The Baseball Winter Meetings kick off in Nashville, Tennessee today, and last until Thursday afternoon. The four day event brings together major league and minor league clubs, players, agents, countless organizations and people associated with the business end of baseball, along with writers from around the world. There are seminars, sessions, luncheons, job fairs, and trade shows, and that's not even the best part.
All 30 29 major league general managers will be attending the event. Over the next four days, GMs will begin to put forth the plans they've set up over the last baseball-free month. Not only will the seeds be set, but a lot of these plans will come to fruition. Welcome to the busiest part of the offseason. There's plenty to be done, and the rumor mill will surely convey that, but be wary of everything that you read. Prepare for an onslaught of rumors, many of which are planted by teams and agents.
The Marlins kicked off last year's meetings by signing Jose Reyes, and then the Angels ended it by signing C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols. The Yankees didn't do very much at this time last year, but there were also much fewer needs. In 2010, the Yankees were quite again, but they did make a substantial (apparently not substantial enough) offer to Cliff Lee, as well as bid up the Red Sox for Carl Crawford.
The Yankees had much bigger needs in the two years previous to that. Cashman was able to start the 2008 winter meetings off by signing CC Sabathia. During that time he also targeted A.J. Burnett, who would go on to sign the week after the event. The team also completed one huge trade in 2009, sending Austin Jackson and Phil Coke to Detroit, as well as Ian Kennedy to Arizona for Curtis Granderson.
Cashman and the organization have a long history of big moves at this time of year. Coincidentally, the Yankees need a starting catcher, right fielder, and a designated hitter, amongst a number of other smaller areas. With big needs and a small budget, I wouldn't be surprised if a major trade happens by Thursday.
It all ends on that last day with the Rule 5 draft, where the organization has been quite active lately. Last year they acquired Cesar Cabral and Brad Meyers, and in 2010 they received Robert Fish and Daniel Turpen. As it stands right now, the team's roster is full, so they will have to trade or designate a 40-man rostered player if they plan to select someone. If you're curious to who's available, check out Jonathan Mayo's top 20 list from MLB.com.
I've always thought that the winter meetings mark the end of the 2012 season and the beginning of the 2013 season. The rest of the offseason is pretty slow until mid-February, so enjoy the last flood of baseball for 2012.