Cash in­flux may spark win­ter meet­ing ac­tion

New TV rev­enues could help team of­fi­cials make their moves quickly.

Austin American-Statesman - - C SPORTS - By David Len­non news­day

Last month at the gen­eral man­agers’ meet­ings, which took place un­der one roof at a re­sort in In­dian Wells, Calif., Sandy Alder­son looked be­mused at the no­tion that what amounted to a mixer for base­ball ex­ec­u­tives would has­ten the deal-mak­ing.

The Mets’ gen­eral man­ager said it was just as easy to reach into his pocket, pull out his smart­phone and dial up whomever he might need to get the di­a­logue go­ing.

Alder­son is right, and in this day and age, when ev­ery­one is ac­ces­si­ble 24-7, the idea of hav­ing to walk down a hall­way and knock on some­body’s ho­tel room door seems kind of an­ti­quated.

But when asked again about be­ing cooped up with the same crowd at the win­ter meet­ings, which be­gin to­day at the sprawl­ing Opry­land ho­tel in Nashville, Tenn., Alder­son wasn’t feel­ing quite as claus­tro­pho­bic. He al­most sounded as if he was look­ing for­ward to it.

“Could be a lot of things hap­pen­ing there,” Alder­son said, smil­ing.

Maybe this year more than most, thanks to a cou­ple of new fac­tors af­fect­ing the mar­ket. A big rea­son is the ad­di­tional $50 mil­lion coming to each club as part of MLB’s re­cently minted TV package, a nice chunk of change that will be burn­ing a hole in the pock­ets of some teams ea­ger to do some hol­i­day shop­ping.

And for those teams on a tighter bud­get — think the TJ Maxx bargain-rack browsers — the dead­line for ten­der­ing con­tracts was moved up this year to Nov. 30 at mid­night, thereby iden­ti­fy­ing all of the free agents well ahead of the Nashville feed­ing frenzy. In past years, the non-ten­der dead­line took place im­me­di­ately af­ter the win­ter meet­ings, which could de­lay a club’s plans for re­mak­ing the ros­ter.

As for the mar­ket it­self, a few pa­ram­e­ters have been set by the Novem­ber sign­ings, but some of the big­gest names re­main in play. Josh Hamil­ton, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, An­gel Pa­gan and Shane Vic­torino are still avail­able. At this time of year, free agency be­comes like a game of mu­si­cal chairs, and as soon as one club fills a need, an­other gets anx­ious to find an­other seat.

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