This past week Major League Baseball descended upon San Diego for the annual Winter Meetings. Every year MLB gets together at this time of year to discuss business, rule changes and — the big news of the week — the trades and free agency signings. Every manager, general manager and owner was here, along with coaches and players, to discuss everything and anything about baseball, but mostly who was trading whom and for how much.
For instance: was the Dee Gordon trade worth it? The L.A. Dodgers traded away the speedy second baseman, to the Miami Marlins for another second baseman, Howie Kendrick — who was playing for the L.A. Angels of Anaheim. This is how the deal went down: Dee Gordon, starting pitcher Dan Haren and shortstop Miguel Rojas, went to the Miami Marlins for left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney, right hander Chris Hatcher, infielder Kike Hernandez and catcher Austin Barnes. Then the Dodgers traded Heaney to the Angels for second baseman Howie Kendrick.
Get it? Well, Dodgers fans don’t get it. Gordon led the league in stolen bases (64) and in triples (12). If he isn’t the fastest baserunner in baseball he’s one of the top two or three. What the Dodgers get with Kendrick is a little more power at the plate with a slightly higher batting average. He had 267 put outs in 406 tries, took part in 83 double plays and committed 11 errors.
Dee Gordon’s fielding stats are roughly the same: 256 put outs in 375 attempts, 84 double plays and 12 errors.
Rojas only hit .181 in 85 games last season, but he was a great shortstop, committing only four errors and prevented 10 runs from scoring. And the fans loved Miguel Rojas and Dee Gordon, so they are asking, “What did we get?”
At midnight Wednesday Night/Thursday morning the Dodgers management held a press conference to explain all their trades, which left most of the press with more questions.
That’s the thing about the Winter Meetings: deals are being made and events happening all day and night. It’s a marathon for the people covering it.
There are scheduled press conferences throughout the week featuring managers, general managers and some agents. The agents draw crowds because they have the info on their players and of course they want to send messages, through the press, to the owners.
The new Cubs manager, Joe Maddon, was there and talked about his new home in Chicago’s Wrigley’s Field. His big statement for the crowd: “… hitting the lottery,” after it was confirmed left-handed ace Jon Lester signed with the Cubs. Lester will get at least $155 million over six years, plus an additional $15 million if he reaches certain incentives and chooses to stay with the club after four years.
But $170 million is nothing compared to the contract Giancarlo Stanton received from the Miami Marlins before the meetings got under way — $325 million over 13 years. That’s $25 million per year, or $68,493 dollars per day. He is the highest paid athlete ever.
We looked it up: Catfish Hunter is considered the first “free agent” in baseball. In 1974 he signed the first free agency contract. Hunter left the Oakland A’s to sign a five-year contract with the Yankees worth $3.35 million. He was the highest paid player in baseball at the time, getting “just” $670,000 a year!
We’ve come a long way in 40 years.
Before the Winter Meetings got under way, the first big deal of the off-season was: “Big Panda” Pablo Sandoval left the World Series champion San Francisco Giants for the Boston Red Sox and will get paid $100 million over five years. Everyone knew he was leaving San Francisco; people were talking about it during the World Series when he, Hunter Pence and Madison Bumgarner carried the Giants to a World Series title. During the post season Big Panda batted .344 with 20 RBI and six homeruns.
Plus, he plays third, first and can catch a game if needed. In 2014 he committed only 11 errors and turned 27 double plays. Maybe Sandoval is underpaid, considering Giancarlo Stanton’s contract.
Right after the Giants lost their All-Star third baseman to the Red Sox, the All-Star shortstop for the L.A. Dodgers, Hanley Ramirez, took a trip to Boston worth $88 million over four years. That might seem like a bargain for Ramirez, but when you consider how many games he’s missed in the past two years due to injuries, maybe it was time for the Dodgers to find a new shortstop.
According to details of the trade Ramirez will also play in the outfield and he told the Sox he could be a catcher too.
Baltimore Orioles fans will remember their Birds making it to the American League Championship Series. They probably want to forget the part about losing four straight to the Kansas City Royals, but their team had a great year. Part of that success was their left-fielder Nelson Cruz. He only played one season in Baltimore, but he slugged in 40 homeruns, leading the league. Cruz hit .357 in the post season, with 10 hits, seven RBI’s and two homeruns.
He probably could have been a great asset to Baltimore next season, but instead, he will be playing for the Seattle Mariners. They signed him to a four-year contract worth $57 million. He only stayed a year in Baltimore because the deal with the Mariners almost took place at last year’s Winter Meetings, so Cruz spent a year padding his resume with Baltimore, making a trip to the ALCS in the process, until he could sign with his first choice, the Mariners.
The Orioles didn’t do much this week with trades. They are considering some deals, like acquiring Nate McLouth and Melky Cabrera, but no deals yet with either. They might be waiting to see if they get released first, although Cabrera hit .301 last season so they most likely would have to trade for him. McLouth has a $55 million dollar contract the Orioles don’t want, but the Nationals said they are willing to pick up part of it to make a trade.
The man the Orioles really wanted, left-handed pitcher Ross Detwiler, went to the Texas Rangers. Had he gone to Baltimore Detwiler would have been in Buck Showalter’s bullpen. But in Texas he will be a starter, which is where Detwiler wants to pitch.
Buck Showalter was a big hit at the Winter Meetings though. He held a lengthy press conference and kept the reporters entertained without giving away too much information … which makes sense because there wasn’t much for the Orioles manager to talk about, when it comes to trades.
We will have more from the Winter Meetings in the days to come, with interviews and press conferences from the week.
(All photos by Claudia Gestro)
Claudia is of Peruvian and Italian descent, having been born in a small town, in the North of Peru, South America. She was raised by her grandmother from an early age, living in poverty until Claudia’s mother brought her to America. She landed in Miami, FL and started her new life, playing high school basketball and eventually becoming a United States citizen. Claudia completed her education at Florida International University with a BA in Broadcast Journalism and became a model to supplement her income. Since graduating from FIU Claudia has worked with many of the Spanish Language broadcasting companies, including Telemundo, Univision and most recently Spanish Language channels on SiriusXM satellite radio and 93.9 FM Exitos in Los Angeles. Just so you know where her loyalty lies: Go Lakers!