The gate was lifted late last night, allowing teams to begin negotiating with other clubs’ free agents. The relative weakness of this year’s crop is likely to make this winter’s trade market one of the most active in a long time. In certain cases, however, it will take some movement in free agency before sellers will pull the trigger on trades, even those for which the groundwork might have already been laid.

Case in point: If the Rangers are going to trade Gerald Laird, it makes sense for them to wait until a few key available catchers find homes, leaving the jilted teams that were interested in them to turn to their Plan B.

As Jorge Posada re-signs with the Yankees, Laird’s trade value just went up a tick. Start with the Mets, who were said to be very interested in Posada.

Remember the discussion we had over the course of a month or two this summer on why July was absolutely the right time to trade Mark Teixeira, assuming you believed he was not going to sign a long-term deal here? Given the names that are starting to make the rounds as potentially available in trade this winter, it’s almost impossible to believe Texas could have gotten a package this off-season anywhere close to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz, and Beau Jones.

And again, the idea of going into 2008 with Teixeira would have been a risky one, because if the Rangers are anywhere near contention this coming July, there’s no way you can move a player like Teixeira unless you want to fracture your clubhouse (because moving him then would be tantamount to telling your own players you don’t think they can stay in the race all summer: suicidal).

Teixeira was the number one trade commodity in baseball in July. He wouldn’t have been this winter. And he couldn’t have been during the 2008 season.

One case of waiting out the trade market. Another of jumping out in front.

It’s not just the anticipation of who might be wearing your team’s uniform for the first time next season. For me, the coolest thing about baseball’s hot stove season is the tactical planning, the strategy and finesse, the measure of timing and the recognition of market vulnerabilities that go into positioning yourself to maximize your opportunities to get better.


You can read more from Jamey Newberg at

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