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Foundation for winter full of moves laid in Nashville

Foundation for winter full of moves laid in Nashville

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The 2012 Winter Meetings were relatively quiet, producing nothing like the shockwaves that hit Dallas a year ago, when the Marlins signed their free-agent trio and the Angels nabbed the top pitcher and hitter on the market.

This year, the biggest name -- Josh Hamilton -- is still unsigned, while others -- Michael Bourn, Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse -- are also still searching for new homes.

That doesn't mean talks at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn., last week won't shape the rest of the offseason, as the Dodgers' agreement with Zack Greinke over the weekend proves.

And while the Winter Meetings are the biggest offseason show, talks aren't finished just because Major League Baseball has left Nashville.

"Basically, what I've learned about being in the Winter Meetings is you generally don't make many trades in Winter Meetings," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Most of the time, you're setting it up for when you get home to make moves."

Where Bourn, Sanchez, Lohse and others will sign is yet to be determined. Others -- B.J. Upton, Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli, to name a select few -- have made decisions with which teams and players are happy.

Last year's big winners, the Angels and Marlins, were happy in December, too. But during the season? Not so much.

The Angels' signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson last year were lauded, but lost in the praise was a bullpen that wasn't up to par. That, and other April struggles, left the Halos chasing the A's and Rangers this past season. This offseason, the Angels addressed their 'pen with the signing of right-hander Ryan Madson.

"I think it's terrific," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of the bullpen. "I think that when you look at a guy like Ryan Madson and you look at adding him to what [Ernesto] Frieri did ... and you look at [Scott] Downs, there are so many situations where we didn't hold leads the way we needed to last season."

A handful of teams are still trying to fill specific needs after the Winter Meetings.

The never-ending trade rumors involving D-backs outfielder Justin Upton are still swirling. When Greinke officially signs, it's expected the market will be set for free agents like Sanchez and Lohse, as well as trade targets like reigning National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.

Mets manager Terry Collins said he and general manager Sandy Alderson have had numerous conversations regarding what to do with Dickey, admitting it's not an easy choice.

"It's a huge decision," Collins said. "There's a lot of things to consider -- your fan base, the team -- but if you do something like that, it's for the benefit of the organization in the long term."

Making good on their plan to get value for a surplus of affordable young pitchers, the Rays completed a deal late Sunday night with the Royals that sent righties James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City for highly regarded prospect Wil Myers, among other assets. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said he'd rather go into a game knowing he can outpitch the competition than hoping to outhit it, but he was prepared to lose an arm via trade before next season.

"I've come to grips that it may happen," Maddon said. "Do I want it to happen? Not necessarily. You saw what happened last year. The only reason we won 90 games last season is because our pitching was so dominant and good. For us to be 90-plus on an annual basis, we have to pitch that way."

The Rangers, not out on Hamilton, would like to add pitching. That, of course, was the Royals' plan all along.

Kansas City manager Ned Yost was prepared for the possibility of losing Myers to add a pitcher.

"We feel like we're really close to being able to compete, and we're looking at every option that we can," Yost said. "[General manager Dayton Moore] has worked really hard over the last five years to fill our Minor League system with tremendous prospects that we could use for situations like this. So we're looking at a bunch of different options."

There are plenty of trades and free-agent options available to virtually every club for the remainder of the offseason. Although the Winter Meetings are finished, the talks that began in Nashville will continue to shape the offseason.

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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