If you haven't been paying attention to the winter meetings and the free agent market that has skyrocketed by as much as 70% according to Nate Silver at BP, here's a quick recap of the transactions (so far) from today.
As you can tell, the Rule 5 draft was held today and there were some interesting names in the mix including Josh Hamilton going to the Reds and, for Rockies fans anyway, Jason Smith heading from the Cubs to the Blue Jays. Kevin Goldstein breaks it all down as does Baseball America.
The signing of the day, however, was clearly the Royals hitching their wagon to Gil Meche. At 28, he's an interesting signing but any contract of more than about three years is probably based more on hope and faith than anything else and his major should surgery of 2001 has probably limited his upside and shortened his horizon. In addition, for the Royals to spend $10M on any single player that does not get them over the hump and into the post season is probably a mistake. In monetary terms he simply can't be worth that much to a small market team like the Royals. Moving from 85 to 95 wins is the sweet spot, not from 65 to 75 (although I'm certainly not saying Meche will improve the team by 10 games). Vince Gennaro has another interesting essay on this topic in the THT 2007 Annual where he shows that even a 95 win season would yield the Royals the second lowest amount in terms of local revenues (the Twins were last).
MLB.com is reporting that the total outlay at the Winter Meetings thus far is $433M. Ouch. Maury Brown also has a nice list of the free agents, their ranking (A, B) and who they signed with along with the compensation the team gets who lost the free agent. Fortunately for the Royals Meche was a type B free agent and therefore won't cost them a draft pick.