McAuley: 2016 Winter Meetings Day 2 Live Blog

Greetings from National Harbor, Maryland, where the 2016 Winter Meetings are underway. Each day, I’ll be keeping this journal of rumors, news and happenings for the Atlanta Braves and the rest of baseball. Check back often for the latest updates.

7:36 PM — Just finished up my latest piece on the Braves’ pursuit of an ace starting pitcher. President of baseball operations John Hart shared the team’s philosophy of putting high value on the farm system and what it could provide long term. Give that article a read here.

4:01 PM — We’ve wrapped up the media session with John Coppolella and John Hart, who each saw the Chris Sale trade as a deal that accomplished exactly what both sides wanted. Boston got better in order to win immediately, while Chicago got the exact kind of pieces that could become franchise fixtures in Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech. That said, Hart reiterated that trading Dansby Swanson has never been something Atlanta was interested in doing. I’ll have lots of other notes and quotes in my new podcast, which I’ll be recording here shortly. But here are a few things:

  1. Hart said Braves are very high on lefty reliever A.J. Minter, who could reach big leagues this year.
  2. Mallex Smith could be the team’s fourth outfielder or see more at-bats at AAA after missing so much time to injury in 2016.
  3. The team supports starter Julio Teheran pitching in the WBC for Colombia, but obviously wants him to be healthy and ready to go for the regular season. There has been no decision on Freddie Freeman’s status for Team Canada.

1:11 PM — Chris Sale has a new home. And that home is Boston. The lobby and media workroom are abuzz with the first big deal of the Winter Meetings. Ken Rosenthal broke the news that the Red Sox have sent a package headlined by Cuban prodigy Yoan Moncada to the White Sox in exchange for Sale.

Obviously, the Red Sox have an incredible young core in place with Mookie Betts, Xander Boegarts and others. After dipping into the free agent market to sign David Price last winter, Boston has made adding an ace an annual thing. Sale, 27, is a five-time All-Star who has finished in the top five in Cy Young voting in each of the last four seasons. He may well be the best pitcher in the American League and now the Red Sox have him for the next three seasons at $38 million. This is the latest case of the ultra-aggressive Dave Dombrowski getting his man and paying the steep prospect price to do so.

On the other side, Chicago adds Moncada, 21, was not only rated the Red Sox No. 1 prospect, but the top prospect in the game according to Baseball America. This is a franchise building block for the White Sox. Boston spent $63 million (including $31.5 million in MLB penalties) to sign Moncada in 2015. He has shown all of the tools that make him one of the most exciting young players in the game as he reached the big leagues in 2016. Moncada batted .294/.407/.511 in 491 PA in the minors with 52 extra-base hits (15 HR) and 45 stolen bases.

Michael Kopech, 20, was a top pick by the Red Sox in 2014 and has a big time arm capable of hitting 100 mph. He gives Chicago a high-ceiling pitching prospect that could step into the rotation at some point in the next two seasons. The rest of the White Sox prospect haul for this deal includes outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe (another top 10 prospect type) and right-hander Victor Diaz.

11:53 AM — Made a sweep through the lobby, where the mix includes baseball people from every walk of life. Former Braves first baseman Fred McGriff is in town. He’s been working with the club in recent years. Oddly enough, MLB Network’s Brian Kenny is doing a book signing not far from McGriff, who is Hall of Fame candidate who has never gotten his due in my opinion. Kenny is known as a guy who is seeking to retrain or simply toss out traditional thinking as baseball is in the midst of an analytics revolution. That kind of thing could give a fresh perspective on the Hall case for McGriff among others.

10:35 AM — It’s a rainy day as we begin Day 2 here at the Gaylord, with the biggest news of the day being generated in the form of the Under Armour uniform announcement and the Yankees, with somewhat amusing timing, announcing they will retire Derek Jeter’s number shortly thereafter. Regardless, the biggest change seems to be the inclusion of the UA logo on the front of the jerseys.

That’s an addition that is somewhat jarring, but no doubt a lucrative part of MLB’s agreement with Under Armour. Like the New Era side logo that will be affixed to the team caps, it will take some getting used to for fans of cleaners, more classic, or simply less cluttered design elements.

 

Grant McAuley covers the Braves and MLB for 92-9 The Game. You can subscribe to the “Around The Big Leagues” podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher. Follow Grant on Twitter.

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