SAN DIEGO (AP) – Baseball’s winter meetings ended with an old-style spurt of swaps, with All-Stars switching teams at a rapid pace and executives scrambling to fill roster voids.
Alfredo Simon, Dee Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes, Miguel Montero, Jeff Samardzija, Brandon Moss, Dan Haren and Howie Kendrick were among the All-Stars dealt by the time teams headed home Thursday, and Matt Kemp and Jimmy Rollins were on the verge of switching clubs.
The Los Angeles and Chicago teams were the epicenter of change along with Miami.
Twelve trades involving 44 players were made over the four days, according to Major League Baseball, up from five swaps last year and three in 2012. There hadn’t been this many trades at a winter meetings since 2006.
“People are motivated,” Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said.
With major league revenues in the $9 billion range, increased sharing and changes to rules for the amateur draft, more clubs have money to spend and large-market teams are more constrained.
The four organizations chasing San Francisco in the NL West all changed their top baseball front-office official since last year’s gathering: Tony La Russa took over at the Diamondbacks, Andrew Friedman with the Dodgers, A. J. Preller with the Padres and Jeff Bridich with the Rockies. Matt Silverman replaced Friedman with the Rays.
“People have been very, very aggressive,” Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski said. “Action starts more quickly, so when you get here I think you’re prepared to move. Secondly, a lot of free agents started to sign. I think a lot of clubs were open-minded. There’s been some change of regimes that have also contributed to that.”
A $155 million, six-year agreement between left-hander Jon Lester and the Cubs late Tuesday night seemed to break a market logjam.
In deals announced just before midnight Wednesday, the Dodgers acquired Kendrick from the Angels to play second and worked to obtain Rollins from Philadelphia in a remake of their middle infield. They dealt Gordon, Haren – who is mulling retirement – infielder Miguel Rojas and a player to be named or cash to the Marlins as part of a seven-player trade for left-hander Andrew Heaney, right-hander Chris Hatcher, infielder Kike Hernandez and catcher Austin Barnes.
The Dodgers then sent Heaney, considered one of baseball’s top pitching prospects, to the Angels for Kendrick.
And as dawn broke, the Dodgers had a deal in place to send Kemp and catcher Tim Federowicz down Interstate 5 to San Diego for catcher Yasmani Grandal and two pitchers. The trade was pending physical exams and approval by the commissioner’s office of the $32 million the Dodgers would send the Padres to help offset the $107 million remaining in the final five years of Kemp’s deal.
And the Dodgers also worked to complete a $48 million, four-year agreement with pitcher Brandon McCarthy.
Detroit made a pair of trades, sending Rick Porcello to Boston for Cespedes and two minor leaguers and replacing Porcello on its staff with Alfredo Simon, obtained from Cincinnati for two minor leaguers. Reds GM Walt Jocketty made that deal in a hotel hallway – Dombrowski’s room was right near his.
Boston also completed a one-year, $9.5 million deal with free-agent pitcher Justin Masterson, who began his career with the Red Sox, and worked to finalize a trade with Arizona for pitcher Wade Miley.
“There’s obviously been a lot more movement. The pace has quickened, certainly,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. “As expected, it picked up after Lester.”
The Cubs also have a $20 million, two-year deal with right-hander Jason Hammel. And they acquired All-Star catcher Miguel Montero from Arizona as they try to bring a World Series title to the North Side for the first time since 1908.
On the South Side, the White Sox struck a $46 million, four-year deal with closer David Robertson and acquired starter Jeff Samardzija from Oakland after adding reliever Zach Duke and first baseman Adam LaRoche earlier in the offseason.
Other teams in the Central divisions were adding, too. Minnesota and right-hander Ervin Santana worked to finalize a $55 million, four-year agreement, and AL champion Kansas City had a $17 million, two-year deal in place with Kendrys Morales. He figures to take over at designated hitter from Billy Butler, who left as a free agent and agreed to a $30 million, three-year deal with Oakland.
Jocketty attributed much of the action to new team bosses.
“I think they wanted to be active and try to do things quickly,” he said.