Welcome to the opening of the Hot Stove Season!
Due to an accelerated free-agency filing period this season, teams can begin signing free agents as early as -- check the watch, turn it back an hour ... -- now.
Don't expect too much of excitement right away, though. Although teams no longer have exclusive negotiating rights with their own players, the expected top free agents on the market -- Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, Adam Dunn, Jayson Werth and Victor Martinez -- probably aren't going to be signing anywhere any time soon. Even though we know the four will all likely be offered arbitration and decline, teams attempting to sign free agents often wait to move in with a deal just in case arbitration is not offered. (Think of the case of Placido Polanco last year.) On top of that, a good agent knows it takes a little time to heat up the market and stir the pot a bit. So why accept a deal too soon?
However, there are boat load of players who are not Type A or Type B free agents who can be signed at no risk to teams as early as today.
Maybe we'll see one signed.
As for Detroit doing the signing, I doubt it. I'm sure they'll be in contact with agents for all the top free agents, but I don't think they'll be announcing they signed Werth tomorrow or anything. Their transaction history for November has included trades, promotions of minor leaguers to the 40-man roster, demotions of players from the 40-man roster and extensions to their own players. What it does not include since the signing of Troy Percival in 2004 is the addition of free agents. Obviously they have a little more time this month than in past years, but I don't think things will change that greatly. Still, you never know.
So what's on your shopping list? This week I'll tell you what's on mine and why.
By the way: Here's some Hot Stove Myths from JC Bradbury, author of (fittingly enough) Hot Stove Economics.