Next week is the start of one of the most exciting times in Baseball’s Hot Stove season, the four-day Winter Meetings. General Managers, ownership and players alike come out to these meetings in the hopes of building the next great championship team. With many star free agents still unsigned and a plethora of trades in the works, the winter meetings are shaping up to have the hot stove sizzling. Here are a few moves that could take place next week in sunny San Diego, California.
1. Jon Lester signs with the Chicago Cubs: While some of the top tier are hitters off the market the top three pitchers remain. Lester along with Max Scherzer and James Shields remain out there for the taking. It seems likely that Lester will be the first domino to fall with the Cubs, Red Sox and Giants all eager to sign the star southpaw to a lucrative contract. In the end, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will get their man and Lester will try and bring the Cubs their first World Series title since 1908.
2. Andrew Miller signs with the New York Yankees: Miller is another highly sought after southpaw whose market is exploding. With as many as ten teams interested Miller is set to get a four-year deal which is pretty incredible for a relief pitcher, especially one who isn’t a closer. Miller would form a fantastic back of the bullpen duo with Yankees star youngster Dellin Betances. The Yankees could also deliver a blow to their rival Boston Red Sox who are also vying for Miller’s services.
3. Boston and Cincinnati make a deal: This one isn’t really going to surprise anyone as multiple analysts have brought up this possibility about Boston and Cincinnati teaming up and making a deal this winter. Boston needs pitching and the Reds could use some thunder in their lineup. Look no further than Boston sending Yoenis Cespedes to the Queen City and have Mat Latos shipping up to Boston (yes, Dropkick Murphy’s reference). The deal almost makes too much sense not to happen. The Red Sox would get a quality starter they so desperately crave and the Reds get a power hitter to pair with Joey Votto.
4. Max Scherzer doesn’t sign: Scherzer’s market will develop rapidly after Lester signs, but I don’t think he gets a deal hammered out at the meetings. His agent, Scott Boras, is known to wait teams out and milk them for all they are worth. Scherzer rumors will be running like crazy with teams like the Yankees, Cubs, Cardinals, Red Sox and Tigers interested but nothing will happen until a little closer to Christmas time.
5. Cole Hamels is traded: The Phillies need to rebuild. They have overpriced aging stars and a minor league system that impresses no one. The Phillies most valuable trade piece is their star lefty Cole Hamels. Hamels has been linked to the Dodgers, Cubs and Red Sox this off-season. The Cubs even claimed him on waivers this past August, but the two clubs were unable to get a deal done. The Phillies have been extensively scouting all three teams minor league systems, but the price for Hamels is still said to be astronomical. Phillies’ general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has to lower his asking price for the sake of his franchise’s future.
Other things to look for at the meetings: Will Atlanta trade Evan Gattis or Justin Upton? How will the Yankees respond to AL East teams retooling? Is Matt Kemp on his way out of Hollywood? Where will Big Game James pitch in 2015? Strap in folks it’s going to be an exciting week.
Matt Cote is a MLB Writer for Baseball Essential