12/17/12 12:21 AM ET
Week Ahead: Expect some pre-Christmas deals
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
If we've learned anything over the years and, well, in the last week, we should know that just because Monday kicks off the week before Christmas, it would be very silly to believe that every team, front-office executive, general manager, agent or player is away vacationing somewhere warm, out of the reach of a smartphone and with nothing but visions of that new 65-inch flat-screen LED on his mind.
Not after what we just saw in Anaheim with Josh Hamilton. Not after what we might soon see in Toronto and New York with R.A. Dickey and a bunch of prospects. And certainly not with a still-sizable list of free agents and trade candidates ripe for the holiday haul.
So for just a second, beginning Monday, let's try not to concentrate too much on the deals we know about. Sure, we were stunned when Zack Greinke signed with the Dodgers for six years and $147 million, we were stunned when the Rays traded James Shields and Wade Davis and got Wil Myers and three other prospects from the Royals, and we might have been even more stunned when Hamilton and the Angels came to agreement on five years and $125 million.
But there are still a lot of questions to be answered -- questions that could go a long way toward determining whom we see on the field when the games matter most next October. Questions that could start getting answered this week.
Like, for example, what about Nick Swisher?
He's considered the best all-around hitter available on the market now that Hamilton is gone, and the clubs reeling from not getting Josh shouldn't be joshing around anymore. Cleveland reportedly will host a Swisher visit soon, but don't be surprised if Seattle, Texas, Boston and possibly Baltimore remain in the mix.
The same could go for Michael Bourn, the speedster who remains on the market, as well as first baseman Adam LaRoche, catcher A.J. Pierzynski, outfielders Cody Ross and Delmon Young and shortstop Stephen Drew. Lance Berkman's still out there, too.
Going back to the Hamilton deal, don't be surprised if this week brings us a big-time ripple effect. With the Angels now crowding their outfield and lineup, it could make sense for Los Angeles GM Jerry Dipoto to trade one or more of the following players: Peter Bourjos, Vernon Wells, Mark Trumbo or Kendrys Morales. Don't be surprised if a couple of those guys depart Southern California this week for a starting pitcher. Detroit right-hander Rick Porcello has been mentioned as a potential target.
"Obviously this game's a business, and you know that going into it that you can eventually be traded," Bourjos told MLB.com on Thursday. "If you have an opportunity, from a management standpoint, to sign Josh Hamilton, I think you do it. And then, wherever the pieces fall with me or whatever they do, you handle that aspect."
And then there's the pitching aspect. Plenty of good starters and relievers are available late in the calendar year, and we've been hearing that quite a few clubs are in on the two righties that are at the top of the remaining list, Kyle Lohse and Edwin Jackson. Left-hander Joe Saunders and other useful arms haven't yet signed anywhere either.
In the relief category, veteran closers Rafael Soriano, Brian Wilson, Jose Valverde and Francisco Rodriguez are still free agents, too.
But if the transactions of the previous month-plus are any indication, we should be expecting major surprises at this point, and many could come this week, even before the Christmas ham is pulled out of the oven.
The Marlins have already done enough this winter to shake up the baseball world, but their 23-year-old slugger, Giancarlo Stanton, has publicly expressed disappointment in the direction of his team. Might Miami make another blockbuster move by moving this cost-controlled burgeoning superstar?
Will Colorado budge and do the same thing with their young and productive outfielder, Dexter Fowler?
We know they picked up Kevin Youkilis and are about to sign Ichiro Suzuki, but will the New York Yankees emerge from a relatively quiet Hot Stove season to make waves with a major acquisition?
We can only hope that this week brings more answers. It would make it that much more fun knowing about all these brand-new presents the week before Christmas.