SAN DIEGO - As the annual Winter Meetings came to a close in the Grand Hyatt hotel, a sense of joy consumed me as I watched the MLB Network set being disassembled before my very eyes. It's a baseball nerd type of joy, sure, but these Winter Meetings were, to a lot of people's surprise, really fun. That's in large part to agent Scott Boras, who proclaimed these meetings would be "Fast and Furious" and delivered with his three top-tier free agents signing three enormous contracts within about 55 hours of each other.
I first attended the Winter Meetings in 2011. It was a good introduction. Jose Reyes signed with the Marlins Sunday night. The Marlins also added Mark Buehrle and stayed in on Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. The meetings concluded Thursday with the Angels stunning everyone -- they were reported all week to have no money to spend -- by landing both Pujols and Wilson.
They wouldn't all be like that. Some duds followed. The last time we were here in San Diego, in 2014, there was memorable hot stove action, including the Cubs landing Jon Lester and the Tigers getting Yoenis Cespedes in a trade.
Last year's Winter Meetings in Las Vegas were one of the more uneventful events that city has hosted. We waited teams to make worthy offers to Bryce Harper and Manny Machado for four days and then kept on waiting for two months.
This time around, though, the fun and the fury returned. A quick recap:
- Monday, the Nationals agreed to terms with reigning World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg on a new record deal (seven years, $245) for pitchers. That's one Boras mega-deal.
- Tuesday night, the Yankees blew up the Strasburg record by getting Gerrit Cole for nine years and a whopping $324 million. Boras struck again.
- Wednesday night, the third Boras whopper happened with Anthony Rendon getting seven years and $245 million from the Angels.
In between, there were lesser signings, some trades and tons of rumors that only build once the big moves happened.
Thursday, after the Rule 5 draft, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer pointed out that the big signings mean trade season can now ramp up.
For example, with Rendon off the market, Josh Donaldson rumors are heating up. Once he signs -- and it looks like it could be soon -- the rumors surrounding Kris Bryant and Nolan Arenado on the trade market will fly with more vigor.
Now that Cole and Strasburg -- in addition to Zack Wheeler -- are off the market, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Madison Bumgarner likely follow pretty quickly. Then we get to focus on trade candidates like Corey Kluber and David Price.
There's still plenty of action to be had in free agency. We haven't even mentioned Dallas Keuchel, Marcell Ozuna, Nicholas Castellanos, Yasiel Puig and a bevy of relievers.
But clearing the three top free agents in as many days at Winter Meetings really sets the tone for the rest of the offseason. And, let's face it, it's a lot more fun to watch it unfold while the meetings are taking place than at 2:30 on a random January afternoon.
This was theater. It was Fast. It was Furious. The Winter Meetings were a marquee event again. Let's get an encore next year, shall we? (There are always Fast and Furious sequels.)
Regardless, this event really moved the needle for MLB and set up what will be a much more exciting offseason than the last two. That's cause for celebration.