Baseball: Quiet opening for MLB winter meeting
Lake Buena, Fla. • Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox made the biggest news on the first day of the winter meetings, an indication of the timeout in the trade-and-signings market.
The trio of retired managers was elected to the Hall of Fame on Monday in a unanimous vote by the expansion era committee. The other big news was the retirement of two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay after 16 seasons at age 36.
But after all the deals last week, there were almost no new transactions.
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. "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. So I don't lament that. I'm really happy for the guys that once they've done well here, they go somewhere else and do well and make good money for themselves and their family," he said.
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."
Miami introduced Saltamacchia during a news conference just after a person familiar with the negotiations said the Marlins had agreed to a $7.75 million, two-year contract with first baseman Garrett Jones. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal hadn't been finalized and Jones had yet to take his physical.
That means Miami could look to deal first baseman Logan Morrison, who has slumped during consecutive injury-interrupted seasons. Toronto slugger Jose Bautista also could be available.
"I know some teams have asked about him," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's sitting in the center of our lineup and still one of the best hitters in baseball. You can understand why teams are asking about him. But he's still here right now, and we're glad to have him."
AP Sports Writer Steven Wine contributed to this report.
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