2015 MLB winter meetings: Five things we learned in Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Compared to last year's 16 trades at baseball's winter meetings, the 2015 edition at the Gaylord Opryland Resortwas relatively quiet on the blockbuster trade front with the exception of Starlin Castro's move to the Yankees and the Diamondbacks' acquisition of Shelby Miller from the Braves for top prospects.Pitching and defense were the focus for teams at this year's meetings. StartersJohn Lackey (Cubs) andJeff Samardzija (Giants) quickly were taken off the board whileutilityman Ben Zobrist (Cubs) was in high demand as teams eye versatile defenders.With that in mind, let's take a look at the top five takeaways from this year's winter meetings:5. Bullpen becoming more of a priority as teams look to replicate Royals' succe s MORE: Winter meetings winners and losersKansas City became succe sful with a strongbullpen and now other teams are hopping on the bandwagon and making relievers apriority. Last winter it was the Astros whorevamped their bullpen, and the team responded with a trip to the playoffs. Coincidence? No. The teams with the lowest bullpen ERAs the Pirates, Royals and Cardinals made the playoffs.Dave Dombrowski and theRed Sox kicked things off by trading forCraig Kimbrel in November and Carson Smith at the winter meetings.Dombrowski's old team, the Tigers, who also finished last season with a reliever ERA over four, have strengthened their 'pen with the additions ofJustin https://www.royalsedges.com/kansas-city-royals/alcides-escobar-jersey Wilson,Mark Lowe andFrancisco Rodriguez. The Astros helped their cause with Ken Giles and could rival the best 'pens in MLB after re-signing Tony Sipp.Even the Rockies addre sed the shaky bullpen with the signingJason Motte andChad Qualls but the bad news forother teams is that the Royals still have arguably the best seventh-, eighth- and ninth-inning relievers inKelvin Herrera,Joakim Soria and Wade Davis.4. Dusty Baker in hot water alreadyBaker hasn't managed a single game in Washington and already he's in trouble thanks to his words of support for Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, who is being investigated by MLB for his role in an October domestic violence incident in which he allegedly fired a gun and choked his girlfriend. Baker has always been known as a players' manager but his comments indefense of Chapman's character were heavily criticized. He later clarified his words Jorge Soler Jersey but the damage was done.3. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto making instant impact Like A.J. Prellerdid last year at baseball's winter meetings in San Diego,Dipoto is wheeling and dealing since becoming Seattle's general manager.Dipoto has been on the job for just over two months but has already made nine trades andhas signed Nori Aoki. The biggest trade thus far for Dipoto was the additions ofWade Miley andJonathan Aro from the Red Sox forCarson Smith andRoenis Elias. An innings-eater with an average of 3.92 FIP over the past three seasons, Miley will thrive pitching at large confines of Safeco Field.Dipoto also came up big with the addition of slugger Adam Lind at first base forthreeteenagepitchers and made strides to strengthen his bullpen withJoaquin Benoit. The Mariners disappointed last season with 86 lo ses but the new players in Seattle bring optimism once again for a club whose window for succe s with Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez is slowly coming to a close.2. The rich get richerWith some of the biggest payrolls in MLB, the Red Sox, Tigers, Cubs,Yankees and Mets have all made moves to addre s their their weakne ses. For the Red Sox it was signingDavid Price to a lucrative deal and adding outfielderChris Young, and relieversKimbrel and Smith. The Tigers spent up on starter Jordan Zimmermann, signed pitcher Mike Pelfrey and added three bullpen pieces.The Cubs signed Lackey and traded Castro to the Yankees, leaving a spot for Zobrist to play everyday for the next four seasons at$56 million. The Castro trade was a win for both sides, but expectations are that both popular franchises will continue to pursue a big offseason acquisition. For the Cubs it's rumored to be Jason Heyward, who could demand as much as $180 million. The Yankees could use an extra arm in the rotation as well as continuing to build a younger lineup around George Brett Jersey Alex Rodriguez,Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann andCarlos Beltran.New York's other, and most succe sful franchise last season addre sed its infieldneeds with Neil Walker andAsdrubal Cabrera.The Mets have had injury problems at shortstop in the past few months. Ruben Tejada broke his leg on Chase Utley's infamous slide into second base during the NL Division Seriesand Wilmer Flores suffered a fractured ankle this week while playing winter ball.1. The Diamondbacks are establishing themselves as NL West favorites The D-backs tookZack Greinke away from the Dodgers and added Miller to their rotation without giving up too many proven big league players. Yes, the Braves have the D-backs' last three first-round picks, but sometimes highly touted prospects don't pan out. The Diamondbacks finished eighth in MLB this past season in runs scored (720) and didn't give up their star hitters inPaul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock and David Peralta to make the deals happen.Thus far the only thing the Dodgers have done isre-sign Utley. The D-backs currently have a better rotation than the Dodgers and are slightly better than a Giants rotation that features old guys JakePeavy andMatt Cain. The Rockies will always hit the cover off the ball in Coors Field but starting pitching plagues them once again and thePadres will once again hover around .500 as they are currently in need ofa closer, left fielder and No. 5 starter.D-backs general manager Dave Stewart said the club is still interested in relievers to help closerBrad Ziegler in the bullpen. If Arizona can do that, this team has the po sibility to replicate thesucce s the franchise had in the late 1990s and early 2000s with three straight NL West titles and, yes, even a World Series ring.