The Winter Meetings are the last event before Spring Training

The Winter Meetings are the last semblance of any baseball for Nationals fans except for some reruns on MASN and maybe a glimpse of a Caribbean winter baseball game…until we reach Spring Training which is about 60 days away from when the Winter Meetings wrap-up on Thursday with the Rule-5 draft.

The Winter Meetings got going last night with the announcement that Lee Smith and Harold Baines were elected to the Hall of Fame by the Today’s Game Era committee which elects veteran players, managers and baseball executives. Davey Johnson was on that ballot but did not get close to the 75% votes from the 16 voters on the committee which is  comprised of nine Hall of Famers, four baseball executives, and three media members.

MLB Network started their TV coverage last night from the lobby of the Mandalay Bay with a preview of the Winter Meetings.

“I feel like this is the Winter Meetings of Harper and Machado,” MLB Network host Greg Amsinger said to open the show.

With Bryce Harper and Manny Machado as the hottest players in free agency, you can expect their agents Scott Boras and Dan Lozano will be working the GM suites where the teams generally are secluded during this event except for when they are doing TV and radio interviews or going out for dinner. That is the norm for these Winter Meetings.

For Nationals’ general manager Mike Rizzo, he has already completed five acquisitions before the Winter Meetings even started, and he is not done.  So far, he has acquired Kyle Barraclough, Trevor Rosenthal, Kurt Suzuki, Yan Gomes and Patrick Corbin. What is interesting are the comments from Corbin that the acquisitions of Suzuki and Gomes factored into his decision.

“That’s a huge part signing Gomes and Suzuki,” Corbin said “I’ve gotten to watch them over the last couple years and it’s just a big part of the game. I had Jeff Mathis in Arizona the last couple years and he takes pride behind the plate, and watching these guys they do the same thing.”

In fact, Corbin clicked so well with Mathis last year that he compiled a 1.83 ERA with him as his catcher while with Alex Avila his ERA was 3.34. The sample sizes were 86 and 73 innings respectively so not exactly small sample sizes. Defense does matter.

“I know I throw a lot of pitches down in the zone that might spike or [go] wild, but those guys save me a lot, and just having confidence with them — I like to go over a game plan before games and be on the same page so when you’re out there there is no second-[guessing], you have all the confidence in the world with that pitch,” Corbin finished up his thoughts on the catchers.

There is certainly a compounding effect of making good acquisitions, and Mike Rizzo is having a good winter so far. After the announcement of the  Gomes acquisition, TalkNats foreshadowed with some sourced information that it would help in the recruitment of a top pitcher, Patrick Corbin, as he relies so much on a good defensive catcher. It worked.

Rizzo certainly has worked his list and checked it twice.

“We always come into the offseason with a wish list and a strategy on how to actively make this roster as competitive as we can,” Rizzo said. “We’ve checked off a lot of things that we wanted to do. We are always going to be active and aggressive… Always mindful of the one, three and five year plans that we always talk about.”

On this first day of the Winter Meetings, few blockbuster deals are consummated, but many deals are started today and completed over the next two days. Enjoy the show, and let’s start the discussions.

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