Forget the Winter Meetings, things are heating up now ...
- Late last night, the Rays agreed to send righties James Shields and Wade Davis (plus a player to be named or cash) to the Royals for superprospect outfielder Wil Myers, very good pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi, formerly big-time pitching prospect Mike Montgomery and quality young third base prospect Patrick Leonard. For the Rays, the move was pre-ordained, as Shields was getting expensive and had just two years of control left. For the Royals, the move is all about "going for it" in the next two years. They've got a solid offensive core, but were desperately in need of pitching (and it showed). Snap judgment says the Rays got the best of this one - despite Andrew Friedman's comments about how difficult it was to pull the trigger on this one - but at least Royals are trying. (If you're looking for thoughts on how the deal could tangentially impact the Cubs, I've got some here.)
- In more big news from the last 24/36 hours, the Dodgers continue on their quest to SIGN ALL THE PLAYERS, inking top free agent Zack Greinke to a six-year, $147 million deal (with an opt-out after three years, and another clause that says, if he's traded during the deal, he can opt out the following offseason), and Korean lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu to a six-year, $36 million (plus $6 million in incentives) contract. Add in the $25.7 million the Dodgers paid in posting price for Ryu, and it was a $200 million weekend for the Dodgers, which is like the rest of us going to a movie at the really nice theater AND getting popcorn.
- To that end, you're going to hear a whole lot in the coming weeks (and years, really) about how having a huge payroll doesn't guarantee a team anything, and that's quite right. But it sure does help you get to the table: in the last 18 seasons, the big money Yankees have missed the playoffs exactly once. Don't let folks tell you the huge payroll thing is meaningless. It isn't a guarantee, but it sure as heck does matter.
- In a much smaller weekend deal, the Phillies brought in Michael Young to play third base, despite his -1.4 WAR last year. He'll cost them $6 million in salary, as well as reliever Josh Lindblom and quality relief prospect Lisalverto Bonilla.
- MLB's revenues have been climbing steadily since 1995, and reached $7.5 billion last year after a couple years at $7 billion (flat, likely due to the recession - but even staying flat through that period is positive). In just a couple years, with the infusion of serious television dollars, that figure could blow past $9 billion.
- 18-year-old Japanese pitching phenom Shohei Otani, who set off a firestorm of excitement a couple months ago when he indicated a desire to come straight to MLB, rather than first play in Japan ... is going to play in Japan.
- Rob Neyer writes up his Winter Meetings experience - a look behind the curtain from the writers' perspective, if you will.