Last month at the general managers’ meetings, which took place under one roof at a resort hotel in Indian Wells, Calif., Sandy Alderson looked bemused at the notion that what amounted to a mixer for baseball executives would hasten the deal-making process.
The Mets’ general manager said it was just as easy to reach into his pocket, pull out his smartphone and dial up whomever he might need to get the dialogue going.
Alderson is right, and in this day and age, when everyone is accessible 24/7, the idea of having to walk down a hallway and knock on somebody’s hotel room door seems kind of antiquated.
But when asked again about being cooped up with the same crowd at the winter meetings, which begin today at the sprawling Opryland hotel in Nashville, Tenn., Alderson wasn’t feeling quite as claustrophobic. He almost sounded as if he was looking forward to it.
“Could be a lot of things happening there,” Alderson said, smiling.
Maybe this year more than most, thanks to a couple of new factors affecting the market. A big reason is the additional $50 million coming to each club as part of MLB’s recently minted TV package, a nice chunk of change that will be burning a hole in the pockets of some teams eager to do some holiday shopping.
And for those teams on a tighter budget the deadline for tendering contracts was moved up this year to Nov. 30 at midnight, thereby identifying all of the free agents well ahead of the Nashville feeding frenzy. In past years, the non-tender deadline took place immediately after the winter meetings, which could delay a club’s plans for remaking the roster.
As for the market itself, a few parameters have been set by the November signings, but some of the biggest names remain in play. As for the crowded outfield department, B.J. Upton came off the board last week when he signed a five-year, $75.25-million deal with the Braves.