Wheeling, dealing under way at Meetings

Wheeling, dealing under way at Meetings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- While the baseball world started to assemble at the Walt Disney Swan & Dolphin Resort on Sunday, there was great anticipation that these Winter Meetings could be the most eventful in recent memory.

News was already starting to swirl, even if the Meetings don't officially begin until Monday morning. Jayson Werth signed a seven-year deal to bring his power bat to the Washington Nationals.

Adrian Gonzalez and the Red Sox couldn't agree on a contract extension, but Boston nevertheless decided to pull the trigger on a deal to send three highly rated prospects to San Diego.

Also on the rumor mill: Was Paul Konerko gaining steam in talks that would bring him back to the White Sox?

Look at all that has already happened in the days leading up to the Meetings, and the stage is set for a whole lot more wheeling and dealing in lobbies and suites throughout the resort.

This is no Disney vacation. This is where 30 general managers -- not to mention a barrage of agents throughout the industry -- will get down to business. The festivities officially begin on Monday morning and conclude on Thursday afternoon.

There will be a lot to keep an eye on over the four days, and MLB.com -- with 30 beat reporters and a collection of national writers stationed in Lake Buena Vista -- will have every bit of it covered.

Lefty Cliff Lee, a postseason star the past two years, will be a talking point until he finds his next home. Could he stay right in Texas? Or will the Yankees offer so much to reunite with his former teammate CC Sabathia that he just won't be able to pass it up?

If Lee is easily the most impactful pitcher on the market, it is debatable which position player wields the most clout.

Could it be Carl Crawford, who possesses all that speed and athleticism? The Red Sox have already met with him in person, and the Angels also have heavy interest. The Yankees could be lurking on this one as well.

There was quite the prelude to the flurry of activity that could take place at the Meetings. Victor Martinez found a new home (Detroit) just before Thanksgiving. Adam Dunn went to the White Sox. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, Yankee icons, re-upped in the Bronx.

But there's still a whole lot of supply out there -- not to mention demand.

Now that Gonzalez has been moved, will Prince Fielder be the next slugging first baseman to be traded? The Brewers will listen to offers on Fielder, who is eligible for free agency at the end of the season.

Whichever teams come up short for Lee are sure to talk to the Royals about Zack Greinke. It is no secret that the man who won the American League's Cy Young Award in 2009 could be available through trade.

D-backs general manager Kevin Towers has been open about the fact that he will listen to offers for 23-year-old center fielder Justin Upton. But they better be highly-enticing packages; otherwise he will keep the talented slugger.

There are even more proven commodities out there looking for new homes.

Adrian Beltre was a star in his lone season with the Red Sox, and the Athletics wanted him badly. However, the A's -- according to reports -- have taken the hint that the feeling isn't mutual and have bowed out.

A closer became available when the White Sox non-tendered Bobby Jenks. Rafael Soriano, who had a breakout season for the Rays in 2010, is also out there.

American League teams looking for designated hitters will be testing the waters on Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Hideki Matsui. Will Manny Ramirez get any bites after the least productive season of his career?

While the trades and free-agent signings are on the front-burner, there will be a lot of other activities going on as well.

The Hall of Fame announced that longtime executive Pat Gillick has been elected by the Expansion Era Committee. On Tuesday, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig will hold a special presentation with four veteran managers who stepped down following the 2010 season -- Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, Cito Gaston and Lou Piniella. MLB's special committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss postseason expansion.

As always, the sign that the Meetings are coming to a close will take place Thursday morning with the Rule 5 Draft, when teams can scoop up unprotected prospects.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.