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MLB’s hot stove has a very different vibe this winter

Baseball's annual GM Meetings were held in Las Vegas this week.

LAS VEGAS — There were no free-agent signings, and only a couple of small trades, but when the Major League Baseball General Manager meetings ended in Las Vegas on Thursday, there was a different sense something than the past few years.

Teams had more extensive trade discussions than usual. Agents talked with more teams, even though they weren’t permitted to talk money until late afternoon. There was more urgency. GMs were openly expressing their desire to reach the postseason, without anyone even uttering that dirty word, “tanking.’’

“There’s definitely more teams that are more in position to add to their major league team,’’ Arizona Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen said. “And doing it in, what I feel is, an aggressive manner. They feel like they’re close and are willing to push.

“I think it’s different than the recent past. I don’t know if it’s by 10 teams, but even tipping the scales by three or four teams, that changes the complexion significantly. That usually will lead to some aggressiveness.

“I don’t know what that will mean for trades, but we’ll see.’’

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Simply, whether it’s the draft lottery as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the expanded playoff format or the influx of money with MLB generating a record $11 billion, teams are starting to behave differently.

The Baltimore Orioles, who lost 333 games over a three-year stretch, have ended their rebuild and now plan to increase payroll and legitimately compete for a playoff berth.

“It’s definitely a lot more fun and interesting for us coming to meetings like this,” said Baltimore Orioles GM Mike Elias. “You feel a lot more relevant when you’re talking to agents and teams.

“The odds are always going to be a little stacked against us in the division right now, but if we get close enough, and have a good enough shot, hopefully will be pushing the chips in.’’

Baseball’s annual GM Meetings were held in Las Vegas this week.

The Diamondbacks, who increased their victory total by 22 games with their 74-88 record, say they plan to increase payroll, too, bidding for a playoff berth despite playing in the same division as the powerful Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.

“When you’re in a division like ours in the NL West, or the AL East or NL East, and finish in third place and don’t have a…

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