The General Manager Meetings in Orlando, Florida were held this week, which typically isn’t a time lots of transactions are done, but it can lay the groundwork for the rest of the off-season, primarily the Winter Meetings which begin December 10. But the Hot Stove season really kicks off in earnest this week, and we’ve already seen our first significant trade. Let’s run down the rumors around baseball.
Scott Boras held court at the meetings to serve as hype man for his clients, namely Eric Hosmer, Jake Arrieta, and J.D. Martinez. On Hosmer, Boras touted his client’s reputation for being a clutch hitter.
“For any franchise,” Boras said, “whether you’re a ‘now’ team, you’re a ‘two-year’ team, or you’re a ‘three-year’ team as far as when you hope to arrive to Playoffville, he’s been ‘Playoffville Federal Express.’ He can be overnight delivery — one-day, two-day, whatever. He fits every franchise.”
Hosmer can deliver. Deliver wins, I presume, or clutch hits, or perhaps just a Nintendo Switch, I don’t know. Of course, his career post-season numbers are .276/.333/.398 in 31 games, which isn’t exactly Reggie Jackson, but he does have a few memorable big hits.
Playoffville is a gated community.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) November 15, 2017
Bring it on down to Playoffville. pic.twitter.com/2djJIy3Z8L— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) November 15, 2017
It is interesting Boras is trying to sell Hosmer to teams that aren’t necessarily competitive right now, and you have to wonder if the audience for that message is the Royals. With the team likely headed to a rebuild, they won’t even be driving in the suburbs of Playoffville for a few years. But Hosmer is likely looking at a 5+ year deal, which Boras would argue, makes him a good target for a team looking to arrive in Playoffville in three years.
The Mariners, who were probably a long-shot for Hosmer anyway, addressed their first base needs by acquiring infielder Ryon Healy from the Athletics with the intention of playing him at first. But this does take them off the market for the next tier of first basemen - Carlos Santana, Logan Morrison, Yonder Alonso - which means the price for those guys could drop, which could entice a team bidding on Hosmer.
Boras chastised teams unwilling to spend to win, accusing them of “Casper Finance” (“Where’s the ghost? Where’s the money?”). He critiqued defensive metrics that would reduce the value of slugger J.D. Martinez. He referred to pitcher Jake Arrieta as a “big squirrel with a lot of nuts in his trees”, and no one seems to understand why. Look, Scott Boras has a vested interest in maximizing the dollars thrown to his clients, so this isn’t surprising or anything, other than the fact he seems to be channeling Don King now.
In other news from this week, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported that Mike Moustakas has a return to southern California on his mind. Moustakas went to high school about an hour northwest of Angel Stadium, and it appears the Angels are #1 on his wishlist this holiday season.
An #MLB insider who's familiar with Mike Moustakas' thinking said the #Angels are No. 1 on his wish list. GM Billy Eppler could pursue Moose, or he could roll with Luis Valbuena (22 HRS and a .199 batting average) at 3B and focus on adding a second baseman.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 16, 2017
Complicating things is the fact the Angels are also pursuing a second baseman, namely Ian Kinsler of the Tigers, but also Neil Walker and Zack Cozart. The Angels have some money to spend this winter, but if they add one of those second basemen, that leaves less money for Moustakas, and oh yea, their starting rotation doesn’t look too hot right now either.
Lorenzo Cain also drew interest this week, notably from the Blue Jays and Mets, according to Crasnick.
I wrote this week about the Jays being a potential suitor for Cain, and although their lineup is already very right-handed heavy, Cain would fit a need as they are short on outfielders other than Kevin Pillar. Cain, however, may want to stay away from Toronto, which would be a long trip from his home in Norman, Oklahoma, and the Rogers Centre playing surface would also be terrible on his knees.
It is unclear if the Mets will spend money this winter, although signs point to “no.” The Mets may have more pressing needs at first base, third base, and the bullpen, and could get by with a solid defender like Juan Lagares in center next year. Jon Heyman reported this week that the Royals have “all but given up hope” of bringing Cain back.
As for the Royals themselves, well, things are pretty quiet. They now have their GM situation resolved it seems, but in interviews, Dayton Moore is still very non-committal about the direction of the franchise. They were linked to Cameron Maybin as a possible replacement in center, and you can expect them to touch base with more cheaper free agents like that.