Three reasons why hot stove action started early

Three reasons why hot stove action started early
December 9, 2013, 12:15 pm
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Apparently, a bunch of general managers got their calendar dates all mixed up.
     
The annual Winter Meetings, now underway at the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World, are usually the site of big free agents signings and trades.
     
But somehow, it was the week before the meetings that saw all the action taking place.
    
Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Hiroki Kuroad, A.J. Pierzynski and Mike Napoli all agreed to new deals last week.
     
Why all the early action, even before baseball executives gathered?
     
Three reasons:

1) Teams have a glut of money coming to them thanks to the first year (2014) of the new national TV deal. Beginning this upcoming season, each team will receive approximately $25 million more in revenues as a result of a deal negotiated with ESPN, Fox and TBS.
     
Traditionally, teams treat such windfalls as an opportunity to spend and this year is no different. Some of that money is seemingly burning a hole in the pockets of general managers.
     
Beyond the national money, a number of teams are the new recipients of lucrative local TV deals. The Seattle Mariners, who committed $240 million to Robinson Cano, are about to begin a regional TV deal that will pay them $2 billion over the life of the deal.
     
Likewise, the Texas Rangers are about to begin a new rights deal that's worth $3 billion.
     
Those kind of regional TV deals are turning some mid-market franchises into big-market spenders.
    
2) A number of general managers thought to be on the hot seat -- including Dayton Moore in Kansas City and Jack Zduriencik in Seattle -- instead were given short-term extensions.
     
Moore negotiated hard to bring Beltran back to Kansas City before losing out to the Yankees while Zduriencik signed Cano to the third-richest contract in baseball history, and is being aggressive in going after a handful of others (Nelson Cruz, Shin-Soo Choo).
     
"You've got a few guys who now have a short amount of time to turn things around,'' said one baseball executive. "They're going to spend the money to get better and not worry about what happens with those deals a few years down the line because they'll probably be gone by then.''
     
3) The Yankee Effect: When the Yankees don't win, the big checkbook comes out. It happened after 2008 -- the last time the Yanks failed to qualify for the post-season -- when the Yanks signed CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett.
     
This time, the Yanks have signed Ellsbury, Kuroda, Beltran and Brian McCann and are angling to do more.
     
When the Yankees are involved, the prices for the big-name free agents go up accordingly, and other teams feel compelled to strike early and be similarly aggressive.

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