LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) Much like the postseason, the baseball winter meetings became a parade of relievers.
Steve Cishek and Fernando Rodney were on the move Thursday, joining Brandon Morrow, Luke Gregerson, Bryan Shaw, Joe Smith and other setup men, middlemen and specialists going to new teams this week.
The bullpen gates figure to keep swinging open, too. Closers Wade Davis and Greg Holland are still available.
”That’s probably the one area in which there’s been a lot of activity, at least on the free-agent market,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said.
Cishek and Morrow are going to the Chicago Cubs, who could lose Davis.
”You got to have that great bullpen to play the last game of the year and win it,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
GMs, executives and scouts who packed a hotel lobby near Disney World for three days headed home, eager to continue their holiday shopping.
Big hitters J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer and Carlos Santana are in play, along with Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas. Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn certainly would help any rotation.
Overall, 12 major league free agents have finalized contracts this offseason. At the same point last year, there had 42 deals.
A few reasons: Teams spending time trying to land NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton and Japanese two-way player Shohei Ohtani, agent Scott Boras moving deliberately to set the market for his stable of stars, plus clubs willing to wait longer for bargains.
The New York Yankees made the biggest splash at this annual swap shop, acquiring Stanton from Miami. The Marlins, meanwhile, looked adrift under new CEO Derek Jeter, trading away a trio of All-Stars – Marcell Ozuna, Dee Gordon and Stanton – to cut payroll.
The Cardinals were busy, getting Ozuna and Gregerson and moving outfielder Stephen Piscotty to Oakland.
Piscotty is from the Bay Area. His mother was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in May, and this deal lets him play close to the family home in Pleasanton, California.
”You are never making a player trade simply for geographic or sentimental reasons,” John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations for the Cardinals, told St. Louis media.
”It had to be something that made sense for us. There were certainly some opportunities to move him elsewhere. When you are looking at how to break a tie, clearly that did play into it,” he said.
The much-traveled Rodney has a deal with Minnesota, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. Known for shooting an imaginary arrow into the sky to celebrate saves, he turns 41 during spring training.
Philadelphia is boosting its bullpen with Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter, the Nationals are set to keep Brandon Kintzler and the Mets added Anthony Swarzak.
Never can have enough relievers, as teams showed over and over and over in October while watching bullpens get bruised.
”Used and abused,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said.
The final piece of official business at the meetings was the Rule 5 draft for players left off 40-man rosters. No surprise, the most interesting name was a reliever.
Anthony Gose, last seen in the majors as a speedy center fielder for the Tigers, is trying to revive his career as a pitcher. The lefty has a fastball in the upper 90s and made 11 relief appearances last season in the low minors for Detroit.
The World Series champion Houston Astros picked Gose, figuring it was worth a $100,000 gamble.
”We know we’re putting our chips on red 23,” Houston pro scouting director Kevin Goldstein said in a roulette reference, ”but there could be a good payoff.”
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