WINTER MEETINGS BEGIN

Nashville, TN is the site for MLB’s winter meetings this year, with many intriguing storylines to follow between now and when things wrap up on Thursday. The biggest free agent of the offseason, Josh Hamilton, is still on the board, along with a number of other important pieces.

It isn’t what you would call a bumper crop this year, but the recent influx of TV money and several clubs’ desire to get better fast should combine for some breaking news over the next few days. The Toronto Blue Jays have already made a huge splash this offseason with a multi-player trade that brought in immediate help from Miami. Now, with all the key figures for each club in one spot, the time is right for their AL east counterparts to respond.

What may make these meetings especially interesting is the fact the Yankees are expected to try to bring payroll down to get under the luxury tax threshold by 2014. One year under $189M, and the compounded penalty goes all the way back to the first-time offender rate of 17.5%.

So while the Blue Jays are beefing up and other clubs have money to spend from the TV deals, the Yankees are reportedly going bargain-hunting this offseason. They have already signed Hiroki Kuroda to a 1YR/$15M contract.

In their stead, the Dodgers are expected to step in and spend irresponsibly. With new ownership in place and a ton of salary taken on from the Red Sox this past summer, the Dodgers aren’t showing any signs of letting up. Who they’ll get for all that money isn’t clear yet, but with a need for starting pitching, Zack Greinke would appear to be a logical target.

Check back here for highlights of the going-on in Nashville. Here are some other resources:

Tim Brown’s preview on Yahoo! Sports
10 Storylines from Peter Gammons at MLB.com
5 Free Agents to Watch by Bob Nightengale of USA Today