The timing of this year's winter meetings appears to be all wrong.
Several general managers said Sunday there are just too many free-agent decisions to make. To complicate matters, a group of 16 "new-look" free agents may flood the market later in the week."You can sense everybody is waiting and anticipating," New York Yankees general manager Gene Michael said. "There's no deadline to make a trade, so there's no rush. You try to do something because you're all here together."
California and Toronto got together Sunday night and made a six-player deal in the first trade of the winter meetings. The Angels sent center fielder Devon White and pitcher Willie Fraser to the Blue Jays for outfielder Junior Felix and infielder Luis Sojo. The clubs will also exchange minor league players to be named later.
White, one of the best defensive outfielders around, hit only .217 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs last season in 125 games. He had 11 assists in 1990, giving him 44 in five seasons.
White, 27, appeared to be heading for a great career in 1987 when he hit .263 with 24 homers, 87 RBIs and a league-high 424 putouts. But his average and stock declined rapidly in each of the last three seasons and the Angels were looking to trade him for the last two years.
California reportedly offered White to the Yankees along with third baseman Jack Howell and minor leaguers for second baseman Steve Sax after the season. Michael said five teams have asked him about Sax at the meetings, but he didn't anticipate a deal.
"We wanted to get someone in return who could play center," Angels GM Mike Port said. "I think it's well-acknowledged that Toronto is getting a man of superior physical talent in Devon White. Maybe we just didn't find the right key with him."
Felix, 23, hit .263 with 15 homers and 65 RBIs for the Blue Jays, playing mostly right field. As a rookie in 1989, he had nine homers and 46 RBIs. The Angels plan to play Felix in center field.
After four years of collusion hearings and decisions, the owners and players are near a deal, too.
The agreement, which still has to be ratified by the 26 clubs, would award approximately 300 players $280 million in damages and also grant "new-look" free agency to 16 players who were directly affected by a conspiracy not to sign free agents from 1985-1987.