MLB Offseason Roundup
Every year it seems that baseball's offseason does not really get going until the winter meetings begin. Well, the meetings begin today and the MLB transaction tracker has been off the charts since the Red Sox won the World Series less than two months ago. Just in case you missed something, here is a roundup of some of the moves that have already happened.
Robinson Cano signed a monster deal with the Seattle Mariners as he left the New York Yankees behind agreeing to a 10-year $240 million deal to go out west. Cano is a top-notch second baseman in terms of both hitting and defense, but this contract raises a lot of eyebrows. Cano turned 31 in October and when this deal expires, will be over 40 years old. As we have seen recently with lucrative deals given to Alex Rodriguez, Alfonso Soriano and Albert Pujols, this could wind up biting the Mariners in the butt. Cano is a great player, but his contract is a nightmare.
It seemed as though the Yankees moved on from their tumultuous -- and ultimately unsuccessful contract talks with Cano -- fairly easily. Jacoby Ellsbury defected from Boston and agreed to a seven-year $153 deal to play in pinstripes, while Carlos Beltran also inked a contract of is own with the Yankees worth $45 million for three years. Now with a surplus of outfielders (Ellsbury, Beltran, Brett Gardner, Vernon Wells, Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki) look for New York to make a minor trade involving Ichiro.
The "other" New York team welcomed their own new outfielder to the roster as they signed Curtis Granderson away from the Yankees with a four-year $60 million deal. Granderson had eye-popping power in the new Yankee Stadium, which fans in Citi Field will be sure to look for when Granderson debuts for the Mets in 2014. However, his new home may not be conducive to Granderson's new-found strength of power hitting. The deal is only four years, but this could be a major disappointment for Mets fans as Granderson is coming off a brutal injury-plagued season and overall declining production.
The St. Louis Cardinals rewarded the up-and-down season of Jhonny Peralta with a fresh new four-year $52 million contract. Peralta, who was suspended for 50 games last season after a positive PED test, did bat .303 with a .358 OBP in 107 games for Detroit in 2013. The Cardinals became the poster boys for the "how to play the game right" police when they criticized the Dodgers for their demonstrative celebrations during the playoffs. And now they have rewarded an admitted cheater with a great contract. He is a spectacular upgrade over the likes of Pete Kozma, but the irony is not lost upon this writer.
One of the Detroit Tigers' biggest issues last season was their late-inning bullpen work. They had a number of closers throughout the season, but now seemingly have an anchor to lock things down for saves. Joe Nathan agreed to a two-year $20 million contract after an all-star season with the Rangers. The 39-year-old Nathan had 43 saves in 2013 with a sub-1 WHIP and 1.39 ERA. He only blew three saves all of last season while Detroit had 16 total blown saves by comparison.
Jumping into some international news, both the Dodgers and White Sox brought in Cuban defectors who figure to be contributors immediately next year. The White Sox made the biggest splash early in the offseason by signing prized first baseman Jose Abreu. Abreu nabbed a hefty six-year $68 million deal and figures to be with the Sox right out of spring training despite Chicago re-signing Paul Konerko to a one-year deal.
And in a smaller deal, the Dodgers brought in Alexander Guerrero with a four-year $28 million contract. Guerrero will get a shot to win the starting 2B role in spring training.
Tim Hudson gets a shot to keep his career going after the devastating ankle injury he suffered that cost him much of the 2013 season. The Giants brought him in with a two-year deal worth $23 million.
Some other notable starting pitchers with new homes for 2014: Scott Kazmir, who saved his career which had been on life support in 2013, was rewarded with a two-year $22 million contract by Oakland, Hiroki Kuroda returned to the Yankees re-signing a one-year deal worth $16 million, Ricky Nolasco earned a big pay day by garnering a four-year $49 million deal with the Twins who also added Phil Hughes to the mix with a three-year $24 million contract, after a disastrous 2013 campaign, Josh Johnson will try to get back on track with the San Diego Padres for a year and $8 million in his wallet, Jason Vargas proved just how valuable lefties can still be by getting a $32 million four-year deal with the Royals, Tim Lincecum re-upped with the Giants for two years and $35 million, the Dodgers added some depth to the rotation with Dan Haren for $10 million and one year and Scott Feldman joins the Houston Astros for three years and $30 million.
Relievers are making moves too as Brian Wilson showed he still has some left in the tank with the Dodgers as he returns to Los Angeles' National League team for another year and $10 million. Also coming to Los Angeles, except to the Angels, is Joe Smith who has pulled double duty as both a set-up man and closer for the Indians in recent years. He will make $15.75 million over the next three years.
The World Series champs will have a new catcher as they signed A.J. Pierzynski to an $8.25 million deal for one year. Their catcher last season, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, has signed with the Marlins for $21 million and three years. Also joining "Salty" in Miami is SS Rafael Furcal thanks to a one-year $3 million deal. Replacing Pierzynski in Texas will be J.P. Arencibia who joins the Rangers on a one-year deal worth $1.8 million. And the biggest splash for catchers goes to Brian McCann and the Yankees who agreed to a massive five-year deal worth $85 million.
Ellsbury and Saltalamacchia may be gone from Boston, but Mike Napoli has returned with a two-year $32 million deal. Justin Morneau seems like he is on his way to Colorado as they are currently working on a two-year contract worth $12.5 million.
One of the first deals agreed to this offseason was Marlon Byrd to the Phillies for two years and $16 million. David Murphy agreed to his own two-year deal with the Indians, with his being worth $12 million. While David DeJesus rounds out the cast of small-time outfielders re-signing a two-year deal worth $10.5 million with the Rays.
The Yankees dealt with Derek Jeter injuries all season long, but still brought him back on a one-year deal worth $12 million. They also brought in insurance with Brendan Ryan thanks to a modest two-year $5 million deal. Ryan is still one of the game's premier fielding shortstops. The Yankees also brought in Kelly Johnson to potentially replace Cano at 2B with a one-year $3 million deal. Though look for New York to bring in someone more noteworthy to play 2B before spring training.
Free agency is not the only things making news this offseason. A few teams have made some big splashes via trades. Oakland added two great arms with Luke Gregerson from San Diego (Athletics sent OF Seth Smith in return) and Baltimore's closer Jim Johnson (the Orioles received INF Jemile Weeks in return). Oakland also added super-sub OF Craig Gentry in a trade with the Rangers who got prospect Michael Choice.
Texas also made one of the biggest trades this offseason by sending 2B Ian Kinsler to Detroit for 1B Prince Fielder. Fielder fell out of favor with the Tigers after an abysmal playoff run, but figures to blast plenty of long balls in the home-run-friendly Ballpark in Arlington. Detroit saved a decent amount of money by getting rid of Fielder and now have a potential all-star 2B in Kinsler.
The once NLCS and World Series MVP is out of St. Louis and in Anaheim. David Freese will be the new third baseman for the Angels while Peter Bourjos moves to center field for the Cardinals. Freese struggled mightily last season with poor production and injuries, while Bourjos will thrill Cardinal fans with his defensive wizardry.
Speaking of speedy outfielders, Dexter Fowler is in Houston now as the Rockies traded him for Jordan Lyles and Brandon Barnes. Both young players who got some Major League experience last season and showed some signs of promise here and there.
Ryan Braun's move to right field is now imminent now that the Brewers have traded Norichika Aoki to the Royals for once-promising pitching prospect Will Smith.
And in the offseason's first and only three-team trade so far, the Rays acquired catcher Ryan Hanigan from the Cincinnati Reds and RP Heath Bell from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks received pitching prospect Justin Choate while the Reds got their own pitching prospect in David Holmberg. The Rays also signed Hanigan to a three-year $10.75 million extension.
There are still plenty of moves to be had with free agents still lingering like Nelson Cruz Bronson Arroyo, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Lance Berkman, Rafael Betancourt, A.J. Burnett, Shin-Soo Choo, Stephen Drew, Matt Garza, Roy Halladay, Joel Hanrahan, J.P. Howell, Raul Ibanez, Omar Infante, Ubaldo Jimenez, James Loney, Paul Maholm, Kendrys Morales, Kevin Youkilis, Michael Morse, Fernando Rodney, Ervin Santana, Barry Zito and Michael Young.
Don't forget about Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka who is still expected to be made available to MLB teams this offseason. Not to mention a number of trade rumors still swirling behind guys like Cubs SP Jeff Samardzija and Reds 2B Brandon Phillips.
There is still plenty to see in this, one of baseball's most eventful offseasons ever. Stay tuned.
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