2020 Sucks – Virtual Winter Meetings Edition

COVID-19 claims another victim as the Baseball Winter Meetings go 100% Virtual

Scott Boras must be beside himself right now. In any other year, he would be holding court in a packed hotel lobby or conference room, hundreds of reporters gathered around him, as he pontificates on the number of ways that MLB is failing his players and their fans. In typical 2020 fashion, however, Boras will either have to be content with a Zoom video conference or, more in line with his style, see if HBO Max wants to create an 8 part miniseries and give him the ultimate platform for his voice. It seems this year, and possibly future years as well, the Winter Meetings have gone exclusively virtual.

I feel most sorry for the interns. The Winter Meetings are a perennial cattle call for those interested in trying to latch on to a MLB front office, and now they are relegated to blinging out their LinkedIn profiles and hoping that someone stumbles across them. That, or they could go out and get a job that pays real money instead of “potential earnings,” but for many chasing the brass ring of a front office internship the prospect of a temp position picking for Amazon just isn’t going to cut it.

For Braves fans, of course, a virtual Winter Meeting is no different than an in-person event. Sure, at some point you could expect to see the Braves beat writers corner him in his executive suite and get some sound bytes on how pleased he is with the roster even while admitting he would like to add an impact bat to the lineup. Aside from that, fans have grown accustomed to little to no activity coming from the meetings. Anthopoulos has even admitted that he really doesn’t care to do much business in this environment, preferring instead the more intimate setting of a phone call or text conversation. Besides, with all those damn reporters hanging around it’s got to be really challenging to keep a lid on conversations he’s trying to have. Secrecy in negotiations has been a hallmark of this Braves front office, so it makes sense that Anthopoulos would have an aversion to the Winter Meeting environment.

So what news from the ethernet? Not much related to the Braves, of course, but there have been a couple of interesting tidbits from the meetings so far:

Lance Lynn traded to the white sox for dane dunning

The move we all expected to happen at the trade deadline finally took place on Monday, with Lance Lynn being sent to the Chicago White Sox. The Rangers will receive Dane Dunning and Avery Weems in return for the hefty workhorse. While it’s not surprising that Lynn was dealt many were left wondering why the Rangers would have opted to retain him through the end of the 2020 season instead of capitalizing on a thin pitching market at the deadline. As it turns out, Lynn held the Rangers front office for ransom by telling them that he would opt out of the season if traded to a team that he didn’t want to go to.

Many were outraged to find out that Lynn and his agent had used the COVID-19 pandemic as leverage to create a de facto no-trade clause for himself. Personally, I think it was brilliant. Owners were using the pandemic as an excuse to force concessions in negotiations surrounding the start of the 2020 season, why shouldn’t Lynn use that same tactic to prevent himself from being sent to a fringe contender that might not be willing to continue to press in 2021? It was a ballsy move, honestly, and not unlike the moves that many businesses are making by renegotiating service contracts to their benefit. Leverage is where you find it, and failing to capitalize on it when you DO find it is not prudent.

Minor league affiliates announced

Much of the talk of the offseason has surrounded the fate of the minor league affiliates. MLB is taking over the administration of the Minor Leagues and had decreed earlier in the year that the number of affiliates will be reduced to 120. Of the four Braves affiliates only the Florida Fire Frogs seemed to be at risk of being kicked to the curb. On Wednesday, the Braves announced their 2021 affiliates and, as predicted, the Fire Frogs were not on the list:

  • AAA – Gwinnett Stripers
  • AA – Mississippi Braves
  • High A – Rome Braves
  • Low A – Rome Greenjackets

Of local note, in the original announcement of the reduction of affiliates to 120 teams, the Chattanooga Lookouts were predicted to be on the cut list. Thankfully the Cincinnati Reds announced that they will once again be affiliated with the venerable Lookouts franchise for 2021, retaining them as their AA representative to the Southern League.

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