The Big Winner & Big Loser of the MLB Winter Meetings
The MLB Winter Meetings are crazy time for everyone involved. The general managers try to make the best acquisitions to improve their club. The player’s agent wants to get the best deal possible. There are some deals that make you scratch your head and there are others that make you pull a Bryce Harper and ask to get your ring fitted. In any deal, there is always a winner and a loser. The Winter Meetings are no exception. The winner hits a grand slam and the loser strikes out swinging. So, who won the offseason and who is limping into opening day?
Winner: Boston Red Sox
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that the Boston Red Sox won the offseason. Red Sox nation wasn’t feeling this way in October. After losing to the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS, the Red Sox season was officially over. It wasn’t the only thing that was over. David Ortiz’s career came to a close. Big Papi’s departure left a glaring hole in Boston’s roster. Boston GM, Dave Dombrowski did his best to fill the gigantic void left by David Ortiz.
In a 24 hour span, the Boston Red Sox were able to win the offseason by completing three different deals. Dave Dombrowski was able to improve the starting rotation, bullpen, and address the DH. Each deal has a major impact on the race for the American League Pennant.
The biggest splash occurred when the Red Sox acquired Chris Sale. The former White Sox ace changed the color of his socks. Hopefully for the Red Sox, he left his scissors in Chicago. Sale will join David Price and reigning Cy Young winner, Rick Porcello at the top of Boston’s rotation.
You have to give something to get something. The Red Sox sent one of their top prospects, Yoan Moncada to the White Sox. You can look at it both ways. Maybe, Chicago just landed the next Wade Boggs, or maybe they just control the rights to another Rusney Castillo.
The acquisition of Chris Sale adds insult to injury to the other teams in the American League East. Chris Sale is tough enough to hit already. Now, you add the lack of bats in the opponent’s lineup. The Toronto Blue Jays are unlikely to re-sign Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. No one is afraid of Steve Pearce. Is Mark Trumbo returning to Baltimore? We don’t know yet. The young stars of the Yankees could be great in the future, but they aren’t ready for Boston’s rotation.
Chris Sale isn’t the only new player to put a Red Sox jersey on.
Dave Dombrowski was able to add a big arm to the bullpen. He shortened the bridge to Craig Kimbrel by acquiring Tyler Thornburg from the Milwaukee Brewers. The great rotation can hand the ball to Thornburg and Kimbrel in the late innings which will lead to a lot of wins.
With the return of a smaller Pablo Sandoval, the Red Sox were able to move on from Travis Shaw to bring in Thornburg. Dombrowski quickly addressed the loss by signing former Texas Ranger, Mitch Moreland. Moreland’s acquisition kills two birds with one stone. It will allow Hanley to play DH while improving the defense at first base.
Dave Dombrowski has done an excellent job during the Winter Meetings. The acquisitions he has made will keep the Boston Red Sox at the top of the American League East. Chris Sale, Tyler Thornburg, and Mitch Moreland will give Boston a great chance to play deep into October.
Loser: Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals’ 2016 season came to an end when they lost Game 5 of the NLDS to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Nationals rolled over the National League East in 2016. There is no question that injuries derailed Washington from achieving their ultimate goal. General Manager, Mike Rizzo entered the Winter Meetings swinging for the fences and struck out on a few occasions.
The Nationals traded Felipe Rivero to the Pittsburgh Pirates for free agent to be, Mark Melancon. Melancon gave the Nationals a closer for the postseason. He did an excellent job for Washington. He has the most saves in the MLB for the past two years.
The San Francisco Giants’ bullpen was a complete disaster in 2016. They acknowledged that fact and signed Mark Melancon to a 4- year, $62 million deal. This left a gigantic void in the Washington Nationals’ bullpen.
Sure, they could still sign a top reliever like Chapman or Jansen. However, this will cost them a lot of money. Mike Rizzo has been talking to the Tampa Bay Rays about acquiring Alex Colome. He’s a good pitcher, but nowhere near as good as Mark Melancon.
Speaking of the Tampa Bay Rays. Wilson Ramos decided to join the AL East baseball team. The ex-Washington Nationals’ catcher hit over .300 before tearing his ACL prior to the postseason. GM, Mike Rizzo officially moved on from Wilson Ramos when he acquired Derek Norris from the San Diego Padres. Washington’s “Buffalo” will return from his knee injury in Tampa Bay. Can his shoes be filled by two journeymen catchers in Norris and Lobaton? We will see.
Mike Rizzo has spent a lot of time trying to acquire Chris Sale and Andrew McCutchen. He already whiffed on trading for Chris Sale. They are unlikely to acquire McCutchen after making a deal for Adam Eaton. Every team wants Trea Turner and Rizzo is unwilling to part ways with his young SS of the future.
The Washington Nationals acquired Adam Eaton for 3 of their top prospects that include Lopez and Giolito. They have a center fielder for the next five years. On paper, that’s a load of talent that is headed to the south side of Chicago. Can Mike Rizzo acquire enough talent to fill the voids left by Wilson Ramos and Mark Melancon? Adam Eaton is a good start, but it’s not the home run they were looking to.
This trade shows their trust in Joe Ross and Stephen Strasburg’s health. Their safety net of Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez is no longer available. Rizzo will need to acquire a starting pitcher to fill that void.
There is also a $400 million dollar question on the horizon in regards to Bryce Harper. Mike Rizzo has more work to do. For the Nationals, it’s going to be extremely difficult to hold off the healthy starting rotation of the New York Mets in 2017.