Now we're cookin'.
After two days of minor deals and vague rumors, we got a major splash at the 2017 winter meetings. The Miami Marlins dealt big-swinging outfielder Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals for a basket of prospects including pitcher Sandy Alcantara and speedy outfielder Magneuris Sierra. In addition, the Detroit Tigers sent second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Los Angeles Angels. Here's a look at five takeaways/rumors/rumblings hovering over the baseball world as the winter meetings near their conclusion.
Cardinals holdovers must be pleased by the acquisition of Ozuna, as the team really needed a jolt of power to the offense. Rookie Paul DeJong led the way for the Redbirds in 2017 with 25 home runs while Ozuna pummeled 37 for the Marlins. He immediately becomes the team's most legitimate power threat. But the Cardinals aren't looking to call it a day.
After a 2016 offseason when the only significant additions came in the form of Dexter Fowler and Brett Cecil, the team seemed to be taking half measures. The failure to reach the postseason only served to underline that. Besides pivoting from Giancarlo Stanton to Ozuna, the Cardinals have been linked to the Tampa Bay Rays' trio of Evan Longoria, Alex Colome, and (longshot) Chris Archer. There's also been talk of them engaging the Toronto Blue Jays about Josh Donaldson. Whichever avenue they take, it seems inevitable another big deal will happen.
Poor Christian Yelich. He's watched as the Marlins have stripped two-thirds of the team's outfield and he could be next. There is plenty of interest from across the sport due to his team-friendly contract, his consistent play on offense and defense, and his age. For those exact reasons, the Marlins will be asking for the moon in return.
And while he'd be a fine piece to build around, the Marlins were reportedly exploring their options in regard to a potential trade. This does conflict with what sources have told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick but never say never.
Teams are looking to shore up their bullpens before anything else, it seems.
On Wednesday alone:
They join Pat Neshek, Brandon Morrow, Luke Gregerson, Bryan Shaw, and Tommy Hunter as big-league bullpen arms who have already found new homes for 2018. No other position has seen this kind of movement on the free-agent market, and there are still high-profile names available, but they'll come at a hefty price.
Related: MLB Offseason Tracker
The Minnesota Twins signed Michael Pineda to a two-year, $10-million deal despite the fact he's expected to miss most of 2018 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The Chicago Cubs went the exact same route with lefty Drew Smyly on Tuesday, right down to the term and financials. The thinking here is to lock up a starter for 2019 without too much of a commitment. If Pineda and/or Smyly work out for their respective team, it's a net win. If either doesn't, they're off the books pretty quickly.
Keep an eye on former Marlins starter Edinson Volquez. The team released him Wednesday because he's slated to miss 2018 after also undergoing Tommy John surgery, making him a viable option in the same vein as Pineda and Smyly.
Danny Duffy has spent his entire big-league career with the Kansas City Royals. The team drafted the lefty in the third round of the 2007 amateur draft, and he worked his way up to the majors in 2011 at the age of 22. He's emerged as one of the franchise's best pitchers, and even signed a team-friendly extension that would theoretically keep him in Kansas City through 2021. Naturally, he's garnering interest as the Royals appear poised to start a rebuild.
But if Duffy has his way, he'd never leave.
So it goes.
One final thing: The market for Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado kicked off in earnest on Tuesday and continued to gain traction on Wednesday. It's worth noting, but not worth getting too excited over just yet. Several teams have made offers, but no deal is expected in the immediate future.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)