Dan's Dugout: Winter Flesh Mart Off to Fast Start • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Winter Flesh Mart Off to Fast Start

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The ink had hardly dried on the last election ballot before baseball trade-makers were doing their thing.

With one eye on a free-agent class especially weak in pitching, general managers got busy even before they gathered in Scottsdale for their annual meetings last week.

Under the current format that allows 10 of the 30 teams to reach the playoffs, not to mention the growing list of clubs that jumped from worst to first in recent years, everyone seems energized.

Twins spring training is certain to have a new look

Twins spring training is certain to have a new look

Even the Minnesota Twins, the only team to lose at least 100 games in 2016, are ready to deal. And slugging second baseman Brian Dozier (42 home runs) could bring much-needed pitching to the Twin Cities.

Another Brian is also likely to move, especially if the New York Yankees will eat half the money due to veteran catcher Brian McCann. He lost his job to Rookie of the Year favorite Gary Sanchez, the fastest man to reach 20 homers in baseball history.

After losing 15-game winner Bartolo Colon to Atlanta via free agency and facing the very real prospect that second baseman Neil Walker and slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes could ride the same gravy train out of town, the New York Mets are certain to be busy.

They might even trade for former National League MVP Andrew McCutchen, a great talent coming off a bad year in Pittsburgh. But the price will be steep.

The Mets have too many lefty-hitting outfielders and could also be short one closer — assuming Major

Jeurys Familia faces a half-season ban Photo Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

Jeurys Familia faces a half-season ban
Photo Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

League Baseball slaps Jeurys Familia with a half-season ban for alleged domestic violence.

Three premium closers are available as free agents, with Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon, and Kenley Jansen available to the highest bidder. Chapman, the flamethrowing lefty, started last year with the Yankees but finished it with the World Champion Cubs. Either could sign him again — or watch him walk to a wealthy West Coast club.

Washington has money too but still could lose catcher Wilson Ramos and/or Melancon. Then again, it could afford to reunite Cespedes with another ex-Met, Daniel Murphy, a prime pick-me-up last winter.

Look for the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers to beef up their rotations, the St. Louis Cardinals to bolster their defense, and the Kansas City Royals to do whatever it takes to return to the playoffs after failing to win a third straight pennant in 2016.

The most formidable challenge may be facing the Miami Marlins, who need to replace the late Jose Fernandez, arguably the best pitcher in the National League. The Fish will be fishing for at least two starters but maybe more.

Bartolo Colon needs 10 wins to tie Juan Marichal's mark for wins by a Dominican Image Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

Bartolo Colon needs 10 wins to tie Juan Marichal’s mark for wins by a Dominican
Image Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

The Atlanta Braves have already caught the innings-eaters they wanted. When Sun Trust Park opens next April, the team will trot out a rotation that includes Bartolo Colon, who won 15 games for the Mets last year, and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who won the 2012 Cy Young Award for the same club before his trade to Toronto. Together, they add 87 years but tons of experience to a shaky staff.

Toronto, a team that tied Baltimore for second in the AL East with an 89-73 mark, hopes its winter moves will close the four-game gap that separated it from first-place Boston. Facing the possible defections of sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, the Jays wasted no time in snatching Kendrys Morales from Kansas City.

Just 81-81 in 2016, Kaycee has already lost starting pitcher Edinson Volquez and might deal closer Wade Davis after his injury-riddled campaign.

Even without the tumultuous transition in the nation’s capital, baseball would be making headlines.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, after losing 93 times, could deal both Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller,

Ryan Braun faces an uncertain winter

Ryan Braun faces an uncertain winter

regarding as the salvation of their staff last winter. Ryan Braun, a former National League MVP, has his bags packed in Milwaukee, along with fellow slugger Chris Carter. The rebuilding Reds have finally convinced Brandon Phillips to waive his no-trade clause. Quite a few of the Colorado Rockies, including Carlos Gonzalez, could also be on the block — with popular Matt Holliday rumored to be returning after a sojourn in St. Louis.

If the owners are able to carve out a workable Basic Agreement with the players, the general managers are certain to dominate the back pages of the big-city tabloids. We’ll know before the winter meetings start on December 4 in National Harbor, Md.

 

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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