DALLAS — For 72 hours, the Marlins were the big spenders of the winter meetings. In three days, they signed Heath Bell, Jose Reyes and Mark Buerhle to lavish contracts.
Then, during the past 24 hours, the Los Angeles Angels snatched that distinction away from the Marlins, inking slugger Albert Pujols and left-handed pitcher C.J. Wilson to long-term deals.
All the while, the Yankees and the Red Sox were quiet. Barely a peep. So wait, what is the world coming to?
Don’t read much into the Red Sox and Yankees’ lack of headlines. In New York, there weren’t any urgent upgrades needed. In Boston, the organization entered the offseason handcuffed after splurging on Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford last year.
“The decisions we made [last] winter, that was kind of like our 2010 and 2011 Winter Meetings combined,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters. “We’re living off of a lot of those decisions we made that winter, and it’s benefited us.”
Sure the silence is uncharacteristic. After snagging top-tier players at their peaks — see C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixiera, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Alex Rodriguez — New York and Boston can afford to lay low.
Baseball could ultimately benefit in the long run. A select group of teams loaded with superstars isn’t captivating. A league with parity, where there’s a sufficient amount of teams with stars, offers juicier storylines like the National Football League.
The surprise of the Pujols’ signing even elicited a chuckle from Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington.
“Aggressive moves and [the Angels] are certainly putting their front foot forward in the American League West and the American League in general,” Cherington said. “Big moves in the American League and as for Pujols, it will be great to see him play more.”
But Cherington’s best chance at a splash could come at right field. Now that Pujols has signed, the market has been established for the rest of the free agents — like Michael Cuddyer and Carlos Beltran — who are lounging around for a contract.
Maybe Cuban phenom Yoenis Cespedes is the answer. With David Ortiz accepting arbitration on Wednesday, the spending window is rapidly closing on Boston’s end. As a result, Cherington said on Thursday he was satisfied with the quiet approach.
“I think we have some internal options and being out in front on things doesn’t always lead to the best outcome in the long run,” he said.