Winter Meetings and The Talk

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By Dan Sears

I always refer to the annual Baseball Winter Meetings as the “Haves and the Have Nots.” Sunday in Nashville, Tenn, it will be no different as baseball executives huddle in the hotel suites, media will roam the various lobbies, and at least until Thursday afternoon it’s all speculation.

Yes, it’s the Have and the Have Nots. The possible wheeling and dealing with 30 teams represented. Also on the agenda are rules committee meetings, not to mention a trade show and employment fair.

Flashback to early December of 2017. Then, the Yankees caught us off guard about Giancarlo Stanton, a trade with the Marlins on a Monday that was supposed to be uneventful because of free agent buzz. But at the Lake Buena Vista resort in Orlando there was GM Brian Cashman and owner Hal Steinbrenner in the media conference center.

The Yankees acquired Stanton from the Marlins for infielders Starlin Castro and Joe Devers along with pitcher Jorge Guzman, while inheriting the good portion of his mega contract and called a steal at the time. Years later, Stanton has become a bust and the Yankees have been dormant from their last World Series title in 2009.

I recall not getting the front row seat as the massive Stanton donned the Yankees pinstripes and he stood tall. A conclave of baseball media writers and photographers had their first glimpse of the newest and lucrative Yankee. Quite a spectacle and highlight of those meetings.

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The Mets had a relatively quiet four days, their complexion obviously has changed now with owner Steve Cohen. The meetings, though, are a MLB spectacle for the media, executives and fans waiting for one or two players that can change the complexion of their team.

So here we are, 2023 in Nashville. The spectacle resumes beginning Monday but this year there is plenty of buzz about Cody Bellinger, Juan Soto, Shohei Ohtani, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, prominent names who have been linked to New York as possible targets via trades or free agency.

On these pages my colleague Howie Karpin advocated a cause for the Yankees to acquire Bellinger that would add left handed presence in their lineup and a good glove for their infield and outfield, a defined Have. I also advocated why the Mets will gain with signing Yamamoto to their pitching rotation, this another Have.

Ohtani, I don’t expect the Yankees or Mets to be in pursuit. Then again, who expected Stanton in pinstripes? Ohtani from my sources and reports has imposed his own gag order, but is believed to  prefer remaining on the west coast. Did they all say Los Angeles Dodgers with the resources to spend and grant Ohtani a record breaking contract?

Both New York teams, I do expect to be active in their pursuit of their needs. The Mets are on the hunt for pitching and another potent bat for their lineup. The Yankees need more of that left handed presence and needs for their bullpen. Their starting pitching looks good but how about a reunion with Jordan Montgomery who developed into a significant reason why the Rangers won their first World Series title in franchise history.

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Here is the latest about Soto and the Yankees: A lineup with Soto, Aaron Judge, Bellinger, and Anthony Volpe looks impressive and adds left handed presence to the lineup. I am not an advocate of names that could be involved in a trade for Soto, basically a borrowed player in a walkoff year of a contract. The Padres from my source are willing to talk but the Yankees could be hesitant about exchanging Volpe, rookie sensation Jasson Dominguez, or sacrificing a starting pitcher such as Clarke Schmidt.

First instincts say make this a trade and it’s a Have. The Have Not is sacrificing youngsters and the Yankees need to go in that direction of youth though, Soto in the lineup and there is that change in their complexion. Regardless, the Yankees will contend in 2024 and I would be hesitant to make a trade to sacrifice their future as Dominguez recovers from Tommy John surgery. I expect the Yankees to be more active in Nashville than they have been in the last few years of Winter meetings.

And with the Mets, as I stated, Yamamoto is a good one-two punch to follow Kodai Senga in the rotation, and the Mets will have competition with a contract that will go to the highest bidder as referred to in my column here posted this week.

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I can’t speak about other teams, and I won’t be at these Winter Meetings. I am sleep deprived as it is. But I do expect a flurry of activity surrounding the bustle and hustle of rumors, a reason why I call this the Haves and Have Nots.

Baseball has become big business, we know that. The offseason has become a full season for MLB and it keeps the game moving despite all the rule changes and controversy that comes with constant talk.

And, yes there will be a lot of talk and headlines coming out of Nashville.

Rich Mancuso: X (Formerly Twitter @Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

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