Winter meetings forecast

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Holy moly. What a week.

Has any edition of the winter meetings ever been overshadowed by the week before the winter meetings?

As next week's annual rumorfest at Disney approaches, you wouldn't believe the number of people in baseball who think that could seriously happen.

"I don't ever remember a day like Tuesday ever," said one American League official. "Not just [during] the week before the winter meetings. Ever. Even at the winter meetings, I don't remember a day like that. I'd like to know how many teams traded a player or agreed with a [free agent]. I bet it was more than half the teams in baseball."

Good call. We counted 20 teams that did one of the above between Monday afternoon and Tuesday night. Life got so insane for a while there it prompted one National League executive to ask: "Did we invent a trade deadline in the offseason that I didn't know about?"

Boy, it seemed like it. In a span of not much more than 24 hours, there were signings or agreements involving Joe Nathan, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, A.J. Pierzynski, Paul Konerko, Justin Morneau, Scott Kazmir and Ryan Vogelsong. Plus seven trades involving 25 players. Plus a non-tender day that released 43 more free agents into the wild.

Phew.

And we haven't even mentioned the 78-ring Robinson Cano/Jay Z circus.

And yet, as winter-meetings week rushes at us headlong, there's still so much more to do. Nelson Cruz, Shin-Soo Choo and about 800 free-agent pitchers are still unsigned. Big names like David Price and Jeff Samardzija still dangle in the trade-rumor breeze.

So let's take a look at what might go down at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., next week, with the help of 17 executives who took part in our annual winter-meetings survey:

Free-agent frenzy

We've had a swarm of signings or agreements involving 21 of Keith Law's top 50 free agents, compared with only six a year ago at this time. But until the last 24 hours -- when Robinson Cano, Carlos Beltran, Mike Napoli and Curtis Granderson found homes -- most of those deals had come from the second tier.

So we asked the execs who took part in our survey to take a shot at one of our favorite games -- predicting the date when four of the most prominent free agents would sign. As always, the responses were a source of tremendous fun:

So can you tell those predictions were all over the map or what? This has been such a strange market to read, there was almost no consensus on any of these players. But here's how the group looked at those four names:

Shin-Soo Choo
Choo

Shin-Soo Choo: The popular wisdom is that Ellsbury might have just gone down as the first prominent Scott Boras free agent ever to come to a deal a full six days before the winter meetings. So to balance with his quick strike, some execs think Boras will take his time on Choo, until another $150 million lottery ticket arrives. One exec even made Choo his yearly pick to sign at "halftime of the Super Bowl."

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