With players beginning to report to spring camps and all pitchers and catchers on their way within days, the wild winter is just about a wrap. Here are some snapshots of an offseason full of surprises.
The Mariners won the winter, starting with a deal to steal igniter
Departing Mariners third baseman
The Oakland A's lost out with bids to Beltre, Scutaro,
Never has a big-stakes negotiation appeared to be going so smoothly as the one between catching superstar
The Phillies did a superb job turning one year of Cliff Lee into four years of
The Reds, who allegedly had monetary issues, made one of the bigger deals of the winter when they signed Cuban refugee
The Washington Nationals, fresh off a season in which they signed phenom
Despite being in his mid-30s and having some injury history,
Cleanup hitter Matt Holliday signed back with the Cardinals for $120 million over seven years, becoming the winter's only nine-figure man. But shortly after the deal was done, and baseball people judged it to be a very good one for Holliday, agent Scott Boras privately expressed his belief that $140 million was actually the right number for Holliday in light of the fact he thought $160 million was right for Mark Teixeira (who actually got $180 million the year before from the Yankees). One difference, though, was that Teixeira was a target of teams from much bigger markets, including both the Red Sox and Yankees, not to mention the Angels. Holliday would have been happy to consider either New York team or either Los Angeles team but the closest he came to interest there was a couple calls from Mets GM Omar Minaya, who had interest but realistically understood that Mets ownership wasn't going to play with Boras insisting the deal had to be for seven years.
The Mets, who were hurt more by devastating injuries than any other team last year, knew that Bay's previous team, the Red Sox, viewed him as such an injury risk that they reduced their four-year offer to him last summer. But the Mets expressed no reservations about Bay, who despite these alleged knee and shoulder issues consistently plays 150 games per year, or more.
The Red Sox had a deal to trade 2007 World Series MVP
The storied Dodgers franchise was handicapped by its bickering owners,
Mets management sparred with star centerfielder
The Mets played hardball with targeted free agents
The union made a case to compel the slow-spending Marlins to break out their wallets, and within a week there was a four-year, $39 million deal for star right-hander
Future Hall of Famers
• While the Tigers are still seen as the favorites in the Damon derby, the White Sox apparently are still interested.. The Braves, Rays, A's and Reds look like long shots, but with Damon still unsigned, those four have to be considered in the mix as well.
• One agent expressed surprise that
• The Indians have some money left to spend and are looking at
• The Dodgers and Rockies have watched
• Congratulations to