Five things to expect this winter

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As quickly as it began, the Fall Classic came to a close Sunday night, as the Giants swept the Tigers to clinch their second title in three years. And while there is a long wait till April until we get to see Major League Baseball back in action, the Winter Meetings and subsequent offseason action will have more than enough fireworks to hold us over for the time being. Here are the top five things you can expect to see this winter.


1. Zach Greinke signs a monster deal.
If last year’ Winter Meetings are any indication, there is no way of knowing who will throw their hat in the ring for the high-priced free agents, and Zach Greinke’s negotiations don’t figure to be any different. The Angels are thought to be the frontrunner, who acquired Greinke at the Trade Deadline in a deal with the Brewers. The Rangers and Red Sox have also been rumored to be interested in the ace. There’s always the possibility of a dark horse candidate coming into the picture later, and the $144 million deal Cole Hamels signed mid-season appears to be the kind of deal Greinke is aiming for.
 

2. Shohei Otani comes state side
The 18-year-old fireballer out of Japan has already made his intentions known that he plans to bypass the NPB league in Japan in favor of signing with an MLB team, but the question now is, where does he fall? The Dodgers, Rangers and Red Sox are rumored to be the three front runners in signing the young right hander, with the Dodgers thought to have the lead amongst those in the know. What we do know is that the new CBA only allows a $2.9 million spending limit on international signings, so money will not be the most important factor in wooing Otani.

3. Josh Hamilton continues his career outside of Arlington
The former AL MVP could not strike a contract extension with the Rangers during the course of the season, and it appears as though he has worn out his welcome within the Rangers organization. A colossal slump, the dropped pop fly in Oakland on the last day of the season, or the 0-for-4 appearance in the Wild Card play-in game amongst a chorus of boos seem to indicate as much. While there certainly still is a possibility the Rangers may resign the transcendent talent, it will depend on what the market bears. The Rangers know what Josh Hamilton is good for, and also know the headaches he can cause each season. If a team decides to break the bank on Josh Hamilton for five or six years, you’ve probably seen Hamilton play his last game in a Rangers uniform. If no team does, however, the Rangers may extend a contract offer his way. This one will be interesting to watch unfold.
 

4. Trades, Trades, Trades
Without a crystal ball this could prove to be pretty useless, but we’ll give it a shot. Do the Diamondbacks move Justin Upton? Do the Rangers trade for Jacoby Ellsbury to replace Josh Hamilton? Is there any way the Yankees can unload Alex Rodriguez and his insane contract? Do the Angels do away with Dan Haren like they did when they sent Ervin Santana to the Royals on Wednesday? There are numerous possibilities floating around all 30 GM’s cell phones, and there is sure to be some sizeable moving and shaking going on this winter.

5. One of the games greats calls it a career
Mariano Rivera has been a boulder in the backside of the Yankees bullpen for the last 18 years, and has the all-time lead in career saves with 608. In early May, during batting practice in Kansas City, Rivera was shagging fly balls in the outfield when he buckled to the ground due to a torn ACL. While he hasn’t come out to say what his intentions are, it wouldn’t be a shock to anyone if “The Sand Man” called it a career and hung up the cleats. Rivera will go down as the best closer in the history of baseball, and is certain to be a first ballot hall of famer when his time comes. Now we sit and wait for one of the game’s greats to decide.