It’s often thought that the groundwork for deals, and not the deals themselves are the bulk of the business that takes place at the annual MLB Winter Meetings. This year, Nashville, TN plays host to the convergence of anyone who’s anyone in baseball, and on the first day of the event there was no shortage of chatter.
Dec 5, 2011; Dallas, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane on the MLB network set during the MLB winter meetings at Hilton Anatole. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Both General Manager Billy Beane and Manager Bob Melvin held press conferences this afternoon, and addressed the various needs the Athletics are looking into this offseason. The most glaring of which is at the shortstop position. We’ve spent a large chunk of time so far this offseason discussing the various options on the free agent and trade markets, but it’s been a while since we’ve had any kind of concrete news on that front.
Susan Slusser was on the beat and reported on what Beane had to say. One small source of comfort during the uneasiness of the inactivity was Beane’s remarks that Stephen Drew and Hiroyuki Nakajima were the only free agent shortstops the team was looking into. When the words “bottom feeders” were said to describe the A’s pursuit of their next starting shortstop a collective groan was let out by the A’s fanbase, so the fact that they’re concentrating on these two players is refreshing to hear. Whether or not the Athletics are going to be willing to meet the demands of either of these players is an entirely different story though, and considering the fact that Drew is represented by the evil Scott Boras, negotiations can certainly get dangerous.
Beane also noted that there were a number of options the A’s could pursue through trades, and one name that came up during the day that may make a few hearts skip a beat (and not in a good way) was Yunel Escobar of the Miami Marlins. Escobar of course was the subject of many trade rumors last season while he was with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was part of the massive trade between the Jays and the Marlins last month. Escobar is a talented player, there’s no doubt about it, but his character is such a question mark that I would have major misgivings about adding him into this A’s clubhouse. Escobar’s work ethic has been called into question at times, much like Hanley Ramirez did with the Marlins, and he was suspended last season for having a homophobic slur written in Spanish on his eye black. One would assume that the price tag to acquire Escobar wouldn’t be very steep at this point, so that fact may be what is most appealing to the A’s brass.
As the night wore on, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reported that Billy Beane had met with the Marlins, but it wasn’t totally clear whether or not Escobar was the subject of that meeting. I’d much prefer to find out that meeting was regarding Giancarlo Stanton. I can still dream.
The more I look at it, the more I think Nakajima might be the best of their options. He’s unproven, sure. But his potential upside could really solidify this team and help propel them to that next level.
As day 2 begins, we’ll be keeping our fingers on the pulse of the Winter Meetings. Something may be brewing, let’s hope Billy Beane is about to work his magic yet again.