Winter Meetings end with smaller moves, Rule 5 Draft
The vast lobby of the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort emptied, the denizens of the baseball universe squinted in the sunlight they had barely seen for four days, and for another year, the Winter Meetings had ended.
A wild winter of Hot Stove maneuverings, however, continues in full force, and there were a few additional Day 4 takeaways to chew on as the many airplanes departed Orlando for the cities of the Major Leagues.
A flurry of smaller moves kept the pace going while the yearly Rule 5 Draft gave teams hope for bright futures, and when it was all done, there were still quite a few big names left on the board less than two weeks before Christmas.
The Giants struck the biggest deal of the day, signing slugger Michael Morse to a one-year contract with a reported base of $5 million, and the Phillies followed with a play of their own, landing right-hander Roberto Hernandez.
Detroit added to its bullpen by inking former Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain to a one-year deal worth a reported $2.5 million, and the Pirates re-upped with shortstop Clint Barmes on a one-year contract for a reported $2 million.
Thursday featured a trade of outfielders, too, with the Marlins shipping Justin Ruggiano to the Cubs for Brian Bogusevic.
"Bogusevic really is a younger version of Ruggiano in terms of skill set," Michael Hill, the Marlins' president of baseball operations, said. "He can play all three outfield positions. He can fill the role that we had identified with Ruggiano."
Other teams looking for roles to fill had plenty of conversations before the crowds dispersed.
Rumors and reports linked the Rangers to the most high-profile remaining free agent, outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, the Orioles to closer Grant Balfour, the Padres to reliever Joaquin Benoit and the Rockies to lefty reliever J.P. Howell.
The location of the stadium in which David Price will stand atop a pitcher's mound next year was a major question that hung over the proceedings and carried on as the Meetings ended.
It's no secret that Rays GM Andrew Friedman is listening to offers for the left-hander and is serious about possibly moving him for a huge package of prospects and/or big leaguers. Those conversations will surely continue in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, in addition to the Major League moves, there were Minor League doings on Thursday, as the Rule 5 Draft took over a part of the hotel.
Seven of the nine players taken in the Major League phase were pitchers, which continued a trend in the annual event, through which teams that have room on their 40-man roster are allowed to make selections in the Major League phase for $50,000. Players taken have to stick on the 25-man big league roster for the entirety of the following season or be offered back to their original team for $25,000.
The Rule 5 Draft started with Houston selecting left-handed reliever Patrick Schuster from the D-backs and then sending him to the Padres as the player to be named in Wednesday's trade for Anthony Bass.
In the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 Draft, the Rangers selected, well, a football player.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, a contender for MVP of the NFL this year who happens to be a former Rockies Draft pick and Minor League second baseman, was taken by the Rangers out of admiration for his drive and desire, according to GM Jon Daniels.
"I told him we're very respectful of what he's got going on [with the Seahawks]," Daniels said. "It's obviously his No. 1 goal. We wanted to welcome him to the organization and [told him], 'Don't be insulted if you don't hear from us again until you're done playing.'
"He's excited, wants to come to camp to work out and be around the guys. It's open-ended. If he wants to get more involved in that, we'd certainly welcome it. I don't expect it."
Wilson, whose team shares the best record in football, at 11-2, and has designs on winning a Super Bowl, enjoyed the gesture.
"I'm sure I'll go down there for Spring Training and just talk to some of their players and hang out with some of them," Wilson said. "That'll be kind of a cool experience, but that's down the road."