AS PLAYERS and teams waited for Jon Lester to make a decision and start defining the high-end pitching market, baseball's winter meetings opened yesterday in San Diego with Oakland jettisoning yet another All-Star.
In the first swap of the 4-day session, the Athletics sent first baseman-outfielder Brandon Moss to Cleveland for minor league infielder Joey Wendle. That followed Oakland's trade last month of third baseman Josh Donaldson to Toronto.
Big-name moves are taking more time to percolate. Traded from Boston to Oakland last summer, Lester was sought by the Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs.
Max Scherzer and James Shields appeared content to wait for Lester to reach a deal first. And trade talks for top pitchers seemed secondary.
The Cubs got a player back at the less pricey level, agreeing to a 2-year, $20 million contract with righthander Jason Hammel - a pitcher Chicago traded to the A's last summer.
And Arizona finalized its 6-year, $68.5 million contract with Yasmany Tomas, a 24-year-old Cuban defector the Diamondbacks might move from the outfield to third base.
"Initially, you've got to believe that that's a lot of money to be passing out on any player," new Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart said. "And in this day and time when a player has not played here, he's not proven yet here, that makes it even a little bit uncomfortable. But once you get the right information and you've checked the right sources, it makes it a lot easier to make the move."
Cleveland obtained the 31-year-old Moss, who hit .234 with 25 homers and 81 RBI in 2014. He batted .268 with 21 homers in the first half of the season to earn his first All-Star selection, but a nagging hip problem cut into his production over the final months.
* San Francisco lefthander Madison Bumgarner, who carried the Giants to their third World Series championship in 5 years, was named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year.
Bumgarner pitched a record 52 2/3 innings in the postseason, going 4-1 with a 1.03 ERA in seven playoff appearances, six of them starts. He won both his World Series starts and came out of the bullpen in Game 7 to throw five shutout innings against Kansas City and clinch the title. In the regular season, Bumgarner was 18-10 with a 2.98 ERA. He also hit four home runs, including two grand slams.