Twenty years from now, we'll look back at these Winter Meetings and remember how much fun we had.
We'll tell you about the night Andrew Friedman couldn't wipe the smile off his face as he remade the Dodgers. Or maybe he couldn't get that smile off his face because he hadn't slept in something like 48 hours and was in a kind of baseball-induced daze.
Someone will bring up how Dave Dombrowski grinned ear to ear at the thought of his new slugger, Yoenis Cespedes, hitting in Comerica Park. He would think that just maybe Yoenis Cespedes would be the final piece to the puzzle.
"I think we've got a real good club," he said.
In Seattle and San Diego, in Miami and Boston, they were absolutely thrilled about things. Isn't this what the Hot Stove League should always be? Hope springs eternal, etc.
Here we go, one handy dandy look at all 30 teams, what they've accomplished and what's left to do.
Tremendous week for baseball in Chicago. The Cubs had already signed a rockstar manager in Joe Maddon, and this week added Jon Lester, their new ace. Maddon will hand Lester the baseball on Opening Day to begin a new era of Cubs baseball. Besides Lester, Cubs president Theo Epstein also got veteran pitcher Jason Hammel and catcher Miguel Montero. Now with these parts combining with all these highly touted young Cubs, the 2015 season has the potential to be special.
On the South Side, the White Sox also had a great week, acquiring Jeff Samardzija from the Athletics and signing closer David Robertson. Combined with the presence of ace Chris Sale, the earlier signing of first baseman Adam La Roche and last year's acquisition of first baseman Jose Abreu, the White Sox will have an interesting, competitive team. Suddenly, the American League Central might be the toughest division in baseball.
First, it was third baseman Pablo Sandoval and left fielder Hanley Ramirez. This week, it was pitchers Wade Miley, Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson. Consider general manager Ben Cherington's offseason a smashing success. Would they rather have had Jon Lester or Cole Hamels for the top of the rotation? Of course. But the Red Sox checked off almost every box without depleting a very strong farm system. If you were inclined to pick them to have another worst-to-first season, you wouldn't be alone.
As offseasons go, the Marlins have had just about a perfect one. In November, they locked up franchise cornerstone for at least the next few years. This week, they began to build a contender around him, getting Dee Gordon for the top of the order and Mat Latos and Dan Haren for the rotation. With young talent up and down the roster, the Marlins should be in the mix in the NL East.
Yoenis Cespedes has averaged 27 doubles and 24 home runs in three seasons, and is exactly the kind of power bat Tigers president Dave Dombrowski had hoped to add to the middle of a lineup that was already good. He paid a step right, sending Rick Porcello to Boston, but replaced him by getting Alfredo Simon from the Reds. The Tigers say they're ready to play right now even as they consider adding to the bullpen. But don't count free-agent Max Scherzer out of the mix just yet. Until he signs with another club, plenty of baseball people will continue to believe he's headed back to Detroit. If that happens, the Tigers will resemble the American League's best team, which they might already be.
This team needed offense. This team needed presence. This team needed a star to serve as the foundation and to build everything around. And that's exactly what Matt Kemp is. He showed in the second half of last season that he's still capable of being a dominant offensive force. The Padres have decent pitching, and with Kemp anchoring the middle of the lineup, the entire franchise has a different look.
The Cardinals had a tremendous week. They arrived at the Winter Meetings with one of the best and deepest teams in baseball. They left with that same team. Once general manager John Mozeliak acquired outfielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden from the Braves in November, he'd done enough to keep his team at or near the top of the National League Central.
In left-hander Andrew Heaney, the Angels acquired one of the best young pitchers in the game and continued general manager Jerry DiPoto's work of collecting quality arms. He surrendered second baseman Howie Kendrick, a fan favorite, but Heaney was simply one of those special talents too good to pass up. The Angels already had the best record in the majors, and Heaney's arrival positions them to to remain a playoff team for awhile longer.
With the earlier acquisitions of Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin and Michael Saunders, the Blue Jays got their heavy lifting out of the way before the Winter Meetings. They would like to add to their bullpen and have been monitoring both the free-agent and trade markets. They seem likely to do something, but the Blue Jays have already had a nice off-season.
The Yankees had a quiet week at the Winter Meetings, but had far less urgency after getting shortstop Didi Gregorius and left-handed reliever Andrew Miller last week. General manager Brian Cashman would like to add a third baseman and a starting pitcher, but seems uninterested in getting into a bidding war.
One bat down, one to go. Nelson Cruz is an excellent addition to a lineup that needed help for Robinson Cano. Now Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik would like to find another, with Melky Cabrera drawing some interest. The Mariners also deepened their rotation by acquiring left-hander J.A. Happ from the Blue Jays last week.
To bring A.J. Burnett back to the Pirates is a huge get. Pittsburgh also re-signed Francisco Liriano, and if Edison Volquez follows, they'll be positioned to compete again. General manager Neal Huntington is always shopping for offense, but Burnett and Liriano are a large step toward contending again in 2015.
Six pitchers have arrived. Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas has been signed. Wade Miley and Miguel Montero are among the players departing. So if being aggressive counts for something --- and it does -- the Diamondbacks are shifting personnel, and, they hope, their talent level. For the short term, they are looking for a catcher, but with young players dotted all over the roster, 2015 will be fascinating to watch unfold.
Ross Detwiler, acquired from the Nationals, is not the dramatic addition to the starting rotation some thought Rangers general manager Jon Daniels would make. But he's a serviceable 28-year-old left-hander who should fit nicely into a thin rotation. With the re-signing of Colby Lewis, the Rangers are in position to compete if Yu Darvish and Derek Holland are healthy.
Solid week for the Twins with the signing of right-hander Ervin Santana, a durable, affordable starter. General manager Terry Ryan earlier had added veteran right fielder Torii Hunter to the mix. Ryan would still like to add to the pitching, but Santana is a step in the right direction.
Brandon Moss is an impact acquisition and will add depth and power to the Indians lineup. But they still need pitching, and that'll be general manager Chris Antonetti's challenge as the free-agent market shakes out and bargains become available.
With the hiring of manager Kevin Cash and with new general manager Matt Silverman settling into the job, the Rays have now turned their attention to seeing if their are bargains available to upgrade their roster. With a solid pitching staff already in place and with money tight, the Rays probably won't do much more. But Cash and Silverman appear to have a chance to keep the franchise's momentum going in the wake of the departures of Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman.
General manager Walt Jocketty positioned the Reds nicely from a payroll standpoint by trading Alfredo Simon to the Tigers and Mat Latos to the Marlins, both for young players. Now he begins the process of attempting to find affordable offensive help. He'll be patient in sorting through his options. If his core guys can stay on the field, the Reds have a chance to contend whether he does anything else or not.
It was a nice week for general manager Jeff Luhnow, who added two veteran relievers, Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson, to the worst bullpen in baseball. Luhnow still has holes at third base, shortstop and first base, but the franchise took a step in the right direction this week.
Kendrys Morales is a nice fit at designated hitter for the Royals, replacing Billy Butler. But the Royals seem unlikely to re-sign free-agent James Shields, leaving the Royals to continue to consider their options as they attempt to replace him.
Justin Upton and Evan Gattis remain on the trading block as the Braves search for younger, controllable players. There's still too much talent here to call it a total rebuild, but there's plenty of work to do to get the Braves back in the postseason picture in the NL East, which has seen the Mets and Marlins improve.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. took a step in the right direction by dealing Anthony Bastardo and Jimmy Rollins for cost-controlled talent. Cole Hamels is his most valuable trading chip, but Amaro hasn't been able to bring himself to go down that road. Until that happens, the Phillies seem stuck in an interesting kind of neutral zone.
What now? That's the key. Having traded three all-stars, Athletics general manager Billy Beane acquired nine players between the ages of 18 and 26. He added depth all over the map, but he weakened his big league team. Now comes the interesting part: acquiring players to keep the A's competitive in 2015. DH Billy Butler, signed to a three-year deal, is one piece to the puzzle, but there's more to come. Still, the Athletics have a deep reservoir of pitching that could be the engine that keeps them competitive in the short term.
The Dodgers get a "grade pending" for a couple of reasons. One is that director of baseball operations Andrew Friedman probably has about a half-dozen other things up his sleeve. Another is that it'll take some time to digest a team with new players at catcher (Yasmani Grandal), second baseman (Howie Kendrick), shortstop (Jimmy Rollins), center fielder (Joc Pederson? Andre Ethier?) and starting pitcher (Brandon McCarthy). At this point, the Dodgers would appear to be better defensively and plenty good offensive. At this point means nothing: Friedman isn't done.
About the easiest bet in baseball is that Orioles general manager Dan Duquette will make at least a half-dozen moves between now and Opening Day. He may get some under-the-radar bargains and a few players most of us have never heard of. When he's done, he will have positioned the O's to win the AL East again.
General manager Mike Rizzo has been poking around gauging inventory amid speculation he'd like to do something big. Given that he already has one of the two or three best teams in baseball, he's under no pressure to do anything.
General manager Doug Melvin will begin to shop for bargains as the market begins to clear out. He has done an excellent job of this through the years. His earlier acquisition of Adam Lind also lessened the pressure to make a deal he wasn't totally comfortable with.
The Giants made hard runs at both Pablo Sandoval and Jon Lester. They are considered to be interested in Chase Headley and James Shields. About the surest bet in baseball is that general manager Brian Sabean will make a couple of deals before Opening Day and that both will work out.
Like a lot of teams, the Rockies are searching for starting pitching. They never intended to chase the biggest names and so their real work may take a few weeks to complete. They also have two of the best pitching prospects in the game -- Jon Gray and Eddie Butler -- and their improvement in 2015 may begin with how quickly those guys get to the big leagues.
Richard Justice is a Sports on Earth contributor and columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U.