2015 Winter Meetings: The Music City Plays Gracious Host to Baseball’s Winter Meetings for the Seventh Time

This article was written by Wayne G. McDonnell Jr.

This article was published in the


Baseball's Business: The Winter Meetings: 1958-2016The 114th annual Baseball Winter Meetings were held in Nashville at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center from December 7 to 10, 2015. The 700,000—square—foot resort had played host to baseball on six previous occasions (1983, 1989, 1998, 2002, 2007, and 2012) and the festive holiday ambiance eloquently blended into the background as the game’s executives strategically pursued desirable free agents and blockbuster trades. By the time the baseball circus had left the Music City, several ballclubs had vastly improved their chances for postseason glory. However, games are never won or lost on paper in the middle of the winter.

Before the Meetings, several clubs were very active in the free—agent market. Many writers and analysts were amazed at how quickly the Detroit Tigers’ executive vice president of baseball operations and general manager, Al Avila agreed to terms with right—handed pitcher Jordan Zimmermann on a five—year, $110 million contract. The deal for the Washington Nationals’ two—time All—Star included a full no—trade clause through the first three years of the contract. The amazement continued when another All—Star righty, Johnny Cueto, reportedly turned down a six—year contract from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the neighborhood of $120 million. Cueto and his agent, Bryce Dixon, seemed confident in the free—agent market and believed there would be additional suitors with more lucrative offers for Cueto’s services. It was assumed he was seeking a contract in the vicinity of $140 million to $160 million. While you won’t find Cueto’s name atop any of the key statistical categories for the 2015 season, his achievements from the 2014 season were still fresh in the minds of many evaluating his talents. Also, splitting time between the American and National leagues after the July 26, 2015, trade from the Cincinnati Reds to the Kansas City Royals may have had an impact on his season as well.  

Without question, pitching was a topic of considerable conversation at the conclusion of the 2015 season. It was, for instance, anticipated that southpaw David Price would become a very wealthy man, and this became a fact when the Boston Red Sox signed the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner to a seven—year, $217 million contract on December 4. This move sent the free—agent market for starting pitchers into overdrive as Boston’s new president of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, was already rebuilding a pitching rotation that had accumulated the second worst earned—run average (4.31) in the American League in 2015. With an average annual value of $31 million and an opt—out clause at the conclusion of the third season (2018) at the age of 33, Price’s contract had redefined the compensation package for elite starting pitchers. However, his reign atop the average annual value leader board was short—lived thanks to right—hander Zack Greinke. The 2015 National League Cy Young Award runner—up (and 2009 American League winner) signed a six—year, $206.5 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, for an estimated average annual value of $34,416,666.  (After deferrals, the present—day value of the contract was actually closer to $194.5 million.)

As well—traveled baseball writers, network analysts, and credentialed media from across the world began to settle in for four days of nonstop action and sleepless nights chasing rumors, many were astonished at what had already occurred during the offseason. The dominoes had quickly fallen into place as franchises aggressively signed desirable starting pitchers to nine—figure contracts prior to baseball’s pilgrimage to Nashville. Upon arrival, it seemed as if some of the buzz had temporarily subsided as the media was trying to figure out what would be happening next with regard to starting pitchers. And immediately rumors began circulating throughout the resort concerning the Los Angeles Dodgers’ perceived interest in the Miami Marlins’ right—handed phenomenon José Fernandez, as well as a potential blockbuster trade that would significantly bolster a bullpen already headlined by Kenley Jansen.

Then, seemingly within a moment’s notice on the first morning of the Meetings, the Dodgers looked to be on the verge of acquiring the Cincinnati Reds’ ace closer, Cuban—born southpaw Aroldis Chapman, via a trade. According to MLB’s Statcast 2015 leader board, Chapman’s four—seam fastball eclipsed 102 miles per hour on 50 occasions during the regular season. Also, he had faced 278 batters in 2015 and struck out 116.  Simultaneously, as most of the media was dealing with this potential bombshell, the Pre—Integration Era Committee of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was beginning its press conference.  Once it was learned that the 16—member committee had failed to elect any of the 10 candidates, the focus around the Delta Ballroom immediately shifted to the potent bullpen the Dodgers could have with both Jansen and Chapman. Of course, it was also noted that the Dodgers would be creating a new problem for themselves, with two closers looking to pitch in meaningful situations at the end of games, to say nothing of both of them being eligible for free agency after the 2016 season.

The excitement surrounding the rumored Chapman trade immediately changed once news leaked that he had been involved in a physical altercation with his girlfriend in October in which eight gunshots were allegedly fired. Ultimately, because of conflicting stories and a lack of cooperation by all of the interested parties, there were no arrests. However, under the game’s new domestic—violence policy, it was likely that Chapman would receive some form of punishment from MLB, which was probably why the Dodgers backed off. In fact, many now viewed Chapman as damaged goods and within an instant his trade value began to plummet. 

Chapman’s former manager with the Cincinnati Reds, Dusty Baker, was at the epicenter of a controversy involving comments he made regarding the veracity of the domestic violence allegations. Baker said he did not “believe reports” involving Chapman and domestic violence. He defended his former relief pitcher and said he wasn’t someone who should judge what had occurred between Chapman and his girlfriend. Baker was ebullient in his praise of Chapman as a person, ballplayer, and family man. Baker did acknowledge that he hadn’t read the allegations against Chapman. However, he did support the new domestic—violence policy. Hours after the comments, the Washington Nationals tweeted a clarification regarding Baker’s previous comments. According to an interview on MLB Network Radio, Baker would never condone domestic violence and expressed a hope that Chapman would be found innocent of the allegations.  

Baker’s controversy didn’t end with Chapman. In a conversation regarding speed in the game, Baker discussed the importance of left—handed pitching and hitting. He said there was a better chance of getting speed from ballplayers of Latin and African—American descent. Baker was of the belief that he wasn’t being racist, but speaking from the perspective of this is how it is in the game.      

But the Chapman controversy did not let the Pre—Integration Era Committee off the hook, and they were left to answer some difficult questions. The committee featured four Hall of Famers, four major—league executives, and eight historians and veteran members of the media, but no one was elected.1 Doc Adams was the only candidate to get double—digit votes (10) for 62.5 percent,2 while both infielder Bill Dahlen and first baseman—outfielder Harry Stovey each received eight votes. The other seven candidates received three or fewer votes.

After the announcement, one got the sense from the reporters attending the press conference that another overhaul of the voting process needed to occur when it came to the three newly formed committees (Pre—Integration, Golden Era, and Expansion). The last time the Pre—Integration Committee had met was in December 2012 at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, when umpire Hank O’Day, former Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, and third baseman—catcher Deacon White each received the necessary 75 percent for induction. However, this was the second consecutive year that an election—based committee had failed to produce a single candidate worthy of enshrinement. In December 2014, the Golden Era Committee failed to elect anyone, with both Tony Oliva and Dick Allen falling one vote shy of the required 75 percent. Thus, there were strong feelings of disappointment and a few were even outraged by the results of the election.3           

During the afternoon of Day One at the Winter Meetings, Commissioner Rob Manfred entered the Delta Ballroom with his usual entourage of executives, as well as a face familiar to everyone. Cal Ripken Jr. was now a prominent member of the commissioner’s traveling party. In his first year as commissioner, Manfred had made it abundantly clear to everyone that he had a deep commitment to youth engagement and participation in baseball. His exuberance regarding this topic was first witnessed in March 2015 when he announced the appointment of Tony Reagins as senior vice president for youth programs. Reagins, a former longtime executive of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, had been charged with being the point person overseeing and expanding baseball’s youth participation. A sense of importance accompanied this appointment once it was determined that Reagins would be reporting directly to Tony Petitti, Major League Baseball’s chief operating officer.4

In the summer of 2015, Major League Baseball and U.S.A. Baseball proudly announced an innovative partnership on a baseball field in the shadows of Yankee Stadium. The “Play Ball” initiative was created to encourage various levels of youth participation. Access, engagement, participation, and physical activity were the principal tenets of the initiative. In its purest form, “Play Ball” is a proactive attempt at cultivating a grassroots approach to solving a legitimate problem that has been felt in both urban and suburban communities across the country. With the influx of sports, entertainment, and technology options available to children, the groups said, it was imperative that baseball make an aggressive attempt at reclaiming a significant portion of this audience through exciting programs and fun activities aimed at active engagement.5

Major and Minor League Baseball have partnered with the United States Conference of Mayors to bring the initiative to life across the country. It was taken to 125 cities in 34 states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico during August 2015. Simple things such as a game of catch or even running the bases were encouraged in communities. Commissioner Manfred’s persistence was indeed converting naysayers into believers, but “Play Ball” still needed more support. Another highly regarded voice pushing the message even further for Major League Baseball was needed and it came in the form of an “Iron Man.”

Cal Ripken Jr. had been a champion of youth baseball since his retirement from the Baltimore Orioles in 2001. The Hall of Famer has diligently worked to create an environment where young athletes can excel while learning the benefits of community and commitment. He was the perfect advocate for “Play Ball” and it was announced in Nashville that Ripken would become the senior adviser on youth programs. His appointment only enhanced Commissioner Manfred’s vision for youth participation. It was announced that Ripken would oversee all aspects of policy development for the initiative as well as make appearances on behalf of the commissioner.

The primary goal for Manfred and Ripken always will revert back to increasing youth participation and the overall competitiveness of children playing the sport. During the press conference, Ripken stressed early exposure and allowing children to participate in multiple sports. He reiterated how important basketball and soccer were to him in his development as an athlete and baseball player.

As Day One wrapped up, the Seattle Mariners acquired left—hander Wade Miley and right—hander Jonathan Aro from the Boston Red Sox for right—hander Carson Smith and southpaw Roenis Elias. The key players in the deal were Miley and Smith. In his five seasons in the major leagues, Miley had made one All—Star team and won in double figures three times, but also had only one complete game in 134 starts and allowed more hits (850) than innings pitched (832⅓). Smith, meanwhile, had become the Mariners’ closer in only his first full season in the majors. In another transaction, the Kansas City Royals re—signed one of their free agents, right—handed pitcher Chris Young, to a two—year, $11.5 million contract with a mutual option for the 2018 season at $8 million, with a $1.5 million buyout.                   

Day Two of the Winter Meetings could be best described as a calm day punctuated by a flurry of dinnertime activity.

MLB’s chief baseball officer, Joe Torre, discussed the importance of a rules change to protect middle infielders. Baserunners have always tried to prevent double plays when sliding into second base and it’s the middle infielders who have been exposed to injuries. Torre made it clear that he wanted to work with the Major League Baseball Players Association on developing a rule to address this matter. The 2015 National League Division Series incident between Chase Utley of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Ruben Tejada of the New York Mets ignited cries for reform after Tejada’s leg was broken in the encounter with Utley sliding aggressively into second base. 

Safety at ballparks for fans as well has always been a matter of great concern. The proliferation of injuries due to foul balls compelled MLB to conduct a study and it recommended that all major—league clubs expand netting in their ballparks. A protective barrier of some kind was the overwhelming recommendation since baseball fans sit extremely close to the action. Foul balls and broken bats find their way into the stands with great regularity and it is important that fans have safe choices as to where they want to sit at a ballpark. The hard part is to balance the unique baseball experiences that accompany the close proximity to the field as well as safety. Education is always a critical part of the process and it was recommended that ballclubs constantly communicate with their fans about remaining alert as well as safe places to sit in a ballpark. The Philadelphia Phillies were the first club to announce their desire to comply with the recommendations at both their spring—training facility as well as Citizens Bank Park. The Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, and Tampa Bay Rays publicly supported the recommendation and intended to comply with expanding netting at their ballparks. Some clubs were already in compliance with the recommendations from the study. Even Minor League Baseball endorsed the recommendations and was encouraging implementation among its ballclubs       

For most of the day, hundreds of media members had been anxiously awaiting news regarding free agent Ben Zobrist’s decision and its effect on both the free—agent market and several proposed trades. For a while it had seemed as if the New York Mets and the Washington Nationals were the finalists for the services of the multitalented Zobrist. With a rare sighting of Jeff Wilpon, the chief operating officer of the Mets, there was a strong sense among the media that Zobrist was on his way to wearing the orange and blue. The rumor circulating throughout the resort was that Zobrist was in line for a contract similar to that of outfielder Curtis Granderson in terms of both years (four) and value ($60 million).

Just before dinner, Mets manager Terry Collins met with the media, confirmed the rumor that he was texting with Zobrist, and reiterated his desire to secure the services of the quintessential utility player. (Having become an attractive franchise once again due to their run to the 2015 World Series, all things Mets were now drawing considerable media attention.) Collins was clearly enamored with Zobrist and the versatility that he could bring to the Mets, but Zobrist broke the hearts of Collins and the Flushing faithful by signing with the Cubs. He received a four—year, $56 million contract and the opportunity to reunite with his former Tampa manager, Joe Maddon.

After Collins had departed the Delta Ballroom, Yankees manager Joe Girardi met with the media and spent a noticeable portion of his allotted 20 minutes talking about options at second base. Girardi reiterated that there would be an open competition in spring training between Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder. He wasn’t opposed to a platoon scenario, but his ultimate preference was obviously defensive prowess. In 2015, the Yankees had used six second basemen and not one had a positive Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR).6 This statistic has become popular when evaluating a ballplayer’s defense. According to MLB.com, UZR takes into account all aspects of a ballplayer’s defensive performance and makes an honest attempt at measuring how many runs he has saved for his team. There are four key aspects of the statistic: errors, range, outfield arm, and double—play ability. Girardi felt that developing middle infielders was quite difficult in an era of defensive shifts on every pitch and advanced analytics.

It became clear that Girardi wasn’t at all comfortable with the instability at second base. Every other position around the diamond had security for the Yankees, but second base was still an enigma that weighed heavily on him. Neither Ackley nor Refsynder was viewed as a prototypical major—league second baseman, even though Ackley had played 291 games and over 2,500 innings at the position for both the Yankees and the Seattle Mariners through the 2015 season. And any time Refsynder had been mentioned in conversations, a focus on his offensive prowess clearly superseded his obvious deficiencies at second base. He was referred to as a ballplayer who could one day grow into the position, but would always be viewed as an offensive second baseman.

Earlier in the day, Cubs manager Joe Maddon was effusive in his praise for Zobrist as well as his own second baseman, Starlin Castro. He discussed the importance of utility ballplayers to teams and how there should be a special roster spot created for them on the All—Star teams. Maddon stressed how it takes a selfless attitude to be a truly special utility ballplayer. He was complimentary of Castro and the transition he had to make during the season (moving from shortstop to second base). However, Maddon was quick to point out that Castro not only had the arm, but also the footwork and lateral movements to be a highly effective second baseman. It appeared as if Maddon was selling Castro to the media just in case the Cubs parted ways with him. With the emergence of the pre—arbitration—eligible Addison Russell, Castro – who was owed $37 million over four seasons (2016—2019), plus a $16 million club option for 2020 (with a $1 million buyout) – obviously had become expendable.

As many gathered for meals and socializing, the Yankees and Cubs were finalizing a trade that sent Castro to the Yankees for right—handed pitcher Adam Warren and a player to be named later (shortstop Brendan Ryan). Castro’s contract added $7 million to the Yankees’ payroll in 2016, while Ryan’s $1 million player option for 2016, as well as Warren’s first year of arbitration eligibility, became the responsibility of the Cubs.  

The deal, which set up a double—play combination of Didi Gregorius and Castro, provided the Yankees with a sense of infield security. Meanwhile, the acquisitions of Warren and Ryan were only the first step in what would become a very busy and exciting series of events for the Cubs. The same day they signed veteran free—agent right—handed pitcher John Lackey to a two—year, $32 million contract. It seemed as if the Cubs and the Yankees ultimately won on Day Two of the Winter Meetings, while it was back to the drawing board for the Mets and their quest for a second baseman they could call their own.

The Mets didn’t wallow in misery over the loss of Zobrist for too long. On Day Three, they traded left—handed pitcher Jon Niese to the Pittsburgh Pirates for second baseman Neil Walker. It was now all but certain that postseason hero Daniel Murphy would not be returning to the Mets, and they needed to land a quality ballplayer immediately to play second base. Walker had a slightly better Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) of —0.2 than Murphy’s —1.3 at second base in 2015.7

The big news on Day Three involved the Atlanta Braves and Arizona Diamondbacks. Already having made a big splash with signing Greinke, the Diamondbacks decided to adopt the “win now” mentality by trading for right—handed pitcher Shelby Miller. With Los Angeles and San Francisco constantly battling for control of both the National League West and pitching supremacy within the division, the Diamondbacks felt they needed another quality starter to complement Greinke and southpaw Patrick Corbin. However, the franchise did give up a significant amount of talent to secure a pitcher with a .478 winning percentage and a career Wins Above Replacement (WAR) of 9.1 (2.3 average per season). The Diamondbacks parted ways with outfielder Ender Inciarte, right—handed pitcher (and 2013 first—round draft pick) Aaron Blair, and the number—one overall pick in the 2015 amateur draft, Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson. The Diamondbacks did receive their fair share of criticism for this move as many felt that parting ways with Swanson was risky and a short—term gain for a potential long—term loss.

Not to be outdone, the Giants agreed to a five—year, $90 million contract with free—agent pitcher Jeff Samardzija. Durability had been a hallmark of the right—hander’s career, a highly attractive quality to many franchises looking to capitalize on this currently rare trait in a starting pitcher. Also, Samardzija had been a full—time starter only since the 2012 season and had thrown only 2,998 pitches (3.91 pitches per plate appearance) over the first four years of his career while he was primarily a reliever with the Cubs (2008—2011).8 Samardzija’s skills, the Giants thought, fit perfectly as a number two in a rotation behind the likes of an ace like lefty Madison Bumgarner.

Day Three saw a couple of other significant trades. The Milwaukee Brewers sent first baseman Adam Lind to the Seattle Mariners for Carlos Herrera, Daniel Missaki, and Freddy Peralta, a trio of minor—league right—handers. The Oakland Athletics traded third baseman Brett Lawrie to the Chicago White Sox for two minor—league pitchers, right—hander J.B. Wendelken and lefty Zack Erwin. The Mets also agreed to terms with free—agent infielder Asdrubal Cabrera on a two—year, $18.5 million contract, with a club option for a third year at $8.5 million with a $2 million buyout. However, this deal wasn’t officially announced until the day after everyone had left Nashville.

New Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly met with the media on Day Three and was peppered with questions regarding his team and its hitting coach. Though Mattingly tried to discuss the process he was using to evaluate the Marlins’ roster, the reporters were more interested in his views on Barry Bonds. Mattingly shared with the gathered members of the media how Bonds became the Marlins hitting coach during a 90—minute meeting in New York. Mattingly clearly described the job to Bonds and wanted to make sure that he was engaged and fully aware of what he was getting into as a major—league coach.  

Day Four of the Winter Meetings is traditionally known as the Rule 5 Draft day. Also, it is usually a getaway day for most members of the media. In the two rounds of the major—league phase, 11 clubs selected 16 players. Five clubs selected twice (Phillies, Reds, Brewers, Padres, and Angels) with outfielder Tyler Goeddel from the Tampa Bay Rays being selected first overall by the Philadelphia Phillies. In the Triple—A phase, 24 teams selected players in the first round. Over the course of five rounds, only the Los Angeles Dodgers had selected a ballplayer in each round. In the one round of the Double—A phase, the Miami Marlins selected a right—handed pitcher from the St. Louis Cardinals, Juan Caballero.   

Minor League Baseball held a wide variety of informative events, seminars, and panels over the course of four days. Its president, Pat O’Conner, was re—elected for his third four—year term. He ran unopposed and had received unanimous support from all of the league presidents. The topic of diversity was an issue of great importance for Minor League Baseball too. Wendy Lewis, senior vice president of diversity and strategic alliances for Major League Baseball, sat on a panel entitled “Moving Diversity Forward.” Having been an integral voice in the commissioner’s office regarding diversity and inclusion, she was now spreading her message among all of the minor—league franchises.9

The Baseball Trade Show always attracts an extraordinary amount of interest from ballclubs, vendors, and members of the media, and 2015 proved to be no different. The annual Professional Baseball Employment Opportunities Job Fair, a major attraction for college students and other aspiring sports business professionals, served (as always) as a golden opportunity to secure one of the several internships or entry—level positions that are offered by minor—league ballclubs.   

The Bob Freitas Business Seminar and Workshop series offered Minor League Baseball employees an opportunity to learn more about their business and to develop new skills. Over the course of three days, workshops were offered on wide—ranging subjects, from social media and nonbaseball events driving revenues, to analytics and effective management of online stores. Even the Society for American Baseball Research gave a presentation, led by Vince Gennaro and Marc Appleman, on how Minor League Baseball can use SABR as a resource.10  

On Day One of the Winter Meetings, Minor League Baseball held its annual awards luncheon. Nine major awards and an Executive of the Year were given to owners, general managers, team presidents, vice presidents, and executive vice presidents from 15 different leagues. The South Bend Cubs of the Midwest League won the John H. Johnson President’s Award. This award honors a “complete” baseball franchise that has demonstrated stability as well as significant contributions to its community, league and the baseball industry. Another Midwest League club, the Fort Wayne TinCaps, won the John H. Moss Community Service Award. Lindsey Knupp of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs won the Rawlings Women Executive of the Year Award.11     

The key major—league activity from Day Four involved the Kansas City Royals bringing their former closer home by signing free—agent right—hander Joakim Soria to a three—year, $25 million contract, which also included a mutual option for a fourth year at $10 million with a $1 million buyout in 2019. And the Washington Nationals wrapped up a busy week by sending cash and third baseman Yunel Escobar to the Angels for right—handers Michael Brady and Trevor Gott.        

Sources

The author attended the 2015 Winter Meetings and wrote this summary from his notes and articles written for Forbes Sports Money during the course of the meetings.

Baseball—Reference.com, Major League Statistics and Information. baseball—reference.com/players/s/samarje01—pitch.shtml  (April 24, 2016).

Fangraphs.com, Major League Statistics and Information. fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=2b&stats=fld&lg=all&qual=0&type=1&season=2015&month=0&season1=2015&ind=0&team=9&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0

 (April 24, 2016).

Fangraphs.com, Major League Statistics and Information. fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=7539&position=2B#fielding (April 24, 2016).

Fangraphs.com, Major League Statistics and Information. fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=4316&position=2B#fielding (April 24, 2016).

Hagen, Paul. MLB.com, December 9, 2015. Online, m.mlb.com/news/article/159233076/mlb—issues—recommendations—on—netting/

Hill, Benjamin. MiLB.com, December 9, 2015. Online, milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20151209&content_id=159274622&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_milb.

James, Chelsea. Washington Post, December 8, 2015. Online, washingtonpost.com/news/nationals—journal/wp/2015/12/08/amid—uproar—dusty—baker—clarifies—aroldis—chapman—domestic—violence—comments/?utm_term=.307b3f64d231.

McDonnell, Wayne G. Jr. Forbes Sports Money, December 7, 2015. Online,  forbes.com/sites/waynemcdonnell/2015/12/07/johnny—cueto—could—become—the—belle—of—the—ball—in—nashville/#2edea201431e April 2016.

—. Forbes Sports Money, December 7, 2015; online April 21, 2016. forbes.com/sites/waynemcdonnell/2015/12/07/the—iron—man—is—called—upon—to—assist—commissioner—manfreds—mlb—youth—initiatives/.

—. Forbes Sports Money, December 8, 2015. online April 21, 2016. forbes.com/sites/waynemcdonnell/2015/12/08/zobrists—deal—with—the—cubs—helps—solve—a—riddle—for—the—yankees—at—second—base/2/.

Sports Illustrated. si.com/mlb/2015/12/08/dusty—baker—aroldis—chapman—reds—domestic—violence—comments.

USA Today. usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2015/12/09/torre—mlb—hopes—for—new—rule—to—protect—middle—infielders/77023302/.

Notes

1 The Hall of Famers were Bert Blyleven, Bobby Cox, Pat Gillick, and Phil Niekro; the executives were Chuck Armstrong, Bill DeWitt, Gary Hughes, and Tal Smith.

2 Adams was a true baseball pioneer.  He was a pitcher and infielder, reputedly the first person to play shortstop, probably in the 1840s. He was president of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, and in that capacity in 1848, he headed the Committee to Revise the Constitution and By—Laws. He eventually left baseball to practice medicine.  John Thorn, “Doc Adams,” SABR Baseball Biography Project, (sabr.org/bioproj/person/14ec7492), undated, accessed April 22, 2016.

3 As indicated in the note on sources, this summary is based on the personal experience of the author working as a reporter at the 2015 Winter Meetings. Rather than document each conclusion with a separate endnote, all information reflects the author’s observations unless otherwise noted.

4 Tony Reagins was appointed to the position in March 2015. Here is the press release: m.mlb.com/news/article/113123038/mlb—appoints—tony—reagins—as—svp—youth—programs

5 playball.org/ and usmayors.org/playball/.

6 Defensive statistics for the 2015 New York Yankees second basemen: fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=2b&stats=fld&lg=all&qual=0&type=1&season=2015&month=0&season1=2015&ind=0&team=9&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0.

7 Neil Walker and Daniel Murphy’s defensive statistics for the 2015 season: fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=7539&position=2B#fielding and fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=4316&position=2B#fielding.

8 Jeff Samardzija’s career statistics: baseball—reference.com/players/s/samarje01—pitch.shtml.

9 milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20151209&content_id=159274622&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_milb.

10 bwm.milb.net/images/15/2015_Freitas_Schedule.pdf.

11 Summary of all of the 2015 award winners: milb.com/milb/events/winter_meetings/y2015/awards.jsp.

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