CUT THE CHECK: MLB Signings and Recap Report #1

Posted: November 25, 2013 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Abreu represents a big commitment to an unknown quantity in Chicago, but a strong sign of a needed change of direction from the franchise.

As is the case every year around now, it is time to start sizing up the signings and deals being made around the Major League Baseball offseason. So far, the winter has been in the grasp of the trade market, and just this week we saw major deals go down between the Rangers and Tigers, as well as another between the Cardinals and Angels. Moving ahead, there will likely be more major moves made on the player-for-player waters, as headliners such as David Price and Brandon Phillips stand out among the class of nearly sure to be moved candidates.

But for now, it is time to see what the dominoes of the open market are creating as they fall. While only one of the top 10 available players in the most recent edition of CSP’s Top 75 Free Agents have signed yet (updated list later today), their market is heating up and taking shape. For now, the majority of signings have been of the support variety: a back-end rotation boost, a utility outfielder, but also a few high talent international prospects that are making the leap as well.

Here is the point and the rules going ahead: the ‘Cut The Check’ reviews overlap with the regularly updated ranking of the Free Agent class. The list will update off of the players removed via the most recent CTC, and update the rankings. Here in the first edition, everybody is ranked by their original standing and ages represent 2014 playing age.

So with no more delay, here is the impact on the upcoming MLB landscape thus far…

4. Brian McCann-Catcher-30 Years Old-2013 Team: Atlanta Braves

Signed: New York Yankees—5 years, $85 million

The clear and away best option on the market at catcher, McCann offers a rare commodity on the open market at the position as well: an in-prime, plus offensive threat that was available and not going back to his former home. The Yankees had to make an upgrade behind the plate, as they never truly answered their woes at the spot after Jorge Posada retired and Russell Martin departed. McCann represents the perfect hitter for Yankee Stadium, with his power stroke to right field (he’s hit 20 home runs in seven of his eight full seasons). The seven-time All-Star instantly becomes the best catcher in the American League.

11. Jose Dariel Abreu-First Baseman-26 years old-2013 Team: Cuban League

Signed: Chicago White Sox –Six Years, $68 million

Only Masahiro Tanaka challenges Abreu for the title of highest impact international presence in this year’s free agent market, and the White Sox wasted no time in getting a hold of him once he defected in August and was made officially available for signing. He topped 30 home runs three consecutive seasons, and hit .394 with 35 home runs and 99 RBI in the 2011-12 season, and followed with a .382/13/37 split in 2012-13 in a shortened 42 game season.

With Paul Konerko mulling retirement and a role with the team uncertain, Abreu will be the everyday starter at first base in Chicago, and hit in the cleanup spot. For a White Sox team in transition, he is a major score for the franchise, and if his solid contact-to-power ratio carries over, he’ll be the start to the steady resurrection needed on the South Side.

15. Tim Lincecum-Starting Pitcher-29 years old-2013 Team: San Francisco Giants

Resigned with Giants—Two Years, $35 million

The first of the major MLB free agents to ink his name this offseason was Lincecum, who will earn a higher than expected $17 million in 2014, followed by $18M in 2015 to remain in the Bay. While he is far from the form that grabbed him two Cy Young Awards within his first three years, he did have his best season since 2011, dropping his ERA by nearly a full run and throwing a 130+ pitch no-hitter along the way. The deal is steep for the type of deception-based hurler he has become, and is based on reputation and familiarity more than anything else, but he did show the potential to evolve into a new type of effectiveness going ahead.

17. Dan Haren-Starting Pitcher-33 Years Old-2013 Team: Washington Nationals

Signed: Los Angeles Dodgers—One Year, $10 million

The Dodgers were in the market for an addition to their rotation that was high quality, but low commitment—and Haren fits the bill perfectly. After a bad start to 2013, he settled in for the second half of the season with a 6-4 record on a 3.52 ERA. Haren took less than he could have in the deal; as returning to California was high on his list of desirables this offseason.

22. Jhonny Peralta-Shortstop-31 years old-2013 Team: Detroit Tigers

Signed: St. Louis Cardinals—Four Years, $53 million

The Cardinals were in desperate need of an offensive upgrade at shortstop, after struggling to pull production from Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso last season. Peralta represented the best offensive option at the position on the open market, and although he was suspended late in the season as part of the Biogenesis scandal, hit a career-best .303 in 107 games, and topped 30 doubles for the sixth time in his career as well (more on this to come).

23. Marlon Byrd-Right Fielder-36 years old-2013 Team: New York Mets/Pittsburgh Pirates

Signed: Philadelphia Phillies—Two Years, $16 million

Byrd was the best second-tier, outfielder on the market; one that would not be due a long-term contract and can play in a variety capacities on a team. He had a career revival for the Mets, hitting 21 home runs and driving in 71 runs before being dealt to the Pirates late in the season, where he hit .318 over the final month of the season. In Philly, he’ll be the everyday right fielder, and a much needed right-handed bat to offset the lefty heavy lineup.

27. Tim Hudson-Starting Pitcher-38 years old-2013 Team: Atlanta Braves

Signed: San Francisco Giants—Two Years, $23 million

He entered the offseason with an uncertain market after a nasty broken ankle ended his season in July, however after showing he would be healthy for the spring, his market opened up in a hurry. His deal with the Giants represents a safe-low cost option for the backside of the Giants rebuilding effort, as well as a return the Bay Area where he began his career with Oakland from 1999-2004. In nine years in Atlanta, he won 113 games, good for a .611 win percentage.

28. Josh Johnson-Starting Pitcher-30 years old-2013 Team: Toronto Blue Jays

Signed: San Diego Padres—One Year, $8 million

The Padres scored a team-friendly one year deal with a high upside arm in Johnson, who is looking to rebuild his stock after an awful 2-8, 6.20 ERA effort in Toronto. A return to the NL, as well as residing in the spacious Petco Park can help him rediscover the form that saw him win 26 games on a 2.80 ERA across 2009-10.

32. Alexander Guerrero-Middle Infielder-27 years old-(Cuban defector)

Signed: Los Angeles Dodgers—Four Years, $28 million

The Dodgers middle infield situation will get a high flexibility boost with Guerrero in the fold, who can play either shortstop or second base. While second is likely to be his regular spot, his presence (which they rewarded with a $10 million signing bonus) could potentially allow the team to move Hanley Ramirez off to third base soon. The Cuban is considered among the best all-around players the country has produced in recent years, and continues the national infusion in LA with Yasiel Puig.

The Phillies are holding out hope that a full season of Ruiz can justify the investment made in him this month.

The Phillies are holding out hope that a full season of Ruiz can justify the investment made in him this month.

33. Carlos Ruiz-Catcher-35 years old-2013 Team: Philadelphia Phillies

Resigned: Phillies—Three Years, $26 million

After some early courting from the Rockies and Blue Jays, the Phillies decided to jump in on the Ruiz market and fill their catching vacancy with the man that created it. However, they brought Ruiz back on a very unproductive deal for a team that needs to lessen costs to older players as is, especially ones with clearly declining production. Ruiz had career-lows in ten categories after returning from a 25-game PED suspension.

49. Joe Smith-Relief Pitcher-30 years old-2013 Team: Cleveland Indians

Signed: Los Angeles Angels—Three Years, $15.75 million

While the Angels made a commitment to Ernesto Fieri as their closer again for the upcoming season, improving the back end of their bullpen is still a critical need. Signing Smith, the best setup option available, is an instant upgrade. In nearly 200 innings since 2011, he has posted a 2.42 ERA and surrendered only 10 home runs.

55. Javier Lopez-Left Handed Pitcher-36 years old-2013 Team: San Francisco Giants

Resigned: Giants—Three Years, $13 million

The Giants warded of the Yankees and a handful of other squads to maintain their uber-effective left handed bullpen arm. He held batters overall to a .208 average against in 2013, a number that lowered to .156 against lefty batters in 90 plate appearances.

58. Jason Vargas-Left Handed Pitcher-31 years old-2013 Team: Los Angeles Angels

Signed: Kansas City Royals—Four Years, $32 million

A puzzling deal from the Royals, who put too many years into filling the vacancy created by Ervin Santana to a lower-half rotation presence like Vargas. A two year deal on the same annual value may have been a great buy, but he does nothing more than provide a safety valve option for a team that could be a few smart signings away from springing into the postseason.

70. Geovany Soto-Catcher-31 years old-2013 Team: Texas Rangers

Resigned: Rangers—One Year, $3.05 million

Soto is a solid sign that can start if needed to, but works best as a time-share or backup option. His batting average topped .240 for the first time since 2010 last summer, and he hit nine home runs as well in his second year in Arlington.

72. Brendan Ryan-Shortstop-32 years old-2013 Team: Seattle Mariners/New York Yankees

Resigned: Yankees—One Year, $2 million

Ryan returned to the Bronx, where he landed very late last season, to provide much needed defensive support behind Derek Jeter in his last go around. In a pinch, he can play some third and second base as well.

74. Chris Young-Center Field-30 years old-2013 Team: Oakland Athletics

Signed: New York Mets—One Year, $7.25 million

Young capitalized on the Mets thirst for some sort of power potential in their lineup, as he topped $7 million in his move to across the country after hitting .200 with 12 home runs and 40 RBI in Oakland last year. He will move to right field primarily, and with the increased at-bats could take a shot at another 20 home run year, which he produced four of previously with the Diamondbacks.

For more on the ever-changing free agent landscape, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan


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