Dan's Dugout: Winter Meetings Winners and Losers • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Winter Meetings Winners and Losers

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With precious few exceptions, the 2016 Baseball Winter Meetings were a dud.

Expected to be exceptionally busy because of the euphoria of a five-year labor agreement reached on the eve of the annual conference, the event proved that only a few clubs are willing to fork over eight-figure contracts.

Even the trade market was slow, with the exception of the Chris Sale sale that turned his socks from white to red.

Looking back at the four-day conclave, there were a few winners and losers of note.

Winners

1. Boston Red Sox – Anxious to defend the AL East title he won in a worst-to-first ride last year, general manager Dave Dombrowski parted with Yoan Moncado, widely considered baseball’s top prospect, and three other minor-leaguers to land the 27-year-old Sale. On the same day, he acquired Tyler Thornburg from Milwaukee and first baseman Mitch Moreland from the free agent list. Sale, a southpaw strikeout machine, gives the Bosox a chance to boast Cy Young Award winners in successive summers, following Rick Porcello in 2016.

Super southpaw Chris Sale changes his sox

Super southpaw Chris Sale changes his sox

2. Chicago White Sox – Rebuilding without waving a white flag, the Sox landed seven prospects while moving the high salaries of Sale and outfielder Adam Eaton. Cuban infielder Yoan Moncado is considered the top prospect in the game.

3. San Francisco Giants – After blowing 30 save opportunities during the regular season and more in the Division Series, the team opened its treasury for Mark Melancon, a quality closer rated just behind fellow free agents Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen.

4. Kansas City Royals – The 2015 World Champions hit a home run by trading injured closer Wade Davis to the 2016 World Champion Cubs for promising young outfielder Jorge Soler. At least he gets to play every day and beef up a batting order that could be losing several veterans to free agency after 2017.

5. Tampa Bay Rays – Wilson Ramos hit .307 with 22 homers and is just 29. But he must prove healed from a devastating knee injury that kept him out of the 2016 playoffs. The Rays, a low-payroll club dependent primarily on pitching and prospects, took a good gamble in signing him.

Aroldis Chapman comes back to the Bronx, as expected

Aroldis Chapman comes back to the Bronx, as expected

6. New York Yankees – Cuban southpaw Aroldis Chapman returns as closer after a half-season sojourn in Chicago. The Yanks also added added Matt Holliday, a righthanded batter, to replace the lefthanded bat of Brian McCann (traded to Houston).

7. Houston Astros – After adding McCann and Carlos Beltran, another ex-Yankee, just before the Winter Meetings, the almost-but-not-quite Astros investigated White Sox lefty Jose Quintana but found the price too hefty. Still, Houston will produce plenty of pop to support a suspect starting staff.

8. St. Louis Cardinals – Although they gave way too much money to new leadoff man Dexter Fowler, the Cards also succeeded in preventing him from returning to the arch-rival Chicago Cubs. If the Cards also add Justin Turner, Edwin Encarnacion, or both, they will have given their lineup a hefty power injection without losing any players in the process.

Losers

1. Washington Nationals – Reluctance to part with Trea Turner killed the Nats in negotiations for Sale, which continued even after Mark Melancon left a gaping void in the back of the bullpen. In addition, hard-hitting catcher Wilson Ramos jumped to the Tampa Bay Rays on a two-year deal.
At least landing Adam Eaton plugged the outfield hole between Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers – Though they retained lefty starter Rich Hill (and his injury history), the

Justin Turner provides power from third base

Justin Turner provides power from third base

payroll-heavy Dodgers would be devasted by the potential free agent departures of third baseman Justin Turner and closer Kenley Jansen.

3. Toronto Blue Jays – Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, a pair of potent sluggers helped by playing half their schedule in the cozy Rogers Centre, could still sign elsewhere. The Jays did ink Kendry Morales to be their primary DH but the overall power output could take a serious hit.

4. New York Mets – Overloaded with lefty-hitting outfielders, the Mets were unsuccessful trying to trade Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce, with Baltimore the primary interested party. New York still needs help behind the plate, where Travis d’Arnaud had a worse year than brother Chase, and in the bullpen, where closer Jeurys Familia figures to be suspended and situational lefty Jerry Blevins seems likely to sign elsewhere. The Mets may also miss Bartolo Colon (signed with Atlanta).

Justin Verlander: trade bait? Photo credit: Lisa Luevanos/Latino Sports)

Justin Verlander: trade bait? Photo credit: Lisa Luevanos/Latino Sports)

5. Detroit Tigers – Nobody wants the enormous contracts of Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, or J.D. Martinez, or Justin Upton. The rebuilding Bengals will deal veterans for prospects if they can find a trading partner or two.

6. San Diego Padres – After Padres GM A.J. Preller incurred a 30-day suspension for failing to disclose medical information on players, he became persona non grata with his wary colleagues. Nobody wants to be burned.

7. Pittsburgh Pirates – After spreading the word that former MVP Andrew McCutchen is trade bait, the Bucs buckled when it came time to pull the trigger on a trade. An unhappy Cutch remains in the clutches of the black-and-gold.

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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