Meetings wrap: Big presents available
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Closing time at the Winter Meetings has passed, which means that Hot Stove season is going to stay hot for a good while.
Case in point: Chris Davis.
It took until the last 24 hours of the gathering at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center for the fur to start flying between the Orioles and Davis' camp, under the direction of agent Scott Boras. A highly publicized standing offer of seven years and $150 million was either off the table or a mere starting point, depending on which reports you believed, as executives (and even agents) headed for the airport at midday on Thursday.
The Orioles, who have never agreed to a $100 million contract, believed Boras was bluffing when he spoke of interest elsewhere in the first baseman/outfielder, who hit 47 home runs last season. Boras may have believed that the team would blink, as it would want Davis signed before Saturday, when the O's host FanFest in Baltimore.
Other free-agent position players are watching closely, as the price paid Davis could impact their values. Boras had been asked on Wednesday if the Davis talks were holding up deals for other free agents.
"I don't know how that goes," Boras said. "In the ice cream sandwich of markets, you have your boundaries and then you have all the vanilla in the middle. It's pretty hard to get to the vanilla unless you get to the chocolate on the outside. Either they start at the bottom or they start at the top. Usually that's how these things work."
So here we sit, confused and hungry.
Among the more interesting leftovers after a fascinating run of trades, free-agent signings and rumors:
Free agents (non-Davis division)
1. Jason Heyward: Never has there been such an intriguing scenario for a guy who hit 13 home runs and drove in 60 runs. But Heyward enters free agency at age 26, so he may be the rare free agent who is paid more for what he will do in future seasons that what he's done in his first six. The Cardinals would love to retain him, but the Cubs have sincere interest and the financial flexibility to explore a deal of eight or more years. Some believe the final package for Heyward will approach $200 million, and the Nationals have emerged as a surprise bidder, perhaps keeping this from being a tug of war between Midwest rivals.
2. Johnny Cueto: Did he overplay his hand by turning down a reported $120 million over six years from the D-backs? Cueto and his agent, Bryce Dixon, believe a market will develop over time, but they currently haven't been linked to any suitors. Dixon spent some time in Nashville trying to build a bridge from Cueto to the Cardinals, who chased David Price but haven't shown interest in Cueto, who was involved in an ugly fracas at Busch Stadium in 2010.
3. Alex Gordon: Like Heyward, the longtime Royals left fielder is a complete player who compiles WAR with his Gold Glove fielding as much as he does with his bat. Gordon would be a popular re-sign for the champions, who have questions on both sides of center fielder Lorenzo Cain, but he is being pursued by the Giants and could be an option for St. Louis if Heyward lands elsewhere.
4. Justin Upton: Not so long ago, Upton would have headed this list. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 Draft is only 28 and coming off a solid season with San Diego. He could outplay Heyward and Gordon next season and could help almost any team looking for right-handed hitting. Yet Upton's market has been slow to develop. He's a left-field option for the Angels, even though a left-handed hitter would balance their lineup, which is built around righties Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, and he could wind up in Baltimore if Davis doesn't re-sign.
5. Mike Leake: Along with Scott Kazmir, Leake seems a more attractive target at the moment than Cueto. He has been on the D-backs' radar, but the additions of Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller would seem to have whetted their appetite. Leake has arguably been connected to more clubs (including the Giants and Dodgers) than any other free-agent pitcher, perhaps because he was traded midseason and thus won't cost a Draft pick.
Best of the rest
1. Yoenis Cespedes: The guy who carried the Mets into the postseason is stuck in the outfield logjam while waiting on the Heyward decision.
2. Dexter Fowler: There has been persistent San Francisco talk about him since the season ended. A return to the Cubs seems unlikely.
3. Daniel Murphy: With Ben Zobrist in Chicago, the Mets traded for Neil Walker on the rebound. Murphy's bat would help many teams, but his glove has limited his market. He could be a great value for an AL team.
4. Denard Span: Assuming he's healthy, he'll be a good fit somewhere as a center fielder and top-of-the-order bat. The Cubs have monitored Span closely.
Available in trade
1. Jose Fernandez: The Marlins have become surprisingly willing to listen to offers for their 23-year-old ace, who returned from Tommy John surgery in July. They have the Boras client under control for three years, but they were discussing a blockbuster deal with the D-backs before the Braves accepted Arizona's rich offer for Miller. The Dodgers and many other teams established dialogue with the Marlins that could lead to a deal at some point before Spring Training. It would take a huge return for Fernandez, so a deal seems less likely to happen than Davis signing for $200 million with a mystery team.
2. Carlos Carrasco /Danny Salazar: Mike Chernoff, the Indians' new general manager, has been seeking a return for one of his young starting pitchers to improve a lineup that lacks power hitters. The Cubs and Reds are among the teams that have maintained contact with Chernoff and Chris Antonetti, Cleveland's president of baseball operations. A major deal with the Cubs is possible -- the Indians have long had an interest in Jorge Soler -- and could potentially be expanded to include Lonnie Chisenhall, whom sources say is on the Cubs' radar.
3. Todd Frazier: The White Sox pursued Frazier before dealing for Brett Lawrie from the Athletics. Other teams, including the Indians, are interested in the Reds' cornerstone third baseman. New Cincinnati GM Dick Williams was thrown a curve when Aroldis Chapman's domestic violence incident foiled a trade with the Dodgers that had reportedly been reached. Williams will regroup and continue in his attempts to rebuild a team that could trade multiple veterans before Spring Training.
4. Jonathan Lucroy: The Brewers catcher, who led the National League in doubles in 2014, is coming off a disappointing season impacted by injuries, but he maintains his high value because he's under control for two years at $9.25 million. The Rangers were reportedly told it would take third baseman Joey Gallo, their top prospect, to engage Milwaukee in serious trade talks. Lucroy is a fan favorite at Miller Park, but at some point, the value he carries in trades could force GM David Stearns to be more open to prospect-driven deals.
5. Matt Moore /Drew Smyly /Jake Odorizzi /Jake McGee /Brad Boxberger: Even with Alex Cobb in the middle of his recovery from Tommy John surgery, the Rays are open to trading an intriguing package of starters and relievers. They have more young arms coming quickly, so they are looking to use the surplus to bolster their lineup. They targeted shortstop Javier Baez of the Cubs at the start of the Winter Meetings and remain interested in him. The trade of Starlin Castro to the Yankees coincided with the signing of Zobrist, so Baez could remain in play.