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2007 Winter Meetings Predictions

Miguel CabreraThe Winter Meetings are almost here, and with them will come some notable trades and free agent signings. This year could be especially good because there are some very big names being dangled by ballclubs. Here is my best attempt to provide some bold, yet realistic, predictions:
  • The first big story is going to be Johan Santana, and if the rumors are true, a final decision on whether to trade him or not will come in the next 24 hours. It is being reported that the Yankees have submitted their final offer, and have told the Twins they must accept it by tomorrow or it will be rescinded. The Twins have been smart about these trade discussions, and have the Red Sox and Yankees in a bidding war that has reportedly brought Phil Hughes and Jacoby Ellsbury, both thought to be untouchable at first, into the discussion. However, it is clear at this point that both teams have submitted their best offers, and now it is up to the Twins to decide if either offer is worth pulling the trigger on. Of course, even if Minnesota agrees to one of the deals, Johan will likely only waive his no-trade clause if he gets a contract extension that makes him the highest paid pitcher in baseball history. I'm sure there are split opinions within the Twins organization on whether to pull the trigger or not, and between that and the difficulties of hammering out an astronomical contract in short amount of time, I think somehow or another Johan Santana will still be a Twin when the meetings are over.
  • Miguel Cabrera will not be a Marlin by the end of the meetings. Not much has come out about him in the past week, but I believe a deal for him is far from dead. It sounded like the Angels had come all the way up to the Marlins' full initial asking price for Cabrera, and all of sudden the Marlins decided to ask for a bunch more to make the deal happen. This ticked off the Angels, but the two sides will likely strike up conversation again at the winter meetings. Personally, I think the Marlins are willing to take the Angels offer, but really like what the Dodgers could potentially offer. My guess is that Florida is trying to create a bidding war between the two of them to extract as much as they can out of one of the teams for Miguel Cabrera. It's good, hard negotiating, which is what the team should use with such a valuable player as Cabrera. The only question is if they were so hard that they turned the Angels off for good. It seems like the Angels are hell-bent on winning though, sparing no expense and guarding no prospect, so I think it would nearly be impossible for the Marlins to disgust the Angels so badly that they would lose all interest in Miguel Cabrera . Unless the Dodgers decide in the next few days that Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp can go to the Marlins, I expect to see the Marlins trade Miguel Cabrera to the Angels for Howie Kendrick, Jeff Mathis, Joe Saunders, and Reggie Willits.
  • The Mariners will walk away from the winter meetings with a new starting pitcher. The rumor tonight is that they have given Hiroki Kuroda a 4-year, $44 million offer, and I believe he will accept that. In addition, Kuroda will be the biggest free agent signing that any team makes during the winter meetings (not a real bold prediction looking at the free agents available). Even if the M's don't land Kuroda, they will trade for someone. They are not leaving these winter meetings without a new starting pitcher.
  • No one will walk away with either Joe Blanton or Dan Haren. Anyone who has read Moneyball and remembers Billy Beane's trading rules knows that he will never do a deal because he needs to. The Mets are the logical fit, but they do not have the pieces to get a trade done now that they got rid of Milledge, because I doubt the A's care about Carlos Gomez's speed all the much. The only reason Beane is entertaining offers for either pitcher is because the free agent pitching market is so weak, and so many teams seem desperate for pitching. Beane understands the principle of supply and demand, and that he has the kind of high ground that allows him to leave the bargaining table unless he gets everything he wants. The bottom line is that a team will have to blow away the A's to acquire either Blanton or Haren, which no team is willing to do.
  • The Rangers will be rumored to be after Orioles starter Erik Bedard, but not come close to acquiring him. Admittedly, I am pulling this one completely out of thin air, but it makes too much sense and I am trying to make bold predictions. Texas desperately needs starting pitching, wants to make a splash this off-season, and has plenty of money to burn since Torii Hunter did not sign with them. There are already murmurs that Baltimore will listen to offers for Bedard, and even if Texas never actually inquires, at the very least some reporter will make this Bedard-Texas connection and spin it into an inside scoop.
There are five bold predictions for the winter meetings. Whether any of them are correct will be known by Wednesday.