LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth certainly will draw plenty of attention at these winter meetings. Another big name is sure to stir discussion, too: George Steinbrenner.
As teams and agents started talking at Disney World, the Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee was set to release its voting results Monday morning. On the ballot for the first time, Steinbrenner could become the newest member of the game’s Magic Kingdom.
“There’s very few owners in the history of baseball that changed baseball as much as he did,” Hank Steinbrenner, son of the late New York Yankees owner, recently offered. “He did a lot, but the biggest thing of all was really the fact he brought back the Yankees and that’s so critical to baseball.”
Already, it’s been an active offseason. Adam Dunn, Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman and Javier Vazquez are among several free agents who have changed teams while Dan Uggla, Omar Infante and Clint Barmes have been traded.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, coming off a losing record after two playoff appearances, have made several moves. They signed free agent infielder Juan Uribe and traded infielder Ryan Theriot to St. Louis for reliever Blake Hawksworth.
“When you go 80-82, you have more time to get things done,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said shortly after landing Sunday at the Orlando airport.
The road from the airport to the meetings site passes under a Disney archway that proclaims “Where Dreams Come True” and many clubs are hoping to get a head start on success in 2011.
As always, the Yankees figure to be on the prowl at this annual swap shop, especially after losing to the Rangers in the AL championship series. The teams figure to tangle again for Lee, with New York trying to lure the prize pitcher on the free-agent market away from Texas. Lee’s decision could come this week.
The Yankees took care of lingering business over the weekend, reaching agreement with Derek Jeter on a $51 million, three-year deal. The All-Star shortstop is expected to be at meetings sometime before they end Thursday for a formal news conference.
The Boston Red Sox expect to be busy following a season that ended without them making the playoffs. They were on the verge of completing a trade for San Diego star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and had Crawford and Werth on their radar for the Fenway Park outfield.
Closer Rafael Soriano, sluggers Adrian Beltre, Paul Konerko and Magglio Ordonez and pitchers Carl Pavano, Aaron Harang and Chris Young are part of the free-agent crop still in play.
The meetings typically produce trades. Last year, the big deal was a three-team swap that moved outfielder Curtis Granderson from Detroit to the Yankees.
Kansas City pitcher Zack Greinke’s name has been floated and so have those of the Upton brothers, Tampa Bay outfielder B.J. and Arizona outfielder Justin.
Back on the scene will be Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, Cito Gaston and Lou Piniella. Major League Baseball will pay tribute in person to the four longtime managers who retired this year.