The popular wisdom is that Ellsbury might have just gone down as the first prominent Scott Boras free agent ever to come to a deal a full six days before the winter meetings. So to balance with his quick strike, some execs think Boras will take his time on Choo, until another $150 million lottery ticket arrives. One exec even made Choo his yearly pick to sign at "halftime of the Super Bowl."
But there's another group that believes Boras is trying to show his newest Darth Vader rival, Jay Z -- and the rest of the industry -- how decisive he can be. So about half the group guessed Choo could sign as soon as the winter meetings, or immediately thereafter, with all of them guessing he would land with the Rangers, Mariners or Tigers (even though the Tigers are suggesting they're out). Stay tuned.
It's incredible how the top of the starting-pitcher market has plodded along -- to the point that four executives said of Garza: "I don't even hear his name mentioned." But that's not all Garza's fault. In an offseason in which the posting of Masahiro Tanaka has been delayed and potential trades for Price and Samardzija have been slow to develop, "the starting-pitcher market is going to take a lot longer to establish itself," said one exec. "And guys like Garza are caught up in that."
So only four of the people we surveyed saw Garza signing any earlier than the third week of December. The Yankees and Orioles were the popular picks. But there are too many moving parts in this market for anyone to know yet where this is heading.
With a first-round draft pick attached and three years of inconsistency complicating the evaluation of what you're buying in Jimenez, the voters were dramatically split on the fate and pace of Jimenez's journey. A few thought he could sign next week, but two predicted he wouldn't find a home until February. A third said Jan. 28. A fourth jokingly forecast he would sign with the Chiba Lotte Marines.
"You should never forget," said one exec, "how many teams don't want to give up those draft picks."
In a market almost devoid of power, you would think Morales would be a popular figure. But he, too, has that lose-a-draft-pick stigma attached. And NL teams view him, for the most part, as a guy who needs to stay in the AL because of health and defense worries. So almost no one saw him signing any time soon.
"He's in trouble," said one AL exec. And one NL executive made it clear how much he agreed -- by picking March 20 as Morales' signing date, unless the Mariners strike out on the other bats they're chasing and bring him back. "I think he has all the makings," the exec said, "of this year's Kyle Lohse."
Most likely to get traded