This year’s Winter Meetings were crazy. There’s no other way to describe it: deals were coming fast and furious, at all hours of the day and night, from every angle possible. There was a lot of news to keep up with.
So with all of the dust from the meetings settled, which teams came out smelling like a rose? Which players did the best for themselves? And on the flip side, who would like to have a redo? Which teams are actually worse now than when the meetings started? Here’s a look at some of the winners and losers from the past week:
Chicago: For a few days at least, Chicago was the center of the baseball universe. The Cubs made the biggest splash of the meetings by signing Jon Lester to lead their rotation. They also brought back Jason Hammel, who had a nice run with the Cubs last year, and found their new catcher in Miguel Montero. As for the White Sox, they traded for an ace of their own in Jeff Samardzija (to go along with the ace they already had) and added the best closer on the market, David Robertson. Both teams should contend in 2015 and their moves at the Winter Meetings will be big reasons why.
Ervin Santana: He could only find a one year deal before last season, proceeded to have a worse year statistically than 2013, and somehow parlayed that into a 4-year, $55 million contract from the Twins. How does that work, exactly? Who knows, but it makes Santana a definite winner.
Relief pitchers: Robertson got a huge deal from the White Sox. Andrew Miller signed a monster contract with the Yankees. Luke Gregerson signed for $18.5 million over three years. Pat Neshek, who could barely get a minor league contract last year, got $12.5 million for two years. It’s a good time to be a solid middle reliever, which bodes well for guys like Sergio Romo, Francisco Rodriguez, and Jason Grilli. Teams are willing to pay a premium to shore up their bullpens.
Marlins Man: The world’s most famous Marlins fan may finally have a reason to stay in Miami and root for his hometown nine. After promising to surround Giancarlo Stanton with actual major leaguers, the Marlins went out and added Mat Latos, Dee Gordon, and Dan Haren to strengthen what already was a sneaky good roster. The Marlins caught some flak for trading away young, controllable assets but they’re a better team today than they were at the start of the Winter Meetings. If they add a first baseman they could find themselves contending for the Wild Card.
The Dodgers: They shed a ton of payroll by getting rid of Gordon and Matt Kemp, remade the middle of their infield by adding Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick, found a catcher in Yasmani Grandal, and added Brandon McCarthy to round out their rotation. Their new front office wasted little time remaking the roster. Their lineup is a little weaker, but the Dodgers freed up all kinds of money to play with and seem far from done.
The Giants: The defending champs had already lost their third baseman before the meetings started. They were rejected by Lester in spite of reportedly offering him the most money and publicly stated they won’t be bidding on Max Scherzer. They did nothing to address their glaring holes at third, left field, the rotation, and the bullpen. World Series hangover? Maybe, but the Giants had better get over it if they hope to break their odd year drought.
Max Scherzer: Speaking of Scherzer, there was a surprising lack of buzz around arguably the best pitcher available on the market. No rumored negotiations, no teams fighting each other for his services like there were for Lester, and no real news at all. Scherzer will get paid– Scott Boras will see to that– but it’s weird that there wasn’t more news about Mad Max at the meetings.
The Red Sox: Tough to call the Sox losers, but it’s clear their goal at the meetings was to bring back Lester to lead their rotation and help get their revamped roster back to the playoffs. Instead they lost out to Theo Epstein’s Cubs and added Wade Miley, Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson to their rotation instead. Solid, reliable starters? Yes. Any of them close to the caliber of Lester? No. Their rotation is better than it was at the end of the year, but will it be enough to get them where they want to be?
The Orioles: They’ve lost Miller, Nelson Cruz, and Nick Markakis and replaced them with… well, nobody. They were deathly quiet at the Winter Meetings and did nothing to add to their roster; meanwhile, the Red Sox and Blue Jays were making moves to close the gap in the AL East. The O’s have a lot of work to do if they want to get back to the playoffs and they didn’t do themselves any favors in San Diego.
The A’s: Man, it has to be rough being an A’s fan. After their collapse last summer, Billy Beane figured it was time to blow up the roster and start over (after signing Billy Butler, of course). The Winter Meetings saw the A’s get rid of Samardzija for a package of lightly-regarded prospects, plus they shipped Brandon Moss to Cleveland. Their once-powerful lineup now will feature Butler batting cleanup (probably) surrounded by who knows what. Beane has the track record to make you trust him, but the A’s sure didn’t feel like winners this week.