Holliday trade shows Hot Stove season is heating up
The Rockies traded All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday to the A's on Monday
CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Manny Ramirez could get nine-figure contracts
Chicago White Sox GM Ken Williams could be looking to deal this winter
It isn't true that the most exciting thing to happen last week at the General Manager Meetings at the St. Regis Resort Monarch Bay in Dana Point, Calif. was an overzealous security guard hassling Yankees GM Brian Cashman about whether he belonged in the hotel -- though, it may have seemed that way at the time. Really, important exchanges did occur at the GM meetings, even if no stars changed teams in those few days, and that became clear just a couple days later when there was an agreement for a trade to send superstar outfielder Matt Holliday from Colorado to Oakland in a fairly surprising mega-trade.
A's owner Lew Wolff has told associates he's "tired of losing,'' so it appears the A's will keep Holliday, at least until this summer, when they'll presumably re-evaluate whether their stunning winter deal that's expected to send talented young outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, left-handed pitcher Greg Smith and longtime reliever Huston Street to Colorado, has re-made them into a quick contender. But in the meantime, there should be action aplenty across the board.
While the GM's conference was held just a little too soon for major trades or free-agent signings to be consummated, contrary to the perception, the GMs still stirred up a lot of dialogue about three superstar free agents plus many more stars on the block, including Padres star pitcher Jake Peavy and White Sox stars Bobby Jenks and Jermaine Dye, not to mention a whole host of trade speculation, some of the best involving whether the Dodgers might move their talented young catcher Russell Martin to third base or even elsewhere.
If the GM meetings weren't thrilling enough for some, it still set up what promises to be a winter where several major stars change teams. There's the threesome of free agent mega-stars aiming for nine-figure deals -- CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Manny Ramirez -- a very nice next batch of free-agent pitchers A.J. Burnett, Derek Lowe, Ryan Dempster, Ben Sheets and Oliver Perez, plus closers Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes and every day stars such as Rafael Furcal, Bobby Abreu, Orlando Hudson, Adam Dunn, Pat Burrell and Orlando Cabrera. Then there's a whole host of trade possibilities sure to be explored, especially by the many teams priced out of the big free agents in the economic meltdown. Here are seven intriguing, continuing winter storylines:
1. CC Sabathia
The Brewers made a bold (for them) proposal believed to be $100 million over five years for the ace left-hander but have to know they are in deep. Still, they are apparently holding off on listening to trade inquiries for center fielder Mike Cameron and perhaps Prince Fielder until they're sure Sabathia is going to greener pastures. He's said to slightly prefer California (his home state), so the Dodgers and Angels could be big players. But as one GM said in predicting a big score by the Yankees for perhaps $150 million over six years: "When does anyone ever leave a dollar on the table, much less 20 or 30 million dollars?''
2. Mark Teixeira
The Angels badly want him back and are probably the favorite to re-sign him, but one club official insisted they won't let things drag out. Yet, Teixeira has seemingly prepped his whole life for this moment, and will want to see what the ultra-rich Yankees (whose revenues will skyrocket in their new Yankee Stadium, even in an economic meltdown), Red Sox, Mariners, Nationals and hometown Orioles say. Whatever happens, as a friend of Teixeira's said, "It's good to be Mark Teixeira now.''
3. Manny Ramirez
The Dodgers announced they made an offer for the second highest real-dollar salary in history, and while true, SI.com first learned the deal was $45 million over two years. That means it's only for $5 million more than the two club options Ramirez went to great lengths to erase before he was traded to Los Angeles in the first place. Ramirez went on to play superman in Hollywood, batting .396 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs in 53 games, then really turning it on the playoffs (.520). Unless the Dodgers truly get serious, sources indicate to SI.com that the Orioles, Blue Jays and Yankees, three AL teams that can offer a DH role, or perhaps even Philadelphia (which lost out on Holliday and whose manager, Charlie Manuel, was Ramirez's first hitting coach), could blow away L.A.'s offer.
4. Russell Martin
Word is going around that a few people with the Dodgers have soured on Martin, and some of them may include members of the team's excellent pitching staff. Outside teams were anxious to try to make a deal for Martin, who has proved to be a fine two-way player, even if he can apparently wear on folks. Third base could be another option if the problem is limited to the pitchers. If the Dodgers do decide to move him -- and the evidence is fairly thin so far -- the Red Sox, Reds, Royals, Marlins, Astros and anyone else looking for a catcher would be lining up.
5. Jake Peavy
Peavy's bags are practically packed only 10 months after signing a $53 million, three-year extension with San Diego. GM Kevin Towers said on his way out of Dana Point there was "momentum'' for a trade, with the Braves, Cubs and Dodgers possible landing spots. The Yankees still look like a major long shot considering Peavy has a no-trade clause and much prefers those three teams in the National League. Word is, Towers has preferred to do a deal with Atlanta, presumably for their prospects. But the Braves balked at including heralded pitching prospect Tommy Hanson, and the ever-aggressive Cubs are working hard, as well.
6. Chicago White Sox
GM Ken Williams, perhaps baseball's biggest risk taker, is listening to offers on closer Jenks (the Mets are trying to swing a deal for him before doling out free-agent riches to Fuentes or Rodriguez), and even Dye, as well as innings-eater Javier Vazquez. And, of course, first baseman Paul Konerko remains another trade possibility, especially for the teams that lose out in the Teixeira sweepstakes.
7. Washington Nationals
They were acting as if they'll play for Teixeira, Burnett and Holliday before agreeing to a trade on Monday that will bring pitcher Scott Olsen and outfielder Josh Willingham from the division rival Marlins. But one competing GM said only Adam Dunn is a realistic get among the stars, and that's "if they overpay,'' which they might since Nationals GM Jim Bowden "has an infatuation" with Dunn. Ultimately, one owner agreed that the Nats won't sign multiple big names, saying of the team-owning Lerners, "They are rich, but they're pretty tight.''