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Week Ahead: Shopping frenzy for GMs

Holidays won't slow teams' pursuit of top available talent
December 18, 2017

Throughout the cities of MLB, the week ahead seems to be all about the pre-holiday lull. Vacations are starting, schools and offices are getting ready to take a break, and the stores are bustling as revelers prepare for the annual celebration.But Major League Baseball never takes a day off, let

Throughout the cities of MLB, the week ahead seems to be all about the pre-holiday lull. Vacations are starting, schools and offices are getting ready to take a break, and the stores are bustling as revelers prepare for the annual celebration.
But Major League Baseball never takes a day off, let alone a week.
The weather might be frightful in some climes of the American and National Leagues, but the Hot Stove is in full sizzle, and it hasn't even been stoked yet with the flurry of winter deals that are still to come. In other words, don't think for a second that any of the 30 clubs are on seasonal hiatus. Not when so many great players are available on the open market, and not when so many blockbuster trades might be brewing.
Hot Stove Tracker
We just saw Giancarlo Stanton go to the Yankees and Shohei Ohtani decide to sign with the Angels, who then traded for Ian Kinsler and signed Zack Cozart. We just saw the Dodgers and Braves orchestrate one crazy five-man deal that sends Matt Kemp back to Los Angeles while Atlanta clears a way for super-prospect Ronald Acuna and gets Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Adrian Gonzalez and Charlie Culberson.

So let's say it's a fair assumption that general managers will have their smartphones on the table next to the feast fixings as we steam into Monday. Especially when so many questions remain unanswered.
Let's start with Manny Machado. The Orioles star wasn't dealt at last week's Winter Meetings near Orlando, but there were enough conversations between Baltimore executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and interested suitors to have Machado on everyone's mind as the sport's yearly convention skipped town. There are several potential snags to a monster Machado deal, such as the fact that he'll be a free agent after the 2018 season and the Orioles would surely want serious prospect talent in return, and that reports have indicated that Baltimore owner Peter Angelos does not want Machado going to his club's AL East-rival Yankees, who got Stanton from the Marlins.
Still, this is Machado, a perennial MVP contender who's in his prime years. Any trade talks concerning an elite player can't be ignored. The White Sox have expressed interest in Machado, and it's been reported that the Cardinals might be players, too. And while Duquette's next move is anyone's guess, it's widely believed that any deal involving Machado would have to net Baltimore a decent amount of starting-pitching talent in return.
"We're going to do what we can to put together the best club we can," Duquette said. "And obviously there's a lot of interest in our players on our roster who are going to be free agents [after the 2018 season], so we need to sort through the extent of that interest and see if a trade makes sense."
The Stanton trade made a lot of sense for the Yankees, who now pair the NL home run leader with their own AL home run leader, Aaron Judge, in what's shaping up to be a positively frightful lineup. Given these circumstances, one would think the Red Sox would be heard from on the Hot Stove circuit, sooner or later, to answer this bold AL East maneuvering.
Not surprisingly, Boston is being mentioned in talks for not only the best available free-agent hitter on the market, J.D. Martinez, but also the open-market headliner at first base, Eric Hosmer. Boston covets both players and could very well have the motivation and the money to make one or both happen.

Last week, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski commented on the strategy of waiting for deals to develop while other potential targets come off the board. This issue came to light over the weekend when a possible Red Sox person of interest, first baseman Carlos Santana, signed with Philadelphia.
"I think it's based upon feel and pulse and where you think the market is and when you need to make a decision, rather than when you might have to make a decision," Dombrowski said. "It does factor in, the waiting aspect of it."
This would be a good week to stop waiting, if the Red Sox are ready to pounce. Martinez and Hosmer are both represented by agent Scott Boras, so it wouldn't require more than one phone call.
Meanwhile, there are still plenty of other big-name players available, with right-handers Jacob Arrieta and Yu Darvish among the top-bill names in the sought-after starter category.
This will be an interesting situation for the Cubs, who still need pitching, even after signing starter Tyler Chatwood and relievers Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek. The Cubs had Arrieta, but might let him go while pursuing Darvish. Reports indicate Alex Cobb, most recently of Tampa Bay, might be a good fit to reunite with his former Rays pitching coach, Jim Hickey, who's taking over that gig at Wrigley Field.

Not that Cubs president Theo Epstein is willing to show his cards, of course.
"I think the starting market is a little slower to develop both in free agency and in trades," Epstein said. "We're going to be patient. We continue to look to add pitching in the bullpen and in the rotation."
He's not the only one in that boat. And Arrieta, Darvish and Cobb aren't the only accomplished players out there, either.
Sluggers Jay Bruce, Mike Moustakas, Jose Bautista and Todd Frazier are still out there. So are outfielders Carlos Gonzalez and Carlos Gomez, Lorenzo Cain and super-utility man Eduardo Nunez. Starters Lance Lynn, Chris Tillman and Jason Vargas round out a strong group, as do relievers Wade Davis and Addison Reed.
They're ready to be scooped up just in time for Christmas, so keep that in mind in what could be an eventful week ahead.

Doug Miller is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.