Winter meetings are coming: So what?

Often the baseball Winter Meetings in the past have been a nice kickoff to the offseason, a place where the GMs of the teams get to meet face to face and trade players over shrimp cocktail and Heinekens at the bar. (It is obvious this writer has never attended the meetings or the after meeting Happy Hour trade-fest, but this is what I picture).

The last few seasons the off-season action has been slow early on….whether that is due to trying to hold down salaries or just a bit of negotiating showmanship we do not know. But this uncertain off-season may well end up being glacial in comparison. The Winter Meetings are going to be virtual, which means that GMs will get together the same way they did last week or next week. Yes, they may concentrate a bit more on trying to establish relationships, but the ability to do that is Zoom and Face Time.

One would think that trades may happen a little faster than usual and that free agent signings may slide to the right as the teams and the player’s agents try to figure out what the “new normal” is with salaries these days. The teams are going to be looking for discounts and the players and agents want to just add a few percent to last off-seasons numbers. Older free agents may really struggle, even more than the last few seasons, to find a home.

It is pretty evident that the Astros have specific needs headed into 2021. An outfield with George Springer, Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick becoming free agents, bullpen with Roberto Osuna, Brad Peacock and Chris Devenski gone and backup (or starting) catcher. They should pick up another potential starter, because though their five penciled in starters (Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr., Framber Valdez, Jose Urquidy and Cristian Javier) look solid, there will be needs for more starters in 2021 and they probably won’t all be filled with youngsters off the farm.

So, will anything happen to fill any of these needs next week for the Astros? We may get to see a little bit of GM James Click’s modus operandi next week or he may be just doing behind the foundation of the scene laying for future moves.

What do you think will happen?
What would you like to see happen?

52 comments on “Winter meetings are coming: So what?

  1. What do I think will happen. I think it is going to be slower than ever. Why?
    1. Waiting on the vaccine.
    2. Many clubs are not going to spend as much on any player as they did in the past because of a lack of money from last season.
    3. Expanded playoffs giving middle of the pack teams a shot at the playoffs again. This will keep those teams from giving out salaries they might have given if there were only ten playoff spots.
    4. NL teams are dying to know about the DH, so they are waiting for that and AL teams won’t commit to their DH signings until they find out if there are 13 of those jobs or 24.
    5. There is no way the media is going to be able to shame owners into spending money. That crap has flown the coup. The media can try, but the owners have had enough to deal with after 2020 and their earplugs are in. If they spend it will be because they want to, not because of pressure.

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      • I thought your math was spot on, considering the 15 DH jobs in the AL. I thought you were thinking that the Astros and the Angels have their DHs already which would bring the count to 13 teams needing a DH in the AL.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What do I want to see happen?
    Since the Astros are set to lose one of their core 4 in 2021, George Springer, I would like to see them get creative with a contract this year on a replacement core player. That replacement would either be Springer himself or JT Realmuto. The Astros can avoid the luxury tax by giving this core player a large signing bonus in the first year to make up for a lower salary in the first year. Signing bonuses are evenly divided over the total years of the contract in Luxury Tax Dollars. Since the Astros will drop at least $90 million in salaries in 2022, they can reset their core with one guy this season and one next season if they so choose.
    Salaries are going to be down this year because of last year. Replace your lost core player in a year where salaries are down! Then watch all the other teams scramble for all the expensive shortstops next year, when you have your replacement SS all ready to go in your minor leagues.
    I would like them to go after the international free agent outfielder, Leon, and one other free agent outfielder.
    They have 24 pitchers on their 40-man roster and have at least 5 pitchers in their Top 30 Prospect list that will need protecting next fall. Don’t go out and spend money on pitchers! We already have them.
    If you need another starting pitcher, you have Whitley. I’m not going to say it again. Bring him to camp and find a spot on a roster that requires 13 pitchers. Just do it.

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  3. First, I am terrible at picking a winner or loser in a Presidential election. But I am better at that than trying to determine what billionaires will do in trying to sign more millionaires.

    As above from 1OP, I expect more sitting on wallets than opening them. But in the end, the Astros sat out the last trade deadline. If they, so far, sitting out this off season, they are entering a rebuilding phases whether we like it or not. Over two seasons, the Astros lost all their starters (except LMJ) and added only Greinke. The Astros lost their entire outfield. Framber and Pressly are the only left overs from the bullpen. So “sitting this out” is not an option for a contender nor even a pretender.

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  4. I would like to see the Astros sign Springer, but I don’t think it will happen because someone else will offer him more money for more years than we are willing to offer.

    I would like to sign Brantley for 2 years / 24M, but someone else may offer more $$ and/or years. If not him, then some other corner OF but not Ozuna; he is more like a DH.

    We need a CF. I would like to sign Jackie Bradley Jr for not more than 3 years / 24M. If not, then Kike Hernandez 3 years / 19.5M or Jake Marisnick 3 years / 10.5M

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  5. As far as big moves go, Click has to determine (he might well know already) if Springer is definitely gone before he goes out to fix the outfield. And if they think there is even a small chance that they can get a deal done with George, there won’t be any other significant spending in that area, unless they can swing an early deal with Springers uncle. I tend to agree with 1OP regarding pitching. We’ve got a lot. A guy like Hand, maybe. But I think we’ve got enough starters to work with already in the system.

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  6. A good starting place for this discussion is this, the current tracking of where every team stands in the luxury tax dept for 2021:
    https://www.spotrac.com/mlb/tax/
    Note that the top 3 teams on this list are the teams who run baseball and the #4 team is the one who is the stooge that the league chose to execute when it found out everyone was cheating.
    In an offseason where every team has been cash-crippled by a fan-less product, the top money teams are all already close to the luxury tax payroll and the buying and selling hasn’t started yet.

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    • Now, here is the add-on to point out where every team is projected to be on the field. Keep in mind that these are all projections of WAR based on who the players currently are on every team’s roster TODAY:
      https://www.fangraphs.com/depthcharts.aspx?position=ALL&teamid=21
      On the left is current Astros projected WAR for each position and on the right is the list of every team’s power ranking, based on combined WAR of all its current players
      The Astros are #3 in projected WAR with the players currently on their roster.
      If we make moves to improve ourselves we have some room under the Luxury Tax line, but do we have the actual money to make those moves after the financial fiasco of 2020?
      Study both charts and see where every team stands.

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      • I’m pleased by those WAR projections. Altuve is far from done. Our outfield, once sorted out will provide more than a collective 3.7. And I think we’ll get more from our starters.

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  7. Curious on everybody’s take on releasing (or trading to Detroit) Verlander to free up another roster position or trading Greinke to unload part of his salary. I suspect the chances are slim for either to happen but thought I’d throw that out there since it’s been previously brought up.

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    • I know hindsight is 20/20 but I just thought at the time that the $33MM per year was a little steep. I guess my thought is paying large amounts to guys that in the baseball world who are getting long in the tooth. But then again, what do I know?

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    • I suspect that the Astros may have to have Verlander on the team in order to collect insurance on his injury for the 2021 season. I don’t know how to find out about this insurance deal. I do know that the Astros will be able to gain that roster spot in the spring on the very first day teams are allowed to place a player on the 60-day IL. Players on that list are taken off the 40-man and he can remain on that list for the entire season. Because his is under contract only through 2021, he becomes a free agent when the season is over.
      I believe Verlander would still be eligible for a QO then but I don’t know if the Astros would do that.

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    • I can’t see Detroit or another club taking on contract or giving away any prospect of value in such a deal. Why would they want to take up a spot on their 40 man roster? Verlander could be transferred back to the 60 day Injured List once the season begins, but it would limit their offseason moves. A quick search shows a press release came out on Oct 1st saying he had the surgery performed and expected rehab time was 12-14 months. It looks like we’re sitting at 39/40 on our roster right now. I would have to think Click must be gambling on a 10 month rehab, Verlander’s camp has discussed returning in 2022 with the team, or else they are holding onto him while negotiating with the insurance company.

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      • I mentioned the JV “trade” because it had been thrown out there as a precursor to him wanting to finish out his career in Detroit as opposed to elsewhere. I realize Detroit isn’t going to give us anything knowing he can’t pitch until 2022. As for us I wouldn’t give him a sack of cash to keep him here considering that we had him on the books for $66MM and got 6 innings of work. And yes I know his salary was lowered due to the shortened season to only 12.22MM but that’s still a lot of $. I guess we could offer him a QO at the end of 2021 which would probably be around 19MM and see what happens. Either way it should be interesting.

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    • I’ve looked all over and cannot find where Click was actually involved in drafting players specifically for Tampa. But he is that guy now.

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      • Click was below the GM in Tampa. His move as GM in Houston was a promotion. Bloom was the GM in Tampa and got hired by the Red Sox as Head of Baseball Ops in late 2019, just before the Luhnow firing in H-town.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. i would like to see springer resigned. prob wont happen. i’d like to see correa extended. maybe will happen. i’d like to see brantley resigned. could happen. i’d like to see a shut down closer signed. who knows.

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  9. Some thoughts:
    – I assume George is gone, only because I don’t think we would outbid other teams on number of seasons.
    – I think Brantley has a better chance of coming back than George because he would likely be getting a two year deal from us or anyone else
    – I assume that JV will stay on the 40 man and eventually the 60 man IL due to insurance reasons
    – I think offering JV the QO would be a fascinating situation. He could well decide to take it. I wonder if he has any warm feelings towards the club and would take a shorter smaller deal from the Astros after taking in $45+ million for one start – is he a gentleman who feels bad about that?
    – Will Alex Bregman after taking the long walk down the aisle be a bit more mature on the field?
    – I know that getting a shut down closer sounds attractive (and it does during the regular season) but watching so many shut down closers go up in flames during the playoffs, it does not guarantee anything.
    – In the back of my mind I keep wandering back to OP’s Realmuto signing as a real step out there for the team. Again we have no idea how much money the club will really spend this year.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. The Angels made a big move to trade for a dominant closer, Raisel Iglesias. This leapfrogged them over the Astros and Red Sox in Luxury Tax Payroll for 2021, behind only the Dodgers and the Yankees.
    We won’t know till tomorrow about how this changes projections, but the Astros projectioned WAR will drop because they now have to face Iglesias, and the Angels’ projected WAR will rise because they have him.
    The Angels, with their new GM are spending.

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  11. The nominees for the All-MLB outfield – you may have heard of a couple of them.

    Outfield
    Ronald Acuña Jr. (Braves)
    Mookie Betts (Dodgers)
    Michael Conforto (Mets)
    Bryce Harper (Phillies)
    Eloy Jiménez (White Sox)
    Juan Soto (Nationals)
    George Springer (Astros)
    Mike Trout (Angels)
    Mike Yastrzemski (Giants)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wasn’t Brantley on this list, too? Not that any Astros player has a chance to win.
      Wait! If Springer or Brantley were to sign with the Yankees tonight, they would probably make All-MLB team for 2020.

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  12. 28th Farm in MLB graduated or rummaged through:

    GS#2 Urquidy
    #3 Javier
    #4 Toro
    #7 Bielak
    #8 Paredes
    #17 Taylor
    #22 G Stubbs
    #23 Scrubb
    #24 Perez
    #25 Bailey (traded CIN)
    #26 Sanabria (claimed KC)
    #27 Tanielu (claimed SD)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The New Top 30

    1.Whitley 2.H Brown 3.Lee 4.Nova 5.Pena
    6.Garcia 7.Solis 8.Barber 9.Santos 10.Ivey
    11.Abreu 12.Conine 13.Torres 14.Z Daniels 15.Kessinger
    16. Brewer 17.Solomon 18.Lorenzo 19.N Rodriguez 20.Henley
    21.T Brown 22.Rivera 23. Dubin 24.McCormick 25.Jones
    26.Lopez 27.Castellanos 28.DeLaCruz 29.Hansen 30.Bellozo

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    • The White Sox were reporting that they were out of the Springer sweepstakes for the last four or five days now. However, they aren’t fully committed to Eaton as their RF just yet – one year and $7M with a club option. I don’t know if the White Sox were withdrawing because of lack of interest or if Springer’s camp told them he wasn’t interested. I tried to dig into this a few days back and came up with absolutely nothing of substance.

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  14. Rule 5 Order. Dec. 10 virtual this year at 9 am:

    1. Pittsburgh Pirates 2. Texas Rangers 3. Detroit Tigers 4. Boston Red Sox
    5. Baltimore Orioles 6. Arizona Diamondbacks 7. Kansas City Royals
    8. Colorado Rockies 9. Los Angeles Angels 10. New York Met 11. Washington Nationals 12. Seattle Mariners 13. Philadelphia Phillies 14. San Francisco Giants
    15. Milwaukee Brewers

    16. Houston Astros

    17. Miami Marlins and…29. Tampa Bay Rays 30. Los Angeles Dodgers

    Remey Reed from MIA is intriguing, trying to think who he’d replace though. J Hansen ususally list other teams’ top 30 who weren’t protected. Anyone have a handy resource?

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  15. I saw where Dick Allen passed away – big hitter for the Phillies. He was one of those guys like Lance Berkman who put up great numbers, but just below Hall of Fame for most folks taste.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Springer still probably going to Mets..(Olney is reporting he’d bet the farm).
    GS would hate playing with nitwit Verdugo in BOS, and TOR is talking to Fiers.

    Not that I care, I’m looking for OUR next centerfielder.

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  17. Was browsing and came across this about possible Rule 5 picks. This one was on the Orioles.

    “Jose Alberto Rivera, RHP, Astros

    Another pitcher who has never played above High-A in the minor leagues, Rivera has a huge arm with a potential plus changeup down the line. And players with big velocity and at least one strong secondary pitch can find a lot of success in the back of a MLB bullpen.

    Rivera has actually been connected to the Orioles, specifically, according to CBS Sports. For a team still looking for talent wherever they can find it, they could do a whole lot worse than a player from Elias’ former organization, one that is known for their ability to develop talented but flawed pitching prospects.”

    TALENTED BUT FLAWED PITCHING PROSPECTS ??????

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    • I wish MLB had not highlighted Rivera’s rise, and that HOU had told him to tamp it down. I’m almost 100% JA Rivera will be taken in short order. having said that, I think it was unavoidable because when we add more players, Castellanos will be the first to go anyway. [Perhaps from a timing standpoint, this was a way to keep Humberto, after all?]

      Relating to last year, I predicted we’d lose Arauz and Ramirez. At the time I thought we chose Emanuel over Yohan, and looking back whether it was a mistake, I did not even realize! Did anyone even notice that Kent tested pos for steroids in August?! After Deetz and Martes, this is now 3 of our older prospects trying to stay in the game — reminiscent of Cano?

      I want to know why every single player denies vehemently they’d EVER take such a thing, unless somehow some of them perhaps were sabotaged? This one has me stumped overall in considering all the “angles”.

      Like

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