NASHVILLE — The Boston Red Sox began to play catch-up by getting All-Star catcher Mike Napoli, Tampa Bay took a chance on James Loney and the New York Yankees prepared for more time minus Alex Rodriguez during a brisk Monday at baseball’s winter meetings.
Soon after the Hall of Fame welcomed three new members from long ago, teams got busy. The World Series champion San Francisco Giants kept centre fielder Angel Pagan, while the Texas Rangers brought back catcher Geovany Soto and made a deal for injured closer Joakim Soria.
Top free agent Josh Hamilton remained in play after hitting 43 home runs with 128 RBIs for the Rangers last season.
“I saw Josh on the flight here Sunday by accident. Coincidence, I guess, is a better word than accident,” Texas general manager Jon Daniels said. “Chatted with him a little bit in the airport. I know he’s here probably to meet with some other teams.”
Quite a contrast to last year’s session, when the Miami Marlins often appeared to be the only player with their high-priced splashes. This time, inside the vast Opryland Hotel complex that houses a studio for famed country music station WSM, several teams had a grand ole time.
Coming off a last-place finish, Boston tried to resolve its catching situation. Napoli got a $39 million, three-year contract, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.
“Awesome addition to our team!” Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester tweeted.
The Red Sox are aiming at another prize, too, exploring trade possibilities to pry Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets. Boston GM Ben Cherington didn’t mention the knuckleballer by name, simply saying the price for pitching was “always steep for the better guys.”
Mets manager Terry Collins, meanwhile, left the trade talk to others.
“Anybody, anything can happen anytime. I’ve been in the game long enough to understand that,” he said. “I don’t think as managers we can sit here and get caught up on one move or another move and say, well, this is — we can’t worry about that. We’ve got to worry about what we have and how we’re going to get better.
“When we go to spring training, I’m going to look at the names on those lockers, and I’m going to figure out what we’ve got to do to be successful with the names on the lockers, depending on who they are,” he added.
Also in play, maybe: Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco.
Nolasco, who went 12-13 with a 4.48 ERA this year and is signed for $11.5 million next season, asked the payroll-slashing Marlins to deal him in the wake of trades that jettisoned Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell and Josh Johnson.