With tree lots on every corner, at least one giant front-yard inflatable snowman on every block, and candy canes on the end of every single aisle in grocery stores, it’s pretty obvious what time of year we’ve reached. That’s right - MLB’s Winter Meetings are officially on the horizon, with executives from every team, free agents, agents of free agents, some free agent agents, and baseball job-seekers set to descend upon Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas this weekend for five days of transaction bliss.
Officially set to begin on Sunday, December 9th and to run through the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday, December 13th, the Winter Meetings usually offer some of the biggest fireworks of the MLB offseason, which is no surprise considering each and every front office is essentially on one big campout for a week, often with piles of funny money to spend. It’s where the Chicago White Sox struck the deal that sent Chris Sale to Boston for Yoan Moncada (and others) back in 2016, where the Tigers landed Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis from the Marlins back in 2007, and where the Cincinnati Reds have watched and taken notes for most of the last decade.
I kid, slightly. The December 2014 Winter Meetings saw the Reds trade Mat Latos to the Marlins and Alfredo Simon to Detroit on the same day, landing big pieces in Anthony DeSclafani and Eugenio Suarez in one of the first moves of ‘the rebuild.’ And while 2015’s Winter Meetings technically ended on December 10th of that year, the massive three-team deal that saw Todd Frazier sent to Chicago and brought Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler, and Brandon Dixon to Cincinnati went down on December 15, 2015, and most of the legwork of that deal was hammered out when reps from the Reds, Dodgers, and White Sox were all in Nashville’s Opryland Hotel.
This year, we hope the Reds will be just as active as in those years, although with the end result of being on the end of a transaction that, in theory, will be aimed at more immediate success. In other words, we hope like heck that they’re in Las Vegas to do some buying, to push a few chips into the fray and let it roll before we’re all forced to look back at yet another lost decade in this franchise’s history.
(No pressure, or anything.)
There’s a handy-dandy website that details the exact schedule of ‘events’ slated to go on at Mandalay Bay, though nowhere on the schedule does it actually say ‘Tuesday, 9:26 PM: Cincinnati Reds trade Tyler Stephenson and Vladdy Goots to the Toronto Blue Jays for Marcus Stroman.’ Just like at In-N-Out Burger, there’s a menu that shows up on the big board, but all the Winter Meetings participants know there are a lot more surprises to the real schedule of events.
Perhaps of specific note is Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft, since the Reds have maneuvered their 40-man to where they only currently have 36 players rostered. That means they’ve got plenty of space to accommodate a pickup from this year’s edition of misfit toys, with hopes they manage to uncover a star in a manner similar to Jose Bautista, Odubel Herrera, Shane Victorino, Johan Santana, Josh Hamilton, or the inimitable Kelly Grubermullet.