MLB winter meetings 2018: What to know about the Dodgers, Giants and the rest of the NL West
What do the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Padres, and Rockies need to get done in Vegas?
The 2018 winter meetings will take place at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas from Monday, Dec. 10, through Thursday, Dec. 13. Officially, the winter meetings are about off-the-field business, especially on the minor-league side. Unofficially, the winter meetings are all about trades and free-agent signings and hot-stove rumors. Put all 30 general managers in one place -- plus agents! -- and deals inevitably get done.
These are often the busiest days of the winter. This particular set could be the busiest days in recent memory, with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado sitting in free agency. Hey, anytime you have a couple mid-20s MVP candidates available, the stakes are high. Of course, for as much attention as those two get, they aren't the only ones out there -- and they won't be the only ones talked about.
With the 2018 Winter Meetings forthcoming, we've decided to preview the league division by division. (Here are the AL East, NL East, AL Central, NL Central, and .) Now, let's take a look at the National League West.
Needs: The Diamondbacks have made their intentions clear: They're rebuilding. The Paul Goldschmidt trade confirmed it. So, in that case, their needs are young talent, young talent, and more young talent. It's best to start at the up-the-middle positions -- Arizona did exactly that by acquiring catcher Carson Kelly and righty Luke Weaver in the Goldschmidt trade -- and work your way out to the corners. The D-Backs need to hoard young talent and clear payroll, if possible.
Approach: Selling, clearly. With Goldschmidt gone their top trade chips are outfielder David Peralta, righty Zack Greinke, lefty Robbie Ray, and infielders Jake Lamb and Nick Ahmed. Others could be moved as well, of course. Greinke has a 15-team no-trade list and he's owed over $100 million the next three years, so, even as good as he is, moving him may not be easy. Peralta and Ray are the guys to watch next week at the winter meetings. A Greinke trade could take time. Peralta and Ray should move quickly.
Needs: Trevor Story), third base (Nolan Arenado), center field (Charlie Blackmon), and left field (David Dahl). A case can be made they should try to upgrade every other position. The need here is another bat or two, no doubt, and general pitching depth.. We're used to Colorado fielding a great offense and a bad pitching staff. The current team is the exact opposite. The Rockies are set at shortstop (
Approach: I get the sense the Rockies will be more active on the trade market than in free agency. They actually make a ton of sense for Peralta, assuming they can work out an intra-division trade with the D-Backs. Carlos Santana would be a fine first base addition as well -- in that scenario they could push Ian Desmond into right field or even on the bench -- since the Mariners figure to flip him. Colorado spent a lot of money on bullpen help last offseason and it didn't really work out. I think they'll be more willing to pay up for better values on the trade market this winter as a result.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Needs: It has been an extremely quiet offseason for the Dodgers so far. Hyun-Jin Ryu returned on the qualifying offer and that's pretty much it. No other notable transactions and very few rumors. Their two biggest needs this winter are a catcher and some bullpen depth. Yasmani Grandal is a free agent and Los Angeles needs someone to hold down the fort until stud catching prospects Will Smith and Keibert Ruiz are ready. Swinging a trade for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto and his two years of team control would fit the timeline perfectly. As for the bullpen, we all saw it in October. There's a glaring need for a high-end arm between Kenley Jansen and guys like Pedro Baez and Dylan Floro.
Approach: Yasiel Puig has been mentioned as a trade candidate, which would help clear up the outfield logjam and shed (or at least redistribute) some cash. Barring a change of heart with regards to the luxury tax plan, a run at Bryce Harper does not appear to be in the cards right now., and with $190 million already on the books next season between guaranteed contracts and projected arbitration salaries, money might be tight under the $206 million luxury tax threshold. Los Angeles could do some buying and selling at the winter meetings.
San Diego Padres
Needs: The Padres have reached the point where they have to start thinking about adding some MLB pieces because their deep farm system is beginning to graduate players. Luis Urias, Francisco Mejia, and Jacob Nix all arrived this past season and next year we could see Fernando Tatis Jr., Chris Paddack, Logan Allen, and Cal Quantrill debut. San Diego currently lacks a clear long-term third base option -- the Wil Myers experiment in 2018 was worthwhile but mostly just confirmed he can't handle the position -- and of course pitching is never a bad idea.
Approach: Trades moreso than free agency. Year 1 of Eric Hosmer's eight-year contract when about as poorly as possible and I don't think the Padres are eager to jump back into those free agent waters just yet. In fact, they're said to be looking to move Myers, who's salary jumps to $22.5 million in 2020. Mostly though, the Padres are loaded with prospects, and it makes sense to cash some in as trade chips before attrition sets in. The tough part is figuring out which prospects to keep and which prospects to trade. San Diego has been connected to Noah Syndergaard in recent weeks and they are my pick to make an out-of-nowhere blockbuster trade at the Winter Meetings. Maybe not Syndergaard, but someone big.
San Francisco Giants
Needs: First and foremost, the Giants need to pick a direction under new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. Are they rebuilding or are they going to try to make another run with this core group? It is entirely possible the brain trust has already plotted a course and we just don't know about it. If they're going to go for it in 2019, San Francisco needs at least one outfielder (preferably two) and one starter (preferably two). Looking for an upgrade over Joe Panik at second base could be in the cards as well. If they're going to rebuild, then gauging the market for Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, and others will be the priority at the winter meetings.
Approach: Gosh, it's hard to say without knowing their direction. If they're going to rebuild, then obviously they'll sell, with Bumgarner instantly becoming one of the top trade chips on the market. If they're going to go for it next year, free agency is the more viable path to acquire talent. The Giants aren't blessed with a deep farm system and many trade chips. At the moment they have about $164 million on the books for 2019, well below the $206 million luxury tax threshold. There's some money to spend there. I know this much: Buy or sell, expect Zaidi to look for some sleepers and buy-low candidates a la Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez, who he helped find during his time with the Dodgers. An under-the-radar gem or two would go a long way to getting the Giants back into contention.
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