LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Normally in this space, you'd be reading the annual, ever-popular Winter Meetings Winners and Losers recap you look forward to all offseason.
Sorry. Not this year.
Can't do it. So much happened the week before the winter meetings, it wouldn't be fair to grade just the goings-on of the past four days.
"Last week was so nuts," one National League executive said, "we couldn't possibly top it."
So this is the annual winners and losers recap, but we're also including the deals and signings that led up to the winter meetings. So everyone got that? Cool. Now heeeeeere we go:
• Fourth starters -- It has been a terrific winter to be Scott Feldman (three years, $30 million from the Astros, even though he has never had an ERA less than 3.86 in his career). ... Or Jason Vargas (four years, $32 million from the Royals, even though he has run off four straight seasons with an ERA-Plus of less than 100). ... Or Scott Kazmir (two years, $22 million from the A's, even though he hasn't pitched enough innings to qualify for the ERA title since 2007). With all of the new national TV money flowing into the sport, much of it has ended up in the pockets of pitchers whose names don't figure to be appearing on any Cy Young Award ballots near you. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
"Most years," said one exec, "you wait out a guy like Scott Feldman until January and get a sweet deal. This year, if you wanted a guy like that, you just went in and got him. When we look back at this winter, the Tim Hudson signing (two years, $23 million, by the Giants) is going to look like a thing of beauty."
• Washington Nationals -- We always try to remember not to grade any team's offseason by looking for the team that wrote the biggest checks. And no team embodies why more than the Nationals. Doug Fister may not be David Price, but the Nats' trade with Detroit to get him was "the best deal of the winter," one exec said. Nate McLouth may not be Shin-Soo Choo, but the Nationals needed a left-handed-hitting outfielder who could play left, center or right -- and McLouth was a perfect fit. Jerry Blevins may not be Aroldis Chapman, but the team needed another left-hander in the bullpen -- and trading for him beat spending $10 million on J.P. Howell.
"I really like what they've done," an AL executive said. "They're not big, big moves. But that's a really good team that got better. They should have been better than they were last year. But I bet this year is different. I bet they won't take it for granted this year that they're destined to play in October."