Big names in play as baseball winter meetings open
AP Baseball Writer
OXON HILL, Md. — Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander could be available for the right price.
As baseball teams gathered for the start of the winter meetings Monday, star players were dangled along with the usual crop of free agents.
“When clubs take a dramatic change in direction or even a subtle one, that type of player can become available — although often it’s just talk,” New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Sunday. “We’ll see what happens.”
Having retained outfielder Yoenis Cespedes last week for the biggest deal thus far this offseason, $110 million over four years, Alderson is listening to offers for Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce.
The other New York team made a splash with a free agent Sunday. The Yankees agreed to a $13 million, one-year contract with outfielder Matt Holliday, a person familiar with the negotiations said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been announced.
On the eve of the meetings, former Commissioner Bud Selig was elected to the Hall of Fame along with John Schuerholz, architect of the Atlanta Braves teams that won a record 14 straight division titles.
Only about one-sixth of major league free agents have agreed to contracts, and the unsigned group includes closers Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon; slugger Edwin Encarnacion, major league home run leader Mark Trumbo and outfielders Jose Bautista, Ian Desmond and Dexter Fowler.
Negotiations usually gain pace during the winter meetings, when nearly all of baseball is gathered in one hotel. The offseason was framed last month when general managers met. Detroit made clear it had shifted into payroll-paring mode.
“We chose to be transparent,” Tigers GM Al Avila said then. “We chose to tell the players the possibility of things happening.”
McCutchen, who revived somewhat in the late stages of last season, could become a free agent a year from now. Rather than get only a draft pick in return then, the Pirates are likely to be proactive.