Dan's Dugout: Meetings End With Mega-Deals Pending • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Meetings End With Mega-Deals Pending

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL – Though general managers have packed their bags, their cellphones are still ready to ring 24 hours a day. The Winter Meetings officially ended with the final banquet tonight at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel but most big deals – of both the signing and trading variety – remain on auto-pilot.

Will Arizona keep J.D. Martinez or Zack Greinke?

For example, the Arizona Diamondbacks know they have a choice between re-signing slugging outfielder J.D. Martinez or keeping high-priced starter Zack Greinke.

Since both will earn astronomical salaries in 2018, the D’backs must decide.

Grienke averaged more than a million dollars a start last year but plays every fifth day. Wouldn’t it be smarter to keep a slugger who anchors the lineup in cahoots with star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt? With the possible exception of the Yankees, whose order now includes National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton and American League Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge, no team is baseball has such a prolific 1-2 punch.

Martinez, 30, tore up NL pitching after arriving from Detroit and even hit four home runs in one game. He’s also the best opposite-field hitter in the majors.

Greinke, on the other hand, is always a threat to add another Cy Young Award to his trophy shelf. But his salary accounts for a whopping 27 per cent of the Arizona payroll.

Zack Greinke makes more than a million dollars per start

The Marlins know all about payroll considerations. They’ve been dumping veterans for prospects so far that the team has picked up 19 prospects since the July 31 trading deadline.

Manager Don Mattingly told Sirius XM Satellite Radio Thursday that the club’s rebuilding process starts with improving the farm system but declined to predict how many years it might take for the varsity to start reaping the rewards.

Finding takers for Greinke is tougher because no one wants the financial burden. But the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies have put out feelers for the star righthander.

Manny Machado may have played his last game for the Orioles
Credit: Bill Menzel

The Phils, along with the Chicago White Sox, have been linked to Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado, a 25-year-old superstar who qualifies for free agency a year from now. The Baltimore Orioles admit they are fielding offers for the infielder, who prefers to play shortstop in 2018.

Like Machado, Bryce Harper’s contract expires next fall – a fact that has the Washington Nationals worried. They know it will cost nearly a half-million dollars to keep the former MVP, who is represented by super-agent Scott Boras. He is known for striking a hard bargain and sparking bidding wars by clubs seeking to sign his stars.

Since Harper had a better year at age 22 than Albert Pujols or Miguel Cabrera ever did, how good might he be when he hits his prime at age 27?

Boras also wants the best deal for erstwhile Cubs ace Jake Arrieta and will do anything to get it. He and his staff published a 75-page dossier telling teams the benefits of signing the pitcher.

Has Jake Arrieta thrown his last pitch for the Cubs?

Fernando Rodney signed Thursday but didn’t reap a big payday; although he saved 39 games for Arizona last year, he’s pushing 41 and may not last much longer. The Minnesota Twins, who need relief help, hope he has another couple of seasons left.

One oddity of the meetings is that several infielders traded earlier in the week may move again. The San Diego Padres may flip Chase Headley, acquired from the Yankees, and the Marlins are already anxious to dump Starlin Castro, also obtained from New York.

So far, most of the moves here have involved relief pitchers. With many teams openly talking about eight-man bullpens, relievers with new addresses include Bryan Shaw (Rockies), Brandon Morrow (Cubs), and Anthony Swarzak (Mets), in addition to Rodney. Another bullpen hand, Brandon Kintzler, decided to stay with the Washington Nationals rather than ride free agency out of town.

Among position players, the Cardinals added Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins and made room by shipping Steve Piscotty to Oakland. There were also strong vibes from the usually-stoic San Diego Padres about signing free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer, most recently a stalwart with the Kansas City Royals.

The holidays may be right around the corner but baseball’s shopping season should last well into the new year.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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