Before we get started, I just wanted to give a shout out to the South Bend Cubs. While we think the Winter Meetings are about trades and signings, the real purpose is to conduct business for both the majors and minors. And in the ceremony for the 2022 “Golden Bobbleheads” that honor Minor League Promotions, the South Bend Cubs won the Award for “Best In-Game Promotion” for their “Spin to Win Saturdays.”
From the press release:
The South Bend Cubs modernized a staple of their promotional calendar from previous years, using technology and improved prizes to attract more participants, while also saving their staff hundreds of hours of data entry. After giving away a flat screen TV every inning on Saturdays in previous years, in 2022 the club offered fans a chance to spin the wheel for a shot to win a 50” smart TV, a $100 Visa Gift Card, an iPad, PlayStation5 or Xbox One or a $150 grocery gift card, among other prizes. Instead of having fans sign up by writing down their name, phone number and email address on a slip of paper (which later had to be entered into their CRM system by hand), the club created a QR code to allow fans to sign up using their smart phone. Participants were notified by text message and the following inning would spin the wheel live on the videoboard for the entire ballpark to watch. On the rare occasion the fan would win a “dud prize” (hot dog or soda) the team would surprise them with a real prize. Using the simple QR code to register fans led to thousands of new contacts in their customer database and provided additional sponsorship opportunities for the club.
“We work in an amazing industry that is always creating new and innovative promotions on an annual basis, so to be selected as this year’s winner is very humbling and we are incredibly honored to receive our first Golden Bobblehead,” said South Bend Cubs President Joe Hart. “Spin to Win Saturday has become a popular promotion and has created a new level of excitement at the ballpark.”
Now on to the news. I’m sure I’m missing stuff — this has been a busy two days.
- Before we get to all the deals at the Winter Meetings, you need to read this piece by Bradford William Davis on Dr. Meredith Wills continued research into the construction of baseballs. She found that MLB used at least two different balls and possibly three during the 2022 season, all with different levels of “liveliness.” Also suspiciously, the “liveliest” balls were used almost exclusively in Yankees games during the regular season. (They were also in use all through the postseason and in “special events” like the All-Star Game.)
- Now the deals. The Phillies made a huge splash by signing shortstop Trea Turner to an 11-year, $300 million deal. That’s actually $42 million less than the Padres offered him. But playing on the East Coast was apparently worth $42 million to Turner.
- Jay Jaffe evaluates the Turner deal and says even though the deal is for 11 years, it’s a good deal for a team in “win-now” mode like the Phillies.
- Matt Snyder is the perfect fit for the Phillies lineup.
- Brittany Ghiroli focuses more on Turner the person and believes that he will fit in perfectly with both the Phillies and the city of Philadelphia. (The Athletic sub. req.)
- Zach Crizer examines how the Phillies signing Turner both does and does not change the balance of power in the National League East.
- The Phillies also added right-hander Taijuan Walker to a four-year, $72 million deal.
- After having lost Jacob deGrom to the Rangers, the Mets replaced him by signing Justin Verlander to a two-year, $86.7 million deal.
- Michael Bauman evaluates the deal and gives the Mets a “thumbs-up.”
- Pete Caldera got reactions from Astros and Yankees players to Verlander’s deal with the Mets.
- Hannah Keyser notes that even with the addition of Verlander, the Mets still need more pitching this winter. Right now it’s Scherzer and Verlander and pray for a . . .belt sander? I dunno.
- The Guardians signed first baseman Josh Bell to a two-year, $33 million deal.
- Michael Baumann believes Bell is perfect for the Guardians—if the “good” version of Bell shows up in Cleveland.
- The Rangers added left-hander Andrew Heaney to a two-year, $25 million deal. The deal includes incentives that could push the deal up to $40 million.
- Keith Law analyzes both the Ball and Heaney deals. (The Athletic sub. req.)
- The Giants signed outfielder Mitch Haniger to a three-year, $43.5 million deal.
- The Angels signed right-hander Carlos Estevez to a two-year, $13.5 million deal.
- The Yankees signed right-hander Tommy Kahnle to two-year, $11.5 million deal.
- Ben Clemens looks at the Pirates’ deals with Vince Velazquez and Jarlín García.
- Zach Crizer analyzes every deal at the Winter Meetings so far.
- Bradford Doolittle and David Schoenfield grade all the deals. (ESPN+ sub. req.) The Cubs get a “B+” for Cody Bellinger.
- Will Leitch has 11 takeaways from the Winter Meetings so far.
- Bob Nightengale calls the Winter Meetings have been a frenzy of spending.
- The entire Winter Meetings went into shock when Jon Heyman tweeted out that “Arson Judge” had signed with the Giants. Heyman first corrected the typo and then a few minutes later he withdrew the report, saying that he’d “jumped the gun.” Of course, Aaron Judge has a new nickname of “Arson” now.
- Yankees manager Aaron Boone was thrown for a loop by the false report.
- The Giants have made a large offer to Judge.
- Bob Nightengale reports that both the Yankees and the Giants are both “anxious” as they await Judge’s decision.
- Pete Caldera looks at what Yankees might do if Judge signs elsewhere.
- Judge was named Time Magazine’s Athlete of the Year. In that article, Judge says he was upset that the Yankees leaked their contract offer to him last off-season.
- One of the highlights of the Winter Meetings every year is agent Scott Boras’ pun-filled press conference. Or maybe it’s a lowlight, depending on your point of view. But the journalists there love it. Stephanie Apstein gets Boras to reveal how they came started and how he prepares for the press conferences.
- Commissioner Rob Manfred gave his much more boring press conference. Among the things revealed is that he expects the Angels to have agreed to a sale before Opening Day.
- The first-ever MLB Draft Lottery was held yesterday. If you’re curious about how the lottery worked (and man, was my wife curious and she peppered me with questions I couldn’t answer), J.J. Cooper got to watch the entire process unfold and can answer all your questions.
- If you’re more interested in who the Pirates might take with the first pick, Kiley McDaniel has some possibilities to consider. (ESPN+ sub. req.)
- Dayn Perry examines the state of labor relations in MLB, one year after the lockout.
- Cardinals play-by-play broadcaster Dan McLaughlin was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Because McLaughlin has been convicted of DWI twice before, he’s facing a felony charge this time.
- This may have been a bad week to publish this, but Alex Eisert tries to re-examine what we know about defensive alignments in the outfield, and especially who should be in left field and who should be in right.
- Does anyone care about the All-MLB team? If you do, click on that link.
- Shohei Ohtani intends to both pitch and hit for Team Japan in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
- Kyle Schwarber announced that he’s playing for Team USA.
- Christina De Nicola reports that general manager Tony Reagins revealed that Mike Trout was the key to building Team USA. Once he got Trout to commit and named him captain, top players were eager to join Team USA and play with Trout.
- Andrew Marchand has the story of MLB dot com’s Sarah Langs and her inspiring battle with ALS at the young age of 29.
- Finally (and I feel a bit like Bill Clinton at the 1988 Democratic Convention here)
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster.