LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- If you've ever been to Disney World, you already know we live in a small, small world.Monday, the baseball community will gather from all around North America for the start of the game's annual Winter Meetings, a four-day event that could go a long way
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- If you've ever been to Disney World, you already know we live in a small, small world.
Monday, the baseball community will gather from all around North America for the start of the game's annual Winter Meetings, a four-day event that could go a long way toward shaping the upcoming season.
For some, it will be a magical journey to Fantasyland. For others, it could be a trip down the Tower of Terror.
MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2017 Winter Meetings, and fans will be able to watch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, including the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 9 a.m. ET.
Coverage began Sunday with the Modern Era Committee voting for the Hall of Fame, which elected former Tigers teammates Jack Morris and Alan Trammell. One press conference slated for today is the Yankees' introduction of Giancarlo Stanton at 2 p.m. ET.
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The first major domino of the offseason fell Friday when Shohei Ohtani chose to sign with the Angels, finally providing clarity to one of the primary storylines of the offseason.
The other major move happened Saturday when the Yankees stunned the baseball world with their pending trade for reigning National League MVP Stanton, adding the game's most prolific home run hitter to a lineup that already featured AL home run champion Aaron Judge and plenty of other power sources.
How will the rest of the contenders react and respond to the Yankees' shocking move? All eyes will be on Lake Buena Vista over the next four days.
Teams had barely touched down in Florida before two free-agent relievers found new homes. The Cubs were reportedly finalizing a contract with right-hander Brandon Morrow, and a source confirmed to MLB.com that the Cardinals agreed to a two-year, $11 million deal with righty Luke Gregerson. Neither club has confirmed the agreements.
Stanton's move to the Bronx leaves teams around the game in search of their own power bat, with J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Carlos Santana representing the top position players available on the free-agent market. Lorenzo Cain, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, Logan Morrison and Yonder Alonso are also out there looking to help contenders take the next step.
Of course, there's more than one way for teams to improve. They will surely explore the trade market, as well, with two of next year's free agents -- Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson -- certain to hear their names mentioned prominently in one rumor after another.
It's a long shot that either the Blue Jays or the Orioles will deal away their franchise players, but with 30 front offices all confined to the same resort for 96 hours, it's only natural to assume there will be communication between executives with regard to dozens of players, some of whom could have new baseball homes by the time the meetings break up following Thursday morning's Rule 5 Draft.
Ian Kinsler could be on the move as the Tigers continue their rebuild, while Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi -- and maybe even Evan Longoria -- will likely be mentioned in trade rumors given the Rays' history.
Other potential trade targets include Jose Abreu, Andrew McCutchen and Yasmani Grandal as franchises look to deal from areas of strength or move in a new direction.
Speaking of new directions, the Marlins are in the beginning stages of their rebuild under new owners Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter, something that began with Saturday's Stanton news. Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and newly acquired Starlin Castro all figure to draw interest from other clubs as Miami continues to execute its long-term plan.
The pitching market is also flush with talent, even after Ohtani was formally introduced by the Angels Saturday afternoon.
While Los Angeles GM Billy Eppler can now turn his attention toward other items on his winter checklist, the six other Ohtani finalists are likely in search of fallback plans as they look to improve their respective starting rotations.
Yu Darvish and Jacob Arrieta remain on the free-agent market, and now that the Angels have reeled in Ohtani, teams including the Dodgers, Cubs and Rangers are likely to be in the mix for any and all available front-line starters. Same for two of this season's upstart clubs, the Twins and Brewers, who have been attached to virtually every arm on the market.
Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb are the other two notable free-agent arms, though there are several other options for the more cost-conscious teams including Andrew Cashner, Jaime Garcia, Jhoulys Chacin, Jason Vargas and Chris Tillman.
The relief pitching market is also plentiful, giving clubs an opportunity to bolster their pitching staff in reverse fashion, starting with the back end of the bullpen.
All-Star closers Wade Davis and Greg Holland highlight a deep class of relievers even with Morrow and Gregerson off the board, though they're hardly the only free agents with late-inning experience.
Addison Reed, Brandon Kintzler, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee, Anthony Swarzak, Juan Nicasio, Steve Cishek, Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek and Tony Watson are all available, presenting a variety of relief options.
That doesn't even include the trade market, where Baltimore's Zach Britton and Brad Brach, Tampa Bay's Alex Colome, Kansas City's Kelvin Herrera and San Diego's Brad Hand are all rumored to be available for the right price.
The Winter Meetings present a number of surprises every December, so there's a good chance that a big move nobody has even thought about steals the show this week, giving fans an unexpected holiday treat as they prepare to ring in the new year.
The only thing we know for sure? With winter on the horizon, the Hot Stove will keep baseball fans warm this week. Grab a turkey leg and enjoy the show.
Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.