Week Ahead: Hot Stove set to cook up tasty deals
Upcoming week should bring plenty of action on free-agent market
The Angels signing Cliff Pennington was the stuffing. The A's inking Rich Hill to a one-year contract was the sweet potatoes. The Tigers trading for Francisco Rodriguez and then Cameron Maybin? Cranberries and corn pudding. Oakland flipping Jesse Chavez to Toronto for Liam Hendriks? Call that one the green bean casserole.
These were seasonal side dishes in a Major League Baseball week otherwise preoccupied with handing out the well-deserved awards for a memorable 2015 season.
But the week ahead is all about anticipation for the main course. The Thanksgiving holiday might take up much of our attention in and away from the kitchen, but don't think for a second that the upcoming seven days won't be eventful on baseball's Hot Stove.
Let's face it: For all the free-agent and trade action we've witnessed in the weeks since Wade Davis struck out Wilmer Flores to deliver the World Series title to Kansas City, the biggest available names haven't moved. There's plenty to feast on and there will be plenty of leftovers.
The free-agent market is the strongest it's been in years, as the record 20 qualifying offers proved. And once the headliners go, it will be a serious feeding frenzy.
It just might start with the starters. We spent part of last week watching Zack Greinke and David Price finish second in their respective Cy Young Award races. Well, guess what? Both happen to be free agents.
The deep-pocketed Dodgers figure to be in the mix to either reup with Greinke or pursue Price in their never-ending quest to get back to the World Series, but rumors are swirling that the San Francisco Giants might make a play for Greinke -- and possibly another arm -- while the Red Sox could make a play for Price. The Giants won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014, and next year is another even-numbered season.
Meanwhile, Dave Dombrowski is heading up the Boston front office and he had a relationship with Price in Detroit. Dombrowski has already said that the Red Sox will plumb the market for pitching, and the last time we checked, there was some money to spend in the Fens.
Oh, and remember when the Red Sox went after Curt Schilling and landed him just in time for the 2004 World Series run that broke an 86-year championship spell in Beantown? Yeah, that happened over Thanksgiving dinner.
Granted, that was orchestrated by Theo Epstein, and Epstein is now at the helm of baseball operations for the resurgent Chicago Cubs. Which brings us to our next point: Don't forget about the Cubs.
Already there's been speculation that they are shopping infielder Starlin Castro, and that they've been looking for pitching. Some reports have indicated that Chicago might have interest in trading for either Julio Teheran or Shelby Miller of the Braves.
There's also the possibility that the Cubs could try to land a free-agent starter to slot into an excellent rotation that already includes National League Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. Those names could include their former righty, Jeff Samardzija, or others such as Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, Hisashi Iwakuma, John Lackey, Mike Leake, Wei-Yin Chen, Scott Kazmir, Yovani Gallardo, Tim Lincecum, Ian Kennedy or Doug Fister.
Elsewhere on the wheeling-and-dealing landscape, the week ahead could see more action in the Pacific Northwest. Jerry Dipoto, the new Mariners general manager, has already made four trades this winter. It wouldn't be surprising to see him continue to remodel that roster.
The Yankees have been discussing outfielder Brett Gardner in trades, and some have speculated that the Dodgers might be willing to part with outfielder Yasiel Puig and the Marlins with outfielder Marcell Ozuna.
One of the best closers in the game, Craig Kimbrel, was already traded this offseason. It wouldn't be very surprising to see another one, Cincinnati's Aroldis Chapman, head up a blockbuster swap.
Despite rumors, the Braves have said very recently that they're not interested in trading first baseman Freddie Freeman. Will the Marlins even consider dealing young ace Jose Fernandez? Only time will tell.
It's also possible that Japanese star right-hander Kenta Maeda could be posted by his Nippon Professional Baseball club and shake up the winter proceedings the way Masahiro Tanaka did two years ago, before agreeing to a $155 million deal with the Yankees.
We can't guess on if or when that might happen, but we can certainly make guesses on where all the terrific free agents of this 2015 class might end up.
In addition to those starters, there's a plethora of star position players, including Yoenis Cespedes, Jason Heyward, Alex Gordon, Justin Upton, Chris Davis, Ben Zobrist, Denard Span, Dexter Fowler, Ian Desmond, Howie Kendrick, Daniel Murphy, Mike Napoli, David Freese, Asdrubal Cabrera, Alexei Ramirez, Chase Utley, Alex Avila and Chris Iannetta.
And don't forget the relievers. The available bullpen arms include Darren O'Day, Ryan Madson, Tommy Hunter, Mark Lowe, David Hernandez, Tyler Clippard, Trevor Cahill, Joakim Soria, Tony Sipp, Oliver Perez and more.
Sure, it's a lot to digest, isn't that the way it's supposed to be during Thanksgiving week with a full Major League plate?