The Week Ahead: Second helping of deals?
Hot Stove season not slowing down for Thanksgiving; Hall ballots revealed Tuesday
You've got Brian McCann headed to New York, Jhonny Peralta bound for St. Louis, Prince Fielder and Ian Kinsler passing each other on the fly-by to points north and south, and payrolls moving up and down on a still-undefined Major League scale.
All that and it's not even Thanksgiving?
Sounds like a hearty Week Ahead, and even if your only big plan for the next seven days is to kick back, watch TV, soak in the smells coming from the kitchen and jack your prescribed calorie allotment into overdrive heading into Friday morning, there should be plenty to chew on in the Hot Stove world of baseball.
Remember when then-Boston general manager Theo Epstein flew to Arizona to sit down for hors d'oeuvres and seasonal beverages with Curt Schilling right 'round this time of year? Whatever was said over cranberries, Stove Top and tryptophan must have resonated, because the big hoss became a huge part of a curse-ending 2004 season to remember.
Add to that succulent memory just a handful of the many as-yet-unsigned names -- Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, Ubaldo Jimenez -- and a lingering uncertainty regarding the possible posting of Japanese star starter Masahiro Tanaka, and you know it's still high time to pay attention.
So what'll it be? That green-bean casserole with the Ritz cracker crust, or a change in approach, like a Tofurky and gluten-free quinoa-and-pumpkin pie?
Will we see a pre-Winter Meetings run on the top free agents, or could we be witness to creative blockbuster trades a la Fielder-for-Kinsler or the monumental Blue Jays-Marlins salary-dump bonanza of a year ago?
Anything is possible at this time of year, and that makes it fun.
The latest news is that Peralta landed a four-year, $52 million deal from St. Louis, and that he most likely could have received an extra year and a lot more money from another club.
This means the National League champion Cardinals are even more stacked, having addressed their main position of concern at shortstop, but it also means that Ellsbury, Choo, Beltran, Mike Napoli, Jimenez and Ervin Santana and others should now get monster deals in a big-time buyer's market.
It also could mean that the reported 10 years and $300 million that this year's headliner, Cano, might be seeking doesn't seem all that cartoonish anymore. Of course, it remains that way to the Yankees, whose president, Randy Levine, said New York would never hand out such a contract.
"We want Robbie to come back," Levine said. "We value him. We think he's an important piece of the New York Yankees. We've made him a very, very competitive offer. We hope he strongly considers it. We'd like him to lead the Yankees for years to come, and that offer reflects it.
"But they're still at 10 years and $300 million, and we're not interested in giving anybody 10-year contracts or paying any player $300 million. I think right now we're just waiting for them to come back to us."
Maybe that'll happen this week.
Meanwhile, the Yankees just shelled out $85 million for McCann's five-year pact, and other teams are soon to be lining up for the rest of the available loot.
Impact position players are available in the form of not just Ellsbury, Choo and Beltran, but also Napoli, Curtis Granderson, Stephen Drew, Omar Infante, Justin Morneau, Nelson Cruz, Kendrys Morales, A.J. Pierzynski, Corey Hart, Rafael Furcal, Juan Uribe, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and more.
And while Tanaka's fate remains up in the air, plenty of middle-end, durable and/or possible high-upside innings-eating types remain on the board. Those names include Jimenez, Santana, Matt Garza, Bartolo Colon, Ricky Nolasco, Hiroki Kuroda, Dan Haren, A.J. Burnett, Jason Hammel, Scott Kazmir and Bronson Arroyo.
Veteran closers and late-inning relievers are in abundance, too, with Joe Nathan, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Brian Wilson, Jesse Crain, Fernando Rodney and Eric O'Flaherty all ready to be signed.
In other words, it's go time, holiday week or not.
The Tigers, for example, just orchestrated a swap that helped them out financially, so general manager Dave Dombrowski is already onto the next chess move: working on his starting rotation via the exploration of a possible extension for American League Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, who would be eligible for free agency after next season.
"As we've talked about in the past, we're in a situation where we have a lot of stars on our club," Dombrowski said. "They're well-paid stars, and you can only be in a position where you have so many of those type of players.
"Does [the freed-up payroll] make [a Scherzer extension] probable? I can't say that. But it makes it more possible going forward. ... Max is a player we'd like to keep in our organization and a player I know would like to stay here."
Free agents and trades and talks of extensions, believe it or not, are not the only things to watch out for this week.
On Tuesday, the 2014 Hall of Fame ballots will be revealed, and things will get even more confusing on the road to Cooperstown, as greats such as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Jeff Kent and Mike Mussina make their ballot debuts, joining second-year names Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Schilling and Sammy Sosa, as well as veteran contenders Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Lee Smith, Edgar Martinez and Alan Trammell.
Seventy-five percent of the vote and you're in. The results will be announced on Jan. 8.
For now, the week of Thanksgiving, let's express our gratitude for this great game that never leaves us bored, settle back into the sofa, and let it all happen.