Major League Baseball’s winter meetings begin on Monday and extend through Thursday in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. General managers from all 30 teams will be in attendance. The tradition of winter meetings dates back over 125 years, long before the advent of the internet, cellular telephones, or even the telephone itself. In an era of telegrams, it made sense to gather general managers together in person to discuss trades, rule changes, and other league matters. Over a century later, the tradition continues — although much of the communication now consists of general managers texting each other from the comfort of their hotel rooms. Moreover, while the winter meetings began as an opportunity for teams to execute trades, free agent signings are now common too.
While a flurry of free agent signings over the past week may appear to have reduced the drama of the meetings, these very signings have clarified many teams’ needs. As a result, I anticipate several high profile trades over the next few days. Most important to Cubs fans, of course, is the fate of right handed starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija. Rumors abound suggesting that the Cubs have been unsuccessful in their attempts to resign Samardzija. For example, recent reports indicate that he turned down the Cubs’ offer of 5 years and 55 million dollars.
If the Cubs believe that they will be unable to resign Samardzija, look for the team to aggressively shop him this week. With two years remaining before Samardzija becomes a free agent, he will be an attractive piece for any team in need of a number two or three starting pitcher. Despite the rumors swirling around the Samardzija situation, the Cubs may instead stand pat if they conclude that the available return in prospects proves underwhelming. The Cubs could wait until the trading deadline to revisit the Samardzija trade talks if necessary. Fortunately, the Cubs are not in a position where they must make a move concerning Samardzija this winter. In that respect, the Cubs can pursue a trade from a position of strength in an effort to maximize the value they receive in return.
In any event, the Cubs’ actions over this coming week, whether they involve a free agent signing or a major trade, should provide insight into the front office’s perception of the team and reveal where the team is headed both in 2014 and beyond.