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MLB: Winter meetings open with quiet — between storms?

Published December 9, 2013 10:15 pm

Baseball • Annual event follows flurry of offseason moves.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. • After all the trades and signings last week, baseball's annual winter meetings opened with relative quiet.

David Price still was being dangled on the trade market by the Tampa Bay Rays. Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz could be signed for a large pile of cash.

"Maybe there's a little bit of calm after the storm, and the next storm is a few days away," Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Monday. "We'll see. Something will happen while everyone's here, but maybe it's a little lower volume than some other years just because so much has already happened."

Two years from free agency, Price is the most high-profile player mentioned in trade talks this week. The 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner had a salary of $10,112,500 this year, nearly one-sixth the payroll of the attendance-challenged Rays.

"This is how we have to operate within our little world," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "So if it were to happen, it's one of those that's almost the word 'devastating' in a sense, but we have to recover from those kind of moments, if it does actually occur."

Price would join James Shields, Matt Garza, Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton among players who left the Rays, whose average home attendance of 18,646 was the lowest in the major leagues.

Few fans means tight cash flow.

"Just think if you could have kept all those guys for several years and keep them together for maybe 15 years like the Yankees did starting in 1995, '96 to present time," said Maddon, who's been touring the United States in an RV. "I do commit myself to that thought on occasion, but the reality is that's not the way it is."

Baseball's high rollers have made many of their moves already.

The Yankees, stung by missing the playoffs for only the second time in 19 years, spent $307 million to add Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Kelly Johnson and to retain Hiroki Kuroda and Brendan Ryan. They didn't seem very concerned that Robinson Cano left for a still-unfinished deal with Seattle said to be worth $240 million over 10 years.

After winning its third World Series title in 10 seasons, Boston watched Ellsbury head to its Bronx rival. The Red Sox allowed catcher Jarrod Saltamacchia to leave for a $21 million contract with Miami and replaced him with A.J. Pierzynski, who agreed to an $8.25 million, one-year deal.

Curtis Granderson, Joe Nathan, Jhonny Peralta and Tim Hudson also have signed with new clubs, and Prince Fielder, Ian Kinsler, Doug Fister, Jim Johnson, David Freese and Heath Bell were traded. The pace of turnover has been a bit dizzying.

"It's been a quicker-moving offseason certainly than I think anyone expected. The movement last week was unlike most years," Cherington said. "I would imagine there's probably a lot of trade talk this week, because a good chunk of the free agents are off the board."