The Baseball Winter Meetings are being held in downtown Indianapolis this week. Beginning on Monday, the gathering of Major League Baseball’s most important people is an annual event where a majority of baseball’s off-season issues are settled. Owners, general managers and agents gather during the day at the Indiana Convention Center to hold meetings and discuss pertinent league concerns, and then hit the Indianapolis nightlife to less formally engage in negotiations about certain players.
In hotels like the Embassy Suites Downtown, which is located right next to Circle Centre Mall and connected by a skywalk to the Convention Center, league heavyweights will seal deals behind closed doors, shaping the landscape of the 2010 baseball season.
The man responsible for bringing the event to Indy is Indianapolis Indians president Max Schumacher. After 15 years of persuading, Schumacher finally convinced baseball officials to visit Indiana‘s capital city, and when they saw the connecting hotels, a centrally located downtown, and less expensive hotels within walking distance, they were sold.
Normally held in warm weather locales, Indianapolis is the northern most city to host the event since 1966. Along with the league meetings, there is also a baseball trade show, a job fair, a business seminar and a Gala on Wednesday night held at Lucas Oil Stadium. Unfortunately, unless you’re a credentialed member of a national or Indianapolis media outlet, or you paid the hefty admissions fee in advance, the winter meetings are closed to outsiders.
Here’s a quick look at some of the early transactions from the Winter Meetings:
-Brad Penny, who last year played for both the Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants, signed a one-year deal worth $7.5 million with the St. Louis Cardinals. Penny was 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA in six starts for San Francisco, and his pairing with pitching guru Dave Duncan should make this a very successful deal for the Cardinals.
-38-year old catcher Ivan Rodriguez agreed to a two-year deal with the Washington Nationals. The Nationals will pay Rodriguez $5 million over the next two seasons to mentor young backstop Jesus Flores.
-Colorado Rockies reliever Rafael Betancourt, Atlanta Braves closer Rafael Soriano and Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Carl Pavano all accepted arbitration and will remain with their current teams. Big name players John Lackey (Los Angeles Angels), Matt Holliday (St. Louis Cardinals), and Jason Bay (Boston), declined their arbitration and are now free to negotiate with other organizations.
-229 game winner Andy Pettitte announced he would return to the World Series winning Yankees for his 16th Major League season.
-Manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee on Monday. Herzog managed the Cardinals to the 1982 World Series, and later led the Kansas City Royals to three division titles. Harvey umpped in the Majors for 31 years, including five World Series and six All-Star Games.
-And in the week’s biggest news (thus far), the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Tigers are closing in on a deal that would send Curtis Granderson to the Yankees. In the proposed trade, Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy would head to Arizona, with the Tigers acquiring Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth, Phil Coke, and top Yankees prospect Austin Jackson. Nothing has been finalized yet, but these are the types of deals that Indianapolis sports fans can look forward hearing about for the remainder of the meetings.
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