As Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings came and went last week in Las Vegas, I can’t tell you how disappointed I was as not only a fan of the sport but one that has made sports my career.
It was a disaster of epic proportions. Not because of something that happened, because of the very fact that nothing happened. When the great debate in Sin City surrounds former White Sox OF/DH Harold Baines’ Hall-of-Fame candidacy, that is when you know you have hit rock bottom. When that debate carries on for three days, that my friends, is the abyss.
Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen is certainly an optimistic sort and described his first Winter Meetings as exhilarating. That might have been true for him, but I don’t think you could say that for the Major League Baseball fan.
As the Winter Meets in Las Vegas came to a rightful conclusion, they were an absolute bore. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred needs to do something about that because you can’t have a four-day event that embraces free agency and trades while bringing all the decision makers from each team together in one city and have the equivalency of next to nothing happen.
I get there was some movement, but nothing like it once was. The Winter Meetings used to generate big buzz for the sport that desperately needs it.
I feel like the biggest buzz that was generated was the speculation of a potential three-team trade that would have landed the Mets stud catcher JT Realmuto from the Marlins and would have placed star right-handed starter Noah Syndergaard with the Yankees.
Other than that, maybe people were stunned that free agent outfielder Andrew McCutchen got a three-year, $50 million dollar contract from the Phillies.
I know some have speculated that the sport needs to put some deadlines in place to get the movement that is desired. I don’t know if that is the answer. It would certainly get movement, but would you get the blockbuster trades? You certainly can’t put any ‘hard’ deadline on free agents because that might lead teams to have more leverage during negotiations. Kind of a take it or leave it mindset.
How about this? Why don’t we just do away with the Winter Meetings altogether?
If we are debating about the shift and re-writing the rulebook to try and adjust the game to make it more watchable to the millennials, why not do away with an event that encapsulates what the millennial sports fan feels about that sport: That it is boring.
All talk, no action. I know there is the Rule 5 draft. I know that there are people, young and old, that are looking to network and interview for jobs. There are other things going on besides the comedian Carrot Top making the rounds on MLB Network.
You don’t need to put a trade deadline for the off-season. You don’t need to move it back even further into the winter months, either. Let’s not forget that people want to know where they are going to be playing sooner rather than later. There is no need for the event, period. You can celebrate baseball by holding a convention for the fans before pitchers and catchers report. You can certainly have an MLB job fair at any major city of your choosing and you can rotate between Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Chicago, and Miami. You can run the Rule 5 draft whenever you decide to run the Rule 5 draft. I mean who really cares?
If you are Major League Baseball, you can’t spend millions on a four-day event and have the general consensus be that it was a bore or a waste of time. That just does not work.
You can’t have Manny Machado doing his city tour of potential landing spots after the Winter Meetings take place. Major League Baseball needs to realize that organizations have adjusted to the way they look at free agency and trades and are willing to be more patient now than ever before. Baseball needs to adjust to that.
I don’t believe this year’s Winter Meetings was just a trend. It will become more of the norm. I know this kind of event makes the league special because the NBA, NHL or NFL do not have an equivalent of this. You should not continue the event for the sake of continuing it. If it no longer works in the current business model of baseball, then get rid of it. If teams look at it as an information-gathering opportunity instead of a ‘call to action’, then get rid of it. Last week was a bad look and generated no buzz. Instead of installing offseason deadlines, maybe the best thing for the sport would be for the event to end altogether.