By JAKE SEINER
CARLSBAD, California – A looming lockout at the end of the baseball collective bargaining agreement on December 1 did not change much at the general manager’s meetings this week.
“I’m not part of the negotiating team, so I mean, business as usual for us,” said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.
“Business as usual,” repeated Chris Antonetti, the Indians’ baseball manager. Credit the same quote to, among others, Seattle’s Jerry DiPoto, Houston’s James Click and Chicago White Sox GM Rick Hahn.
“The same thing we say every year,” said the Cubs’ Jed Hoyer.
Despite an offseason that seems to be different from any other since baseball’s last work stoppage in 1994-95, the GM meetings continued as planned in Southern California.
The heads of the baseball operations departments set for presentations by league officials on the progress of rule experiments in the minor leagues, were presented by Players Alliance representatives – including former players CC Sabathia and Curtis Granderson – on ways to help diversity work, and lay the groundwork for agreements be entered into later this winter.
Agents roamed the premises as usual as well. Scott Boras said he met the team until 6 p.m. 03.00 most nights, and of course he got ready with his usual jokes for his scrum with journalists. Given that next month’s winter meetings may be affected by a lockout, this may have been his only chance for a high-profile press conference.
Only four moves on the roster were made during the two-day meetings – the Dodgers signed a left-handed Andrew Heaney deal, the Yankees brought back left-hander Joely Rodríguez, Ray released left-hander Adam Conley and right-winger Carlton was directly awarded Triple-A by Detroit.
Of course, GM meetings are usually not where appointments are made.
“It’s the same thing,” Cashman said. “You try to connect, try to get as much information usually at the beginning of the process.”
The Yankees are looking for a shortstop, and there are five big ones in the open market – Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Javier Báez and Marcus Semien. Cashman said he has met with representatives of most of them and will soon be joining the rest.
“I do not think anyone ever says to me at first, you never hear ‘I do not want to come to New York,'” Cashman said.
Unless it looks like you’re a Mets. Team president Sandy Alderson left Wednesday night while the club is still stuck in a search for a leader in baseball operations.
Several candidates have not been able to get permission from their current team to interview, and others have declined because they are too comfortable personally or professionally where they are. Alderson claimed most of the hesitation has been due to the New York market.
“It’s a big stage and some people would just prefer to be elsewhere,” he said Tuesday.
The most crucial meetings took place without GMs. League and union representatives negotiated Tuesday and Wednesday, and indications that an agreement is not close.
Next on the baseball calendar are the owner meetings in Chicago next week. After that, the deadline is November 19 to add players to 40-man lists and protect them from the winter meeting draft. The winter meetings are still scheduled for December 6 in Orlando, Florida, but they are in danger without a new CBA in place.
Business as usual, as they say, at least until it’s not.
“They will obviously come to a solution at some point,” Cashman said. “We will find common ground. They have always done it before, mostly. So at some point, optimistic, they will do it again. Otherwise, I just do what I have to do.”