And now, it gets interesting.
The LA Dodgers secured the top free agent on the market, as well as the largest team payroll in MLB history, when they landed Zack Greinke on Monday. The prohibitive favorites for landing the biggest cannonballs into the free agent pool lived up to expectations with what they offered, but the ripples in that move makes in the pool will now finally push the expected drama into the mix.
With that out the way, everything else will come into play. Only 3 of the original Top 10 FA’s on the market have found homes so far, partially because they were waiting on team’s look to them AG (After Greinke) and for the market price to set itself, once again, AG. That’s in play now, so by the next CTC, look for a lot of the big business to be out the way.
Greinke will need a a few UHauls to carry over his bounty he landed to do so. LA topped $600 million in total contract money due with the deal.
But for now, here’s the latest breakdown of the free agent battlefield: one big fish followed by a lot of fill in blanks signings. Including some solid strategy from the other team in LA, and one guy who feels his return to his former club is the quick path to the World Series. We’ll see, no World Series as been won with any December play….and that even applies to first guy up below.
1. Zack Greinke-Pitcher: Signed with Los Angeles Dodgers, 6 yrs/$147 million
The top prize on the market got the biggest bounty. The Dodgers made Greinke the highest paid right-hander in history with his $24.5 million annual average. It also gives the club two former Cy Young winners both under the age of 30 still. It rounds off a strong rotation that will be a matchup problem up and down. Greinke also got a Sabathia-like escape clause after year three where could re-up for even more, which is most likely not a problem for the Ted Dibiase like Dodgers management.
The fallout on this deal is most immediately felt in Texas, where the Rangers lost out on a guy that became their #1 target at finally getting a top tier starter again. No team since the when the Yankees lost out on Cliff Lee a few winters ago could be impacted more severely by missing out on an arm, especially if it costs them Josh Hamilton next and Arizona decides to hold on to Justin Upton, both of whom they will have to chase much harder now. They were the only serious contender in the end, but the positive ripples of the signing could hit them in the fact that the second-tier pitcher market is now set.
23. Ryan Ludwick-Left Field: Signed with Cincinnati Reds: 2 years/$15 million
The Reds locked up a necessity in bringing back Ludwick to man left field. They were the heavy favorites here, and will keep a very important right-handed bat in their heavily left-handed lineup. If not making them any better, as an impact leadoff hitter definitely would, this signing ensures no serious regression offensively. For Ludwick, he sees it as the quickest path to the World Series, he’s clearly a fan of the deal.
27. Brandon McCarthy-Pitcher: Signed with Arizona Diamondbacks: 2 years/$15 million
The D’Backs got even deeper on the mound, with a bargain signing of the rehabbing McCarthy. One of the most consistent pitchers in the game over the last two years, he comes at a lower price due to the uncertainty of his return from brain surgery off his season-ending line drive off his skull. While the Dodgers got better at the top, Arizona is leaning on strength in numbers, at reasonable prices.
NT 28. Mark Reynolds-First Base: Signed with Cleveland Indians: 1 year/$7 million
The Indians added some much need right handed pop, and a very underrated glove in Reynolds. He’ll be leaned on to restart the fire in an Indians squad that felt flat in a hurry in 2012, much as he did in Baltimore a year ago. This is a smart sign for a team searching to build a new image under Terry Francona.
37. Sean Burnett-Pitcher: Signed with Los Angeles Angels: 2 years/$8 million
The Angels paid the price to land the best overall left-handed reliever on the market. Paired with Scott Downs, the Angels pen will be brutal on lefties this summer, and have continued to effectively address their biggest liability from a year ago.
48. Randy Choate-Pitcher: Signed with St. Louis Cardinals: 3 years/$7.5 million
Check my earlier post on what Choate brings to the Cardinal pen, from last week’s Winter Warmup.
51. Andrew Jones-Outfield: Signed with () in Japan
In a market that seems pretty friendly to what Jones could offer, he decided rather quickly to take his talents to Japan. He’ll most likely return to the US next winter, and find a welcoming contender market all the same.
52. Eric Chavez-Third Base: Signed with Arizona Diamondbacks: 1 year/$3 million
The D’Backs continue to build offensive depth with Chavez, who’ll be a steady contributor in the biggest need position for the club. He’ll be a bench first, fill-in option that will be helpful on both corners as a matchup bat.
56. Jeff Keppinger-Third Base: Signed with Chicago White Sox: 3 years/$12 million
The White Sox came in at the 11th hour and knocked out the Yankees for Keppinger’s services, with both a healthy contract and a guaranteed starting option. In an infield that had a huge need at third base and some security at second, Keppinger will be one of the more valuable compliment signs of the winter, even if the $4 million take home was clearly to outbid the Yanks over real value.
57. Nate McLouth-Centerfield: Resigned with Baltimore Orioles: 1 year/$2 million
After reviving his career in B-More, the O’s rewarded one of their most important compliment players with a new deal. With the uncertain nature of leftfield currently, he’ll have plenty of chances to continue to work his revival.
59. Joe Blanton-Pitcher: Signed with Los Angeles Angels: 2 years/$15 million
Blanton was a bit of a surprise timing sign for the Angels, which really signaled their bowing out of the Greinke process. While they could still be in the hunt for a middle of the rotation upgrade behind Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson, Blanton assures the bottom of the rotation is a least secure.
For more on the winter around the diamond as it unfolds, in real time, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan