Getaway day at the Winter Meetings is often a quiet exercise of farewell handshakes and roller bags rattling through the lobby of the headquarters of baseball's annual gathering of general managers, agents and media. The final day of the 2014 session, however, was anything but a mere formality, as a torrent of transactions sent what already was a raucous convention off with a bang.
Capping off a week that ranks right up there with some of the most active Winter Meetings in their long history, Thursday's final day saw multitalented position players moved with Yoenis Cespedes traded to the Tigers and Matt Kemp headed for the Padres -- but that's not all. Starting pitching continued to be the hottest item, with the Reds dealing Mat Latos to the Marlins and Alfredo Simon to the Tigers, and Rick Porcello going from Detroit to the Red Sox among the several starters changing places.
The finished business came fast and furious in the final hours of the Meetings, and there's little doubt that more moves have been negotiated in San Diego this week and will be coming to the fore in the days and weeks ahead. The Dodgers continued to shake things up with the Kemp trade, as yet unofficial, on the heels of a series of Wednesday moves, and the Cubs certainly leave town on a high after snatching up the biggest free-agent prize of the meetings by agreeing to terms with left-hander Jon Lester.
Indeed, the Lester deal was the linchpin it was advertised to be to get a lot more activity rolling, right up to the final hours. With a flurry of trades for starting pitching already on the board, sources tell MLB.com that Ervin Santana is headed for the Twins rotation and Justin Masterson is heading back to the Red Sox. It's clear the market for starting pitching, and the overall market, loosened up considerably after Lester made his decision earlier this week.
It might have seemed like the Dodgers were in on all the action in the last 24 hours of the meetings, and they came pretty close. The biggest name coming is Jimmy Rollins and the biggest one going is Kemp, runner-up in Most Valuable Player Award voting in 2011 but fighting health issues since, remaining plenty dangerous when he's right. The Padres will receive Kemp and catcher Tim Federowicz in exchange for catcher Yasmani Grandal, pitcher Joe Wieland and Minor League pitcher Zach Eflin, a baseball source told MLB.com. With the Dodgers also sending $31 million, the Padres will be on the hook for five years and $75 million on the remainder of Kemp's contract.
The Tigers made their presence known with a pair of trades for players who were All-Stars in 2014 -- Cespedes while with the A's and before his trade to the Red Sox for Lester, and Simon while with the Reds in the midst of a career year. While a Cespedes trade was rumored for days, Tigers president and GM Dave Dombrowski said that wasn't a move they could make unless the Tigers could get some starting pitching elsewhere. When the Simon deal materialized, so did the acquisition of one of the game's unique talents in Cespedes, who will join a lineup that already includes Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.
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"He's a very athletic guy who can play left field and cover ground out there," Dombrowski said of Cespedes. "There's not a lot of offense that's around in the game. And so for us, when we start adding up all the dynamics of how our club fit together, he fit very well for us."
The price to get a player the Tigers have been interested in since he came from Cuba three years ago was Porcello, a first-round pick by Detroit who has had some highs and lows in his first few years. The Red Sox took him on as they continued to piece together their rotation in rapid fashion -- once all of Boston's new moves become official, the projected rotation will consist of Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Porcello, Masterson and Wade Miley, whose trade from Arizona is still pending. Masterson is getting $9.5 million for one year, sources tell MLB.com.
Thank you Detroit fans for everything! It's been a pleasure playing in front of you. Excited to start a new chapter in Boston!!!
Yet another starter to make a move Thursday was Latos, whose trade to Miami along with Simon's departure for Detroit showed that the Reds were serious when saying they might be moving some pitching this offseason. Starters Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake and closer Aroldis Chapman are still in the fold after some rumors circulated about each of them, and the Reds have four new players in the mix, along with a little more flexibility.
"We're in a better position to start looking at some other possibilities to improve our club -- the hitter we're looking for and some bullpen depth," Reds GM Walt Jocketty said.
Also on Thursday:
The pending Santana deal with the Twins, which is awaiting a physical, is for four years at $54 million, and he joins a rotation that already features Phil Hughes, Ricky Nolasco and Kyle Gibson. Santana was on the Twins' radar last year, but he turned down a multiyear deal for a one-year contract with the Braves.
The defending American League champion Royals got a bat after losing one, agreeing to terms with Kendrys Morales on a two-year, $17 million deal, sources tell MLB.com. The Royals had lost Billy Butler and figure to see James Shields sign elsewhere, so once the deal is complete Morales would represent their biggest acquisition so far this winter.
The Cardinals and Mark Reynolds have agreed to a one-year deal, according to sources, giving St. Louis a veteran right-handed power bat who can play first base or fill in at third.
The Nationals and Rangers agreed on a trade to send left-hander Ross Detwiler to Texas for two Minor Leaguers, according to sources, although neither team has confirmed the deal.
The Mets addressed their need for outfield, agreeing to terms with outfielder John Mayberry Jr. on a one-year contract. The deal is pending a physical, according to an MLB.com source.
The D-backs took Rays catching prospect Oscar Hernandez with the top pick in the Rule 5 Draft, meaning they'll have to keep him on the 25-man roster or offer him back to Tampa Bay. Hernandez was the first of 14 selections made in the opening phase of the Draft.
One word: Whew. And there's still plenty to do as the offseason continues, with top free agent Max Scherzer's destination still unknown and trades involving the Phillies' Cole Hamels and others still very much in the realm of possibility.
As finishing acts go, this one went right along with the rest of the 2014 Winter Meetings -- never a dull moment, more substance than just a series of rumors, big names moving from one team to another. This was a getaway day to beat all, and it aptly wrapped up a Winter Meetings that was packed with action from beginning to end.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnSchlegelMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.