Ben Cherington

A general managers' meetings primer

Rob Bradford
November 10, 2014 - 5:06 am

PHOENIX -- Want to know one of the rarest feats in Major League Baseball? An actual significant transaction during the general managers' meetings. Sure, it happens. Last year, the Phillies signed Marlon Byrd to a somewhat sizable contract. The year before, David Ross agreed to a deal with the Red Sox on the final day of the meetings. In 2010, not only did two set-up guys (Joaquin Benoit, Scott Downs) agree to three-year deals during the three-day event, but catcher John Buck also was locked up by the Marlins. It was also in '10 at the GM meetings in Orlando that Red Sox chairman Tom Werner went on WEEI and proclaimed, ""We are going to sign a significant free agent. We are going to make a trade." A few weeks later along came Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. But the importance of the get-together at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel this week stretches beyond any sort of actual transactions. This is truly where the rubber meets the offseason road. In '09, it was the commitment shown by the Red Sox (with then-manager Terry Francona joining GM Theo Epstein in Chicago) towards John Lackey at the GM meetings that was later identified as a difference-maker when wooing the starter. The Red Sox will not be meeting with any players this week, just agents and teams -- a lot of them. Cherington will meet up with Gustavo Vasquez (Pablo Sandoval's agent), Sam and Seth Levinson (Jon Lester's agents), Page Odle (James Shields' agent), Adam Katz (Hanley Ramirez's agent), and, yes, Scott Boras (Max Scherzer's agent). The list will be a lot longer, but you get the idea. There will be a session in which all the general managers are put in a ballroom for the media to have at them for about 45 minutes. And, typically, the GMs might break off from their meetings to partake in some sort of outing (although this year that is supposedly consisting of simply checking out some Arizona Fall League action). Last year served as a pretty good cheat sheet for how a big league offseason unfolds once the GM meetings' meetings come to a close. The GMs filtered out of Orlando last year on Nov. 13. Exactly three weeks later, everything and anything of significance that was going to take place for the Red Sox (signings of Jacoby Ellsbury, Jarrod Saltamacchia, Mike Napoli) unfolded in a matter of just a few days. About a week before, there was a smattering of activity throughout MLB, with David Murphy (Indians) and Jhonny Peralta (Cardinals) signing free agent deals. The Angels and Cardinals also made a deal Nov. 22, with World Series hero David Freese being sent to Anaheim. Will this year be different? There's a chance. Often times one signing and domino into a bunch. There are enough high-leverage bullpen arms, for instance, that an Andrew Miller decision could push things along. Or maybe one of the big ticket starters surprises and jumps early. If nothing else, the tone of the coming month will be set in the coming days. Here's a promise: it will be the biggest event in Arizona for Boston sports fans until some football game is played here Feb. 1. (For some of Cherington's thoughts heading into the meetings, click here.) [poll id=98]