This week would have been the week of baseball’s Winter Meetings.
The in-person Meetings were cancelled due to the pandemic, so baseball writers are trying to pretend that they’re happening “virtually.”
There really aren’t any “virtual Winter Meetings.” Baseball management folks are doing the same thing this week they’ve been doing all offseason, which is to conduct business via phone, text and Zoom.
But some national writers are trying to create interest in this week as some sort of “special” week during this somewhat slow offseason:
Sources: @MLB free agent activity has picked up significantly in last 24-48 hours, concurrent with what would be Winter Meetings week; starting pitching and catching are among the most active positions. @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 8, 2020
Sounds like a plant from an agent, or multiple agents, since the tweet reads “Sources,” plural.
Paul Sullivan of the Tribune wrote an entire article about the lack of Winter Meetings:
Thanks to modern technology, the winter meetings are more for show than anything. The only things that can’t be replicated are the late-night gatherings at the hotel bar and the awful metaphors from agent Scott Boras during his state-of-free-agency news conference, a standing-room-only affair at which social distancing would be impossible.
If you are expecting the Cubs to make any sort of splash this week — or indeed, at all this winter — you’re likely to be disappointed. Sure, most of us are reasonably certain the Cubs are shopping Kris Bryant and will trade him if they get a good offer, but more likely, KB is going to be on the roster Opening Day and any trade could happen at the deadline. The Cubs could use some starting pitching and relief help, but don’t expect them to make any splashy signings. Players have been posted from Japan and Korea, but I wouldn’t look for the Cubs to make any inroads into that market either.
Whenever that is. That’s one thing that’s creating this slow market, uncertainty. We don’t yet know whether the NL will have the DH in 2021 (though it’s seeming unlikely at this point). We don’t know what roster limits will be next year, nor do we even know whether Spring Training and the regular season (now scheduled to begin April 1) will start on time. My money’s on “no” for both those things, due to the pandemic. If I had to guess right now, I’d say we have some sort of shortened spring training, possibly at MLB parks as it was last summer, sometime in April, and a 100-120 game season beginning in May.
But no one really knows. Scott Boras thinks he does:
Boras had advocated for a 2020 schedule extended into December, a suggestion the league publicly dismissed over concerns the coronavirus would surge toward winter, as indeed it has, and television networks that wanted the World Series to remain in October. He dismisses suggestions that the 2021 schedule might be shortened because, he said, owners have promised their local television partners a full season.
“So you better believe we’re playing a full season,” he said.
Boras, of course, has skin in this game: He wants his players to be paid their full salaries, and he’d lose money if they aren’t. I don’t think Boras knows anything more about whether we’ll have a full season than any of the rest of us do. As always, we await developments.
The only thing that’s going to happen this week that’s close to what we’d see in a normal Winter Meetings week is the Rule 5 Draft, which will occur tomorrow. Later today we’ll have some thoughts here about what the Cubs might do in that session.