Baseball's winter meetings ended with an old-style spurt of swaps, with all-stars switching teams at a rapid pace and executives scrambling to fill roster voids.
Alfredo Simon, Dee Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes, Miguel Montero, Jeff Samardzija, Brandon Moss, Dan Haren and Howie Kendrick were among the all-stars dealt by the time teams headed home Thursday, and Matt Kemp and Jimmy Rollins were on the verge of switching clubs.
The Los Angeles and Chicago teams were at the epicentre of change, along with the Miami Marlins.
Twelve trades involving 44 players were made over the four days, according to Major League Baseball, up from five swaps last year and three in 2012. There hadn't been this many trades at a winter meetings since 2006.
"People are motivated," Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said.
With major league revenues in the $9-billion (U.S.) range, increased sharing and changes to rules for the amateur draft, more clubs have money to spend and large-market teams are more constrained.
The four organizations chasing San Francisco in the NL West all changed their top baseball front-office official since last year's gathering: Tony La Russa took over at the Diamondbacks, Andrew Friedman with the Dodgers, A. J. Preller with the Padres and Jeff Bridich with the Rockies. Matt Silverman replaced Friedman with the Rays.
"People have been very, very aggressive," Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski said.
A $155-million, six-year agreement between left-hander Jon Lester and the Cubs late Tuesday night seemed to break a market logjam.
In deals announced just before midnight Wednesday, the Dodgers acquired Kendrick from the Angels to play second and worked to obtain Rollins from Philadelphia in a remake of their middle infield. They dealt Gordon, Haren – who is mulling retirement – infielder Miguel Rojas and a player to be named or cash to the Marlins as part of a seven-player trade for left-hander Andrew Heaney, right-hander Chris Hatcher, infielder Kike Hernandez and catcher Austin Barnes.
The Dodgers then sent Heaney, considered one of baseball's top pitching prospects, to the Angels for Kendrick.
And as dawn broke, the Dodgers had a deal in place to send Kemp and catcher Tim Federowicz down Interstate 5 to San Diego for catcher Yasmani Grandal and two pitchers.
And the Dodgers also worked to complete a $48-million, four-year agreement with pitcher Brandon McCarthy.
The Marlins, meanwhile, got pitcher Mat Latos from Cincinnati.
Detroit made a pair of trades, sending pitcher Rick Porcello to Boston for Cespedes and two minor leaguers, and then replenishing its rotation with Simon, obtained from Cincinnati for two minor leaguers. Boston also worked to finalize a trade with Arizona for pitcher Wade Miley and a free-agent deal with pitcher Justin Masterson.
"There's obviously been a lot more movement. The pace has quickened, certainly," Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. "As expected, it picked up after Lester."
The Cubs also have a $20-million, two-year deal with right-hander Jason Hammel. And they acquired an all-star catcher in Montero from Arizona as they try to bring a World Series to the North Side for the first time since 1908. On the South Side, the White Sox struck a $46-million, four-year deal with closer David Robertson and boosted their rotation by getting Samardzija from Oakland after adding reliever Zach Duke and first baseman Adam LaRoche earlier.
Other teams in the Central were adding, too. Minnesota and right-hander Ervin Santana worked to finalize a $55-million, four-year agreement, and AL champion Kansas City had a $17-million, two-year deal in place with Kendrys Morales. St. Louis made a deal for free-agent power hitter Mark Reynolds.