Archive for December, 2012

Mostly, the biggest names are gone, and the last few weeks have been about teams deciding if what’s left is worth the price (and potential draft pick losses) that come with them. However, there have been a few quality signings that have truly made a few clubs cores much stronger.

This part of the year is about strategy, and while there are a few more big money deals to go, filling in the blanks is the order of the day right now. And in this latest CTC recap, some clubs that have been behind the pace for a while made some smart signings that will help make some rough days from last summer a little easier this time around.

After eight teams in first ten seasons, Jackson received is in line to spend more than one year in the same town in five years.

After eight teams in first ten seasons, Jackson received is in line to spend more than one year in the same town in five years with the Cubs.

 

6. Nick Swisher—Outfield, Signed w/ Cleveland Indians: 4 years/$56 million

The Indians made a strong move in landing one the premier bats on the market in Swisher. And while it’s not a standings redefining move, it is a stabilizing signing for a team that’s rebuilding itself from a crumbling to their standing over the last season and a half. Swisher will slide into the cleanup spot, and should be a solid part of the medium term plans with his deal.

14. Edwin Jackson—Pitcher, Signed w/ Chicago Cubs: 4 years/$52 million

After missing out on Anibal Sanchez, the Cubs moved on to the next pitcher in the same range as him in Jackson. One of baseball’s most frequently hired guns over the last few years, Jackson gets his first multi-year deal here. While he’ll never be a top of the rotation option that could stand to potentially replace Matt Garza after he hits the free agent market next winter, he will add needed depth to their shallow rotation.

19. AJ Pierzynski—Catcher, Signed w/ Texas Rangers: 1 year/$7.5 million

The Rangers first move in restricting their roster after losing out on Josh Hamilton was to take advantage of Pierzynski’s wandering status through the winter. After the White Sox moved on and the Yankees decided to go internal in their catcher fix, Pierzynski was up for the taking. Texas fills their revolving catcher situation, and upgrades defensively in the short-term.

22. Cody Ross—Outfield, Signed w/ Arizona Diamondbacks: 3 years/$26 million

In a surprise move, the D’Backs swooped in on Ross and gave him as good of a deal as could be imagined, perhaps even better. His signing puts them in the trade market with any number of their incumbent outfielders, with Jason Kubel, Geraldo Parra and even potentially Justin Upton all being able to be moved more freely, due to his versatility.

55. Mike Adams—Pitcher, Signed with Philadelphia Phillies: 2 years/$12 million

The Phillies made a very, very smart signing in landing Adams for two years. The non-Papelbon part of their bullpen was as thin as possible a year ago, and putting one of the NL’s best setup men from 2009-11 in the mix is an instant improvement.

 

For more on the last few major signings, as well as the tactical ones, in real time, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan

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Do you believe yet. Well, if you don't, you're surely not alone here.

Do you believe yet. Well, if you don’t, you’re surely not alone here.

I don’t write about the NFL during the entire season, but as a multi-year NFL Sunday Ticket subscriber, I watch a ton of it. And in that vein, here is my definitive take on NFL awards season … with a few personalized honors for a few clubs and players to run with too. Take heed, for the truth is waiting below on 2012 NFL Awards season for the 32-team warm-up part of the year.

Most Surprising Squad—Indianapolis Colts: There’s nobody else even approaching this. It’s deeper than Andrew Luck awakening the offense or taking advantage of a weakened AFC. This club put the worst year in the NFL, the loss of the franchise’s greatest player and a mid-season coaching change behind it, all while getting better the entire way. And headed into the playoffs, they still have folks sleeping on them.

Most Disappointing Squad—New York Giants: I’ve never seen a Super Bowl champion return more intact, but with less heart. Hollywood is a long way from NYC, but this club managed to take up the city’s worst traits. Most deceiving record in the game this year, and their inadequacies truly had to be seen to be believed.

All for Nothing Effort—Calvin Johnson: Anytime you break one of the Jerry Rice’s records, it’s a big deal. Megatron did it so easily, with triple teams being the norm … and it all contributed to 4 wins. Vintage Lions ball is back in style.

Most Suspect Success—Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons are at that point where their seed doesn’t matter anymore. And coming off a wildly bad playoff effort (2 points was damn near bigger than 2 Chainz this year on Twitter), nobody is ready to believe until they see it, because even one January win is being billed as miracle at this point.

Longest Season—Kansas City Chiefs: There weren’t playoff expectations really, but the path the Chiefs took to the top of the draft felt even worse than the ’09 Lions’. Matt Cassel played a spectacularly bad QB, and the club didn’t even have a lead until week (?). Add in the Belcher tragedy and a remarkably top-tier talent-deficient draft as their reward, and this is truly the season from hell in West Missouri…..

 

And this is just the beginning. If you’re into MVP’s, Rookies of the Year and things of that sort, hit the link and head over to The Sports Fan Journal for the rest of my NFL awards rundown. Both official and ceremonial.

 

For live action on NFL Black Monday and playoff primers, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan. Like right now.

The Josh Hamilton deal sent the shock waves through an entire league, and the core of franchises in both Texas and California. However, while that took the big headlines, the reactions throughout the AL also made a big ripple. No deal after the fact said more than the Tigers’ urgency in resigning Anibal Sanchez, who could have become a target for the Angels as well. His return to the Detroit rotation gives them a benefit that LA, or very few other clubs, can boast this winter.

While the Tigers set up the future, handling the now continued in the AL East, with both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox continuing to rapidly rebuild their cores. With the Toronto Blue Jays continuing to be the kings of the winter, and the Rays making changes to their core, the division mainstays have to stay active as well. Will any of their hired guns make a difference, and hold off the upstarts? We’ll see, but should they fall, it surely won’t be for lack of trying.

The Tigers may have made the best long-term signing of any AL team by re-enlisting Sanchez.

The Tigers may have made the best long-term signing of any AL team by re-enlisting Anibal Sanchez in the rotation.

Here’s the updated impact of the recent signings in the MLB, and who came out on top…as well as who reached too far.

 

2. Josh Hamilton—Outfield, Signed w/ the Los Angeles Angels: 5 yrs/$125 million

I broke the impact of this, both now and later, down in-depth at The Sports Fan Journal.

5. Anibal Sanchez—Pitcher, Resigned w/ Detroit Tigers: 5 yrs/$80 million

The Tigers ended up holding on to their big trade deadline acquisition from this summer, albeit after a competition for his services in the last second. After outbidding the Chicago Cubs by about $5 million, the Tigers landed a promising young arm who’s sub-.500 career record belies his real abilities. With a mid-90’s fastball and a power slider, Sanchez makes the Tigers rotation perhaps the most complete offering in the American League. He has the roof to grow into either a very high level #3 or legit #2 starter.

16. Kevin Youkilis—Third Baseman, Signed w/ New York Yankees: 1 yr/$12 million

The Yankees rent-a-team efforts continued with another one year deal. However, this signing may be their smartest addition of the winter yet, due to the security and versatility that Youk brings. With A-Rod out until at least June due to hip surgery, he become their everyday third baseman who can either stay there or move to DH when A-Rod returns. They paid more to land him, but it really was a must sign.

17. Stephen Drew—Shortstop, Signed w/ Boston Red Sox: 1 yr/$9.5 million

The Red Sox also paid more for Drew, who rode his status as the only true starting shortstop on the market well, however the same value is not here. Drew is an offense first SS, that hasn’t managed to hit over .270 in three years. This was an overpay for a guy that will hit in the bottom of the lineup, and probably a bit of a reaction to other moves happening in the AL East, which is a tendency the Red Sox have done well to remove themselves from, until now.

20. Ryan Dempster—Pitcher, Signed w/ Boston Red Sox: 2 yrs/$26 million

The Sox did however hit value in landing Dempster. Not only did they get a modest $13 million per season rate for the highly sought after veteran, they also got him to end his pursuit of a 3-year deal, which would have made this a bad move for the 35 year old. But now they have landed a solid top of the rotation arm that will keep their rotation competitive.

35. Ichiro—Right Fielder, Resigned w/ New York Yankees: 2 yrs/$13 million

There was a ton of positioning on both sides, but the Yankees ended up making a smart, and team friendly, commitment to Ichiro. It does leave the club with a definite lack of power in the corner outfield spots, but Ichiro reacted well to Yankee Stadium, hitting .322 in two months in pinstripes. If he can keep close to that for even a year of the deal, it’s a strong value for around $6 million per.

66. Ty Wigginton—First Baseman, Signed w/ St. Louis Cardinals: 2 yrs/$5 million

The Cardinals landed the versatile Wigginton to provide a right handed bat off the bench with some pop, one of the few things they needed. They came in the winter looking to plug bench holes, and this was their solid effort to do so on offense.

 

For more on the signing season around the MLB, and the impact after the fact in real time, follow me on Twitter

2013 Top 75 MLB Free Agents: Volume 4 Update

Posted: December 14, 2012 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
Tags: , , , ,

The Greinke dice are in full tumble since our last update, and yesterday’s dealings on the other half of LA may just clear off the whole table soon. Not to be outdone, the Angels sent the second earthquake through LA baseball by inking Josh Hamilton yesterday, and now the only two candidates for massive deals are off the board.

The top of the CHEAP SEATS’ Free Agent board is cleared up, and now comes the class of where a mixture of teams that have lost out on the top targets, as well as teams who now have absolute price comparisons for the winter, will set in. The Texas Rangers are in scramble mode to steady themselves after taking three big blows in losing out on Greinke, Hamilton and losing a deal to land Justin Upton as well, as a result of the Reds/D’Backs/Indians trade earlier this week. They’ll be in the chase now for virtually every top free agent now, due to both need and financial freedom. Also, the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and even still, the Angels are all teams to watch.

It's now Michael Bourn's time to stand in the spotlight, leading the pack of an impressive group of compliment players.

It’s now Michael Bourn’s time to stand in the spotlight, leading the pack of an impressive group of compliment players with increased value.

Overall, it’s about to pick up, and here are the breakdown of the recent signings, before the next “Cut the Check” breakdown comes on Monday. The next update will be the top 25 free agents on Monday, which will run until the original Top 10 is all signed away.

  1. Josh Hamilton (OF)—Signed w/ Los Angeles Angels: 5 yrs/$125 million
  2. Michael Bourn (CF): Mariners, Cubs, Rangers
  3. Anibal Sanchez (RHP)–Resigned w/ Detroit Tigers: 5 yrs/$80 million
  4. Nick Swisher (RF/1B):  Rangers, Mariners, Phillies, Indians, Orioles
  5. Adam LaRoche (1B): Nationals, Red Sox, Rangers
  6. Kyle Lohse (RHP): Rangers, Angels, Tigers, Mets, Red Sox
  7. Rafael Soriano (RHR): Tigers, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Red Sox, Rockies
  8. Edwin Jackson (RHP): Angels, Rangers, Padres, Orioles
  9. Kevin Youkilis (3B)—Signed w/ New York Yankees: 1 yr/$13 million
  10. Stephen Drew (SS): Tigers, Athletics
  11. Brian Wilson (RHR): Angels, Dodgers, Red Sox, Giants
  12. AJ Pierzynski (C): White Sox, Rays, Yankees, Rangers
  13. Ryan Dempster (RHP)—Signed w/ Boston Red Sox: 2 yrs/$26 million
  14. Cody Ross (LF/RF): Yankees, Phillies, Giants
  15. Carlos Zambrano (RHP):
  16. Ichiro (CF)—Resigned w/ New York Yankees: 2 yrs/$12 million
  17. Kelly Johnson (2B):
  18. Scott Hairston (CF): Yankees, Cardinals, Indians, Mets, Giants
  19. Brett Myers (RHP): Twins, Indians, Angels, Padres, Brewers
  20. Mike Adams (RHP): Angels, Dodgers, Red Sox, Phillies, White Sox, Rockies, Blue Jays
  21. Kyle Farnsworth (RHR): Tigers, Rockies
  22. Lance Berkman (1B/DH): Astros, Phillies, Rays, Red Sox
  23. Shaun Marcum (RHP): Royals
  24. Luke Scott (1B/DH):
  25. Delmon Young (LF/DH): Mariners
  26. Colin Ballester (RHP):
  27. Casey Kotchman (1B):
  28. Carl Pavano (RHP): Red Sox, Twins, Marlins
  29. Francisco Liriano (LHP): Twins
  30. Matt Capps (RHR):
  31. Joe Saunders (LHP):
  32. Francisco Rodriguez (RHR):
  33. Ryan Theriot (2B/SS):
  34. Dallas Braden (LHP):
  35. Casey McGehee (3B):
  36. Derek Lowe (RHP):
  37. Jason Bartlett (SS): Cardinals
  38. Carlos Lee (1B):
  39. Jose Valverde (RHR):
  40. Ty Wigginton (1B/3B)–Signed w/ St. Louis Cardinals: 2 yrs/$5 million

 

Off The Board

1. Zack Greinke (RHP)—Signed w/ Los Angeles Dodgers: 6 yrs/$147 million

4. BJ Upton (CF)—Signed w/ Atlanta Braves: 5 yrs/$75 Million

8. Hiroki Kuroda (RHP), New York Yankees: 1 yr/$15 million

12. Mariano Rivera (RHR) –Resigned w/ New York Yankees: 1 yr/$10 Million

13. Torii Hunter (RF), Detroit Tigers: 2 yrs/$13 million

18. Mark Reynolds (1B)—Signed w/ Cleveland Indians: 1 yr/$6.5 million

20. Ryan Ludwick (LF)—Resigned w/ Cincinnati Reds: 2 yrs/$15 million

21. Melky Cabrera (LF), Toronto Blue Jays: 2 yrs/$16 million

24. Brandon McCarthy (RHP)—Signed w/ Arizona Diamondbacks: 2 yrs/$15 million

25. Andy Pettitte (LHP)—Resigned w/ New York Yankees: 1 yr/$12 Million

26. Russell Martin (C) –Signed w/ Pittsburgh Pirates: 2 yrs/$17 Million

28. Jeremy Guthrie (RHP), Kansas City Royals: 3 yrs/$25 million

29. Hisashi Iwakuma (RHP), Seattle Mariners: 2 yrs/$14 million

31. Jonathan Broxton (RHP), Cincinnati Reds: 3 yrs/$21 million

32. Jeremy Affeldt (LHP), San Francisco Giants: 3 yrs/$18 million

36. Ryan Madson (RHP), Los Angeles Angels: 3 yrs/$3.25 million

37. Sean Burnett (LHR)—Signed w/ Los Angeles Angels: 2 yrs/$8 million

46. Scott Baker (RHP), Chicago Cubs: 1 yr/$5 million

48. Randy Choate (LHR)—Signed w/ St. Louis Cardinals: 3 yrs/$7.5 million

51. Andruw Jones (OF)—Signed w/ Ratuken Eagles (Japan): 1 yr/ $3.5 million

52. Eric Chavez (3B)—Signed w/ Arizona Diamondbacks: 1 yr/$3 million

53. Jonny Gomes (LF), Boston Red Sox: 2 yrs/$10 million

56. Jeff Keppinger (3B/2B)—Signed w/ Chicago White Sox: 3 yrs/$12 million

57. Nate McLouth (CF)—Signed w/ Baltimore Orioles: 1 yr/$2 million

59. Joe Blanton (RHP)—Signed w/ Los Angeles Angels: 2 yrs/$15 million

60. Juan Pierre (LF), Miami Marlins: 1 yr/$1.6 million

For more on the free agent market as it comes together in real-time, as well as column at The Sports Fan Journal, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan

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 switches leagues in the same town, and will need a a few UHauls to carry over his bounty he landed to do so.

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

Of all the contenders entering this offseason, the St. Louis Cardinals were the most complete on what they would look like headed into the next campaign. While they are not concrete everywhere, there were very few questions about who would be representing the club where in 2013.

However, as is always the case, there is business handle and to move on from. The Cardinals came into the offseason with three succinct needs, and one of which they made a top priority to handle at the General Manager’s Winter Meetings: a left-handed reliever. However, two exiting Cardinals have provided much worth to the free agent market due to what they provided the Cardinals throughout their two consecutive pennant push seasons.

Here are the impacts of the departing, and currently incoming Cardinals’, and where the team stands both with, and without, them…

 

The Comings…

Randy Choate: Per the John Mozeliak, Choate was the club’s number one target on the free agent reliever market. The commitment he received in a form of a three year deal at age 37 shows how important he was to the team’s projection and needs. He’s one of the most successful left-handed specialists in the majors over the last two seasons, with lefties swinging to the tune of a .156 average versus him in 2012. He’s the essential matchup pitcher, totaling just less than 40 innings in 80 appearances last year.

Former Yankee, Ray, Dodger and Marlin Choate brings balance to the pen and new match up potential.

Former Yankee, D’iamondback, Ray, Dodger and Marlin Choate brings balance to the pen and new match up potential.

He’ll be called upon to be the matchup option that wasn’t available last season, and force Mike Matheny to put a pretty straight forward and predictable combination of Edward Mujica-Mitchell Boggs-Jason Motte (all right handers) against any batter that came up. Choate will be a strong matchup representative in a division with Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Garrett Jones and the infamous Pedro Alvarez. Also, it lowers the boom on Marc Rzepcyzski, who is better used in early scenarios now and is better in situations where a right hander could be in the mix.

All in all, Choate gives the Cardinals a chance at a complete bullpen from day one for the first time in roughly two years.

 

The Goings…

Kyle Lohse: It’s been a surprisingly easy move on from the most dependable pitcher for the team over the last two years. He won 55 games in five years for the club, including an average year of 15-6, with a 3.11 ERA and 200 innings in 32 starts per season. That’s tough to replace, but also tough to pay as well.

The prime reason that Jake Westbrook’s option was activated and extended in September is the foregone conclusion that Lohse would not be able to fit into the team’s pay rate. He could be in line for a annual income in the neighborhood of $13-$15 million per year over five seasons. With the effort to resign Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter showing he could make a return to the rotation, as well a surplus of young starting arms on the verge of breaking through, taking the cheaper veteran option in Westbrook was the more positive spin in.

However, if the young arms don’t come through and either Carpenter or Jaime Garcia’s health re-emerge as issues, his departure could be the most impactful the team has felt in years.

Lance Berkman: After an unsteady year that featured several unsuccessful attempts to return from leg injuries, Berkman’s deal ended with no chance of a return. This is due to the emergence of Allen Craig and looming presences of Matt Adams as much as anything. Carlos Beltran showed that his centerfield days are over, so time share that was tough to fit Berkman/Craig/Beltran into last year still remains as a potential issue if he was retained.

Ultimately, that’s not a problem. The risk (and price) for Berkman are too high to be a bench-only/part time contributor in St. Louis. On the open market, he’s a prime DH candidate for any number of clubs, including a return to the now AL West inhabitants, the Houston Astros.

Kyle McClellan: After tearing his labrum and missing the majority of the season, the return of McClellan was already a foregone conclusion. The talent level of the bullpen rose significantly across the season, and combine in his raise due to via arbitration, and his non-tender was a foregone conclusion.

 

For more on the Cardinals winter of additions, subtractions and the unknown in real time, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan and the CHEAP SEATS column at The Sports Fan Journal.

Maybe it’s the quiet before the storm or the set up of a masterful game of chess, because the majority of the last day and a half as been comprised of role player signings and big name trades, almost. The Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Indians have been swapping names for the next big mega deal, but the this may be the rumor mill spinning off it’s axis. But tis the season for such talk

But what is more than just talk is the top of the market coming together, and a few destinies aligning along the way. While the Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton remain unsigned, the Texas Rangers could be bringing them together. In the last day, they have entered discussions with both of the top two stars on the market, that if coupled with dealing some of their stockpile of top prospects to move on Justin Upton as well. In other words, the Rangers are steadily moving along to become the juggernaut of the winter.

But it could also be just more talk, which is 90% of what’s happening right now really. But the smoke has to lead to fire eventually, and the time is coming. The LA Dodgers have money to end the Rangers designs on Greinke, but the decision is his. Not one for the spotlight, the developing star show in LA may not have the lure for him. Perhaps the proven quantity in Dallas takes the coup of the winter. At any rate, everything will fall into place in the coming hours….perhaps within the next 12.

The Rangers have taken center stage, and not only a return of Hamilton, but perhaps a coup of Greinke as well.

The power of Two: The Rangers have taken center stage, with not only a potential return of Hamilton, but perhaps a coup of Greinke as well.

But for now, here is what is: the top 50 free agents on the board as of this morning, with the closest teams pursuing them. Recent signings since the last Cut The Check update are in bold. Full signings, ranked by their original standing on the Top 75 Free Agents board are below.

 

  1. Zack Grienke (RHP): Dodgers, Rangers
  2. Josh Hamilton (OF): Rangers, Mariners, Red Sox
  3. Michael Bourn (CF): Mariners, Cubs, Phillies, Reds
  4. Anibal Sanchez (RHP): Dodgers, Red Sox, Angels, Royals, Tigers
  5. Nick Swisher (RF/1B): Orioles, Mariners
  6. Adam LaRoche (1B): Nationals, Red Sox
  7. Kyle Lohse (RHP): Dodgers, Angels, Red Sox, Orioles, Rockies, Tigers, Mets
  8. Rafael Soriano (RHR): Tigers, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Red Sox, Rockies
  9. Edwin Jackson (RHP): Angels, Brewers, Royals, Orioles
  10. Kevin Youkilis (3B/1B): White Sox, Indians, Yankees
  11. Stephen Drew (SS): Tigers, Athletics
  12. Brian Wilson (RHR): Red Sox, Giants
  13. AJ Pierzynski (C): White Sox
  14. Ryan Dempster (RHP): Brewers, Angels, Red Sox, Royals, Cubs
  15. Cody Ross (LF/RF): Yankees, Phillies, Giants, Indians
  16. Ryan Ludwick (LF/RF): Reds, Yankees, Mariners, Mets
  17. Brandon McCarthy (RHP): Twins, Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Cubs, Royals, White Sox
  18. Mark Reynolds (1B/3B): Cubs, Marlins, Yankees, Indians, Mariners, Orioles, Rays
  19. Carlos Zambrano (RHP):
  20. Ichiro (CF): Yankees, Phillies
  21. Sean Burnett (LHR)—Signed w/ Los Angeles Angels: 2 yrs/$8 million
  22.  Kelly Johnson (2B):
  23. Scott Hairston (CF): Yankees, Cardinals, Indians, Mets, Giants
  24. Brett Myers (RHP): Twins, Indians, Angels, Padres, Brewers
  25. Mike Adams (RHP): Angels, Dodgers, Red Sox, Phillies, White Sox, Rockies, Blue Jays
  26. Kyle Farnsworth (RHR): Tigers, Rockies
  27. Lance Berkman (1B/DH): Astros, Phillies, Rays, Red Sox
  28. Shaun Marcum (RHP): Royals
  29. Luke Scott (1B/DH):
  30. Delmon Young (LF/DH): Mariners
  31. Colin Balester (RHP):
  32. Casey Kotchman (1B):
  33. Randy Choate (LHR)—Signed w/ St. Louis Cardinals: 3 yrs/$7.5 million
  34. Carl Pavano (RHP): Red Sox
  35. Francisco Liriano (LHP):
  36. Andruw Jones (OF):
  37. Eric Chavez (3B)—Signed w/ Arizona Diamondbacks: 1 yr/$3 million
  38. Matt Capps (RHR):
  39. Jeff Keppinger (SS/2B)—Signed w/ Chicago White Sox: 3 yr/$12 million
  40. Nate McLouth (CF)—Signed w/ Baltimore Orioles: 1 yr/$2 million
  41. Joe Saunders (LHP):
  42. Joe Blanton (RHP)—Signed w/ Los Angeles Angels: 2 yrs/$15 million
  43. Francisco Rodriguez (RHR):
  44. Ryan Theriot (2B/SS):
  45. Dallas Braden (LHP):
  46. Casey McGehee (3B):
  47. Derek Lowe (RHP):
  48. Jason Bartlett (SS): Cardinals
  49. Carlos Lee (1B):
  50. Jose Valverde (RHR):

On Deck: Ty Wigginton, Aubrey Huff, Yuniesky Betancourt, Juan Carlos Oviedo

 

Off The Board

4. BJ Upton (CF)—Signed w/ Atlanta Braves: 5 yrs/$75 Million

8. Hiroki Kuroda (RHP), New York Yankees: 1 yr/$15 million

10. Dan Haren-Pitcher: Signed with Washington Nationals, 1 year/$13 million

12. Mike Napoli-Catcher/First base: Signed with Boston Red Sox, 3 years/$39 million

13. Torii Hunter (RF), Detroit Tigers: 2 yrs/$13 million

15. Mariano Rivera (RHR) –Resigned w/ New York Yankees: 1 yr/$10 Million

18. Angel Pagan-Centerfield: Resigned with San Francisco Giants, 4 years/$40 million

21. Melky Cabrera (LF), Toronto Blue Jays: 2 yrs/$16 million

24. Joakim Soria-Pitcher: Signed with Texas Rangers, 2 years/$8 million

25. Marco Scutaro—Second Base: Resigned w/ San Francisco Giants: 3 yrs/$20 million

26. Shane Victorino-Outfield: Signed with Boston Red Sox, 3 years/$39 million

30. Andy Pettitte (LHP)—Resigned w/ New York Yankees: 1 yr/$12 Million

33. Russell Martin (C) –Signed w/ Pittsburgh Pirates: 2 yrs/$17 Million

28. Jeremy Guthrie (RHP), Kansas City Royals: 3 yrs/$25 million

29. Hisashi Iwakuma (RHP), Seattle Mariners: 2 yrs/$14 million

31. Jonathan Broxton (RHP), Cincinnati Reds: 3 yrs/$21 million

32. Jeremy Affeldt (LHP), San Francisco Giants: 3 yrs/$18 million

36. Ryan Madson (RHP), Los Angeles Angels: 3 yrs/$3.25 million

46. Scott Baker (RHP), Chicago Cubs: 1 yr/$5 million

53. Jonny Gomes (LF), Boston Red Sox: 2 yrs/$10 million

60. Juan Pierre (LF), Miami Marlins: 1 yr/$1.6 million

61. James Loney-First Base: Signed with Tampa Bay Rays, 1 year/$2 million

69. Scott Feldman-Pitcher: Signed with Chicago Cubs, 1 year/$6 million

 

For more on the day’s happenings as baseball’s winter meetings conclude, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.