Ah, the MLB Winter Meetings, where the entire baseball world descends on a predetermined mega-hotel in a random location for a handful of days that define the future of the sport. Long the pinnacle of each offseason, it typically features huge trades, Scott Boras speaking in cryptic platitudes in front of hordes of microphones (see above), and at least a half-dozen clubs that ‘kick tires’ before coming home having spent no money.
Nothing about 2020 is typical, unfortunately. With the pandemic still raging, the Winter Meetings - which were originally scheduled to take place this week - have gone virtual, the trip to Dallas officially kaput. CBS Sports’ Dayn Perry has an excellent breakdown of how this year’s meetings will be different, noting that the advances in technology probably means there wasn’t really even a need for the actual thing even if their was no pandemic, but that does remove the typical, revered hootin’ and hollerin’ that goes along with it.
I mean, I can only assume nobody will fall into a pool this year, which is unfortunate.
I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong.
Anyway, the Cincinnati Reds charge into the virtual Winter Meetings fresh off a wave of non-tenders that saved them some serious coin, but that also opened up even more holes on a disjointed, needy roster. Even before they waved goodbye to the likes of Archie Bradley and Curt Casali, among others, there was a distinct need for this club going forward at shortstop. Fortunately, there are a wide range of talented names available that play that position (and play it well), and The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans broke down the team’s options earlier today.
One of those options is Ha-Seong Kim, who was officially posted by KBO’s Kiwoom Heroes, as MLB Trade Rumors dot com relayed. Considering the Reds are now a few years in to having their scouting system in Asia up and running, it’ll be interesting to see just how interested they are in Kim, who they should clearly have ample data on to evaluate.
The event that typically wraps the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, of course, and that’ll still be put on this Thursday. While not an event that typically unearths future superstars, there are still multiple examples of teams walking away with newfound cogs plucked from other rosters, the likes of Johan Santana and Shane Victorino among them. As Ken Rosenthal of absolutely every MLB media outlet in existence noted in his column at The Athletic this morning, there’s a conundrum for MLB clubs heading into this year’s Rule 5, namely that they still don’t know how big roster sizes are going to be for 2021. That’s crucial, obviously, as any Rule 5 pick as to stay on the big league roster all year to stick with his new club, and not knowing how many roster spots are available - or if there’s a DH in the National League again - is pretty damn critical knowledge.
Also included in Rosenthal’s notes is a check-in on the Reds finances at the moment, particularly that they carry a battleship of a contract with Joey Votto at the moment. Indeed they do, but while that contract features a little less ROI at the moment than the Reds had hoped, it sure as hell exceeded expectations for long enough on the front end to make the entirety of the deal worthwhile. On top of that, it’s still been a better deal than the ones doled out to Albert Pujols, Chris Davis, Miguel Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes, Jason Heyward, David Price, Eric Hosmer, and Jordan Zimmermann, among others, meaning it’s hardly just the Reds dealing with a big contract while juggling their payroll.
Anyway, even though these meetings won’t have the direct spotlight on them that they usually do, there will inevitably be enough zooming to continue to make me cringe when I hear the word zoom. There will be deals this week, there will be rumors a-flyin’, and we might well end up with a better lay of the land than we had a week ago, even though the 2021 season is still going to look much different than we ever would have expected in a pre-2020 world. Mike Axisa of CBS Sports has a few bold predictions for what we might see, and frankly, I just hope we see the Reds do anything other than furiously waving the white flag they’ve seemingly begun putting on their flag pole.