11/19/12 6:12 PM ET
Free-agent moves may be on turkey week menu
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
You've got Gerald Laird (Atlanta) and Juan Pierre (Florida) departing for warmer climes for 2013.
You've got Melky Cabrera (Toronto) crossing a border to a colder one.
You've got one of the biggest blockbuster trades in recent memory between those Blue Jays and the Marlins finalized.
You've also hopefully got a plump bird on reserve for Thursday, your favorite recipes dusted off and a comforting plan to kick back and ease into the Thanksgiving weekend.
In other words, things are still pretty mellow and undefined as we head into the next baseball week. Then again, that doesn't mean said things can't get hairy in a heartbeat.
Remember when then-Boston general manager Theo Epstein flew to Arizona to sit down for hors d'oeuvres and seasonal beverages with Curt Schilling right 'round this time of year? Whatever was said over cranberries, green bean casserole and tryptophan must have resonated, because the big hoss became a huge part of a curse-ending 2004 season to remember.
We're not saying that this week will bring us the next prelude to bloody-sock lore, but it's important to keep paying attention, even when most people are out of the office in a holiday week, and especially with Hot Stove headliners Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke still out there on the free-agent landscape, and others, such as Justin Upton, rumored to be available via trade.
So what'll it be? Grandma's sausage-and-spinach stuffing or reliable old Stove Top? A flyer on a relatively unknown commodity such as 32-year-old Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa, or a massive investment in Hamilton? A surprise trade in which just-crowned National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey or any of the Kansas City Royals' immensely talented youthful pieces (Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Wil Myers) are shipped off for prospects?
We won't know answers until the big dominoes fall, and Hamilton would appear to be the biggest one right now. The latest news on the 31-year-old slugger is that the Mariners, who were believed to be one of the primary suitors for his services, might not be in the running at all.
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik on Friday said Hamilton's desired contract length and dollar amount, which has been reported at seven years and $175 million, "might surpass where we're going to be."
"You have to be realistic about how you're going to allocate your dollars," Zduriencik said. "Some of these things drag out, and if you're sitting there waiting on one chip, other chips in front of you might go away and you end up with nothing."
As for the rest of the available names, well, it's a lot more than nothing.
Impact bats are available in the form of Adam LaRoche, B.J. Upton, Mike Napoli, Lance Berkman, Nick Swisher, Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Ludwick, Cody Ross, Delmon Young and A.J. Pierzynski. Game-changing multi-faceted types include Michael Bourn, Ichiro Suzuki, Marco Scutaro and Shane Victorino.
And while Greinke might be the only true No. 1 starter in the mix, there are plenty of middle-rotation and durable innings-eating types on the board. Those names include Hiroki Kuroda, Dan Haren, Ryan Dempster, Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Brandon McCarthy and Joe Blanton.
Veteran closers and late-inning relievers remain in abundance, too, with Rafael Soriano, Jonathan Broxton, Matt Capps, Ryan Madson, Brett Myers, Joakim Soria, Jose Valverde, Mike Adams, Kyle Farnsworth, Francisco Rodriguez and J.P. Howell all ready to be signed.
General managers won't be afraid to put their feet on the accelerator and look at deals differently, and we could see major strides in the market this week, even if it is interrupted by one of our nation's signature holidays.
"I think the one thing we don't want to do is get into a situation where we're not aggressive, or we're not thinking about how we can get better," Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said.
"I want to challenge the group upstairs to look at creative and innovative ways to try to get this team better."
The bargain-bin bonanzas of 2013 are finding their proper altitude levels tucked comfortably under the radar. Some general managers are working the phones this week while others pick up family members at the airport. Everyone's getting their Winter Meetings (Dec. 3-6 in Nashville) plan sewn up. Pitchers are beginning to start their throwing programs at fields and parks near you, a mere three months from the first glove-smacks of Spring Training.
So while we might not have any idea what might transpire in the world of Major League Baseball over the next four days, and possibly even into the long weekend, remember to give thanks -- for food, family, and for freedom, to be sure.
But also for baseball, which feasts with the best of them but never unwinds on the sofa.