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Volume 25 No. 196
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Few Trades, Transactions Seen At Slow MLB Winter Meetings

Big-name free agents like Manny Machado can wait several months to sign with an MLB team

This year's MLB Winter Meetings "went down as a dud, their Las Vegas locale notwithstanding, as no transaction reached the buzz threshold of actually mandating an industry-wide news conference to announce it," according to Ken Davidoff of the N.Y. POST. The quietude prompted Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski to "float the idea of an offseason transaction deadline." Dombrowksi: "We've reached a point where there's not any downtime for people in the game" (N.Y. POST, 12/16). In N.Y., Bill Madden wrote the Winter Meetings used to be a "Hot Stove haven for baseball and its fans." But now it has "dissolved into nothing more than a 24-hour-a-day, week-long infomercial for the MLB Network, with panel after panel of baseball scribes and talking TV heads rambling on about trades and potential signings that never happen." Madden: "At least at the Winter Meetings anyway." Former Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said, "The problem is that you have clubs with payrolls of $200 million and clubs with payrolls of $60 million and teams are shopping in different markets for their needs and different dollars to fill them. To line up these two is very difficult without a deadline. Without a deadline, teams find it a lot easier to say 'no.' Look what happens in July where there is a deadline" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/16).

BAD FOR BASEBALL: In Boston, Nick Cafardo noted Dombrowski "isn't alone in his recommendation to have the league impose free agent signing deadlines and trade deadlines in the offseason." The "lack of activity at the Winter Meetings is ridiculous." MLB is "getting bad publicity because the sport's biggest winter showcase is resulting in minimal transactions." The free agent signing deadline "should be the last day of the Winter Meetings." If a player is "not signed by then, then not until the beginning of spring training." Teams and agents have "plenty of time between the end of the World Series until mid-December to figure out what they want to do" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/16). But Mets reporter Rich Coutinho tweeted, "Talk about adding a trade deadline to MLB off-season is nonsense. I like fact Winter Meetings can be a prelude to trades and free agent signing. It lets the market evolve & to me is so interesting. NBA and NFL are different but those are salary cap leagues-different scenario" (, 12/16). Also in Boston, Sean McAdam wrote for those who think actual games "take too long and don't feature enough action, the same can be said of the offseason, too." This "doesn't happen in other sports." When the NFL, NBA and NHL begin their free agent periods, the action is "non-stop." Signings in baseball can "literally take months." Fans "eventually tire of the lack of movement." It is "hard to affix blame for the current mess." MLB execs "insist that agents encourage the slow-play," while agents "point the finger of blame at front office personnel" (, 12/15).

WHAT'S EVEN THE POINT? In Chicago, Paul Sullivan wrote the lack of movement during the Winter Meetings "makes the affair seem anachronistic." Only 16 official moves "were announced during the three days in Las Vegas: six waiver claims, six signings, three trades and one player (Troy Tulowitzki) released." It was a "snoozefest from start to finish." Sullivan: "It makes you wonder whether the meetings are even necessary in this day and age" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/16). In N.Y., Bob Raissman gives MLB Net "credit for sending its troops to Vegas" to cover the Winter Meetings. Raissman: "But when all you get is a few minor moves and a couple of free agent signings there is not much to talk about." So what MLB Net "wound up presenting was baseball's version of a national Chamber of Commerce Convention," featuring "mostly interviews with GMs, business types, and managers, all who had little to say." Raissman: "We realize the structure and deadlines are different, but compared to what happens during the NFL free agent period, the MLB thing was Heavy Sominex" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/16).

WHERE'S THE COMPETITION? The GLOBE's Cafardo wrote something "has to be done" to address tanking, as there is "simply too much" of it happening. The situation surrounding the Mariners "is ridiculous." Cafardo: "You can't win 89 games and not think if you make the right moves you could improve and make the postseason." These teams "make a ton of money and it's a shame there's this urgent need to dismantle and then rebuild." Some of the matchups and games are "getting so lopsided they're not worth watching" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/16).