Yesterday may very well have been the busiest day in baseball transaction history. From the Tigers continuing their subtle overhaul in the morning, to the Yankees making yet another cannonball into the free agent pool later in the night, baseball’s landscape was turned over as quick as a third inning infield.
As a matter of fact, it happened so quick that the most recent Top 60 rankings of the free agent field, which posted late yesterday afternoon, was made to be outdated in the matter of about one hour. So in response to the rapid fire day that was Transaction Tuesday, here is a breakdown of each signing, with the benefits (and sometimes fallouts) of the deal struck within the last few days.
Updated Top 50 Free Agents list to come out shorty, to preview the surefire hurricane of moves to come at this weekend’s MLB Winter Meetings as well
2. Jacoby Ellsbury-Center Fielder-30 years old-2013 Team: Boston Red Sox
Signed: New York Yankees—7 years, $153 million (with options)
The Yankees made the biggest commitment of the winter so far, in locking up one of the best top of the order presences in the game. Ellsbury gives an instant boost to the speed potential (AL-best 52 steals in 2013) of the team, and when coupled with Brett Gardner, gives the team a formidable defensive outfield duo as well. His injury history will always be brought up, but on many fronts, this was a very strong move for the Yanks.
18. Joe Nathan-Relief Pitcher-39 years old-2013 Team: Texas Rangers
Signed: Texas Rangers—2 years, $20 million
The Tigers wasted no time in putting back out money they saved via the trades that moved Prince Fielder and Doug Fister out of town recently. Nathan represents a much needed absolute presence in what has been a questionable backend of the Detroit pen for years now. Coming off of another elite season in the ninth inning (43 saves, 1.39 ERA), he is primed to continue as one of the game’s best.
21. Ricky Nolasco-Starting Pitcher-31 years old-2013 Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers/Miami Marlins
Signed: Minnesota Twins—4 years, $48 million
Twins starting pitching was the worst in baseball last summer, sporting a 5.26 ERA spread over 11 different arms. Bringing Nolasco on is not a look for a single fix, but to offer a dependable option somewhere in the mix. They overpaid some for his services, but desperation will lead to things like that.
26. Jarrod Saltalamacchia-Catcher-29 years old-2013 Team: Boston Red Sox
Signed: Florida Marlins—3 years, $21 million
He played the waiting game with Boston, and in the end lost out. However, the Marlins are the winners in adding a winner to work behind the plate, as well as some much needed depth to the lineup. The switch-hitter raised his average over 50 points in 2013, but could lose some of his power numbers in his cavernous new home.
38. Scott Kazmir-Starting Pitcher-30 years old-2013 Team: Cleveland Indians
Signed: Oakland Athletics—2 years, $22 million
Oakland made a big commitment to Kazmir on the heels of his comeback season, as a part of their increasingly all-in approach for next summer. If he can stay healthy for a second straight year, it’s a good deal but if not, it could be a return to woes that previous deals with Brett Anderson and Rich Harden brought to the Bay.
49. Dioner Navarro-Catcher-30 years old-2013 Team: Chicago Cubs
Signed: Toronto Blue Jays—2 years, $8 million
Toronto made the decision to cut its losses with the boom-or-bust J.P. Arencibia, and Navarro represented a cost controlled option to do so with. In 89 games as the part-time backstop in Chicago, he hit .300 and struck out only 36 times in 266 plate appearances.
50. Justin Morneau-First Baseman-33 years old-2013 Teams: Minnesota Twins/Pittsburgh Pirates
Signed: Colorado Rockies—2 years, $13 million
While he’s not the player he was at his MVP peak anymore, neither is he the one he was just a few years ago where his future was in doubt completely due to injuries. He hit 17 home runs, including 9 in August, and could represent a fine, low-cost replacement for Todd Helton that could be in for a slight return back to his previous form.
52. A.J. Pierzynski-Catcher-37 years old-2013 Team: Texas Rangers
Signed: Boston Red Sox—1 year, $8.25 million
The Red Sox stayed on the same path that they took last winter; adding a veteran to their core that will work in a timeshare. Pierzynski will join David Ross has the catching tandem in Boston, as well as yet another injection of character into a team full of it.
60. Ryan Vogelsong-Starting Pitcher-36 years old-2013 Team: San Francisco Giants
Resigned: Giants—1 year, $3 million
Vogelsong had a down season in comparison to his 2011-12, but that works in the Giants favor, as they were able to resign him at a non-hazardous $3 million deal. This rounds out their rotation, and is a very escapable commitment if he once again cannot find his way.
67. Paul Konerko-First Baseman-38 years old-2013 Team: Chicago White Sox
Resigned: White Sox—1 year, TBA
The White Sox franchise cornerstone has decided to return for what will most likely be his final year with the team. With the presence of Adam Dunn and the signing of Jose Dariel Abreu, his role will be more of a part-time/ceremonial one, which will give him a chance to do a victory lap and be an added bench bat.
69. Kelly Johnson-Second Baseman-32 years old-2013 Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Signed: New York Yankees—1 year, $3 million
With the ability to play second base, as well as throughout the outfield, Johnson was acquired to be the Yankees utility man ideally, but to also be a safety net if Robinson Cano does not return.
75. Phil Hughes-Starting Pitcher-27 years old-2013 Team: New York Yankees
Signed: Minnesota Twins—3 years, $24 million
Continuing their quest to add quality innings, the Twins inked Hughes to slide into the top half of their rotation as well. However, the length of the deal is all wrong, as it is a serious commitment to a guy that posted a ERA’s that have surpassed 5.00 two of the last three years.