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Hot Stove Blog

Winter Meetings: Day One

by Nathan Grimm
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

Last year's Winter Meetings were largely anticlimactic, with a lot of sizzle but very little steak. That doesn't appear to be the case this year, as the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel saw two trades and a couple signings go down on the first day alone.


We've got you covered for all the latest Winter Meetings news, bringing you recaps of all four days of action right here. You also need to follow along at Hardball Talk on NBCSports.com for their Hot Stove analysis, and, of course, keep refreshing Rotoworld's player news page as we work hard to keep you up to date on all the latest buzz.


White Sox Going For It

 

David Robertson has a lot of black, white and green in his future.

 

The 29-year-old will be wearing a lot of the former after the White Sox offered a good deal of the latter Monday. Late in the evening, Robertson and the White Sox agreed to a four-year, $46 million deal to put an exclamation point on the Winter Meetings' first day. The White Sox were one of three clubs, along with the Yankees and Astros, vying for Robertson's services.

 

The right-hander was one of the best closers in the league in 2014 and immediately strengthens a White Sox bullpen that was vulnerable for much of last year. Robertson saved 39 games and had a 3.08 ERA as the Yankees' closer this past season. His 37.1 strikeout percentage, meaning he struck out more than one-third of the batters he faced, was ninth-best in baseball among pitchers with at least 60 innings pitched.

 

It wasn't the only -- or even the most noteworthy -- upgrade the White Sox reportedly made to their pitching staff Monday. According to reports, the Sox and Athletics were close to a trade that would send Jeff Samardzija to the South Side. The proposed deal, according to multiple sources, would include Marcus Semien as the centerpiece of the Athletics' return.

 

In Samardzija, the White Sox would be getting a frontline starter, albeit one that may only be on the South Side for a year. The 29-year-old finished just 7-13 but had a stellar 2.99 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 202/43 K/BB ratio over 219 2/3 innings between the Cubs and A's this past season. Samardzija's strikeout-to-walk ratio was 14th in baseball among qualified pitchers.

 

Samardzija would slot in behind Chris Sale in the Sox rotation, giving them a formidable staff that includes Jose Quintana, John Danks and possibly 2014 no. 3 overall pick Carlos Rodon. The club will need a strong rotation to compete with the likes of the Tigers, Royals and Indians in the AL Central next season.

 

Samardzija is a year away from free agency and has already expressed an interest in testing the open market -- the reason the A's are so set on dealing him this winter -- so he will likely be a one-year rental for whatever team ends up acquiring him. But with the signings of Robertson, Adam LaRoche and Zach Duke, as well as their hesitance to move Alexei Ramirez to this point, it appears the White Sox are set on winning in 2015 with less regard for future years.

 

Tribe Gathers Moss

 

Last year the Athletics had Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss.

 

Now they have no Cespedes, no Donaldson and no Moss. Am I doing this right?

 

The A's completed the purge of their sluggers Monday, sending Moss to the Indians for Double-A second base prospect Joey Wendle. Wendle, 24, batted .265/.326/.425 in 95 games in the Indians' minor leagues this past season.

 

"The addition of Brandon Moss provides our offense with a proven run-producer and power bat," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said in a release. "Brandon not only has great power, but his defensive versatility and personality also complement the team culture [manager Terry Francona] has helped establish over the past two years."

 

It also creates a surplus of sorts for the Indians. Moss joins Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana as players capable of handling multiple positions, and all three could also slot at designated hitter on a given night. While the Indians could keep all their pieces and enjoy the wealth, a more likely scenario is that they will push to move Swisher and the $30 million he's due to be paid over the next two seasons.

 

A more unlikely scenario was brought up when Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported teams have inquired about Santana's availability. Unlike Swisher, Santana will make just $14.25 million over the next two years of his deal, and a $12 million club option for 2017 means Santana is under the team's control for the next three years at a very reasonable rate. Also unlike Swisher, Santana is actually good and in the prime of his career, producing at least three wins, per Fangraphs, in each of the past four seasons. A team dealing for Santana would presumably need to give up a substantial major league return for the 28-year-old.

 

There's some concern about Moss coming off hip surgery -- Matthew Pouliot wondered whether that was the reason all he could fetch was a middling Double-A prospect -- but if he's healthy, the 31-year-old should enjoy his new digs. According to Fangraphs' Park Factors, Progressive Field is one of the most friendly parks for left-handed sluggers, ranking eighth among major league ballparks. His health issues, and the fact that he struggled for much of the second half of 2014, means owners should exercise some caution, but Moss could be a nice risk to take next draft day.

 

Hammel Heads Back To Cubs

 

In a piece dominated by former Athletics, a third, Jason Hammel, found a new team Monday as well.

 

Hammel, who was sent from the Cubs to the A's along with Samardzija this past July, agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with those same Cubs on Monday. Neither side had confirmed the deal Monday, so specifics on the breakdown weren't immediately available.

 

After a down 2013 season, Hammel enjoyed a bounce-back year in 2014. The right-hander won 10 games for just the third time in his career, and he recorded a career-high 158 strikeouts. Hammel was especially good in Chicago before the trade, going 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA in 17 starts. Back in the windy city, the 32-year-old will look to replicate that success.

 

Hammel could be the precursor to a much larger move for the club, as reports had them in the final running for Jon Lester's services. Lester will likely make a decision Tuesday, with the Giants being the other front-runner, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Red Sox and Dodgers have also been linked to the southpaw, and the Sox were told Monday evening that they were still in the running for Lester.

 

Winter Meetings Quick Hits: The Cubs and Diamondbacks have discussed a deal that would send Miguel Montero to Chicago. It's unclear why the D'backs would want to move Montero -- he's a favorite of owner Ken Kendrick and the club doesn't have an immediate replacement available -- but the return would likely be low-level prospects from the Cubs' system ... The Mariners "remain (the) favorite" for Melky Cabrera, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, and they're apparently willing to offer him a deal similar to the one they gave Nelson Cruz. Cruz got four years and $57 million, a deal that could be the best Cabrera will find on the market ... A Matt Kemp trade continues to look more likely, and the Padres appear the favorites to acquire his services. Any deal would most likely include Yasmani Grandal going to the Dodgers, and an agreement could be reached before the end of the winter meetings if things continue to progress ... Mark Trumbo is "definitely in play," per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, but nothing is imminent. With the Yasmany Tomas deal becoming official, the club has a surplus of power-hitting corner outfielders and infielders, freeing Trumbo up for the right deal ... The Mets, with a glut of starting pitching, are "aggressively shopping" Dillon Gee. Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon are two other candidates to be moved, and it appears likely that at least one doesn't see Opening Day with the Mets ... The Rangers and Braves could be discussing a deal involving Evan Gattis. Dallas Morning News writer Evan Grant believes the deal is still a long ways away from being a reality. A handful of teams remain interested in his teammate, Justin Upton, as well ... If the Orioles can't replace Nick Markakis in free agency, Marlon Byrd could be a name on the trade front. The Phillies are in a rebuild, making Byrd expendable for the right price ... Chase Headley will likely make a decision on his next home before the meetings let out on Thursday. The Yankees and Giants are among the short list of teams still in the bidding for the 30-year-old.