First things first. I didn't expect to be writing about the Winter Meetings in baseball. Nothing epic usually happens during the meetings. There's always chatter, but most of the time deals aren't made until afterwards. Not the case this year.
Only two teams made some moves, well major ones at this years meetings in Dallas, Texas. The Florida ... I mean Miami Marlins were making most of the major moves. First they signed closer Heath Bell to a 3 year deal. It makes sense for a team that hasn't had a legitimate closer since Armando Benitez in 2004 when he saved 47 games for the Marlins. Then they followed that up with the signing of the best leadoff hitter in the game today in SS Jose Reyes for 6 years. He brings the Marlins instant speed at the top of the lineup. That should bode well for their best hitters. Namely Hanley Ramirez, Logan Morrison, Mike Stanton and Gaby Sanchez. They signed a starting pitcher in former Chicago White Sox ace Mark Buehrle for 4 years. He has history with Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen in Chicago. Both won a World Series together and Buehrle brings some stability at the top of the rotation with Josh Johnson.
Now the Marlins would be the lone topic of conversation had they signed the pair above in Albert Pujols (left) and C.J. Wilson (right). However, the Marlins were turned down by both of them for another suitor. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Their new general manager Jerry DiPoto swooped in at the last minute to reel in Pujols. The Angels were talking with Wilson for almost the entire offseason, but he agreed to sign with the Halos after Pujols said yes. Some will say that signing a player for 10 years is a very bad investment. I would agree. I don't like being tied down to one player, but what else were the Angels going to do?
Owner Arte Moreno had lost out of the top free agents the last two offseasons. That was in large part to the involvement of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. They have been dormant so far this offseason and the Angels took advantage of that. Also getting a 3 billion dollar local TV contract with Fox helps too. It was a brazen move on the Angels part. And it reminded me of their 2004 free agent frenzy. They surprised everyone with their signing of Vladimir Guerrero for the bargain price of $70 million. Pujols and his $250 million price tag isn't a bargain, but considering the Red Sox and Yankees weren't apart of the discussion it is.
Getting Wilson at 5 years and just over $75 million was a bargain as well. The Marlins offered 6 years at well over the Angels offer. Wilson couldn't resist being apart of one of the best rotations in baseball in Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. Also it helps that Wilson grew up in Orange County as well. This is perhaps a bigger signing than Pujols because it puts their division rival the Texas Rangers in a tough spot. They have now lost Cliff Lee and C.J. Wilson in consecutive seasons. Who will be their top starter now?
It was a breathe of fresh air for the baseball community. Like I said at the beginning of this post, these meetings don't offer much in storylines. A lot of here-say and rumors, but hardly anything major happens during these get togethers. Maybe this is a sign of things to come from now on. Or it's just a freak occurrence in which two teams were ready and able to bring in the best free agents on the market. Either way it looks to be a very interesting season. And we're only in December.