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Quick Hitters on the Winter Meetings

With the last day of baseball's annual winter meeting coming tomorrow, I take some time today to reflect on what has already happened and take a look at what will happen:

WHAT HAS HAPPENED

-The Athletics traded for Chad Gaudin, another pitcher with starting experience. This seemed to be an extremely strong indication that the A's were looking to trade Barry Zito, but their G.M. Billy Beane continued to deny rumors involving the star pitcher and said the team was not looking to trade him. Since Beane has already left the meetings, he seems to be speaking the truth.

-The Marlins continued their roster purge by trading Paul LoDuca to the Mets and Juan Pierre to the Cubs. The purge is complex and deserves a post all by itself for a complete breakdown. Watch for that in the not-so-distant future.

-The Indians signed SP Paul Byrd to a two year contract, leaving no doubt that Kevin Millwood will be pitching for a new team in 2006.

-The Blue Jays continued to spend like the Yankees by signing A.J. Burnett to a 5 year, $55 million deal. The deal is big, but not as inflated as the relief pitcher contracts have been this off-season. That is good news for teams like the Mariners, who are in the market for starting pitching.

-The Orioles traded RP Steve Kline to the Giants for RP LaTroy Hawkins. This was essentially a swap of two disappointments.

-The Padres shipped 3B Sean Burroughs to the Devil Rays for SP Dewon Brazelton. Both are young players who were prized prospects that have not developed as anticipated. Both teams say it was just a swap of disappointments, but I believe the Devil Rays clearly got the better end of the deal.

-The Pirates have made a pair of interesting moves so far by acquiring 1B Sean Casey from the Reds and RP Jonah Bayliss from the Royals for SP Dave Williams and SP Mark Redman, respectively. The Pirates dealt from their strength (left-handed starting pitching) to fill holes so, though the trades look like washes on paper, the Pirates did improve. Both were very good moves for them, as well as their trading partners.

-Rafael Furcal was signed by the Dodgers for 3 years, $39 million. The Dodgers overpaid for him, and it's not clear where he will play when Cesar Izturis returns from injury. Furcal is an upgrade, but the Dodgers could have spent their money more wisely.

-The Braves traded Johnny Estrada to Arizona for relievers Lance Cormier and Oscar Villareal. Neither team looks to gain much from the trade, though it is a clear indication that youngster Brian McCann should get a chance to be the starting catcher for the Braves next year.

-The Astros did not offer Roger Clemens arbitration, which likely means that Clemens will retire.

-The White Sox did not offer Frank Thomas or Carl Everett arbitration, which means neither will return to the reigning world champions.

-Trever Hoffman re-signed with the Padres instead of signing with the Indians.

-The Red Sox have agreed in principal to trade backup catcher Doug Mirabelli to the Padres for 2B Mark Loretta. If Loretta comes back from the injury he suffered last year, this will be a terrific deal for the Red Sox. This may also signal that the Padres are ready to give prospect Josh Barfield a chance to start at second base next year.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN

-The Rule 5 draft is tomorrow, so expect a breakdown of the players taken.

-Trade rumors continue to swirl around Manny Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, and Bobby Abreu. Whether any of the rumors are true is hard to tell.

-The Red Sox and Braves are talking about a deal involving SS Edgar Rentaria and it is rumored that they want C Brian McCann and 3B Andy Marte, one of the Braves' best prospects, in return. I doubt that the Braves are willing to trade McCann now considering they just traded Johnny Estrada, so if the rumors are legitimate, this deal will not happen.

-Javier Vazquez has been rumored in many deals, which is not surprising considering he has requested to be traded, which he can legally do with the contract he has. The Mets are rumored to be interested, and that would be a good fit. If the Mets were to acquire him, they would likely turn around and trade Kris Benson, whom the Royals are rumored to be interested in.

-The Mariners have shown interest in SP Kevin Millwood and SP Matt Morris. They must also decide whether to offer arbitration to Gil Meche and/or Ryan Franklin by tonight or they will become free agents. My guess is they will offer Meche arbitration, but let Ryan Franklin go.

-I am convinced Barry Zito will not be traded by tomorrow, but I am not convinced that he will be an Oakland Athletic to start the 2006 season.

-The Rangers are desperately trying to add pitching, both through the free agent market and through trades. They even are rumored to be willing to trade Hank Blalock and some of their top prospects, which they were not willing to do at the beginning of the off-season.

-The Cubs are rumored to be interested in acquiring Milton Bradley, and that rumor seems to be valid.

There are plenty of other rumors I have not touched on, but those are the biggest ones that seem to have some validity. Check back tomorrow for more analysis on whatever has happened.