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RHP Kerry Wood resigns with the Chicago Cubs for one-year and $4.2 million.
This deal carries $3.45 million in incentives based on games finished if he eventually does end up as the team's closer. As Ryan Dempster enters the rotation, the Cubs are left with a closer-by-committee into Spring Training with Wood, Bob Howry, and Carlos Marmol. Marmol is the clear-cut favorite going in as he had a breakout year last season and posted a 1.43 era in 69.1 innings and 96 strikeouts. Howry has had experience as a closer as he was for a brief time in in Pedroia in the Rookie of the Year voting last season, hit .288 with 13 homers and 93 RBIs in his first full major league season. Though expected to cover the an is one of the top bullpen prospects in baseball; a power pitcher that was a closer in Class A Fort Myers before he was bought up to Class AA New Britain. Morlan went 5-3 with a 3.11 ERA, 18 saves, and 99 strikeouts in 69.2 innings last season for both squads. Jason Pridie is more known for his defensive prowless as he as only committed 18 errors in 538 games in the minors. But he is solid offensively as well, hitting around .300, bouncing between AA Montgomery and AAA Durham. All and all this trade should work out rather well for both teams.
LHP Doug Brocail signs one-year $2.5 million deal with the Houston Astros.
Brocail was signed to stablize a bullpen back-end that was stablized last year with the emergence of set-up man Heath Bell. Brocail will probably take the ball in the seventh inning as the 40-year-old looks to mentor a young bullpen with only two pitchers 3o years or older (Dave Borkowski and Geoff Geary are both 31).
The Minnesota Twins trade RHP Matt Garza, SS Jason Bartlett, and minor league pitcher Eduardo Morlan to the Tampa Bay Rays for OF Delmon Young, 2B Brendan Harris, and minor league outfielder Jason Pridie.
In lieu of Torii Hunter signing with the Texas Rangers, the Twins got who they hope will be a long-term replacement in Delmon Young. Young, who finished runner-up to Dustin Pedroia in the Rookie of the Year voting last season, hit .288 with 13 homers and 93 RBIs in his first full major league season. Though expected to cover the bat of Hunter by hitting third in Twins order, he comes with an infamously colorful history. Two years ago he got suspended for 50 games while in Triple-A for violently flipping his bat into the chest of an umpire. In 2005 he got suspended three games for bumping an umpire. Some of his coaches also questioned his hustle during a few games late last season. He displayed durability last season when at 22 year of age, he played in all 162 games last season. He also displayed quite the arm in right field (and some center) by getting 16 assists, good for 3rd in the American League amongst outfielders. As long as Young stays out of trouble, he will more than fill Torii Hunter's shoes for years to come.
Matt Garza should fill the number three slot in the Rays rotaion behind Scott Kazmir and James Shields. Last season, Garza went 5-7 with a 3.69 ERA in 16 appearances after being called up in July. Garza has great stuff but needs to develop his breaking pitches for him to be successful. The 28-year-old Harris just completed his first full season as a starter by hitting .286 with 12 homers and 59 RBIs in 521 at-bats. Harris solidifies second base for the Twins who never really found a replacement for Luis Castillo who was traded right before the deadline to the New York Mets. Jason Bartlett is average both offensively and defensively, though he does bring some more speed to the lineup as he stole 23 bases last season. But still, he's a significant step up from Ben Zobrist and Josh Wilson. Morlan is one of the top bullpen prospects in baseball; a power pitcher that was a closer in Class A Fort Myers before he was bought up to Class AA New Britain. Morlan went 5-3 with a 3.11 ERA, 18 saves, and 99 strikeouts in 69.2 innings last season for both squads. Jason Pridie is more known for his defensive prowless as he as only committed 18 errors in 538 games in the minors. But he is solid offensively as well, hitting around .300, bouncing between AA Montgomery and AAA Durham. All and all this trade should work out rather well for both teams.
The Cincinnati Reds sign RHP Francisco Cordero to a four-year deal worth $46 million with a $12 million club option for 2012.
Cordero will be closing for the Reds whose bullpen posted a 23-31 record, with a league-high 5.13 ERA, and only converting on 34 of 61 saves. David Weathers, who had 33 of those saves with a 3.59 ERA, will move into the set-up role. The deal helps solidify the back-end of the bullpen, but the team still has a long way to go in solidifying it's middle relief. Last season, Cordero was one of the best closers in baseball by posting a 2.98 ERA with 44 saves and 86 strikeouts in 63.3 innings. Because of how bad the Reds will be once again this year, consider Cordero almost a non-factor (though he will be stellar).
The Colorado Rockies re-sign catcher Yorvit Torrealba to a two-year, $7.25 million deal.
The deal also comes with a $500,000 signing bonus. Torrealba came close to signing a three-year deal with the Mets and the deal looked all but done until the Mets acquired catcher Johnny Estrada (who they have since non-tendered). The Mets and Torrealba then ceased all contact causing rumors that Torrealba had failed his physical which was untrue (Torrealba played with a strained shoulder last season). His shoulder plagued him last year defensively as he only threw out 15 of 76 baserunners (20%). Healthy, in 2006, Torrealba threw out 21 of 52 baserunners (40%). Offensively, he is nothing great (.255, 8 homers, and 47 RBIS) though he was a big contributor against the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS (.500, 3 RBIS, 3 runs scored). As long as he is healthy and still calling a good game, he'll be an average catcher.
The New York Yankees re-sign catcher Jorge Posada to a four-year, $52.4 million deal.
Posada had a career year last season, hitting .338 (4th in the AL) with 20 homers and 90 RBIs, all that while playing in 144 of 162 regular season games. With three young pitchers entering their first full season in the majors (Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, and Ian Kennedy), it was very important for the Yankees to maintain productive veteran leadership behind the plate.
The New York Mets trade outfielder Lastings Milledge to the Washington Nationals for right fielder Ryan Church and catcher Brian Schneider.
This move, at the time, gave the Mets three catchers with signficant major league experience, causing them to non-tender Johnny Estrada. Thus, trading Guillermo Mota remains nothing more than a salary dump. The Nationals recieve the 22-year-old Milledge who they intend to be their opening day center fielder. Milledge hit .272 with 7 homers and 29 RBIs in 184 at-bats last season. While a good fielder with above-average speed, Milledge has had issues with both management and teammates over the years. In 2006, he was criticized for slapping high fives with fans down the right field line after hitting his first career home run (a home run that had tied the game in the tenth inning). Also that year, Milledge's complaining got him in the doghouse with his teammates, to the point where Billy Wagner placed a sign on his locker that said, "Know Your Place, Rook!" Last May, Milledge appeared in a rap song called "Bend Ya Knees" prompting the Mets organization to denounce the song repeatedly because of the sexist nature and explicit language of the song. Milledge's natural position remains center field, which showed often the past two years as his corner outfield play was awkward at best, prompting the Mets to trade the controversial outfielder. If he can get his act together, Milledge has the potential to be a great player, possibly even an all-star.
Ryan Church is an above average fielder with an average bat. Though most importantly for the Mets, he's left handed and experienced playing right field. He hit .272 with 15 homers and 70 RBI, similar numbers to what Milledge is projected to put up next season. Brian Schneider is a superior defensive catcher, their first since Charlie O'Brien back in 1990. He is also 5 and a half years younger than their former catcher (and Washington's new catcher) Paul LoDuca (who's name surfaced on the Mitchell Report). Last season, Schneider hit .235 with 6 homers and 54 RBIs in 129 games behind the plate. This move gives the Mets the chance to give both Schneider and backup catcher Ramon Castro the time behind the plate (probably 70/30, advantage to Schenider), as Castro is much stronger offensively. This also opens up the catching spot in Washington for Rule 5 draftee Jesus Flores in a few years (from the Mets of all teams). This move is great short-term for the Mets though so far they have lacked the big move this offseason to justify this small one (Johan Santana anyone?). But whether or not Milledge (and Flores) reaches his potential will justify whether this move works out or not in the end.
Update: The Mets recent trade for Johan Santana now justifies this move.
The Houston Astros sign second baseman Kazuo Matsui to a three-year, $16.5 million contract.
Matsui hit .288 with four homers and 37 RBIs with 32 stolen bases for the Colorado Rockies last season and also played a big part in the team's postseason run. Matsui brings both speed and solid contact to the top of the Astro's line-up. He'll be hitting second in the lineup behind the Astros new centerfielder Michael Bourn. Both players (well the jury's still out on Bourn, but from what I have seen from him in Philly) are slap hitters and should set the table well for Hunter Pence, Lance Berkman, and Carlos Lee. Matsui fits well into this lineup, look for him to at least maintain the numbers he put up last year.
The Arizona Diamondbacks trade left-fielder Carlos Quentin to the Chicago White Sox for single-A infielder Chris Carter.
Barring a spring training breakout from Jerry Owens, Carlos Quentin should be the White Sox starting left fielder. Quentin was plagued by injuries once again last season only hitting .214 with five homers and 31 RBIs in only 229 at-bats for the D-Backs. The injuries started when he first injured his shoulder by swinging a bat during spring training. In August, he was fully displaced by Justin Upton once Quentin's hamstring started acting up. I think he'll end up a fourth outfielder once again this year, Owens is too talented to be sitting on the bench (once Quentin suffers the inevitable hamstring injury of course).
The Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays trade Elijah Dukes to the Washington Nationals for Class-A LHP Glenn Gibson.
Having the chance at some point to watch the trio of Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge, and Wily Mo Pena man the outfield at Nationals Park will be an unforgettable experience (especially if this happens during interleague play). Throw in the '
roid raging passionate Paul LoDuca, the wifebeating comeback player of the year Dmitri Young, and the always lovable Jon Rauch, there's no reason why this can't be baseball's model franchise. GM Jim Bowden is taking some interesting risks but understandably when you only have so much money to work with, you don't have a choice. At the least, the Nationals should be a fun team to watch (not necessarily for the right reasons).
The 23-year-old Dukes was drafted in the third-round by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and became a top prospect in their system, but his off the field issues and weak bat in 2007, gave the Rays enough reason to give up on him. Earlier in the season, The St. Petersburg Times reported that
a la Dmitri Young Dukes' estranged wife filed a restraining order against him. He's also been suspended numerous times in the minors for bad behavior. The Nationals hope that Dukes can live up to his potential and possibly be a middle-of-the-order, 25-40 home run bat of the future. I don't think that Dukes will be that dynamic at the plate but .275, 20 homers, 20 stolen bases, 70 RBIs I don't believe is out of reach.
A fourth-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, Glenn Gibson, 20, went 4-3 with a 3.10 ERA in 12 starts for Class A Vermont.
The Florida Marlins send third baseman Miguel Cabrera and LHP Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers for prospects: outfielder Cameron Maybin, LHP Andrew Miller, catcher Mike Rabello, pitcher Eulogio De La Cruz, pitcher Dallas Trahern and pitcher Burke Badenhop.
Here are the Marlins doing what they do best, trading big pieces of their past (the last two members of their 2003 championship) to help develop their future. Though because the expectations of these teams are so different, it should work very well for both sides in the end. At only 24 years old, Cabrera is a four-time all-star coming off a season in which he batted .320 with 34 home runs and 119 RBIs. He made $7.4 million this past season and will earn more than $10 million in 2008. Willis, a two-time all-star, is coming off his worst season going 10-15 with a 5.17 ERA. He is Florida's all-time leader in victories and is the Marlin's only 20-game winner with his 22-10 mark in 2005. Cabrera should fit well into the heart of the order, probably hitting third, right in front of Magglio Ordonez. Willis will take over Andrew Millers former rotation spot, fourth, behind Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers, and Jeremy Bonderman. This is a good rotation spot for the lefty, it will help take the pressure off knowing he no longer has to carry a franchise. He will feel growing pains this season though after spending so much time in the National League. Fantasy-wise, I wouldn't touch him with a ten-foot pole. Cabrera, on the other hand, shouldn't have much problem adjusting. He should put up around the same numbers he put up last year hitting behind the on-base machines Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco.
Now the Marlins will be a very fun team to watch for all the right reasons (then again, they always are). The anchors of this deal, Maybin and Miller were two of the top prospects in baseball last season. Offensively, Maybin has been scouted to be extremely similar to Hanley Ramirez, someone who you have to bat lead-off because of speed and OBP, but really should bat third because of solid power. Maybin's downfall is his inexperience, at only 20 years of age, he was the youngest player to crack the majors last season (though standing at 6 foot 4, 205, you would never guess he's 20). He also has only 91 games and 323 at-bats under his belt in the minors (2 games A ball, 83 games AA ball, 6 games AAA ball). As of right now, he's the favorite to be NL Rookie of the Year. Unless he strikes out an obscene number of times, he should attain the award. Miller, 22, is a top-of-the rotation prospect who went 5-5 with a 5.63 ERA. In 78 Minor League innings in 2007, he allowed 71 hits and struck out 61 batters. There's no question he'll crack the rotation in spring training, the only question is where he will land. Scott Olsen has been so inconsistent over the past few years, with a stellar spring, Miller might just open as the number two (soon to be ace over Olsen). Mike Rabelo is the favorite to take over at catcher for the departed Miguel Olivo. There's not much written up on the 28-year-old Rabelo, who hit .256 with 1 homer and 18 RBIs in 168 at-bats backing up Ivan Rodriguez for the Tigers last season. The 23-year-old De La Cruz went 5-6 with a 3.43 ERA with the AA Erie Seawolves and 0-0 in 2.1 innings with an 11.57 ERA with the AAA Toledo Mud Hens. Apparently he possesses an 100 MPH fastball, then again so do Kyle Farnsworth and Joel Zumaya. De La Cruz should crack the bullpen this season though so we shall see.
As a result of this deal, both teams will be very dynamic and fun to watch next season, for two totally different reasons. Any less than reaching the ALCs will be an ultimate failure for the Tigers while a wild-card run would be quite the miracle for the Marlins.
The Kansas City Royals sign outfielder Jose Guillen to a three-year deal worth $36 million.
Guillen will help stablize a very average outfield that also includes David DeJesus and Mark Teahen. He'll fit well by hitting between Alex Gordon (3rd) and Mark Teahen (5th), taking the pressure off of Gordon will be very important as this could be his breakout season. Guillen hit .290 with 23 homers and 99 RBIs in 593 at-bats for the Seattle Mariners last season.
The Pittsburgh Pirates trade RHP Salomon Torres to the Milwaukee Brewers for relief prospects Marino Salas and Kevin Roberts.
In this deal the Brewers acquire insurance if Eric Gagne happens to falter in his return to the closer's role. Torres ended 2006 and began 2007 as the Pirates closer, but lost the job last June after suffering his fourth blown save in 16 chances. He then missed parts of two months with inflammation of his right elbow and finished the year 2-4 with a 4.35 ERA in 56 games.
Salas, 26, is considered a potential future closer and split last season between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville, posting a combined 2.77 ERA and 17 saves in 51 games. The Brewers plucked him off waivers from the Orioles last year. Roberts is 23 and went 6-3 with a 3.44 ERA in 45 relief appearances for Class A Brevard County in 2007, then pitched 15 games in Hawaii Winter Baseball and posted a 4.82 ERA. He was the Brewers' fifth-round Draft pick in 2005.
The Boston Red Sox re-sign Mike Timlin to a one-year, $3 million deal.
Timlin had a great year after coming back from an injury plagued 2006 campaign by going 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA with one save over 50 appearances. Timlin, 41, got a couple of critical strikeouts in the clinching Game 4 of the World Series at Colorado. During the 2007 postseason, Timlin registered a 3.18 ERA over six outings, walking none and striking out seven. He will once again be an important component in the seventh-inning, setting up both Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon. Timlin has pitched in 1,011 regular-season games during his career, going 71-69 with a 3.55 ERA while posting 140 saves.
The New York Yankees avoid arbitration and agree with LHP Andy Pettitte to his one-year option worth $16 million.
Pettitte was 15-9 with a 4.05 ERA in 34 starts for New York this season, serving as a main veteran presence on a roster that was forced to rely on the contributions of rookies early. Having put off similar thoughts of retirement, Pettitte ranked ninth in the American League with 215 1/3 innings pitched and turned in the team's most dominant performance in October, pitching 6 1/3 strong innings against the Cleveland Indians in Game 2 of the AL Division Series. Pettitte will remain the number two starter behind Chien-Ming Wang.
The New York Yankees sign reliever LaTroy Hawkins to a one-year, $3.75 million deal.
Hawkins comes to the Bronx after making 62 relief appearances for the Colorado Rockies in 2007, going 2-5 with a 3.42 ERA. He is projected to fill a middle innings and setup role vacated by reliever Luis Vizcaino, who coincidentally left to sign a two-year contract with the Rockies as a free agent. The Yankees envision using right-hander Kyle Farnsworth as a setup man for closer Mariano Rivera, who agreed to a new three-year contract in December. I don't envision this lasting too long, look for Hawkins or Joba Chamberlain to be the set-up man by mid-season. Look for Hawkins to be very mediocre, like he was when he pitched for the Twins. Still a solid pickup for the Yankees.
The Milwaukee Brewers sign RHP Eric Gagne to a one-year, $10 million deal.
In losing Fransciso Cordero, the Brewers found themselves a void a closer. For their sake, they better not just hand the closer's role to Gagne in the spring. Gagne, 31, posted seasons of 52, 55 and 45 saves for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2002-04, but injuries to his elbow and back limited him to 15 innings over 16 games the next two seasons. Last year, he was a combined 4-2 with 16 saves in 20 opportunities and a 3.81 ERA with Texas and Boston. Boston got him at the deadline hoping for a solid compliment in the eighth inning to Hideki Okajima but to no avail, he went 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA in 18.2 innings pitched. He was also deligated to mop-up duty in the playoffs by going 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA in 4.1 innings. Despite past struggles, I think Gagne will rediscover himself in the National League where he strived with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In a weak NL, I expect him to be at least an above-average closer.
The Baltimore Orioles trade shortstop Miguel Tejada to the Houston Astros for Luke Scott, third baseman Michael Costanzo, LHP Troy Patton, RHP Matt Albers and RHP Dennis Sarfate.
Miguel Tejada is the 14th new player that the Houston Astros have added to their squad this offseason leaving only Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee from last year's opening day lineup. Tejada, 31, hit .311 during his four years with Baltimore. He has 252 career home runs, a 2006 average of .303 with runners in scoring position and a .382 average with runners in scoring position and two outs. The only downside for the Astros is that he's very far from Adam Everett defensively, though not quite a liability, just a slightly below average fielding shortstop. Oh and not too mention those pesky steroids questions (he allegedly gave Rafael Palmiero a tainted shot of vitamin B-12 two years ago). But he couldn't have roided himself up too many times, his durability has never been a question as he hit in 1,152 consecutive games played before being hurt this year. Offensively, the Astros now become the NL powerhouse, with an also extremely balanced lineup: Michael Bourn, Kaz Matsui, Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, Miguel Tejada, Hunter Pence, Ty Wiggington, and J.R. Towles (watch this guy). This gives them a legitimate shot at the wildcard, but no more than that, their starting pitching remains too weak (though I do like their bullpen).
In return, Baltimore recieves Luke Scott who will start for them in left field. Scott, 29, can help offset the loss of Tejada's offensive production by adding some pop to an outfield that lacked consistent punch last season. In his first season receiving regular playing time with the Astros, Scott hit .255 with 18 homers and 28 doubles, while logging time at every outfield position. The previous season, he hit .336 in limited playing time. But for the O's, this deal was centered around pitching. In Patton, 24, and Albers, 22, the Orioles acquired two arms with minimal Major League experience, but plenty of potential. Patton, a left-hander, went 0-2 with a 3.55 ERA in two starts and a relief appearance for the Astros last season, after beginning the season with Double-A Corpus Christi. The Orioles also received Sarfate, 26, a starting pitcher who's earned only brief bullpen cameos in parts of two seasons with the Astros and Brewers, and Costanzo, 24, a third-base prospect who came to Houston earlier this offseason in the deal that sent Brad Lidge to the Phillies. In retrospect, this deal should in the end work out for both teams. The O's received future help, let go questions about steroid allegations, and let go payroll. The Astros received a star shortstop who will not only give them production, but legitimacy, showing free agents that the Astros are looking to contend now.
The San Francisco Giants sign centerfielder Aaron Rowand to a five-year, $60 million deal.
Looking to free themselves from everything Barry Bonds was, the Giants sign the anti-Bonds in Aaron Rowand. Numbers aside, he has always played with passion and is a tremendous clubhouse leader. Rowand, 30, is above average at the plate and stellar defensively. As a reigning Gold Glove winner he will strengthen the outfield, thus underscoring the Giants' renewed emphasis on pitching and defense. Rowand, a career .286 hitter, recorded a .309 average last season with Philadelphia while reaching personal bests in hits (189), runs (105), doubles (45), RBIs (89), total bases (315) and games (161). As the roster currently stands, Randy Winn and Bengie Molina would bat third and fourth, respectively. This move was absolutely necessary for the team, though they clearly overpaid for him. Despite the move, I'm still not so sure that the Giants can overtake the Dodgers and not finish last in the division. But definitely a move in the right direction.
The Los Angeles Dodgers sign Andruw Jones to a two-year, $36.2 million contract.
This signing, is very similar to the signing of Aaron Rowand. The Dodgers want to shed a bad rap (their lack of team chemistry), get a team leader, and shore themselves up both offensively and defensively. And again this signing will have the same result of the last signing, nothing, other than that the Dodgers should place second-to-last in the NL West, just like last year. Jones, a 10-time Gold Glove winner and five-time All Star, will take over center field, with Juan Pierre likely moving to left. The market for Jones had been underwhelming in the wake of the worst season of his career by having a .222 average, 26 homers, and 94 RBIs. The native of Curacao finished second in National League MVP voting in 2005 after leading the Majors with 51 homers and leading the NL with 128 RBIs. Over the past 10 seasons, in addition to earning a Gold Glove each year, Jones has averaged 35 home runs and 103 RBIs, and he has topped the 25-homer mark in each of those campaigns. In his 12 Major League seasons, Jones has appeared in the postseason 10 times, hitting .273 with 10 homers and 33 RBIs in 17 playoff series.
The New York Yankees re-sign Alex Rodriguez to a ten-year, $275 million deal.
Alex Rodriguez, trying to upstage the sport of baseball for the hundredth time in the past few months, decides to announce his all-important re-signing on the same day the Mitchell Report is released. This guy seriously thinks he is bigger than the sport, it pisses me off to no end. I've blogged too much about this guy already. I could mention how much he means to the team, even in the playoffs, how he's probably the best hitter of all-time, blah, blah, blah, but you all know all that already.
The Arizona Diamondbacks send RHP Jose Valverde to the Houston Astros for second baseman/outfielder Chris Burke, RHP Chad Qualls, and RHP Juan Guiterrez.
In Valverde, the Astros finally get some solidarity in the closer role after Brad Lidge's up and downs over the past few years. Valverde, 28, was 1-4 with a 2.66 ERA and a Major League-leading 47 saves for the Diamondbacks in 2007. His 47 saves also marked a career-high total, and he appeared on the National League All-Star team for the first time. The Arizona franchise-record 47 saves also ranked tied for 15th all-time in a single season, and Valverde also struck out 78 hitters in 64 1/3 innings while walking 26 and allowing 46 hits. The D-Backs receive who hit .229 with 6 homers and 28 RBIs, mostly as Craig Biggio's backup. Burke's future is more in a utility role and defensive replacement. I can't find too much about Qualls and Guiterrez. I'm not sure why the D-Backs made this deal, especially after acquiring Haren, I would guess a salary dump. But they might just get above average production out of Chad Qualls who was 6-5 with a 3.05 ERA, five saves, and 78 strikeouts in 82.7 innings pitched. Great trade for Houston, for Arizona, not so much.
The Oakland Athletics send RHP Dan Haren and pitcher Connor Robertson to the Arizona Diamondbacks for LHP Brett Anderson, LHP Greg Smith, LHP Dana Eveland, outfielders Carlos Gonzalez and Aaron Cunningham, and infielder Chris Carter.
Well I guess this deal clearly explains the Valverde deal, a salary dump indeed in order to lock up Haren long-term. But I just have that feeling that this deal will end up being fatal for the D-Backs. Anytime Billy Beane receives two prospects let alone six in a deal, you know he has something up his sleeve. Clearly, Beane knows something we don't. In 2010 when these guys see the light of day, Beane will look like a genius once again. With the addition of Haren, the D-Backs have a very solid rotation of Brandon Webb, Haren, Randy Johnson, Doug Davis, and Micah Owings. Their lineup could be very dynamic as well if Justin Upton, Mark Reynolds, Chris Young, and Conor Jackson come into their own this season. I fully expect them to win the NL West again. Haren, 27, has won at least 14 games in each of the past three seasons for Oakland. Last year, he was 15-9 with a 3.07 ERA, he was 14-13 in 2006 and 14-12 in 2005.
Connor Robertson appeared in three games for the A's last year, but had a good year at Triple-A Sacramento, where he was 4-1 with a 4.35 ERA in 31 relief appearances. Carlos Gonzalez was regarded as the club's best position player prospect, but he became expendable when Arizona signed Eric Byrnes to a three-year, $30 million deal last August. Greg Smith and Brett Anderson were both highly regarded pitching prospects in the organization. Smith, a sixth-round pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, had some injury issues last season, but pitched well in the Arizona Fall League and could have had a chance to pitch for the D-backs at some time during 2008. Aaron Cunningham, 21, was acquired last summer from the White Sox, and in 31 games for Double-A Mobile, he hit .288 with five homers and 20 RBIs while compiling an .898 OPS. Dana Eveland, 24, was acquired by the D-backs from the Brewers prior to last season. Scouts rave about the left-hander's stuff and he's always put up good numbers in the Minor Leagues, but he has yet to translate that success to the big league level. Chris Carter, who will be 21 next week, was picked up during the Winter Meetings from the White Sox in exchange for outfielder Carlos Quentin. Carter hit .291 with 25 homers and 93 RBIs for Class A Kannopolis.
The New York Yankees re-sign closer Mariano Rivera to a three-year, $45 million deal.
Rightfully so, this deal locks up that the 38-year-old Rivera will end his Hall of Fame career as a Yankee. Rivera made 67 relief appearances for the Yankees in 2007, compiling a 3-4 record with a 3.15 ERA. He was much stronger after a shaky beginning -- in Rivera's final 59 appearances of the season, he was 2-2 with a 2.23 ERA and converted 30 of 32 save opportunities. Rivera has pitched for the Yankees since 1995, compiling an AL-record 443 saves in the regular season. The most dominant postseason pitcher of his generation, Rivera owns a Major League-record 34 saves in the playoffs, where he has a 0.77 career ERA -- last updated when Rivera worked 4 2/3 scoreless innings in the ALDS against Cleveland.
The Chicago Cubs sign outfielder Kosuke Fukudome to a four-year, $48 million deal.
Fukudome has spent his entire nine-year pro career with the Chunichi Dragons, for whom he batted .305 with a .397 on-base percentage and a .543 slugging percentage in 1,074 career games. A two-time Central League batting champion, Fukudome led the league in on-base percentage three times and won a Gold Glove for defensive excellence four times. He was the league's MVP in 2006, when he hit .351 with 31 home runs and a career-high 104 RBIs. Fukudome, if all pans out, should help take the pressure off Derrick Lee and Aramis Ramirez. Fukudome is the first Japanese player ever signed by the Cubs. By not doing too much this move still keeps the Cubs an above average team, which is still probably good enough to win the NL Central again.
The Seattle Mariners sign Carlos Silva to a four-year, $46 million deal.
He was 47-45 in his four years with the Twins. Last season, he was 13-14 with a 4.19 ERA. He made 33 starts and pitched at least six innings in 24 of them, including a pair of complete games. Silva, who came up with the Phillies, has a 55-46 record in six big league seasons (125 starts). He has had three starts at Safeco Field, going 2-1 with a 3.98 ERA. He has a 16-8 record against the American League West with a 3.48 ERA. He has beaten the Angels three times in four career decisions. Silva fits well into the Mariners rotation behind ace Feliz Hernandez and Jarrod Washburn. His value lies as an innings-eater. Over the past four seasons, Silva has tossed 203 innings, 188, 180 and 202. The Mariners, already with a decent rotation, are looking to balance it out further by pursuing a trade with the Baltimore Orioles for lefty Eric Bedard (a deal believed to include top prospect and right fielder Adam Jones). Silva is a solid number 3, good pickup by the M's.
The Philadelphia Phillies sign outfielder Geoff Jenkins to a two-year, $13 million deal.
After Aaron Rowand departed for the Giants, the Phils didn't have too many options left. But in signing Jenkins, both the offensive numbers do not suffer too much of a drop-off (Jenkin's .255 AVG, 21 homers, and 64 RBIs to Rowand's .309 AVG, 27 homers, and 89 RBIs...the drop-off is not as big as it looks, Rowand had a career year in 2007.) The defense and durability is where the big difference is (Jenkin's 9 errors, .988 fielding percentage, and 7 assists in 121 games to Rowand's 2 errors, .995 fielding percentage, and 11 assists in 161 games). Though as much as they lose in defense, they save in cash (Rowand: five-years $60 million, Jenkins: two-years, $13 million). Rowand's desire on the field is priceless and will be hard to replace.
The Cincinnati Reds send outfielder Josh Hamilton to the Texas Rangers for RHP Edinson Volquez and Danny Herrera.
Hamilton, 26, had a wonderful 2007 campaign coming back from a history of drug problems to hit .292 with 19 home runs and 47 RBIs in 298 at-bats. Picked up a year ago by the Reds in the Rule 5 Draft, he was taken by the Tampa Bay Rays with the first overall pick in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft but had to overcome a long history of personal issues and drug abuse before reaching the Major Leagues. Hamilton will be the Rangers' center fielder with Milton Bradley in right, Marlon Byrd in left and Frank Catalanotto as the primary designated hitter. David Murphy, Nelson Cruz and Jason Botts remain in the mix and a fourth outfielder will play an important role because both Bradley and Hamilton have a history of injuries. He should be solid, hitting either 6th or 7th in the lineup. Of course it's a risky move but acquiring an above-average player, getting paid $380,000, he's a bargain.
The Rangers had to give up one of their top five starters to get Hamilton. Volquez was 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA in six games in September and was penciled in as the Rangers' fifth starter going into Spring Training.
The San Diego Padres sign RHP Mark Prior to a one-year $1 million deal with $4.5 million in incentives.
Prior, 27, who is 42-29 with a 3.51 ERA in 106 career starts, last pitched for the Chicago Cubs in 2006, going 1-6 with a 7.21 ERA in nine starts. Prior was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2001 Draft out of USC and two years later was named to the National League All-Star team, the same season he went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA. A San Diego native, Prior has tallied 21 double-digit strikeout games and 65 outings in which he has issued two or fewer walks. He is averaging 10.37 strikeouts per nine innings over his career. Not bad at all for a projected number 5 starter. Even if he busts, $1 million isn't such a bad gamble.
The Oakland Athletics send outfielder Nick Swisher to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Ryan Sweeney, LHP Gio Gonzalez and right-handed starter Faustino De Los Santos.
Swisher, 27, who is signed through 2011 with an option for 2012, joins shortstop Orlando Cabrera, left fielder Carlos Quentin, right-handed reliever Scott Linebrink and utility infielder/outfielder Alexei Ramirez as the bulk of the White Sox's offseason pickups, following last year's dismal 72-90 showing. Swisher will be playing center field, where he previously has played 61 games in parts of four seasons. Last season, he batted .262 in 2007, with 22 home runs and 78 RBIs in 150 games. Adding Swisher puts a career .361 on-base percentage into a lineup that ranked last in all of baseball for this particular 2007 category. The switch-hitting Swisher provides another strong right-handed bat against the tough southpaws scattered throughout the American League Central, a group of pitchers who contributed to the White Sox 16-28 record against left-handed starters in 2007.
Gonzalez, 22, and De Los Santos, 21, were considered the top pitching prospects in the organization, and aside from Josh Fields, just might have been the White Sox prime prospects at any position. Sweeney, 22, had the only Major League experience of the trio, but the 2003 second-round draft pick never reached his full potential during his short big league stints. Gonzalez struck out 185 in 150 innings over 27 starts for Double-A Birmingham last year while De Los Santos posted a 10-5 record and 2.65 ERA in 26 games between Class A Kannapolis and Class A Winston-Salem.
Good trade for the Oakland Athletics once again. Gonzalez has had great numbers as he has risen through the minors, getting as far as AA last season. He was 9-7, 185 strikeouts, with only 10 home runs allowed in 150 innings pitched. He'll probably a mid-season call-up and it should be fun to watch. For a team that has holes beyond their first two starters and a plethora of outfield talent, this move is questionable at best for the White Sox. Swisher though, is signed through 2012, with his deal with the A's so we know it's cost effective. Swisher will be above average for the White Sox, but I don't know if dealing Gonzalez was such a great idea.
The Texas Rangers sign LHP Eddie Guardado to a one-year, $2 million deal, with $4 million in incentives.
Guardado, 37, is a two-time All-Star closer who had 140 saves from 2002-05 -- including a league-leading 45 in 2002 -- and 183 in his career. He prefers to close but knows he will be in a open competition for the job with left-hander C.J. Wilson (who the Rangers got from the Braves in last year's deal for Mark Teixeira). A quality pickup for the Rangers who's bullpen has a lot to prove. Whoever doesn't win the closer's role will be the set-up man, both guys are solid.
The Oakland Athletics send outfielder Mark Kotsay to the Atlanta Braves for RHP Joey Devine and minor leaguer Jamie Richmond.
This is a deal I believe should work out for both teams. Over the course of the past three seasons, he has hit .267 with a .388 slugging percentage and .321 on-base percentage. Entering the 2005 season, his career statistics included a .287 batting average, .425 slugging percentage and .343 on-base percentage. Kotsay, 32, who has batted .282 with .337 on-base percentage in his 11-season career, is looking for a new beginning. The .214 batting average he produced in limited and painful action this past season is just a tangible sign of the frustrations he felt over the course of the past year. Kotsay should give the Braves a little time to keep the centerfield spot warm for Jordan Schafer. The Braves will be responsible for just $2 million of his $7.325 million salary. A cost-effective pick-up for the Braves.
Devine never really caught on with Atlanta, only pitching in mop-up situations, and bouncing around for the past three years. The only time he got to pitch in a major situation, he surrendered Chris Burke's 18th-inning, walk-off homer that ended the 2005 National League Division Series against the Astros. Devine, though, has immense amounts of potential. Again, the Athletics should be a fun team to watch over the next few years.
The Chicago White Sox sign RHP Octavio Dotel to a two-year, $11 million deal.
Dotel, 26, posted a 2-1 record, 4.11 ERA and 11 saves between Kansas City and Atlanta in 2007. Since 1957, he ranks fifth among Major League relief pitchers with an average of 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings. Brad Lidge (12.6), Rob Dibble (12.17), Francisco Rodriguez (11.97) and Billy Wagner (11.84) are the only relievers who rank higher. He is coming off elbow surgery in 2005, but passed his physical with the team. As long as he's healthy (a big if) Dotel should help solidify the 7th inning for the White Sox.
The Minnesota Twins send LHP Johan Santana to the New York Mets for outfielder Carlos Gomez, RHP Kevin Mulvey, RHP Philip Humber, and RHP Deolis Guerra. The Mets sign Santana to a six-year, $137.5 million contract extension.
I'm not sure what the Twins were thinking exactly when this trade was done but perhaps it will unfold over the next few years. This deal, as believed by analysts, was the fourth-best one for Santana this offseason. As an immediate impact, only Gomez qualifies. Gomez is not near the talent level of Phillip Hughes, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, or Melky Cabrera (the components of other trades offered for Santana).
Gomez, 22, needs some time to grow and become more patient of a hitter, but he does pack some pop and could be a five-tool player one day. He hit .232 with 2 homers and 12 RBIs in 125 at-bats. Mulvey, 22, spent most of last season at AA Binghampton, going 11-10 with a 3.32 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 151.2 innings. Humber, 25, spent most of the season in AAA New Orleans but had a brief stint in the majors including his first major league start against the Washington Nationals on September 26th. At New Orleans, he went 11-9 with a 4.27 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 139 innings. Guerra, 19, spent the season in A-ball going 2-6 with a 4.01 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 89.2 innings. Of all the prospects, Guerra is said to have the most potential.
Santana won the AL Cy Young Award in 2004 and 2006, winning 20 and 19 games, respectively, in those seasons. His record last season, 15-13, included his lowest win total in four seasons and as many losses as he had suffered in the previous two seasons combined. He won eight of first 12 decisions and produced a 2.60 ERA in his first 13 starts last season. But he won merely four of his subsequent 14 starts, losing seven. His ERA in his final seven starts was 5.11.
This deal won't pan itself out until the 22-year-olds Gomez and Mulvey and the 19-year-old Guerra play consistently in the majors. Honestly, I don't see Humber doing much of anything, he'll be a middle-to-back of the rotation guy at best. But as it stands right now, none of the Mets prospects seem to be sure things while Santana is very much a sure thing, so advantage Mets. The Twins should have held out for Fernando Martinez (not that I'm complaining, obviously), or waited for the deadline so Santana would have even higher trade value (a run at the pennant for the Twins wouldn't have been out of the question either).
The Baltimore Orioles send LHP Eric Bedard to the Seattle Mariners for outfielder Adam Jones, LHP George Sherrill, minor league RHP Chris Tillman, RHP Tony Butler, and RHP Kam Mickolio.
The Baltimore Orioles build for the future big-time in this deal, recieving three prospects in return. As of right now, Jones and Sherrill will be the quickest contributors at the major league level. Jones, who hit .314 with 25 home runs and 84 RBIs for Triple-A Tacoma, was named Seattle's Minor League Player of the Year last season. That was the second time he's earned that designation. Jones, a former shortstop and former first-round draft pick, made his big league debut before his 21st birthday and has hit .230 in 139 Major League at-bats. Tillman, Seattle's Minor League Pitcher of the Year, has averaged nearly 10 strikeouts per nine innings in the Minor Leagues. The former second-round draft pick made 20 starts in the offense-friendly California League last year, notching a 6-7 record and a 5.26 ERA. The 19-year-old rung up 105 strikeouts and walked 48 batters for Class A High Desert.
Bedard had his best season as a pro last year going 15-11 with 171 strikeouts and a 3.76 ERA in 196.1 innings pitched. He did this for a team who went only 69-93 and stood as the only pitcher on the squad with double-digit wins. The win leader after Bedard, was Daniel Cabrera who had nine wins, along with 18 losses. Bedard will seemingly fit into the rotation second behind 21-year-old phenom Felix Hernandez. It will also give them their second lefty (along with Jarrod Washburn) to compliment the right-handers Hernandez, Carlos Silva, and Miguel Batista. Perhaps the Mariners gave up too much for the injury-plagued Bedard, but only time will tell.
All statistical information and some hot stove information in this entry is courtesy of MLB.com, baseball-reference.com, and espn.com.