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FROM THE HOME OFFICE: Winter Meetings, Day 1 Recap

Where the magic happens.

All the MLB-loving world has trained their gaze upon San Diego, where each team has sent their braintrust (such as it is) and each writer has been champing at the bit to throw in “Anchorman” references.

As Bob recapped here, before the meetings even began there were two pitchers who were on the Sox radar that signed elsewhere. So at some point they still need to add a veteran starter, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be here and now.

Also in Sox-world was a red-hot rumor that Marcell Ozuna was going to sign with the Southsiders yesterday. But, as you can see, neither of the Sox Otters wrote up anything on Ozuna, so the rumor was exactly that.

On the Cubs side of the ledger, the red-hot (actually, as white hot as his smile) rumor has the Cubs wanting to trade Kris Bryant before his contract expires in two years, because…reasons. There’s literally no trade scenario (Mookie Betts and Max Fried have been the two most discussed trades) that benefits the Cubs. Betts walks a year before Bryant does, and Fried, while a lively young arm that is under team control until 2024, ain’t enough.

The guess here is that Theo keeps leaking to the usual suspects a possible Bryant trade so when it doesn’t happen, everyone will be so relieved they won’t think about the fact that they’re going to have some beer leaguer as the 5th starter.

More big news was the Nationals signing World Series MVP Steven Strasburg to a 7 year extension worth $245 million. So between Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin, the Nats have over $87 million in average annual value (AAV) locked up in three guys who cover 60% of their games.

The interesting thing is, I’ve looked through the MLB CBA and there’s nothing in there stopping a team from doing the “dive years” that NHL teams did before it was prohibited in their CBA. So what a team and player could do would be to tack on several years at the end of the contract for a much lower amount in order to lower the AAV of the contract and keep a team under the luxury cap threshold. For instance, if Strasburg’s deal had another 3 years at $1.67 million/per, that makes it a 10/$250 contract, and the AAV of the deal becomes $10 million less. So, just as teams manipulate service time, they can also manipulate what has become a de facto salary cap.

So now let’s see what happens today.

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