Major league baseball held its annual Winter Meetings in suburban Washington, DC last week, and while several teams made upgrades by either gathering promising young talent, trading for an elite starting pitcher, or trying to acquire that marquee free agent, one seemingly insignificant deal reverberated as far away as Marysville, California.
We'll get to the local angle in a minute, but as far as the major leagues are concerned, the meetings show how important they are for both championship caliber teams, and those who have decided to do what fans both dread and understand at the same time—rebuild.
With three top free agent closers on the board, the Chicago Cubs showed their moxy by signing none of them. The Giants got Mark Melancon for four years and over 60 million dollars. The New York Yankees picked up Aroldis Chapman for five years and 86 million, and today the Dodgers hung on to their 29 year-old stopper, and inked Kenley Jansen for five years and 80 million. The Cubs, not wanting or needing to shell out that much cash, traded surplus outfielder Jorge Soler to Kansas City for the comparatively inexpensive Wade Davis, who will be a free agent after next year, but can help them win another championship in the process.
The two teams that may have “won the meetings”, though, were the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox. Chicago traded superstar lefty starter Chris Sale to Beantown for a shipload (with a 'p') of top prospects. The Washington Nationals, reportedly in on the Sale talks, instead sent their shipload of prospects to the Windy City for outfielder Adam Eaton. Many insiders felt the Nats overpaid for the speedy outfielder who can hit, but he's also cheap (by today's standards) and won't be eligible for free agency for five years. The Red Sox also made other moves, including getting setup man Tyler Thornburg and first baseman Mitch Moreland. The Red Sox won the AL East in 2016, and look better on paper for 2017 even with the retirement of slugger David Ortiz. The White Sox, who fired (or at least parted ways with) manager Robin Ventura and were mired in mediocrity with a 78-84 record, may still trade several more of its good players (Carlos Quintana, Todd Frazier, Jose Abreu), and in return get loads and loads and loads of more minor leaguers. When those players turn into a contending team is anyone's guess, but they are good, and more importantly to many teams today, cheap.
But you are reading through all of this and thinking, “What the (heck) does that have to do with Marysville?”. Well, nothing, actually, but the end of the meetings turned into a very interesting day for a former Gold Sox pitcher. Justin Haley pitched for the Gold Sox in 2010. The powerful righty was 4-0 in 11 games. He made 5 starts, pitched 27 innings total, and is only one of five Gold Sox pitchers ever to work more than 10 innings without allowing an earned run. After starring at Fresno State, Haley was drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 draft by Boston. He spent this past season between their Double-A and Triple-A teams.
Fast forward to last Thursday. On the final day of the meetings, they have what is called the Rule 5 Draft. Major league teams can take minor leaguers from other clubs (if they are not on the club's 40-man roster and have enough service time), but the condition is, players taken in that draft must be kept on the new club's major league roster all year, or be offered back to the old team. The Los Angeles Angels took Haley with their pick in the draft.
That was just the beginning of it for Haley, who is now 25. After the Angels selected him, they traded him to the San Diego Padres for a player to be named later or cash. The same rules still apply. Haley must now be a Padre all of 2017 or be offered back the Red Sox. Or as Arlo Guthrie might say, there was a third possibility that no one really counted upon, and he was traded again. The Padres sent him to the Minnesota Twins for pitcher Miguel Diaz, who was the first pick in the draft. In a span of just a couple of hours, Haley was a Red Sox, Angel, Padre, and Twin. Unlikely that he'll be sent back to the Red Sox (which could happen if he doesn't stay with the Twins all year) because Minnesota is rebuilding, Haley will be the seventh big leaguer to have worn a Gold Sox uniform.
Holiday Cheer: KNCO held its annual Christmas party Saturday night at the nicest hotel in town, which meant free rooms for out-of-town employees and some locals. Nothing else will be mentioned here except this. An open bar can make for a very interesting evening.
Uncle Marty was back in the hospital again this week, and hopefully is back home tonight. Please get well soon!