Catcher J.T. Realmuto, third baseman Kyle Seager could be among the position players dangled as trade bait in the suites of Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay, where executives and agents gather next week for the annual swap session, which in an age of complicated finances and medical records serves as a midpoint for talks as much as a place to finish deals.
Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein predicted the week will be “really active.”
“It seems like there is plenty of trade talk, and there are still a lot of good free agents out there,” he said. “A couple of moves have already occurred that sort of always set the stage for increased activity in the next week or so.”
Pitchers Patrick Corbin ($140 million for six years with Washington) and Nathan Eovaldi ($68 million for four years with Boston) already struck big deals in a free-agent market moving more swiftly than last off-season’s, and third baseman Josh Donaldson took a $23 million, one-year agreement with Atlanta.
Nineteen of 164 players who exercised major league free agent rights have announced deals, up from eight heading into the meetings last year.
It’s not like the old days when teams made deals as soon as the market opened and tried to fill all their needs by the end of the winter meetings.
“Things are slow,” Oakland general manager Dave Forst said. “I don’t think it’s that different from last year. Maybe the winter meetings will kind of jumpstart things.”
Also on-deck at the meetings:
HALL OR NOTHING
Orel Hershiser, Albert Belle and George Steinbrenner will be considered for the Hall of Fame when a 16-member panel votes this weekend in Las Vegas. Results will be announced Sunday at 8 p.m. EST.
Harold Baines, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Lee Smith, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel and Lou Piniella are included on the ballot. The Hall of Fame board-appointed Today’s Game Era Committee includes Hall members Greg Maddux, Roberto Alomar, Joe Morgan, Bert Blyleven, Pat Gillick, Tony La Russa, John Schuerholz, Ozzie Smith and Joe Torre.
The Rule 5 draft is the last item of business at the winter meetings, held Thursday morning before clubs clear out of town. Teams scour each other’s 40-man rosters, looking for players left off. Royals pitchers Brad Keller and Burch Smith, Tigers outfielder Victor Reyes and Texas outfielder Carlos Tocci were among those picked last December in the Rule 5.
Eight announcers who called games in the early days of radio are candidates for the Hall’s Ford C. Frick Award that honours broadcasting excellence. Waite Hoyt, Harry Heilmann, Connie Desmond, Pat Flanagan, Jack Graney, Al Helfer, Rosey Rowswell and Ty Tyson are all deceased.
Hoyt and Heilmann already are in the Hall as players — Hoyt was the top pitcher on the famed 1927 Yankees, Heilmann played alongside Ty Cobb in the Detroit outfield and hit .403 in 1923. No player in the Hall has also won the Frick award.
The prize will be announced Wednesday.