Baseball’s winter meetings begin in earnest Monday, and this was supposed to be the year that a lot of the impact signings were made before the sport’s annual powwow.
The thought was that changes in compensation for free agents would jumpstart the market and that some of the huge names would come off the board before anyone got on a plane to Nashville.
Although more rumors are swirling this week, only seven of Yahoo Sports’ Top 50 free agents have signed and only one of the Top 14 (Hiroki Kuroda, who re-upped with the New York Yankees) has a new deal.
In other words, it looks like the winter meetings again will be a high-priced dog and pony show. I asked one baseball executive Tuesday why the market didn’t develop as quickly as expected. The answer was interesting: He said he thought a lot of teams were waiting for Friday’s non-tender deadline at midnight.
The executive said there are several intriguing names on the potential non-tender list that could become free agents by Saturday morning, and teams may want to get a feel what those players are seeking before committing to a current free agent.
Obviously, the big one for the Orioles is first baseman Mark Reynolds, who almost assuredly will be non-tendered with hopes that a lesser deal (than the $9 million or so for one year that he’d receive in arbitration) can be worked out. If it can’t, he can talk to any team starting Saturday at 12:01 a.m.
Reynolds isn’t alone. There are some other recognizable names on that potential free agent list including the Washington Nationals’ battery of Jesus Flores and John Lannan, Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Gaby Sanchez and Texas Rangers catcher Geovany Soto.
Here’s another one: Atlanta Braves right-hander Jair Jurrjens. This time last winter, some Orioles fans were complaining that the Orioles needed to send center fielder Adam Jones to the Braves for Jurrjens and Martin Prado. Now Jurrjens may be an unrestricted free agent after posting a 6.89 ERA in 11 games for the Braves in 2012.
** Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette is the king of the undervalued asset, and so the club has now signed its third player out of an independent league this week. This time it’s 23-year-old outfielder Buddy Sosnoskie, a former Virginia Tech player who transferred and starred at Division II Francis Marion University in South Carolina. This summer, the left-handed hitter batted .339 in 53 games with Fargo-Moorhead of the independent American Association. He was 25th round pick of the Kansas City Royals in 2010, but never signed.
** Oriole Hall of Famer Jim Palmer will receive the Player Lifetime Achievement Award from the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation at its 10th Annual “In The Spirit of the Game” gala Jan. 12 in Los Angeles. Palmer's former teammate, Frank Robinson, won the award last year and other Orioles Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken Jr. have been honored by the foundation in previous years. It’s easy to forget just how lucky the Orioles are that all six of their Hall of Famers are living, and they are still so well respected in the game.
** The passing of former union chief Marvin Miller at age 95 on Tuesday was met with more outrage by players and writers that Miller is not in baseball’s Hall of Fame. Because Miller, who helped establish free agency in the sport and championed the player and not the game, he’s been bypassed for years by the veterans committee that chooses non-players. But it’s hard to argue that many others have been more influential in the sport and its growth in the past 50 years than Miller.
I remember talking to then-union chief Donald Fehr a few years ago at the winter meetings when it was announced that Miller hadn’t made the cut again. Fehr’s face was a bright shade of purple when he finished discussing the slight.
Eventually, Miller will get in, but he should have been able to enjoy the honor while he was still living.