With December Looming, When Will the MLB Dealing Begin?

↵Tuesday is December and it seems rather insane that we'll be gearing up for all those year in review retrospectives already. Baseball season just ended, didn't it? Heck, SI already announced that their ↵Man of 11/12ths of the Year award (December is so overrated when it comes to giving out annual awards) will be going to Derek Jeter. ↵

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↵The final days of November are frenzied shopping days – none more frenzied than Black Friday (and Saturday and Sunday) which has since spawned Cyber Monday all leading up to what's expected to be a raucous December of deals on top of deals on top of, yes, more deals. With the economy still mostly in the tank, companies are doing everything they can to entice buyers to spend a little extra money and spread a little extra holiday cheer this season. ↵

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↵Agents should take a lesson from the retail outlets and start to offer some deals on their clients – free shipping on Adrian Beltre, buy one O-Dog get one free – as it looks like baseball GMs may not be in the buying spirit when December rolls around. The Hot Stove seems pretty cool thus far, and with the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to their departing free agents in its last few hours, we'd expect a frenzy of activity on the baseball wheeling and dealing front to start Tuesday. ↵

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↵But it likely won't happen. In a poll released this week by SportsBusiness Daily, more than 25 percent of those surveyed think the economy is the biggest threat to sports, while more than 37 percent think the recession is the biggest sports business story of the year. So while agents are gearing up their clients' potential windfalls, it's hard to expect a lot of players will actually break the bank this year. ↵

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↵Just like the savvy internet shoppers among us – 30 percent off all Holliday themed purchases this week only – the baseball GMs are looking for the best deals around. One such deal FOXSports.com is reporting, as it seems Red Sox may only be continuing talks with Jason Bay in an effort to recoup two draft picks if and when he signs with another team to counterbalance the draft pick they'll forfeit by signing their first choice for left field – Matt Holliday. ↵

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↵⇥Under baseball's warped draft-pick compensation system, a high-revenue team that exchanges one Type A free agent for another actually nets an extra pick -- a supplemental choice between the first and second rounds. ↵⇥

↵⇥Oh, but this gets better. ↵⇥

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↵⇥If the Sox lose Bay and sign both Holliday and free-agent shortstop Marco Scutaro, they not only will receive the same number of selections, but also might end up in better draft positions. ↵⇥

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↵⇥Signing Holliday would cost the Sox their first-round pick. Signing Scutaro, a lower-ranking free agent, would cost them their second- round selection. ↵⇥

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↵⇥But, if the Sox lose Bay after offering him salary arbitration, they will gain two picks -- a likely first-rounder and the sandwich pick. ↵⇥

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↵Theo Epstein ... ever the thrifty shopper. Sure there are the Roy Halladay rumors, and if Halladay gets traded to an AL East team, expect that price tag to be as high as any in recent years. There are some other names who could expect top deals as well, including the aforementioned Holliday and Bay in addition to a versatile player like Chone Figgins. But for now, most teams seem content with the Jason Larue's, Juan Castro's and Alex Cora's of the world – the Hot Stove equivalent of a stocking stuffer – until they can wait out the big ticket items for the best deal. ↵

↵Alas, for all the baseball deal watchers, when the calendar turns to December on Tuesday, don't expect too many door busters just yet. The buying season is just starting and, in this economy, there seems to be better deals for those who wait. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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