The Start Of The MLB Off-Season

The MLB general managers are about to convene for the annual GM meetings.  While the off-season began for most teams a month or so ago, this annual convocation is the ceremonial beginning to the preparations for the 2017 season.  I saw a list of more than 130 free agents who are out there looking for another gig.  Not to worry, I am not going to go through that list here; however, there are some names on there that are sort of interesting.  There are “name players” who might be interesting additions to teams but who may not draw a lot of interest because of advancing age and/or high price.  I put many of these folks into 5 categories that I will present here:

On Sale/As Is/No Returns/All Sales Final:  Category descriptor is self-explanatory – –

  1. Tim Lincecum (been a while since he was effective)
  2. Koji Uehara (age 41)

Bargain Basement:  For a short-term deal at reasonable cost, look here – –

  1. Peter Bourjos (injury issues resolved?)
  2. Ross Detweiler
  3. Jeff Francouer (tempted to put him in the category above …)
  4. James Loney
  5. Colby Rasmus
  6. Jared Weaver (veteran 5th starter in a rotation?)

Take a Shot: These are players getting up in years who may want a long-term deal; that makes them a bit of a risk – –

  1. Jose Bautista (Age 36)
  2. Edwin Encarnacion (Age 33)
  3. Rich Hill (Age 36)
  4. Mike Napoli (Age 35)
  5. Matt Wieters (Age 30)
  6. CJ Wilson (Age 35)

Worth Pursuing:  This guy can give a roster plenty of flexibility – –

  1. Ian Desmond

Good for the Bullpen:  Relief pitching is very important – –

  1. Kenley Jansen
  2. Mark Melancon
  3. Drew Storen

The GM meetings often lay the groundwork for trades that culminate in December and all the discussions/evaluations regarding off-season trades must be put in the context of free agent availability and price tags.  There is no baseball action at the moment, but that does not mean there is no baseball activity at the moment…

There is one other baseball free agent that is interesting because of his reputation.  A. J. Pierzynski is on the market at age 39.  He has been in the major leagues for 19 years with 7 different teams.  Here is a comment attributed to Ozzie Guillen – not known for being “politically correct” at all times – regarding AJ Pierzynski:

“If you play against him, you hate him.  If you play with him, you hate him a little less.”

In the NFL, the trade deadline came and went with nothing of great importance happening.  There are “contending” teams with significant needs out there (the Eagles really need a WR; the Seahawks and the Vikes need offensive linemen) and there are teams going nowhere with a player who might fill one of those needs for a contender (Browns and Niners each have a good offensive lineman who could help a lot).  The fact that nothing happened says that the “sellers” were asking too high a price for the goods they were peddling.

The thing that I like about the NFL trade deadline is precisely what frustrates me about the MLB trade deadline.  When the NFL deadline passes, there are no more trades; the deadline means what it says.  In MLB, the “trade deadline” is 31 July but everyone knows that is nonsense since player movement happens after the “trade deadline”.  Here is the system that I would prefer for MLB:

  1. The trade deadline is hard and fast on June 30.
  2. As of 1 July every year, each team has its roster and its minor-league system.  That is the cadre that will take teams to the playoffs – or not.
  3. If a player is waived/cut/released, he still collects his guaranteed contract, but he cannot sign with another MLB team.  He can go and play in the minor leagues somewhere as an “unaffiliated player” and then sign on with anyone who wants him in the subsequent season.

That would be a simple system – and it would put a premium on building a team down through the minor leagues for depth from the beginning of the year.  It would discourage teams from throwing together a roster in April with a wait-and-see attitude regarding a position of buyer or seller at the end of July.

I will not be holding my breath until MLB adopts my approach here…

Finally, here is an item from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

“Cha-ching: The sale at an auction of one of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson’s bats for $583,500 illustrates how ridiculous some people can be with their money. Imagine how much somebody might be willing to pay for Joe’s shoes – if he had any.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………