Nov 14, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT
If you’ve ventured outside the last couple of days and felt the shock of a cold, sustained wind strike your face, you know we’ve been getting a early taste of winter here in the D.C. area.
And if you’ve been following news out of the baseball world the last week or so, you also know we’ve been getting an early taste of the Hot Stove League. A surprisingly early taste.
Three free agents have already officially signed contracts with new clubs: Marlon Byrd (Phillies), Brayan Pena (Reds) and Nick Punto (Athletics). Others have engaged in advanced talks with teams and are moving closer to signing. And there have been no shortage of trade rumors circulating.
Is there anything to read into all of this? Perhaps not, but perhaps this is a sign that this offseason will be progressing more rapidly than previous ones.
The trend over the last decade has seen very little movement during November, certainly during the first half of the month. Things typically haven’t begun to heat up until after Thanksgiving and really haven’t taken off until the annual Winter Meetings in early December. Or, sometimes, not even then.
That trend could be changing somewhat this offseason. Free agency officially began five days after conclusion of the World Series, and while there hasn’t been a mad rush for players, there has been more serious discussion (and a few actual signings) already.
Perhaps the dearth of quality talent on the open market — owing in part to teams placing more emphasis on re-signing their own stars before they ever reach free agency — is putting pressure on general managers to swoop in early and get something done before they miss their chance.
So, what does this mean for the Nationals? Mike Rizzo might be wise to pare down his wish list to his top choices and make an aggressive effort to lock something down sooner rather than later, not wanting to take a chance on another club gobbling somebody up first.
That’s not to suggest Rizzo should overpay for someone. Any move still needs to be on his terms, not the player’s (re: his agent’s) terms.
But if Rizzo assumed he could just lay some basic groundwork right now and not turn serious until December, he might want to re-consider that strategy.
Shopping season may be coming earlier than anticipated this winter.
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