Professional baseball's winter deal-making showcase returns to Opryland

Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 11:56pm

For four days, Nashville will be the epicenter of the baseball world.

Nearly 3,000 executives, including representatives from all 30 major league teams and 160 minor league teams, will gather at the Opryland Resort & Convention Center this week for the annual Baseball Winter Meetings.

This is the fifth time Nashville has hosted the winter meetings, which begin Monday.

Big news often comes out of this gathering, where many trades and free agent transactions unfold. The Los Angeles Angels surprisingly locked up Albert Pujols on the final day of last year’s get-together and touched off a chain of transactions that followed.

This year might not feature a blockbuster deal as large as that one, but several free agents could find new homes.

Topping the list is Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton. The agent of the power-hitting All-Star is reportedly asking for a seven-year, $175 million deal. Other notables include: former AL Cy Young Award winner and Angels righty Zack Greinke; St. Louis right-hander Kyle Lohse, Rangers catcher Mike Napoli; Tampa Bay center fielder B.J. Upton; Detroit outfielder and ALCS MVP Delmon Young.

The four-day event, which is not open to the public, wraps up Thursday with the Rule 5 draft. Players not on a team’s 40-man roster can be drafted by another team.

Also on Thursday, Nashville native and 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey will be over at Lipscomb. The knuckleballer will be a guest speaker at a luncheon held by Bisons coach Jeff Forehand. The event starts at 11:30 a.m. and tickets cost $10.

(Coincidentally, he’s also one of the subjects of an acclaimed new documentary, Knuckleball!, currently playing at Nashville’s Belcourt Theatre.)