8 biggest winners of Winter Meetings
From D-backs' SP adds to Mets' new IF, these clubs made most of time in Nashville
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- These Winter Meetings reflected the Hot Stove at its very best. This week wasn't about jaw-dropping deals. There was only one of those. More on that one later.
Instead, it was team after team moving pieces here and there, dealing from strengths, upgrading weaknesses. Roster building has always been as much of an art as a science. If you're a baseball fan, this is the good stuff.
In the end, plenty of teams departed Music City feeling good about themselves. Here's the top eight:
When in doubt, go with the team that acquired the best player. In this case, that would be the two best players. After finalizing a six-year, $206.5 million deal with Zack Greinke, the D-backs pulled off the most talked-about trade of the Winter Meetings by acquiring 25-year-old right-hander Shelby Miller from the Braves.
The price was high for Miller: three young players, including the No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 Draft, shortstop Dansby Swanson. He was the stunning part of the deal, and you couldn't walk eight steps inside the Opryland Hotel without getting an opinion about whether Arizona had made one of the smartest or one of the dumbest moves in recent history.
Yes, it's one of those trades that could haunt the D-backs for years to come. On the other hand, they made a loud statement about 2016: They're all in. To repeat: ALL IN.
If you're a D-backs fan, don't you appreciate this attitude? Your team hasn't been to the postseason since 2011, and rather than hear about a three-year rebuilding plan or some promises about a distant future, Arizona said it's about now.
Are the D-backs good enough to win in 2016? Yes, they are. Absolutely. That's the bottom line in all of this. They believe they can steal first place in the National League West from the Giants and Dodgers. Game on. Good for them.
It took the Cubs about an hour on Tuesday to announce two very nice deals: the signing of super-utility man Ben Zobrist and the trade for right-hander Adam Warren from the Yankees for infielder Starlin Castro.
The Cubs didn't come to Nashville with a long list of needs. In fact, they probably would have been happy to open the 2016 season with Castro back at second. In Zobrist, though, they got a special player -- a smart, versatile, productive one. He doesn't just play short, second and the outfield. Zobrist plays those positions well, and he had an .809 OPS for the Athletics and Royals in 2015.
The Cubs then flipped Castro to the Yanks to get Warren, a 28-year-old who can start or come out of the bullpen. He appeared in 112 games the past two seasons with a 3.12 ERA. The Cubs are still shopping for a center fielder and perhaps another starting pitcher. Regardless, they're already positioned for a second straight postseason run.
New general manager Al Avila has had a nice offseason in adding both a proven starting pitcher (Jordan Zimmermann) and a solid closer (Francisco Rodriguez). This week, he continued to transform his bullpen by getting two more quality arms in signing right-hander Mark Lowe and acquiring left-hander Justin Wilson from the Yankees.
Now a bullpen that was 27th in ERA the past two seasons has a chance to be solid, and considering how good the Tigers are in other areas, they've got a great shot to return to October baseball.
This was an outstanding week for the franchise, a week in which the future suddenly looks bright thanks to the acquisition of Swanson, who might be the cornerstone player every reconstruction project must have.
New Braves general manager John Coppolella has remade his organization, jettisoning larger contracts and replenishing the farm system. Miller was a tougher player to trade because, at 25, he's young enough to contribute for years to come. So, Coppolella told teams he'd have to be overwhelmed to deal him.
The D-backs provided that overwheming deal by offering outfielder Ender Inciarte, right-hander Aaron Blair and then -- finally, surprisingly -- Swanson. The Braves aren't expected to win in 2016, but they've got so much young talent, so many young arms, that timetables can change quickly.
The Astros had a strong week, first in agreeing to a trade that would bring them 25-year-old Phillies closer Ken Giles and then in agreeing to terms with their own lefty reliever Tony Sipp. When those two deals are completed, general manager Jeff Luhnow will have finished the heavy lifting of his offseason.
Luhnow would still like to add a starting pitcher, but those are far below getting the two relievers. Giles makes a team that was already good better. He's 25 years old, touches 100 mph on his fastball and appears to be on his way to becoming one of baseball's dominant closers. Giles is also under team control for five more seasons, and while Houston surrendered four Minor Leaguers to get him from Philadelphia, it's one of those deals that makes sense from both sides.
They didn't sign Zobrist, but they did OK for themselves in reshaping their middle infield by getting second baseman Neil Walker and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Both are defensive upgrades, and considering this is a team built on pitching, they absolutely must be able to make the routine plays, if not the occasional difficult one. Both these guys are players that managers and coaches appreciate more after they've had them on their team awhile.
Since becoming the Mariners' general manager a few weeks ago, Jerry Dipoto has been baseball's busiest executive, making nine trades and acquiring new starters at first (Adam Lind), center (Leonys Martin), left (Nori Aoki) and catcher (Chris Iannetta). He has added Wade Miley and Nathan Karns to the rotation and Joaquin Benoit to the bullpen. So if Seattle gets the production it expects from its stars (Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz), this is a team that has a chance to compete in the American League West.
In getting Miley from the Red Sox and Lind from the Brewers at these Meetings, Dipoto got a guy once projected as a top-of-the-rotation starter and a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat.
8. Red Sox
New president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was unable to construct a championship-caliber bullpen while running the Tigers. He appears to have done just that in his first few months with the Red Sox, including this week's acquisition of Carson Smith, a 26-year-old right-hander with a power arm. Having already acquired David Price for the rotation and Craig Kimbrel to pitch the ninth inning, Dombrowski has given manager John Farrell an assortment of nice options.