Winter Meetings Recaps
*Each day I will be updating this with as many transactions as I can up to a certain time – between 8-9:00 pm Eastern Time! But stay with me for updates all throughout the week!
The Los Angeles Angeles made a trade on the final day of the 2015 MLB Annual Winter Meetings with the Washington Nationals. The Angels have acquired shortstop-turned-third baseman Yunel Escobar. He’ll likely takeover at the hot corner unless talks with former third baseman David Freese turn a corner. If the Angels re-sign Freese, Escobar can slide over to play at second base.
He’d be taking over second base from last year’s rookie second baseman Johnny Giavotella. Giavotella was a bit of a mess defensively in 2015 but he did hit .272 while driving in 49 runs. Escobar is not considered to be defensively solid but he is a big upgrade over the Angels’ two in-house options Kyle Kubitza and Kaleb Cowart.
In return the Nationals received 23-year-old righty reliever Trevor Gott, who was the Angels’ seventh-inning man in 2015, and MiLB pitcher Michael Brady. Gott posted a 3.02 ERA over 48 appearances for Los Angeles in 2015. Grady,28, is slated to start with the club’s Double-A affiliate Harrisburg Senators.
- Athletics trade Brett Lawrie to White Sox for young pitchers lefty Zack Erwin and right-hander J.B. Wendelken
- Mets sign shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to a two-year, $18.5 million contract
- Cardinals bring back reliever Jonathan Broxton on a two-year deal
- Astros re-signs left-handed reliever Tony Sipp for three-years, $18 million
This isn’t a transaction so to speak but I that leaving with a little “rumor mill” and “what’s coming up next.” All really know right now is that it would be nice for someone (anyone? Bueller? Bueller?) to finally sign a free agents out there.
Jason Heyward is easily the best position player on the market this year and while it will likely not exceed $200 million, it will be closer however. The Cubs, Nationals and Cardinals are the main suitors for Heyward. Also still homeless are the majority of the free agent outfielders Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Gordon, Heyward, Justin Upton, Denard Span and Alex Rios.
The market for Chris Davis is getting high with the Orioles’ wanting him back so badly that there is currently a seven-year deal on the table from the Orioles. Davis is running out of time on that offer but will have more suitors either way.
Johnny Cueto walked away from $120 million and six years offered to him by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The consensus now is that there is a very good chance Cueto will not end up with as good an offer. It never does pay to be too greedy or even seem to have some kind of chip on your shoulder.
Finally a lot of the second tier pitchers that I had predicted to would start to fall upon the signing Zack Greinke by the DBacks. Still, some of the better second tier pitchers are still out there. Scott Kazmir and Yovani Gallardo are just two of the pitchers left out there on the table. A rumor had Kazmir talking to both the A’s and the Royals, among other teams who weren’t quite as intertested. Having the lefty back on the Athletics would be a great move for the club, if, they can afford him.
*If I missed anything today please feel free to comment so I can correct any missing information, I wasn’t feeling well and had to play catch up
The Mets traded starter Jon Niese to the Pirates for second baseman Neil Walker. Some of you may remember Walker from his part in baseball’s first ever 4-5-4 triple play last season. This means that David Murphy will not be back with the Mets and will have to find another team to play second base for.
Despite Murphy committing two major errors in the last two games of the 2015 World Series, he also set a postseason record for hitting a home run in six straight games so it is interesting that the Mets didn’t want to bring Murphy back. There is a good chance they may not have even gotten past the National League Championship Series without Murphy’s offense, making him an instant fan favorite. However, Murphy production dropped off in the World Series which the Mets lost in five game to the Kansas City Royals.
Walker and Murphy are extremely similar, however, both are 30 years old, both bat above average (Walker has a career .272 average to Murphy’s .288) and they are both capable of hitting 15-20 homers for their team on the year. The Mets maybe taking a small step down from Murphy but it is minuscule because Walker also adds the benefit of hitting from both sides of the plate.
Plus, Jon Niese is still a good pitcher but he was basically pushed out of the rotation with the Mets’ unbelievable young starting pitchers: Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler, who will be returning from Tommy John surgery this season. Niese is a good ground ball pitcher. He is a left-hander and has pitched well over his eight-year career. His ERA is that of a number three starter at best but a solid one regardless. He owns a 3.91 career ERA and a 1.36 WHIP.
Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto went out and continued his rebuild of the Mariners by acquiring first baseman Adam Lind for three right-handed minor league pitchers: Carlos Herrera, Daniel Missaki and Freddy Peralta. The 32-year-old Lind spent the majority of his 10-year career with the Toronto Blue Jays and played last season with the Milwaukee Brewers.
His batting average has been up and down over the years from as low as .237 to as high as .321 in 2014. Overall in his career his batting average is a very nice .288. His strength though is getting on-base, which is why Dipoto liked him most. His lowest OBP was .278 in his first full season in the big leagues but he’s consistently been above average in OBP putting up a .360 OBP in 2015. He should fit well in the Mariners lineup. As Dipoto said earlier today,
“Adam lengthens our line-up as a first baseman who gives us on-base percentage and power. First base was a spot we came here looking to fill, and we feel that Adam is a good fit for us.”
Lind can’t hit lefties at all and will likely platoon at first, but he hit all 20 of his home runs against right-handers last season.
I’m a little surprised by this one, not for the Astros who needed power at the back end of their bullpen but that the Phillies would let Ken Giles go. Giles is just 25 years old and he will be under team control until 2021. Personally, even though the Phillies are rebuilding this is one kid I thought they would keep especially since he has so much time before even hits arbitration eligibility in 2018. The right-handed flame thrower is the perfect choice for the Astros who were mere outs away from defeating the Royals in the ALDS in four games but couldn’t close out the game. They ended up losing while the Royals went on to win the World Series.
In return the Phillies get some young pitchers in 23-year-old right-hander Vincent Velasquez who appeared in 19 games for the Astros last season along with 26-year-old Brett Olberholtzer who made eight starts for Houston in 2015. Both players will be under team control until 2022 and 2021, respectively. They are also getting another significant minor league prospect according to ESPN’s Jim Bowden. It works for Philadelphia because they need to get younger during their rebuild.
- Athletics add left-hander Jon Axford to bullpen on a 2 year $10 million deal
- Tigers have found their left-handed reliever in Justin Wilson from the Yankees for prospects Luis Cessa and Chad Green
- Nationals agree to one-year deal with Yusmiero Petite, pending a physical
*If I missed anything today please feel free to comment so I can correct any missing information, I wasn’t feeling well and had to play catch up
The Cubs sign super-utility man Ben Zobrist to a four-year deal worth $56 million pending a physical. This is a great move by the Cubs as it reunites Zobrist with manager Joe Maddon, who he played for for nine seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays. Maddon is the man who essentially made him the super-utility man that he is today. The Cubs had tried to trade for Zobrist twice in the last year but couldn’t match up with Tampa Bay or Oakland.
As a result, the Cubs no longer had room for second baseman Starlin Castro who they then traded to the New York Yankees in exchange for RHP Adam Warren and INF Brendan Ryan. The Yankees have been looking to get younger and Castro fits that description.
Let’s get one thing straight. Shelby Miller is freakin’ AWESOME. Everyone knows that the Braves are rebuilding for when their new stadium is ready in 2017 or 2018, so it’s not crazy for them to get rid of Miller. The poor kid, who is just 25 years old, went 6-17 last season yet was STILL an All-Star who posted a 3.02 ERA. This is a huge pick-up for the Diamondbacks.
Pairing the young Miller with ace Zack Greinke could be one of the best one-two combos in the game. Meanwhile the Braves received OF Ender Inciarte, SS Dansby Swanson and RHP Aaron Blair. Not a bad haul for Miller and from what I hear Swanson is from Atlanta and they like having hometown guys on their team (well I guess most fan bases do! lol!). The other thing that makes the Swanson trade interesting is that he was the DBacks’ first round pick in 2015 draft.
I honestly did NOT think that they would trade Miller. I’m a bit surprised but the DBacks are going to be a HUGE force (don’t forget they have Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock too!) in the National League West in 2016.
The Athletics traded 30-year-old RHP Evan Scribner to the Seattle Mariners for their MLB.com rated number 17 prospect Trey Cochran-Gill. Honestly, it s a miracle that the A’s got anything for Scribner, who is out of options, at all. Scribner would have ended up being cut from the 40-man roster.
Currently the A’s have 38 – or actually 39 if you count Ryan Madson, players on their 40-man roster. With the bullpen revamp it would’ve been unlikely that Scribner made the top 40, let alone the 25-man roster, which would mean that the Athletics would have gotten nothing for him at all.
That means that even if Cochran-Gill needs more time in the minors that’s not a problem. He may never even make the majors but at this point he still has a chance to – meaning that either way the A’s win out on this deal.
- Rockies add two relievers: Chad Qualls, formerly of the Houston Astros, and Jason Motte, formerly of the Chicago Cubs – both on two-year deals
- Nationals agree to deal with reliever Shawn Kelley, who last played with the Padres (terms still unknown as of 2:00 pm ET)
- Braves also add catcher Tyler Flowers on a two-year, $5 million deal with an options for a third year for $4 million or a $300K buyout.
Sunday night/early Monday morning marked day one of the 2015 MLB Winter Meetings. Sunday and it’s looking like still now on Monday, the meetings have been all about the Los Angels Dodgers. I will highlight some of the teams that have made some of the bigger deals and then list the rest of the small signings and trades.
*Remember deals are always made into and even throughout the night at the winter meetings so this is a recap of Sunday and Monday up until 8:30 pm ET.
The Dodgers have agreed to a one-year deal worth $7 million with veteran second baseman Chase Utley, who was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies at the on August 19 last season. The Dodgers seem to like Utley for his veteran presence in the club house and his ability to fill in as he did last season while Howie Kendrick was out with a hamstring strain. It also makes the re-signing of Kendrick highly unlikely.
Not everyone loves Utley though so he’s lucky that the Dodgers do. He still has a pending suspension from his, now notorious, slide during the National League Division Series that took out New York Mets’ shortstop Ruben Tejada, breaking Tejada’s leg. Utley intends to appeal the suspension but the likelier scenario is that he will miss the first two games of the 2016 season.
Los Angeles also agreed on a contract with free-agent and former Seattle Mariners’ starter Hisashi Iwakuma. His deal is reportedly a three-year contract worth around $45 million. This move is likely the Dodgers response to losing out to Zack Greinke, who signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The team loses their first-round draft pick in the 2016 draft because Iwakuma rejected a qualifying offer extended to him by Seattle. The Dodgers do, however, receive a compensatory draft pick after the first round for the loss of Greinke who opt-ed out of his contract with Los Angeles to become a free agent.
Now here is where things get really interesting for the Dodgers. They have traded two prospects to Cincinnati for arguably one of baseball’s most elite closers in flamethrower Aroldis Chapman. The only problem? They already had an elite closer in Kenley Jansen. *(It turns out that there may be more than one problem with this trade, CLICK HERE for more on the story.)
It’s highly possible for the Dodgers to flip one of the two in another trade to fill another need. Both players will be eligible for free agency after the 2016 season. However, the club could keep the pair who could become one of the most highly feared pair of relievers next to the New York Yankees and Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller.
The Oakland A’s surprised,well, most of baseball when they signed free-agent set up man Ryan Madson. Madson, 35, received a three-year $22 million contract which is a considerable amount of money coming from the Oakland Athletics. Madson’s age is a risk factor and he has a history of injuries. However, he was lights out last season for the World Champion Kansas City Royals as the set up man for closer Wade Davis and the A’s bullpen was the worst in the league.
This was partially due to the loss of closer Sean Doolittle to injury but former All-Star set up man Ryan Cook and seventh inning pitcher Dan Otero both completely lost their dominant pitching abilities. Cook ended up being released by the A’s, picked up by the Chicago Cubs, who did not tender him a contract for the upcoming season. Otero spent most of the season at Triple-A Nashville and he was eventually picked up off waivers by the Philadelphia Phillies, so the A’s now realize the importance of having a strong bullpen. Having a healthy closer in Doolittle and despite Madson’s age, an excellent set-up man, things have got to get better for the bullpen in Oakland. For more on why Madson is a great fit for the A’s CLICK HERE.
The Baltimore Orioles also went big when it came to re-signing set-up man Darren O’Day. O’Day was highly sought by many teams but it ultimately came down to the O’s or the Washington Nationals. O’Day is 33 years old. The Nationals were reluctant to offer the All-Star reliever a fourth year. The Orioles were and signed O’Day to a four-year, $44 million deal. Smart, in my opinion. The importance placed on and pricing for a good set up man in the bullpen has definitely gone way, way up.
- Kansas City Royals – sign Chris Young to a two-year deal worth approximately $12 million, sign reliever Joakim Soria to a 3-year, $45 million deal
- Chicago Cubs – re-sign Trevor Cahill to an as of now unspecified deal as reported by ESPN’s Buster Olney.
- Detroit Tigers – add reliever Mark Lowe to the bullpen on a reported two-year deal worth $11 million.