Wild Meetings draw to a quiet close
After eventful stay, getaway Thursday passes without incident
Sometimes, the final impression doesn't tell the whole story, the way the last remnants of a party can have a little less luster than when things were really cooking.And that's pretty much how the end of baseball's first visit to Las Vegas for its annual Winter Meetings closed down Thursday, a truncated day that included a little news on the fly, a final shoe dropping and a whole lot left to ponder as the Hot Stove season moves on from Las Vegas to different points on the compass.
They call it "getaway day" in baseball, the day you hit the road, and baseball's GMs and agents and everyone else who gathered at the Bellagio this week didn't get away without getting a good bit of business done.Just not a lot of it on Day 4. Aside from the annual Rule 5 Draft, a couple of signings that didn't exactly rattle the lobby doors and incremental progress in some free-agent negotiations, the big noise of the day was a big trade going thud. In a week when "Yes" -- as in OK from K-Rod and "Si, Si" from CC -- was the buzz word, the loudest word Thursday was a "No" that rang from Chicago to San Diego. When the Winter Meetings began, Jake Peavy was a member of the Padres. When they ended Thursday, that hadn't changed. On Thursday morning, Cubs GM Jim Hendry let Padres GM Kevin Towers know that they could not agree to terms on a Peavy deal. Reports of a third or even a fourth team getting involved, that the Cubs would send Mark DeRosa to the Phillies, all the twists and turns over the last few weeks and especially the last few days -- all for naught, at least for now, following that conversation between the two execs. "He said he's got other things going on. I respect his position," Towers said of Hendry. Countered Hendry: "After giving it a lot of thought, at the end of the day, I felt the volume of talent going back and taking on that entire contract [$63 million over four years] was not the right decision for the organization at the time." Towers said the Padres intended to head home and see where they go from here. The Angels again were raised as a possible destination, though the ultra-competitive Peavy has made it clear even a commute from his new San Diego-area home might not be enough to sway him away from the National League and swinging a bat a few times each start. Whatever happens, Thursday will go down as the day it didn't happen between the Padres and Cubs. What did happen Thursday? Still more than your average day, even in the Hot Stove season that figures to pick up some warmth in the coming days before the holidays. The bigger news remained the bigger names and what's going on with them -- and Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett remained the names discussed the most. They, along with Manny Ramirez, Derek Lowe and a host of other big names, remain on the market, and the talks continued on the way out the door. While Burnett continues to have the Yankees and Braves in hot pursuit, Teixeira has the eight-year, $160 million deal the Nationals proposed Wednesday along with a few other suitors pondering. The hometown Orioles and incumbent Angels remain in the hunt and there's very strong interest from the Red Sox, who by most accounts are moving to the front of the pack. As Red Sox GM Theo Epstein left the meetings empty-handed in terms of done deals, he didn't seem to mind. Even if he didn't talk about specific individuals, like for instance Teixeira, he did make it clear the Red Sox have irons in the fire, including offers out to three free agents. "We're kind of still in the middle of the process," Epstein said. "Not at the end. We're just in the middle of the process with a lot of guys." There was some business completed, or virtually completed, on getaway day. A swap of center fielders that would send Mike Cameron to the Yankees and Melky Cabrera to the Brewers appears to be getting done. Kyle Farnsworth agreed to terms with the Royals to become Joakim Soria's setup man, the Twins held on to infielder Nick Punto with a two-year deal and the D-backs signed Jose Lopez to play second base for them. Also, the Rule 5 Draft had its annual day in the big room at the Winter Meetings, with 21 players taken in a pitching-heavy Major League phase of the draft that brought Johan Santana, Josh Hamilton and Dan Uggla to the big leagues. The Nationals started it off by selecting pitcher Terrell Young from the Reds organization. So it wasn't the most spectacular finale of what was otherwise a pretty glittering Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. Getaway day is often that way, and this time there was a lot done already and still a lot left to do.
John Schlegel is an executive editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.