Column: There’s no prize for winning MLB’s winter meetings, so the waiting game goes on

The excellent news for Chicago Cubs followers is Shohei Ohtani remained unsigned late into the second day of the MLB winter conferences.

But whether or not the Cubs had been nonetheless among the many groups within the combine for the baseball unicorn was a query president Jed Hoyer repeatedly prevented, even after a social media report claimed the Cubs had been out.

Hoyer stated there was no information to report and he didn’t know the place the rumor got here from. He declined to speak about any discussions with free brokers, although supervisor Craig Counsell stated earlier he had not talked to Ohtani.

The notion that Hoyer feels some urgency to make a splashy signing for his new $40 million supervisor was downplayed. Hoyer stated he offered Counsell on “where the organization was going.”

“It wasn’t a referendum on ’24 necessarily,” Hoyer stated. “But more where we are as a franchise, an organization at this moment in time. I don’t feel any big need to justify that. Certainly, I have no doubt over the next few years we’ll be aggressive. If that’s this year, great. If that’s in future years … I don’t feel like we have to because of that.”

Actually, there was little motion to this point, and Hoyer stated many groups’ representatives had been leaving city early Wednesday and blowing off the final day.

There is not any rule that the primary domino has to fall for issues to get carried out, however that appears to be the best way this winter will shake out.

“Sometimes the dominos fall as you think,” Hoyer stated. “But if you assume they’re going to fall that way you can get yourself in a lot of trouble waiting.”

I had a flashback to the 2012 winter conferences in Nashville, when Hoyer, then basic supervisor, stated he wasn’t fearful in regards to the lack of a signing or commerce to appease followers.

“If the things we did here don’t lead to progress down the road, then it wasn’t productive,” he stated in ’12. “But I don’t think you have to walk out of here with deer antlers.”

That line works simply as effectively 11 years later. There is not any prize for profitable the winter conferences, and so the ready sport goes on even with out deer antlers being dispersed.

Los Angeles Dodgers supervisor Dave Roberts was much less secretive about their pursuit of Ohtani, telling reporters they met with him final week for 2-3 hours. The Dodgers have been thought-about the favorites since Day One of free company, whereas the Cubs lately moved up the listing on betting websites as runner-up.

One government not within the combine stated he thought the Dodgers would reel him in when all was stated and carried out as a result of they’d be prepared to outbid the remaining, and cash talks. Toronto, San Francisco and the Los Angeles Angels have been rumored as the opposite pursuers.

Without speaking a couple of particular participant, Hoyer conceded he’s reluctant handy out long-term offers as a result of “you’re betting on human beings with bones and ligaments and all those different things.”

But he then added: “There are times when it makes sense to do it.”

Maybe now? Or possibly not.

Meanwhile, Counsell is studying about life on the opposite aspect of the fence, managing a group that no less than is talked about in free-agent rumors after 9 years in Milwaukee.

At final yr’s winter conferences in San Diego, Counsell was requested in regards to the issue of making an attempt to handle in a small market with out the flexibility to spend on the big-ticket gadgets.

“There are good players out there that aren’t at that level financially,” he instructed MLB Network. “It’s our job to find them.”

Now that he’s commuting south of the Mars Cheese Castle for a group that has monetary flexibility, Counsell can dream of getting a number of of these gamers on his 26-man roster.

“Look, the names you’re discussing are different,” Counsell stated Tuesday. “There’s no question about it, and the conversations you can be involved in are different. But, I will say the different ways that different markets have to look at it is helpful to provide new ideas, and hopefully idea generation of ways to get better still.”

The Cubs don’t care to play their hand to the media, which is sensible with so many rumors being unfold about their curiosity in so many gamers in trades or free company. Some of the rumors have been laughed off by group executives, however they nonetheless feed the beast of MLB Trade Rumors and varied media shops and aggregating websites.

Isn’t there some upside in having your title on the market? People are speaking in regards to the Cubs rather more than they’ve been in latest winters. Good for the group, however a headache for Hoyer to be requested about gamers he has proven no real interest in.

Hoyer virtually misses the previous days of the winter conferences, when entrance workplace executives realized about negotiating face-to-face. The conferences have an “anachronistic nature,” he stated, due to trendy know-how.

“Frankly I wasn’t even here (Monday) and I did 50 phone calls from the airport in Newark,” he stated. “No one knew if I was here or not. In that regard, it’s very different. With cell phones and Zooms people don’t even know where you’re making that phone call from. The Dodgers are staying off-site.”

Hoyer nonetheless prefers the old style means, even when nothing will get carried out right here. One government on Tuesday recalled doing a deal on a cocktail serviette within the bar on the winter conferences years in the past. But ingesting and signing is just not advisable with the mega offers being mentioned these days, and GMs are rather more well being aware.

The solely factor that’s remained the identical is the secrecy of execs hoping to outmaneuver their rivals, as we’ve seen within the Ohtani sweepstakes.

“In this case, there is real secrecy but everyone knows there’s secrecy,” Hoyer stated. “There have been others that have been real secrets that no one knew about, if that makes sense.”

Hoyer stored his pursuit of Counsell high secret and shocked the baseball world final month by hiring the costliest free-agent supervisor in historical past.

What will he do for an encore?

Don’t hand out these deer antlers simply but.