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Previewing the Winter Meetings

It’s the biggest week of the offseason

MLB: Winter Meetings Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This week is the biggest stretch of the baseball offseason, with all 30 teams meeting in one place. The Winter Meetings is traditionally the point of the offseason in which the most action happens. There are big trades, big signings and rumors galore. Plus, there’s always one big scrum with Scott Boras giving the media a whole bunch of quotes. Things officially kick off on Monday and run through about midday Thursday and are taking place in Las Vegas this year. Let’s get prepped for the event.

What happens at the Winter Meetings?

Let’s start with the basics. What are the Winter Meetings? Well, like I said above it’s when representatives from all 30 teams meet in one place. On a smaller scale, it is a place where media members and fans all meet in one place as well. It’s also a place where people looking for jobs can all gather and talk with teams. If that’s you, the Winter Meetings is your place.

For most of us, though, we care only about the front office side of things. This week is going to be a rumor-fest and should include quite a few trades. With the explosion of technology, texting and email have made trading all year much easier. The Winter Meetings used to be more important as it was the only time of year it was so easy to communicate with other GMs. Still, even if it isn’t as technically necessary these days it’s still action-packed.

What will the Red Sox do?

With Dave Dombrowski at the helm, Boston is always a possibility to be a major player at the Winter Meetings. That’s true again this year, though it would be surprising. The Red Sox have already made two moves this winter, bringing back both Steve Pearce and Nathan Eovaldi in free agency. They still have a little work to do, but it’s clear Dombrowski and company largely just want to bring the band back together. In addition to these two signings, it’s expected that Boston will want to sign at least one and possibly two relievers. That will be the biggest focus for Red Sox fans this week. Look for trade rumors, but more likely look for rumors swirling around the free agents. According to reports, Craig Kimbrel is currently holding up the relief market, so if he signs early in the week the floodgates could open. The Red Sox also could make smaller moves to cut payroll (I’d be surprised) and/or to move one of the catchers (I don’t expect it so soon), but the reliever market is clearly the big focus at this point.

Who could be traded?

Like I said, I expect the Red Sox to be more focused on free agency than the trade market, but dealing is always a possibility when Dave Dombrowski is at the helm. If there is a trade where Boston can get a legitimate late-inning arm, they are at least going to have to consider it. Of course, if they do, prospects will be traded. I don’t expect them to do anything that ships out their number one trade asset — Rafael Devers — but everyone else is on the table. Any of their top prospects could be traded and it wouldn’t be a surprise, but I suppose if I had to pick the three most likely they would be Bobby Dalbec, Darwinzon Hernandez and C.J. Chatham. I don’t know that any of them are significantly more likely than any other prospect in the system.

The Rule 5 Draft

Every year, the Winter Meetings concludes with the Rule 5 draft, when teams can take minor-leaguers from other organizations. For a quick refresher, any player taken in the Rule 5 Draft needs to be kept on his new team’s active roster for the entire season or they are sent back to their original team. The Red Sox typically don’t pick players in the draft, and their 40-man roster is currently full, so signs would point towards them not selecting anyone this year either. If they do, some interesting names could include Riley Ferrell, Jairo Beras, Jackson McClelland and Max Schrock. There’s also Josh Ockimey, who the Red Sox opted not to protect, who is likely to be drafted by another organization at some point on Thursday.

The Rest of the League

The Red Sox may not be overly busy this week, but it should be an exciting week around baseball. The main attractions will, of course, be Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. The top two free agents of the winter haven’t really generated a ton of buzz and rumors just yet, but that’s coming. The Yankees, Phillies and (surprisingly) White Sox seem to be the biggest players early on. You can also expect major trade rumors including a possible Madison Bumgarner and/or Noah Syndergaard trade, not to mention possibilities we haven’t heard yet. So, buckle in. This week will be fun.