LAS VEGAS — Carlos Santana and Jeurys Familia found friendly landing spots, Edwin Encarnacion took off for a more uncertain future. Joe Kelly joined the team he helped beat in the World Series, the Milwaukee Brewers boosted their imposing bullpen.
The winter meetings wrapped up Thursday with a three-team trade involving Cleveland, Seattle and Tampa Bay, plus a couple more relievers reached free-agent deals.
Even so, baseball fans might’ve felt a bit cheated this week. Because even after all clubs gathered along the Strip, no one went all in.
Hometown slugger Bryce Harper stayed put, Manny Machado didn’t move. A lot of trade talk about Corey Kluber, Noah Syndergaard and J.T. Realmuto, but no deals.
Blame that, maybe, on a new way of doing business.
In older days, a general managers or agent would’ve met around the blackjack table or roulette wheel in the wee hours and hammered out a swap on a handshake. Now, with so many financial, medical and analytical components, that’s virtually impossible.
“There’s a lot of great agents who have done big high-profile deals that are involved with these guys, so contracts have gotten more complicated in recent years with the opt-outs and various deferrals and other mechanisms that it’s very possible that in the end we see something that we haven’t seen before in terms of deal structure,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said.
Well said, actually.
In the biggest trade of the week, the Indians brought back Santana and sent the slugging Encarnacion to Seattle. The Rays got highly prized infielder Yandy Diaz in a swap that also included a couple more players, cash and a draft pick. The Rays also have a pending deal with All-Star pitcher Charlie Morton.
“Looking at history, I think to expect to come out of the winter meetings with as many things either completed or possible as we have is not something that you can expect,” Rays senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom said.
“Here we were able to get something over the finish line before getting on the plane,” he said.
Encarnacion drove in 107 runs and hit 32 homers, increasing his major league-best totals in both departments since 2012. He could provide the power lost when DH Nelson Cruz became a free agent — or not.
“We’ll see how it goes with Edwin, whether he stays with us or he moves on to another destination,” Seattle assistant general manager Justin Hollander said.
A month before he turns 36, Encarnacion is guaranteed $25 million: $20 million next season and a $5 million buyout of a $25 million club option for 2020.
The 32-year-old Santana spent the first eight seasons of his career in Cleveland and was a fan favorite. The first baseman/DH signed a three-year, $60-million deal with Philadelphia last offseason, was traded to Seattle earlier this month and moved again this week.
“We know what makes him tick. We know all of the things that he brings to a team into a clubhouse, so that does help,” Indians GM Chris Antonetti said.
Kelly cashed in, reaching agreement with the Los Angeles Dodgers on a three-year, $25-million deal, a person familiar with the negotiations said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been announced.
The 30-year-old righty was 4-2 with a 4.39 ERA and two saves in 73 games this year for Boston, then excelled in October. He pitched in all five World Series games against the Dodgers and didn’t allow a run, striking out 10 in six innings.
The revamped New York Mets bullpen will include a very familiar face in Familia. He needs a physical to complete a three-year $30 million deal.
Familia had spent his entire career with New York before being traded to Oakland last July. He’ll return to the Mets as a setup man after they recently acquired big league saves leader Edwin Diaz from Seattle.
New Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said the Mets liked Familia because of his “age, performance, repertoire and comfort being able to handle our market.”
The NL Central Brewers added another reliever, getting left-hander Alex Claudio from the Texas Rangers for a draft pick. Claudio was 4-2 with a 4.48 ERA and one save in 65 relief appearances and one start this year.