Thanksgiving has come and gone, December is right around the corner, and with that, the MLB Winter Meetings begin next Sunday, December 4th through the 7th in San Diego. This season is the first in-person meetings since 2019 after being cancelled last year due to the lockout and the meetings held virtually in 2020 due to the pandemic. Usually, these meetings begin to light the hot stove and trades, free agent signings, and other moves happen causing other dominos to fall. With less than a week before these meetings occurring, here’s everything you need to know and can expect to come out of San Diego.
From the MLB website, the Winter Meetings is when “executives, team staff, media, exhibitors and job seekers converge to network with peers, fill job and internship vacancies, attend workshops, discuss trends and exchange ideas.” These meetings are similar to trade shows, conferences, etc. for other jobs and professions, but for baseball. December is the most important time of the year for hiring open job vacancies which teams try to fill during job fairs and networking opportunities, so hopefully the Rockies hire some analytics positions during this time.
During the Winter Meetings, an award banquet is also held to present winners to a few awards. In the past, the King of Baseball award was presented to a veteran in Minor League Baseball for their service and dedication to the game. Although this award was presented every year since 1951, it has not been given the past couple years and unfortunately may not return. The other award presented is Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting, with notable winners including Vin Scully (1982), Al Michaels (2021), and Bob Costas (2018). The Baseball Writers’ Association of America award the sportswriter of the year BBWAA Career Excellence Award as part of their Hall of Fame presentations (see Veteran’s Committee voting below). Lastly, the Scout of the Year award is awarded.
Other important parts of the meetings includes the Rule 5 Draft and the Hall of Fame Veteran’s voting. The Veteran’s Committee will meet and vote on whether players retired for a significant amount of time will be enshrined into the Hall of Fame (different from the Baseball Writer’s ballot that will include Todd Helton). The Rule 5 Draft also happens, which will go more in depth later.
The meetings will take place in San Diego, California this year.
There will be meetings throughout the week from Sunday, December 4th through Wednesday, December 7th.
All 30 MLB teams and members of the MiLB send representatives, such as GMs, front office staff, etc. to the Winter Meetings to discuss rule changes, hirings, or any other business items.
Rule 5 Draft
The Rule 5 Draft allows teams to add players to their 40-man rosters from other team’s prospects that are left unprotected. To be considered unprotected, a prospect needs to be added to the 40-man roster within five season if drafted at 18 years old or younger and four season if drafted after the age of 19. Teams that draft a player owe the other team in which the player was in their system $100,000 as compensation. The catch is the player drafted is automatically added to the drafting team’s 26-man active roster and must remain on the active roster and can only be outrighted to be replaced, meaning the player does not have any options to Triple-A without clearing waivers and offering the player back to his original team first. The draft consists of two phases, the Major League phase and the Minor League phase and two rounds for each phase.
Last draft in 2020, the Rockies drafted reliever Jordan Sheffield from the Dodgers in the first round of the Major League phase, who ended up pitching in 32 games over between 2021 and 2022.
Notable Past Season Transactions
At the last meeting in 2019, Garrett Cole and Anthony Rendon both signed their contracts with the Yankees and Angels. Other recent years had the hot stove heating up, such as 2014 in which the Dodgers made six transactions during the Winter Meetings and Albert Pujols signing his ten year deal with the Angels and leaving his former club. With executives of all 30 teams in the same place at the same time, the Winter Meetings are the best time for signings, transactions, and trades to take place.
What to expect
As it stands as of writing, the Rockies have 39 players on their 40-man roster, meaning they do have a spot that they can use in the Rule-5 Draft if they choose to use it for that. The Rockies have selected at least one player in the last four drafts except 2018, so there is a good chance they pick up a player for that final spot. On the other side, the Rockies have lost multiple players to other teams in the draft since 2017. The biggest prospect left unprotected by the Rockies this year is first baseman Grant Lavigne, who made the All-Star team for the Arizona Fall League a few weeks ago. For more details on this move, read the synopsis of the article below in the links section. For other moves, the Rockies would have to trade or waive a player to create more room on the 40-man roster, so if any news breaks for a trade or signing during that week, expect some other move added in there too.
Keep up to date on all the offseason moves during the Winter Meetings and the rest of the winter using the MLB Hot Stove tracker here.
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The Rockies have a couple players on the list of possible trade candidates this offseason with CJ Cron and Germán Márquez. In two seasons for the Rockies, CJ Cron has put up the best numbers of his career, mashing 57 home runs in that time, all while only costing the Rockies $7 million next season. With the amount of young players that can play first base and an expiring contract, Cron could be moved to a contender that needs a power bat at first or DH. Márquez on the other hand has a club option after the 2023 season. The righty is only 27 years old and has been consistent for the Rockies, missing only one start due to injury. Unless the Rockies have Márquez in their long term plan, this offseason may be time to get the most return on their ace.
Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo look to next season and predict the top prospect for the Rookie of the Year award. Rockies’ number two prospect Ezequiel Tovar makes the list as a potential stand out next season in the Rockies’ infield. Tovar excelled in Double-A Hartford before his promotion to Albuquerque and ultimately making his MLB debut in September. Even with a hip injury, the shortstop impressed late in the year to earn the callup. Tovar took a step forward at the plate this year and still have Gold Glove caliber defense in the field. Expect Tovar to get playing time in Denver next season. With the first base position clogged at the MLB level and Lavigne slower development, he was left off the 40-man roster and could be a potential draft pick for other teams hoping he takes another step forward in 2023.
Grant Lavigne is the best prospect left off the Rockies’ 40-man roster headed into the Rule 5 Draft next week. Lavigne was drafted 42 overall in the 2018 draft and has had take longer to develop than the Rockies would have hoped. Despite that, Lavigne began to figure it out at the plate in Hartford this season at the Double-A level and impressed in the Arizona Fall League with a final slash line of .328/.409/.557.
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