I don’t think it really should be a surprise that the Winter Meetings have been as quiet as they have. As I wrote in my preview article, MLB front offices are in contact with each other 365 days a year. They don’t need to be in the same hotel suite to make a deal. But that doesn’t mean it’s a little disappointing.
Also, Andrew McCutchen looks weird clean-shaven. I assume the Phillies will let him grow back his facial hair.
- There was one very important development during the Winter Meetings as Craig Calcaterra released his sixth-annual list of the Most Handsome Managers in baseball. Brad Ausmus is back, baby. He’s tanned, rested and ready.
- Tim Brown writes about the lack of action at the Winter Meetings by saying that no one is in a rush to get a deal done. (By the way, I don’t think Brown really gets enough credit for being a baseball writer. He’s a pretty establishment guy and rarely says anything controversial. He’s not a guy who breaks many scoops. But if you read this piece, there is some really terrific prose in it.)
- Speaking of great writing, Jayson Stark of The Athletic has won the J. G. Taylor Spink Award. That’s the sportswriting wing of the Hall of Fame. I’m sure he’ll have at least two dozen “useless facts” in his induction speech.
- And I hate to pile on Harold Baines because he he was a good player and it sounds like he’s a great person. But Ben Lindbergh looks at who would be in Cooperstown if every player as good as Baines were inducted. There is hope for you yet, Ray Durham. Just hope Jerry Reinsdorf is on the committee.
- Former White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko would just put everyone who had played 20 years in the majors into the Hall of Fame. Hall of Famer Darren Oliver. Why not?
- Jared Diamond has a piece about how Las Vegas has become a hotbed for baseball talent over the past few years. I think Cubs fans would know a little something about that. (I think you need a Wall Street Journal subscription to read this although I was able to read the piece once and I don’t have a subscription. I haven’t been able to access it since.)
- We’ve covered a lot of the news in these pages over the last two days, but here’s one we haven’t done an article about yet. Free agent outfielder Andrew McCutchen signed with Phillies for three years and $50 million.
- David Schoenfield likes the signing for McCutchen but thinks that it is just a prelude to a bigger signing such as Manny Machado or Bryce Harper.
- Jeff Sullivan writes that the Phillies sorely needed outfield help like McCutchen.
- Jonah Keri looks at where McCutchen fits in with the Phillies.
- The White Sox got pitcher Ivan Nova from the Pirates for a minor league pitcher and international pool money.
- The Athletics signed catcher Chris Hermann to a one-year, $1 million deal. That qualifies as big news this December.
- Susan Slusser looks at the possibility that the A’s will sign the recently-released infielder Troy Tulowitzki. Tulowitzki is from the Bay Area and his agent says he’d like to play closer to home.
- Now we’re into the rumors stage of MLB Bullets, as opposed to the Rumours section where we all listen to Fleetwood Mac sing “Go Your Own Way” to Bryce Harper. In any case, Grant Brisbee has one rumor for every team. And of course, because it’s Brisbee, he assigns a letter grade to each rumor.
- Jeff Passan looks at how new Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen is shaking up the baseball world with his aggressive attempts to rebuild the Mets.
- Tom Verducci reports that Van Wagenen’s aggressiveness would even lead him to trade Noah Syndergaard. Verducci calls Van Wagenen an “outside-the-box” thinker.
- The Diamondbacks say they’re not rebuilding. Does anyone believe that?
- D-Backs manager Torey Lovullo said that trading Paul Goldschmidt was one of the toughest day of his baseball life.
- The Nationals are at least listening to offers for pitcher Tanner Roark.
- The Reds are trying to add an outfielder and two candidates are the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig and the Braves Ender Inciarte.
- The Red Sox are willing to deal pitcher Rick Porcello.
- The Red Sox are also looking to get under the luxury tax threshold this winter and R.J. Anderson notes that this means that MLB has an unofficial salary cap.
- Zach Kram has an interesting study that shows that prospects who are traded underperform as compared to those who aren’t. He als shows why smart teams will deal their highly-rated prospects while their value is high.
- The Rays proposed stadium project in Ybor City is now dead and the team is stuck in Tropicana Field until 2027.
- Free agent reliever Adam Ottavino said that he would “strike out Babe Ruth every time” and for some reason that’s controversial. “Every time” might be a bit of an overstatement, but Ottavino, or pretty much any current major league pitcher, would make Ruth look like a high school hitter.
- Tim Keown agrees and says that only in baseball would this be at all controversial. As he says, no one would think twice if Javale McGee said he’d shut down George Mikan on the basketball court.
- Sam Miller explains why Mike Trout was one of the most dominating athletes of 2018. And Mike Trout would crush Walter Johnson, too.
- Twins outfielder Byron Buxton said he’s still upset about the Twins not calling him back to the majors in September.
- Pitcher Justin Masterson has retired and is doing missionary work. Masterson last pitched in the majors in 2015 and in the minors in 2017.
- Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia are heading to the UK this weekend to promote next summer’s games in London. It sounds like they’ll be in the north for Everton at Manchester City and Manchester United at Liverpool fixtures.
- Mark Townsend has a look at the Winter Meetings Charity Auction, where you can bid on a chance to shoot hot dogs into the stands with the Phillie Phanatic. Also, more normal things like a chance to play catch on the field at Wrigley.
- And finally, Astros infielder Alex Bregman got front row tickets to a Houston Rockets game and ended up with a player (and a beer) in his lap. Unfortunately, unlike baseball where fans get to keep baseballs that end up in the stands, Bregman was not allowed to keep P.J. Tucker.
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster.
Could Easy Ed hit a fair ball off Adam Ottavino?
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