu can reach free agency quickly, the Dodgers want to keep him under team control for as long as they can, so my guess is that when this is settled, it’ll be for something like 4/$32m.

* Skip Schumaker: for when having employed Aaron Miles & Nick Punto isn’t enough!

Ken Gurnick notes that the Dodgers may have interest in the soon-to-be 33-year-old Schumaker, who has spent the last eight years in St. Louis transitioning from “outfielder” to “starting second baseman” to “2B/OF hybrid”. He’d solve the problem of finding a backup for Matt Kemp in center, and while he’s not really a good second baseman, the fact that he’s a lefty with a huge platoon split would make him a good partner for Mark Ellis, who just cannot hit righty pitching. Schumaker’s under contract for $1.5m in 2013 so he’d need to be traded for, but there is this fun fact: his .310 wOBA matched that of Victorino’s in 2012. Ha!

Gurnick also adds that there’s some interest in Eric Chavez, coming off a good season for the Yankees. I wanted the Dodgers to sign him prior to 2011, and while he’s constantly battling injury, he’d make for an interesting addition to the 3B/1B mix.

* People are still interested in Dee Gordon.

This is potentially hearsay, but Scott Miller of CBS says that the Dodgers are getting a good deal of interest in Gordon, with Seattle being among the strongest suitors. That’s interesting to me because I’ve always felt that if the Dodgers were going to trade Gordon, it’d be as a piece in a deal for a Dodger target, not because someone else was targeting Gordon. (If that makes sense. Reading it now, it may not.) Assuming we’re all bright enough not to even mention the name of a certain pitcher, it’s an odd fit. The only Mariner who piques my interest even a little is third baseman Kyle Seager, brother of Dodger prospect Corey, but the worst-hitting team in baseball probably doesn’t want to trade one of their only decent bats to import one of the weakest hitters around. I’m not sure I see this one going anywhere.

* Should the Dodgers want a catcher?

I love A.J. Ellis and you all know that, but there’s reason to want to make sure that he’s a little more well-rested than he was in 2012, where he clearly wore down at the end of the season, and I don’t have a ton of faith in Tim Federowicz. So when I see Peter Abraham tweet this…

It gets me thinking. The Sox tried to acquire Chris Capuano at the end of 2011, and right now their rotation after Jon Lester & Clay Buchholz is… John Lackey, Franklin Morales, and Felix Doubront. Gross. Yet after signing David Ross & Mike Napoli (who will play mostly first base, though perhaps not exclusively) to go with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway, there’s clearly a surplus. A fit? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

* And finally, if you’ve made it this far…

Sorry, no specifics on this one, because I can’t independently verify it. I am reasonably sure the Dodgers are making progress on a trade for a veteran American League non-closing lefty reliever. That’s not the same as saying this will happen, of course, and it very well may not. Just something fun to chew on. No, I won’t tell you who if you guess.

More tomorrow!

Winter Meetings, Day Two: The Dodgers Are the Death Star. You Are Alderaan.

Okay, the first day of the winter meetings was pretty fun, but it’s mostly posturing and feeling each other out. Day Two is when some of the big names ought to start coming off the board, and not a single one is going to go without the Dodgers reportedly being interested – whether it’s true or not. Everyone’s terrified of this team, and I can’t lie: it’s really, really fun to be a fan of this team right now.

While we wait for some real news, a few notes about other players..

* Here’s a fun one: the Indians reportedly came close to trading shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to an unnamed team for one major league pitcher and a few prospects before it fell through, with the acquiring team planning to move Cabrera off his position. That could honestly fit half the teams in the sport so it’s difficult to speculate, though my best guess is the Yankees, who could have parted with Phil Hughes or Ivan Nova and used Cabrera to replace Alex Rodriguez at third base. I’m a fan of Cabrera, given his youth and his quality bat from a middle infield position, and obviously the Dodgers have major league pitching to give. Then again, part of me hopes it isn’t the Dodgers; if this report is accurate, it’d mean Hanley Ramirez would remain the shortstop. Still, you know I’m completely against the idea of entering the season with Ramirez at short and Luis Cruz at third, so something has to be done.

* Speaking of which, the Marlins are reportedly trying to move Yunel Escobar, which makes total sense. I looked at him back in October as a potential solution, even though he’s got some pretty obvious warts. As we discussed back then, he’s coming off a poor year and some clear off-field problems, but he’s talented, cheap, and the Dodgers need another left-side alternative.

* The ninja move: We’ve all heard more about Dodger interest in Zack Greinke & James Shields than we can stand, but I still think they’ll pull off at least one move that comes out of nowhere and surprises us all. This is total speculation on my part, but my best guess on that is lefty Washington reliever Sean Burnett, who is drawing a lot of interest yet hasn’t been publicly linked to the Dodgers so far. With Scott Elbert coming off of arm surgery & Paco Rodriguez very raw, the club could use another lefty reliever and the 30-year-old Burnett, who had a 57/12 K/BB in 56.1 IP last season, is far superior to Randy Choate. Again, this is only my speculation, though if not Burnett, I think they’ll make at least one move that surprises us.

I will say this: everyone talks to everyone at this time of the year. I’d go so far as to wager that every Dodger except for Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Carl Crawford, & Adrian Gonzalez has at least had their name brought up in conversations. It’s actually probably better that most of these conversations are not public, because most of them are just that – brief, exploratory conversations, potentially over a quick beer in the hotel bar. Yet if one of these popped up on Twitter – let’s just say, making this up, “Andre Ethier to Tampa for a pitcher!” – the social media world would implode. It’s kind of like with the R.A. Dickey business yesterday, you know?

Anyway, Day Two is always the most fun. I’m guessing by this time tomorrow, the Dodger roster looks a little different.

Winter Meetings, Day One: The Ned Colletti Truth-O-Meter

After nearly a full day at the winter meetings, only Mike Napoli, Joakim Soria, James Loney, & Angel Pagan have already found new homes. For the Dodgers, things have been moving just a little more slowly thus far, so let’s take some of Ned Colletti’s media comments this afternoon and try to put a little truth to them:

Talks with Hyun-jin Ryu “are moving slowly” and “at this pace, they won’t get done“.

That’s Ned Colletti speaking to Dylan Hernandez, and sorry, I just don’t believe it. From everything I’ve heard from multiple sources, the only thing preventing this deal from being done is crossing the T’s and dotting the… lowercase J’s. Look, it’s Scott Boras. His deals never get done until the last minute (which would be 2pm PT on Sunday), and it’s not like he can shop Ryu around to other teams. This might be the Dodgers wanting to squeeze Boras just a bit or attempting to send a signal to teams sniffing around Chris Capuano & Aaron Harang that they better up their offer because the Dodgers may not have as much pitching to spare as they think, but either way, this doesn’t pass the sniff test. Ryu wants to be in Los Angeles, his Korean team wants the money, and these deals always end up getting signed. A+ on the posturing, though, Ned.

Yasiel Puig will likely start at AA“.

That one is from Colletti to Bill Shaikin, and it makes plenty of sense; it’s really barely even news, because it’s what we’ve been expecting all along. That might disappoint those who were hoping that Puig was going to break camp with the club as the starting left fielder, but it’s really the right call. Puig had only 95 plate appearances in the minors last year after missing most of the last two seasons while trying to defect, and then he missed valuable time this winter by having to sit out the Arizona Fall League with an elbow infection. Double-A is the right place for him to be, and it’s not like the Dodgers are short on outfielders. I’ll buy this one.

No offers have been put out” but the Dodgers “have been talking to 10-12 teams about potential trades“. 

This one’s difficult to parse because there’s not much meat to it. I mean, sure, everyone knows  the Dodgers have been checking in with several other teams, but it’s not always “news”. For example, I can tell you with reasonable certainty that they’ve at least reached out to the Mets about R.A. Dickey, but I’m not going to go run to Twitter and start a firestorm about some intense interest, because we don’t know the extent of it. The Dodgers need a top pitcher, we’re in a rare situation where the reigning Cy Young winner is available, so why wouldn’t they at least inquire? (For the record, the Mets really want a center fielder & catcher in a potential Dickey deal, and I’m pretty sure Joc Pederson & Tim Federowicz aren’t exactly what they had in mind.) I’m sure they’ve also checked in with Tampa on James Shields, perhaps Miami on Yunel Escobar, almost certainly Pittsburgh on Joel Hanrahan, maybe even Washington for Mike Morse or Cleveland for Asdrubal Cabrera, and a ton of other things we’ll never hear about as well.

As for “no offers” being put out, my guess is that just means no formalized written contracts. We’re all sure parameters have been discussed verbally.

Much more to come…

Winter Meetings Insani-fun Is Go

Last year, in a span of roughly eight days encompassing the winter meetings, the Dodgers came away with Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano, Jerry Hairston, & Adam Kennedy as they did their best to build a 2012 roster with Frank McCourt’s badly limited dollars.

I… think it’s safe to say that they’re going to do just a bit better this time around, wouldn’t you say? Over the next few days, the Dodgers could very well end up with Zack Greinke, or trade Chris Capuano or another starter, or figure out what righty bat they can add to the outfield (it’s a total pipe dream, but I’d love to get Mike Morse out of Washington), or possibly make progress on adding some badly needed third base depth.

Some or all or none of those things might happen this week in Nashville, but here’s what we can absolutely guarantee is going to happen: rumors are going to be flying at an absolutely insane pace, and fans are going to live and die with each one even though we know a huge majority of them are bogus. Hell, we’ve already seen it in the last few days, when Jon Heyman put out there that the Dodgers might have interest in A.J. Pierzynski before quickly backtracking and saying it was just his own speculation when Dodger sources made it clear that there was little truth to the rumor.

As Ned Colletti said on 570 AM the other day,

“You’ve only got a 25-man roster. The number of players we’ve been tied to, in some ways it’s disappointing because there’s really a lack of credibility that goes with people who say ‘they’re in on this player, they’re in on this player’,” Colletti said. “We’re in on a few players, but we’re not in on 25% of what’s being speculated. We know who we like, and we know what we’re trying to accomplish.”

To be completely honest, I’d be surprised if it’s even as high as 25%, because on top of the honest factual mistakes in reporting, you get teams or players or agents or media all with their own agendas, trying to get their own stories out there. For example, we’re already seeing reports that the Dodgers “are shopping Dee Gordon“. It’s here that the wording is important: would the Dodgers be willing to move Gordon in the right trade? Absolutely; he’s far from untouchable. But that’s not the same thing as “they’re aggressively trying to get rid of him,”, which is what “shopping” implies. It’s a minor difference, but a real one.

That said, just because we know better doesn’t mean we can’t follow along with the drama for the fun it is, as long as we keep some perspective. After all, these next few days are often among the most entertaining (or infuriating, depending on how you look at it) of the year.

So sit back, enjoy the insanity in the comments, and we’ll keep things updated here as needed. Tampa’s already gotten things off to a start by signing old friend James Loney, and while he’s of course terrible, $2m is barely above an NRI these days. If he simply provides good defense and adequate hitting against righties with a strong platoon partner, he could easily be worth that and more.

Still glad we don’t have to look at him every day, though.