It's been a busy week at the Winter Meetings. Here's a look at what the clubs in the NL Central accomplished -- and failed to accomplish -- in Dallas:
- The Cubs didn't make any major moves on the free agent market during the week, though a couple of now-former Cubs were added to the list of free agents when first baseman Carlos Pena and third baseman Aramis Ramirez officially declined the Cubs' offers of arbitration.
- The trade market was a different story for Chicago, however, as the Cubs pulled off a swap of struggling hitters with the Rockies: Chicago shipped Tyler Colvin to the Rox and received third baseman Ian Stewart, who suffered through a miserable 2011 season in Colorado, in return. DJ LeMahieu is also on his way to Denver, with right-handed reliever Casey Weathers coming to Chicago.
- No matter what the Cubs say, people still want to link the team to Prince Fielder, but now Peter Gammons is reporting that the Cubs simply don't have the cash to add the slugging first baseman. At this point, this story is either the biggest misdirection in the course of recorded history or the most unnecessary reporting on something that was never going to happen in the first place.
- In Thursday's Rule 5 draft, the Cubs nabbed a pair of players -- pitcher Lendy Castillo and infielder Ricky Alvarez -- while losing a couple of infielders of their own (Ryan Flaherty and Marwin Gonzalez).
- The Reds didn't get anything done at the Winter Meetings, and that's got GM Walt Jocketty spittin' mad (sort of): Jocketty says he's been busting his tail to fill the team's holes (especially in the starting rotation), but thus far, all his hard work hasn't produced any results.
- Before Rockies closer Huston Street was dealt to the Padres, there were rumblings that Colorado and Cincinnati might work a trade based around Street and erstwhile Reds ace Edinson Volquez, who was banished to the minors a couple of times last season. That trade didn't materialize, but word is the Rockies still might try to land Volquez.
- Meanwhile, the Reds' top priority of the offseason remains signing All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips to a contract extension. Jocketty apparently extended an offer to Phillips' people this morning, but from the sounds of it, Jocketty doesn't expect that offer to get the deal done.
- As expected, the big news for the 'Stros had little to do with players at the Winter Meetings. Instead, the main action for Houston took place in the front office when the team named St. Louis' vice president of player procurement (fancy!) Jeff Luhnow as its new general manager.
- The Astros didn't move any of their high-priced players during the Meetings, though word is they talked to the Orioles about a trade involving Brett Myers that didn't materialize. The team also wants to move lefty Wandy Rodriguez and outfielder/first baseman Carlos Lee, but Houston is looking for a buyer who's willing to assume all of Rodriguez's remaining contract.
- In the Rule 5 draft, the Astros landed a couple of players: flamethrowing right-hander Rhiner Cruz and ex-Cub Marwin Gonzalez, who Houston picked up in a trade with the Red Sox.
- The Bucs were the busy bees of the Winter Meetings, and their two most notable deals were the buy-low contracts inked by lefty Eric Bedard and outfielder Nate McLouth. Bedard's injury history is well-documented, and McLouth is a former Pirate who flamed out after being traded to the Braves, and the Bucs are hoping each player can return to better form in Pittsburgh.
- Elsewhere, Pittsburgh's roster shuffling continued when first baseman Derrek Lee declined arbitration and the team opted to non-tender disappointing right-hander Ross Ohlendorf. The Pirates also signed catcher Jose Morales to a minor league deal, and it seems he's the team's plan for backup catcher, since the Bucs cut Jason Jaramillo shortly after signing Morales.
- Finally, Pittsburgh bolstered its infield depth by acquiring Yamaico Navarro from the Royals for a pair of minor-league players. Navarro's defense is reputedly pretty bad, but he offers a bench bat with some pop.
- Everybody has a reaction to Albert Pujols opting to leave St. Louis after 11 years, but most of the opinions are variations on the same theme: Pujols made a business decision that's hard to argue with, and the Cards might actually be better off in the long run without His Respectfulness.
- Big Al's exit leaves a sizable chunk of change for the Cardinals to play with, and the early reports indicate that the Cards might kick the tires on free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran.
- Edwin Jackson, acquired in last season's blockbuster Colby Rasmus trade, declined the Redbirds' arbitration offer and will become a free agent. Jackson is a Type B free agent, so St. Louis will receive a sandwich pick in next year's amateur draft if Jackson signs elsewhere.