Monday, December 7, 2009

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

Thus begins the Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway every Memorial Day weekend, and it's an apt phrase for this morning as the Winter Meetings begin in Indianapolis. I'm sure there will be a flood of tweets and blog updates and exclusive scoops and the like stemming from Indy these next four days. Unlike what we've heard for the last month though, I'm more inclined to believe that this week's rumors will have some merit to them.

Still, with the constantly evolving landscape of MLB economics, we may not see as much as we'd hope this week. Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, and John Lackey will set the overall market as the top free agents and there aren't any indications that any of them are close to signing. With the Rule 5 Draft occurring Thursday and the non-tender deadline Saturday, teams may wait another week until the entire landscape is known.

As for the Yankees, their hands are somewhat tied at present. They currently have 39 players on their 40 man roster, meaning they only have room to sign one Major League free agent. It looks increasingly less likely that the spot will be filled by Mike Cameron, who reportedly is close to signing with the Cubs. That deal however apparently is contingent upon the Cubs moving Milton Bradley, and the rumored trade with Tampa may not be as close to completion as had been thought. It's also unlikely that the spot will be filled by Cuban pitcher Noel Arguelles, as he is reportedly close signing with the Royals.

Based on the news coming out of last week's organizational meetings, that spot could have gone to Andy Pettitte, who was deemed the top off-season priority. However, according to Joel Sherman this morning, Pettitte has rejected the Yankees initial offer of one year, $10M guaranteed. Though it's likely just part of the negotiating process it's a bit concerning. The club is willing to guarantee Pettitte's salary from last year without any incentive clauses; he isn't worth much more than what he's already been offered.

The Yankees could make room on the 40 man via trade, as they did with last year's Nick Swisher deal. A trade for Roy Halladay would likely make room on the 40 man, but I doubt he'll be dealt to anyone this week. The Yankees could make a package deal this week with spare parts, otherwise they'll have to wait to non-tender to open additional room.

So, as the clubs start their engines, we should buckle our seat belts in preparation for the ride.


  1. Am I wrong that it always feels like some major shit is going to down at the Winter Meetings, and then most years it is a big disappointment?

    And by disappointment, I mean exciting trades/signings that really stoke the hot stove for us baseball-starved fans.

  2. I suppose that relative to the number of rumors reported very little happens. But the Winter Meetings is the catalyst for everything that will happen this week and for the next several weeks of the off-season.

    Part of it is the nature of the Hot Stove league. Becuase we are so starved for news, the media reports everything. Now with Twitter, blogs, etc - there's really no filter. The slightest whisper and the most asinine ideas all get reported as the national baseball guys and the beat guys all try to one up each other.

  3. I think the Yankees and Pettitte will work out a deal. $10 million is technically a paycut from 2009 and Jon Heyman says they're negotiating right now. I think something will get done.

  4. I'm sure you're right Rob, and I realize this is likely the negotiating game, it's just a bit disconcerting. It sounds like Pettitte's the lynch pin to the rest of the off-season plan. Hopefully this doesn't drag on and on. They're a half million away from last year's salary. Is he going to want more than that?