La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Morning update from the winter meetings

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: December 6, 2010 - 10:14 AM

I landed in Florida late last night and checked in just after midnight, but the lobby at the Walt Disney World Dolphin resort was full of people gasping over Jason Werth's $126 million deal with the Nationals. Then word spread that the Adrian Gonzalez deal with the Red Sox was going down.

The meetings hadn't officially begun but there already was news.

Some people think there will be a lot of action this week because of the way the offseason schedule has been altered so all the free agents are known before the meetings begin. I remain skeptical. Teams and agents, in recent years, let negotiations play out until spring training.

We scribes, however, hope for fireworks all week.

A few early notes:

>> The Twins today will meet with Rick Thurman, the agent for Japanese shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka. The Twins have until Dec. 26 to sign the switch-hitting Nishioka or they will have the $5 million posting fee returned to them, This isn't expected to be a tough negotiation, but that could always change.

The Twins might want to hold on to J.J. Hardy until they get a better idea of where they stand with Nishioka. If they are confident they will sign him, then they might move forward with dealing Hardy. Six teams have expressed interest in Hardy, and the Twins could get pitching help in return for a starting shortstop.

Was told that Nishioka knows very little English, but his wife speaks it fluently.

>> I wrote about the Twins showing interest in Royals righthander Zack Greinke for today's editions. I was told by someone familiar with talks (at 1:30 this morning) that four teams are pushing hard for Grienke - none of them the Twins. Kansas City's demands for Greinke could be a factor in this. There's a feeling here that Kansas City will indeed move Greinke.

>> The Twins held an organizational meeting last night at 8 p.m. in preparation for this week's slew of meetings and negotiations.

>> You never know who you are going to meet at the winter meetings. Late last night I met the sister-in-law of Gophers interim head coach Jeff Horton (she's married to an official of a MLB team) needless to say, she was disappointed that Horton didn't get the job. I asked if he had a chance to remain on the staff, and she pointed out that Jerry Kill took his entire coaching staff with him when he left Southern Illinois for Northern Illinois.

>> I plan to update this blog whenever I can as news develops. If you don't follow me on twitter, this is one week to try it out (@LaVelleNeal) for updates. In addition to daily Twins coverage in the paper, the Winter Meetings Confidential staff has returned for another year to provide league-wide notes on what is being whispered around the hotel.

>> I will disappear for about an hour or so around 2 p.m. I've been asked to be part of a BBWAA committee that determines which on-line reporters can join the organization. That should be interesting.

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