The Week Ahead: More deals to be done
Plenty of dominoes still to fall in the form of signings, trades after Winter Meetings
The Winter Meetings let out. Christmas and the New Year crept closer. The big moves were celebrated, with Robinson Cano toasting Seattle, Jacoby Ellsbury sizing up his new pinstripes, two burly guys (Mike Napoli in Boston and Bartolo Colon with the Mets) getting burlier (two-year deals) and enough lesser maneuvers (Joba Chamberlain, John Axford, Roberto Hernandez, Clint Barmes, Michael Morse, Nate McLouth, etc.) to stuff plenty of sanitary stockings.
And that was just last week.
Now, as the calendar turns to another Monday and the last week of 2013 in which regular business hours will be in full operation all the way to Friday, it might not be a bad idea to think that a lot more can happen in the world of Major League Baseball.
The first order of business might involve the Seattle Mariners, whose next move seems to be highly anticipated by the rest of baseball. Having signed Cano to a 10-year, $240 million contract and added outfield/first baseman types Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, Seattle is sending strong signals that it is trying to build a winner now.
To do that, the Mariners will have to make more moves, and possibly big ones. That's why they've been linked to trade talks involving Tampa Bay ace David Price and Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp, as well as numerous free agents, including Nelson Cruz.
"I'd still like to add to some areas of the ballclub," Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said after introducing Hart and Morrison to the Seattle media. "I had conversations this morning. I've been very specific on what we'd like to do. I'd love to be able to get another pitcher, we'll look for bullpen help and maybe the possibility of a backup catcher."
Will it happen this week? Well, judging from the pace of transactions over the last two weeks, it very well could, and not just for the Mariners.
The Yankees are expected to do more, although trading outfielder Brett Gardner apparently will not be part of their plans moving forward, if the comments of team president Randy Levine to ESPN Radio on Sunday are any indication. They need a second baseman to replace the departed Cano, and that player will likely not be Omar Infante, who has reportedly agreed to a four-year deal with Kansas City.
"We have a clearer picture of certain things," Yankees GM Brian Cashman said after the Winter Meetings ended. "I have my likes and certainly I have my dislikes in terms of the opportunities in front of us. We're still churning through it."
There's a lot to churn through, still.
Big names are out there to be signed, such as outfielders Cruz and Shin-Soo Choo, starting pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Ervin Santana, shortstop Stephen Drew and designated hitter/first baseman Kendrys Morales. Others include catchers Kurt Suzuki and John Buck, first basemen Carlos Pena, Mark Reynolds and Kevin Youkilis, middle infielders Alexi Casilla, Brian Roberts, Jamey Carroll, and outfielders Raul Ibanez, Juan Pierre, Delmon Young and Franklin Gutierrez.
Veteran starters Bronson Arroyo, Jason Hammel, Scott Baker, Paul Maholm, A.J. Burnett, Joe Saunders, Jake Westbrook, Chris Capuano, Gavin Floyd and Barry Zito are still out there. So are relievers Chris Perez, Jose Veras, Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour, Andrew Bailey, Joel Hanrahan, Jesse Crain, Francisco Rodriguez, Fernando Rodney, Kevin Gregg and Rafael Betancourt.
What about Masahiro Tanaka? Will we get some answers about the Japanese star's situation this week?
The latest news isn't much different from the earlier news: that Tanaka's club in Japan, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, have not yet decided whether to post the pitcher, who went 24-0 in the 2013 regular season in Nippon Professional Baseball, Japan's top league. Some reports have indicated they are unlikely to do so.
Tanaka's decision -- or lack thereof -- could help get the top of the market for starting pitching moving again. Who knows? It might even happen this week.