Some questions and answers as major league teams head into Winter Meetings

Baseball's Winter Meetings - the meetings that had a chance to be canceled for lack of a labor agreement - start Monday. Who wins? Both the players and ownership feel good about the new agreement, so they each won. But for the fans, it's better to be talking trades than luxury tax. The meetings are at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxen Hill, Md. - eight miles south of Nationals Park. The Orioles want to upgrade their outfield defense, so how will their corner outfield spots look like next spring? They might snag a catcher if the price is right, and the meetings will tell us a lot about the market for Mark Trumbo and whether he says or goes from Baltimore. The Nationals, who reportedly are close to trading for Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, also need a closer. Does that pitcher come from the free agent market? Or do the Nats add less-expensive relievers and make Blake Treinen their closer? Here is a primer on the meeting's story lines: Question: How many trade rumors will mention the name of White Sox lefty Chris Sale? Answer: Plenty, given that the free agent market for starting pitchers hardly exists. The White Sox have the perfect storm working for them. Sale is 27 and has feuded with White Sox management in the last year. He even cut up a turn-back-the-clock uniform he didn't want to wear. Sale is one of the best pitchers in baseball and he's inexpensive. He's scheduled to make $12 million, $12.5 million and $13.5 million in each of the next three seasons, about what a fourth starter would normally make. And, despite a violent delivery that screams arm surgery, he's averaged 30 starts a season for each of the last five. He's got a 3.00 career ERA. So there will be a lot of teams interested: The Nationals and Braves have plenty of prospects to trade. So do the Yankees, Rangers, Dodgers and Red Sox, although the Yankees say they aren't going to trade prospects for a pitcher. Q: Is the closer market the hottest going? A: No question about that. Big-market teams with plenty of money will battle for lefty Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon. The Nationals, Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees, Rangers and Giants are some of the teams in need of a closer. Chapman has a fastball that hits 100 mph and he had 46 strikeouts in 26 postseason innings for the Cubs. Jansen, of the Dodgers, has a nasty cutter. Both are dominant strikeout guys, although Jansen has better control. Melancon's best pitch is a slider and he turns 32 in March. He might be the least expensive on the market, but that could work in his favor and drive up his price. He's not as dominant as Chapman and Jansen, but it's hard to argue with Melancon's 1.80 ERA in 290 innings over the last four seasons. A cheaper option? Greg Holland, 31, the former Kansas City closer, is coming back from Tommy John surgery, but that's always risky for a contending team. The Nationals, however, may add to their bullpen without signing a big-time closer, saving money. Right now, the Nationals' bullpen has four locks: Sammy Solis, Blake Treinen, Oliver Perez and Shawn Kelley. Treinen has made big improvements, especially against lefties, and could be the closer at the start of the season. Q: What other starting pitchers might be available in the trade market? A: The list is long. Tampa Bay, always looking to cut costs and stockpile prospects, could trade Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi or Drew Smyly. In addition to Sale, the White Sox might trade lefty Jose Quintana, an underrated starter with All-Star potential. Like the Rays, Oakland is always willing to trade a big-name player - Sonny Gray this year? - for prospects. And, will Arizona be willing to trade the disappointing Shelby Miller or bank on a bounceback year from him and their No. 1 starter, Zack Greinke? Q: Who are the best power hitters on the market? A: There's a good list of names, but the problem is age, and with the exception of Mike Napoli, all are seen as one-dimensional players. Lefty Pedro Alvarez and first baseman Chris Carter, each 29, and Mark Trumbo, 31, are the youngest. Switch-hitting Carlos Beltran is 40, Jose Bautista 36, Napoli 35 and Edwin Encarnacion 34. The Yankees, Blue Jays, Giants, Red Sox and Astros are looking for a power bat. Napoli is a solid defensive first baseman that will hit 30-plus home runs with 200 strikeouts. Beltran hit 29 home runs with a .295 average last season and is hanging around because he hasn't won a World Series ring. Maybe he goes back to Kansas City, where he started, but Boston is the likely choice. Bautista is coming off a bad year, and its difficult to believe he'll get a long-term deal. Trumbo has power, but how much did playing in cozy Camden Yards play into his league-leading home run total of 47? Alvarez is a potential league home run champion if he adjusts and plays as a DH full-time. Carter won the NL home-run title with the Brewers last season, but the Brewers let him go. He's an all-or-nothing guy with lots of home runs, strikeouts while struggling to hit .220. In an age of athleticism and versatility, Carter isn't on many teams' radar. Q: Which team is going to have the biggest makeover by the time the Winter Meetings are done? A: The Astros, young and rebuilding, have already traded for catcher Brian McCann, outfielder Josh Reddick and pitcher Charlie Morton. Reddick got $52 million. Astros ownership is ready to spend more. The Astros are in the market for another bat, so Edwin Encarnacion is not out of the question, and they're looking for another starting pitcher. Reddick and McCann gave the Astros' lineup much-needed balance from the left side. Even without another bat, the lineup is dangerous with Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman, Evan Gattis and Yulieski Gurriel. Q: The Orioles aren't expected to make a big move at the meetings. But what's going on with the rest of the teams in the AL East? A: The Yankees might sign lefty closer Aroldis Chapman, the guy they traded to the Cubs in July. They will look for another starter, but won't trade prospects for him, so that means they'll take a stab at someone like free agent Rich Hill. Or maybe they bring back Ivan Nova to join a rotation led by CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees could also try to make a deal that brings Carlos Beltran back to the Bronx. ... The Rays are looking for a catcher and left fielder. As usual, they have solid pitching depth and could trade one of their starters for a bat. Their infield is set with, from third to first, Evan Longoria, Matt Duffy, Logan Forsythe and Brad Miller. ... The Blue Jays signed Kendrys Morales to be their DH and it's possible that the Blue Jays will try to bring back Encarnacion, if he's willing to split time at first base with Justin Smoak. They are looking for an outfielder, maybe Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez or Charlie Blackmon or the Mets' Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson. They might take a look at free agent Dexter Fowler. Right now, their outfield is Melvin Upton Jr., Kevin Pillar and Ezequiel Carrera. ... The Red Sox are looking for bat to replace retired DH David Ortiz, as well as more help in the setup roles getting to closer Craig Kimbrel. The Red Sox are top-heavy with right-handed batters, so they would prefer a left-handed bat, perhaps Carlos Beltran, who is a switch-hitter. Q: The Nationals are looking for a closer and a catcher. What's going on with the rest of the teams in the NL East? Q: The Mets signed free agent Yoenis Cespedes and retained second baseman Neil Walker, so all they need to do is find bullpen help and cross their fingers that their talented rotation, as well as third baseman David Wright, stays healthy. ... The Braves, who had the fifth-best run production in the league during the second half of last season, are looking for a top-of-the-rotation pitcher and another bat, and might be willing to trade some of the surplus young pitching. ... The Marlins, dealing with the death of pitcher Jose Fernandez in a boating accident, have already signed Edinson Volquez to join a rotation that has Tom Koehler, Adam Conley and Wei-Yin Chen. The Marlins are looking for another starter and might be a surprise team in the market for closers. ... The Phillies have to improve the NL's worst offense and worst bullpen. But the Phillies do have a rotation that appears to be making strides, led by Jeremy Hellickson. They have already added Howie Kendrick to play left field. Ryan Howard is finally done in Philadelphia. The Phillies have a good nucleus of young players. It will be tricky to add a run-producing bat and figure out where he will play. Q: What is on the Dodgers' shopping list? A: For the first time in a while, they need a No. 2 starter behind lefty Clayton Kershaw. In summary, it's fair to say the Dodgers need to fix their rotation and they could be looking at making a trade for Detroit's Justin Verlander or Tampa Bay's Chris Archer. Verlander has three years and $84 million left on his contract with the Tigers. Q: The Cubs signed outfielder Jon Jay for one year and $8 million. What does that mean for free agent outfielder Fowler? A: There might not be room for Fowler in the Cubs outfield now. Jay will be at least a fourth outfielder for the Cubs, but he'll probably platoon with prospect Albert Almora Jr., 22, in center field. Jay has had his injury problems in the last two years with the Cardinals and Padres, but when he's healthy, he can hit .290 while getting on base 35 percent of the time. Fowler was a cog in the Cubs' World Series championship, making an All-Star team while getting on base nearly 40 percent of the time. He also hit 13 home runs, 25 doubles and seven triples. The Cardinals might be interested in Fowler, but maybe the Orioles should make another run at him. The Blue Jays will likely give him a call. Fowler would give the Orioles two things they want: An upgrade defensively in the outfield and a strong on-base guy. Q: The Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908. What's on their shopping list now that they have Jay? A: The Cubs will try to add pitching, rotation and bullpen. Their four best starters - Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, John Lackey and Jon Lester - are returning. The Cubs let go of 34-year-old Jason Hammel, even though he had a 3.79 ERA in two years there. So the Cubs will look for an upgrade on Hammel or hope that a prospect can grow into that role. With Aroldis Chapman a free agent, the Cubs need a closer and maybe more help in the setup core. Manager Joe Maddon seemed to lose faith in Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop. Carl Edwards Jr. is a lock in the bullpen. Mike Montgomery will be there too if he doesn't move to the rotation. Q: Where will free-agent outfielder Ian Desmond sign? A: Desmond was a feel-good story with Texas in 2016 because, after turning down a $100 million-plus contract with the Nationals, he couldn't find a team. Then he signed with the Rangers for $8 million and one year, moving from shortstop to the outfield. But his season went two directions: He made the American League All-Star team, but he slumped in the second half, averaging .237. His power left him and he chased too many breaking balls, a habit that brought triple-digit strikeouts when he played in D.C.

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