Posts Tagged ‘Free Agency’

James Shields’ run along the free agent road has begun to reach a marathon-like duration at this point. The durable righty sits as the last of the premiere open air options from a winter that is quickly turning towards spring. He has watched the other top shelf pitchers that joined him in this year’s free agent party take home a combined haul of over $360 million over the past few months, while he has remained the question without a clear answer now into February.

Shields_

At this point he is all but assured that he will not get that same caliber of contract for himself, but as Matt Garza, Kyle Lohse and Ervin Santana have proved in recent years, a late stay on the market does not mean that a worthwhile check and home cannot await still.

But at this point, the favor is in the hands of the teams that get serious in pursuit. Shields has proven that he is not a true staff ace, in form of one that carries the weight of a creating a win every fifth day in the form of a Kershaw, Hernandez or Wainwright. But he still is a very good second option for any number of rotations or being a de facto #1 in a deep rotation, such as he has in Kansas City and Tampa over the course of his career.

The 33-year-old has averaged 14 wins a year with a 3.17 ERA and just a hair over 200 strikeouts per season over the past four years. But his calling card has been his incredible durability. He has made at least 31 starts over the past eight years and has logged an average of 223 innings person, while totaling 22 complete games and nine shutouts along the way. In a world where high-volume pitcher health is a constant source of worry, Shields has proven to be a high-volume exception to that source of worry.

So for whatever the reason may be for Shields still being homeless for the time being, whether it is a refusal on his side to drop his price to an intriguing level for his suitors, or there not being any teams left that want to cut a substantial commitment at this point in the offseason, he remains a potentially pivotal acquisition for many teams.

With the clock counting down on the offseason, here are a few intriguing options that should look into Shields working out a pact to acquire one of the game’s top workhorses for the immediate future.

Boston Red Sox: Boston has been aggressive this offseason, making nine acquisitions over the winter to pull themselves out of the cellar of the American League East. Three of those additions have been Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Justin Masterson to their starting rotation, which is a substantial commitment to a win-now team’s shot at getting back to October, but still feels a bit short. Shields is the type of top half of the rotation presence that would pull up the potential of their current ensemble significantly and affirm their buzzing status as a fifth-to-first candidate team.

Chicago Cubs: They are the team that is carrying the most expectations out of the offseason into the spring, and while they have done exceptional work, signing Shields would be resoundingly loud finish to their shopping spree. A Lester-Shields one-two punch gives them one of the most formidable rotation in the National League and an invaluable weapon against the deep NL Central lineups.

Chicago White Sox: The Sox have been just as active as their National League neighbors to the North, but in many ways, their moves could have a more immediate impact in the weaker AL Central. Adding Shields to a rotation with Chris Sale, Jeff Samardijiza and Jose Quintana pushes them from players to perhaps favorites in their division.

New York Yankees: Anytime the Yankees say they are going to sit out the big name market in any given year, it is immediately disregarded as posturing simply because, well, they are the Yankees. They can have anything they want. But Brian Cashman and Hank Steinbrenner have been men of their frugal (by Yankee standards) word this year thus far, passing on more than a few high dollar, solid fit free agents. But if Shields price and contract length demands drop, he becomes nothing short of a must-have for a Yankee team that is short on dependable options in its starting rotation, but carrying its usual high expectations.

San Diego Padres: The Padres have been rumored to be in on checking on Shields, which is not surprising considering they have been the hungriest team in the league all winter. But despite having a very talented pitching staff as is, they still lack a pure top talent that can match wits with the likes of Clayton Kershaw or Madison Bumgarner, both of whom their tightest division rivals wield. An addition of Shields would solve a big problem, although it could present a problem in bidding for the cost conscious Pads if Shields is still in position to demand $16MM+ per year.

Seattle Mariners: The M’s have been aggressive in the open market over the past two years, and it paid off last year with them pushing for a postseason spot until the season’s final day. While they have a strong pitching staff already in tow, adding Shields gives them a clear cut powerhouse staff. Plus they would not have to surrender a first round pick as compensation, as they have already sent that to Baltimore for

St. Louis Cardinals: They have been a part of everybody’s dot connecting with big name starting pitching this year, due to the fact that they have a competition in place for the fifth starter role. Naturally Shields has been a part of that association as well, and while there is an intriguing mix of need and fit in the mending Cardinal rotation, the team has not shown much interest in involving itself in the big money free agent market.

Toronto Blue Jays: Toronto has made some smart moves in attempting to close the elusive postseason they have been aimed on for the past two years. However their pitching staff overall leaves much to be imagined in making that a reality. The addition of Shields to anchor the staff perhaps overplays his potential impact as a top of the rotation presence, but he adds a much need talent to a team that is still a few pieces away.

 

For more on the MLB race to spring training in real-time, follow me on Twitter at @cheapseatfan.

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Jhonny Peralta

It was not a jaw dropping off-season in particular for any National League team this season. While their American League counterparts went to war on the free agent battlefield, the NL clubs played it slower, instead choosing in many cases to make the subtle move over the splashy one. As a result, headed into spring it does not appear that this year’s races will be much different than the one’s that just concluded last September.

However, that would a complete error in judgement to assume, because the tortoise is just as adept as the hare in many cases. There flat out were not many teams that needed to have huge offseasons to get much better. The majority of the senior circuit is made up of balanced, well adjusted rosters that have what they need to succeed in place already, it is just about being consistent on a day to day basis. The elite competitors, it is about either eliminating their few blaring weaknesses or setting up their future to stay intact. For the middle tier, the name of the game was making the smart move to get in firing range of the upper class, because as last year showed, the race is never over until it is completely over. And for the few bottom rung teams, it is about honoring the process of the rebuild, and not falling straight on their face trying to get the job done too quick.

With the exceptions of a few clubs, each team achieved these measures by the standards of what was expected coming into the winter. And while a good winter far from guarantees anything much more than good sentiment headed into Opening Day, it does give a read on intent and where a team is looking to land. And in the air tight 2014 NL, every advantage helps out.

Here’s how the 15 NL clubs made out (to date) headed into the new year…

1.) St. Louis Cardinals: A few years ago, if one was to say the Cardinals are going to lose Chris Carpenter, David Freese, Rafael Furcal and Carlos Beltran all in one offseason, it would seem asinine to think they had a successful winter in any way. However, not only did all of those things happen—they were actually encouraged.

They did not have many needs to fill, but they addressed all of them and did so both aggressively and concisely. By moving the out of place Freese to Anaheim, they received the rangy Peter Bourjos to man centerfield and improve a limited defensive outfield. Adding Jhonny Peralta at shortstop may be the single-largest upgrade any team makes from 2013 to ’14 offensively, as he replaces Pete Kozma who was rated the worst offensive regular in either league last season. Considering these are the National League Champions, this was the ultimate “final touch” effort made good on.
2.) Washington Nationals: The steal of the offseason may be the Nats grab on Doug Fister, who was moved out as part of the Tigers payroll restructuring effort, and only at the cost of reliever Ian Krol and utility man Steve Lombardozzi. The addition of Nate McLouth gives the Nats the deepest outfield group in the NL, quietly even more than the Dodgers.
3.) Philadelphia Phillies: They stuck to their usual method of pulling in veterans with big contracts, but they also addressed many of their most frustrating gaps as well, by bringing in Marlon Byrd to be an offsetting right handed bat and AJ Burnett to be the needed middle of the rotation arm that had been lacking the previous two years with the downturn of the now retired Roy Halladay.
Carlos Ruiz was retained as well and the gamble taken on young Cuban power throwing righty Miguel Gonzalez could be the move that pulls them back up with the likes of Atlanta and Washington if all goes as right as it possibly can.
4.) San Francisco Giants: They continued their ways of retaining their own guys over making massive splashes in the free agent market by giving substantial extensions to Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum, as well as retaining Javier Lopez and Ryan Vogelsong. However, they still made room to add Michael Morse and Tim Hudson to round out a roster that is only one underachieving summer removed from a World Series title.
5.) Arizona Diamondbacks: They wanted to make a big splash by landing the likes of a Masahiro Tanaka to pull their rotation to the next level, but they still made out well via a series of smaller moves. They mortgaged a few of their top prospects to land Mark Trumbo and Addison Reed, but both should play a solid part in pushing them completely into the postseason competitive mix.

The Braves committed $228 million to four of its best in-home grown talents, with the bulk sum going to its All-Star first baseman Freeman

The Braves committed $228 million to four of its best in-home grown talents, with the bulk sum going to its All-Star first baseman Freeman

6.) Atlanta Braves: They added nothing from outside of the organization, but in the last few weeks made it an offseason could help to define the future course of the franchise, securing Craig Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman, Julio Teheran and Jason Heyward through their arbitration years. Sometimes, less is more, especially down the road.
7.) Milwaukee Brewers: For the second straight year, they played the slow hand on the free agent pitching market and came out with a nice deck. They addressed one of their prime needs in landing Matt Garza to solidify a rotation that was nearly constantly in flux a year ago. It remains to be seen however if Mark Reynolds can add the type of power they need to replace the departed Corey Hart at first.
8.) Los Angeles Dodgers: The big move of the offseason was the Clayton Kershaw extension, which was clearly the top priority for the team, but otherwise it was a winter based on potential in LA. IF Juan Uribe and Alexander Guerrero pan out, it was a successful winter, just like IF Brian Wilson and Chris Perez can find their vintage form over the course of a full season they made may have constructed a powerful bullpen group. To be continued all around.
9.) New York Mets: They had a one foot in, one foot out type of winter. On one hand, they made a headline signing in Curtis Granderson, but then were tentative in pursuing Stephen Drew, who would be an instant improvement on their entire roster. Bartolo Colon is good bookmark for their young rotation while Matt Harvey rehabs in 2014 however.
10.) Miami Marlins: It is always hard to read what the Marlin’s intentions truly are, but by all accounts, it looks like they don’t want to be a blantantly terrible as they were a year ago. Jarrod Saltalammachia, Rafael Furcal, Garrett Jones and Jeff Baker are all solid veteran adds that should make the team relatively more competitive—or at least enough to show Giancarlo Stanton they are “trying”…for now.
11.) San Diego Padres: Questionable winter for the Pads, trading one of their best arms in Luke Gregorson for a platoon outfielder in Seth Smith, only to in turn spend major money on essentially the same type of pitcher in Joaquin Benoit to pitch the eighth. Josh Johnson is a coin flip signing, that if he stays healthy is great, but that rarely happens.
12.) Colorado Rockies: It was a hurricane of a winter in Colorado, but it is still uncertain if all the bluster made a difference. They added Justin Morneau and Brett Anderson, two of the most undependable, upside reputation carrying assets in baseball, to boost their lineup and staff respectively. All while dealing one of their most consistent sure bets, Dexter Fowler, for little in return. It feels like Colorado just ran really, really fast on the treadmill this winter.
13.) Pittsburgh Pirates: Tough to say they took a step back, but without a doubt it feels like they should have done more, especially after being one of the most aggressive teams in the game at the trade deadline last season. In the end, they lose A.J. Burnett, Marlon Byrd, Justin Morneau and Garrett Jones, and only add in return a resigned Clint Barmes. Hard to say that’s a quality winter for a team that is firmly on the edge of breaking through—or topping off.
14.) Chicago Cubs: The deliberate rebuild continues, and they used the winter to patch up their rotation with the additions of Jason Hammel and Jason McDonald, while truly improving their bullpen with Jose Veras and Wesley Wright. But it feels like it is time for Theo and company to make a legit move add some credibility to the only team that is clearly on the outside looking in in the NL Central.
15.) Cincinnati Reds: I’m not sure what the goal was here, unless it was to just write off 2013 as a mulligan and go at it again. At any rate, the losses of Shin-Soo Choo, Bronson Arroyo and Ryan Hanigan resonate much louder than the additions of Skip Schumaker and Brayan Pena. Perhaps the full-on investment in Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips was a much heavier cross to carry than they even realized, because they seem frozen from a personnel movement standpoint—and will soon owe Homer Bailey an answer on his future as well.

The AL grades will come down later in the week (because the picture is still painting itself over there), but until follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan. For more content, head to The Sports Fan Journal and I70 Baseball.

tanakaweb12s-1-web

The great drama of the last few months has been when, where and who would land Masahiro Tanaka. The Japanese pitcher, who’s reputation has taken on an urban legend like feel, stood among the most widely courted players of recent memory, with list of who wouldn’t have interest coming in at much shorter count than who actually would.

In the end, the Dodgers, Cubs, White Sox and Diamondbacks all emerged as the top courters for the talented young righty, and with the game’s biggest spenders in the pool, how high the waves could go to secure his services seemed unlimited. However, this morning it became clear that the long-standing desire of the New York Yankees to cap their offseason by adding the top arm available had come true. The Steinbrenners and GM Brian Cashman closed the deal with one of the wealthiest contracts in club history to lock down his services, and in the course, round out an offseason rebuilding spree that will see the club spend $491 million dollars by all of its contracts have run its course.

The after effects of the deal will do more than just effect the outcome of the Yankees offseason; it will also end the holding pattern for the rest of the top starting pitching class of the year. Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana have all sat deathly still this winter while teams have positioned themselves for a shot at Tanaka. And now with him off the market, it shouldn’t take long for them to begin to stir up interest as the club’s that missed out decide whether they still need to add a starter, or if the pursuit of Tanaka was simply spending for the exception.

Yet, while the matter of his destination is settled, now there is the matter of looking ahead at what it all means: for the Yankees, for Tanaka and for the parties that missed the boat as well.

(Rankings are from the initial Top 75 Free Agent list—abridged ranking for Tanaka once he was officially available rose to #4.)

12. Masahiro Tanaka—Starting Pitcher—25 Years Old—2013 Team: Rakuten Golden Eagles

Signed: New York Yankees—Seven Years, $155 million

For all of their revamping of their everyday lineup, the Yankee front five remained painfully thin. They felt that Tanaka was the best option to address that issue, and paid him in a fashion that reflects it. His deal is the second largest free agent contract in club history, after CC Sabathia’s 2009 pact. The deal makes him the the fifth highest paid pitcher in baseball after Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, Sabathia and Felix Hernandez. Counting the $20 million dollar posting fee required, the team will sink $175 million into an arm that has never thrown an MLB inning.

By and large, they are paying for potential, name value and proven reputation. In seven seasons in the Japanese Pacific League, starting when he was 18, Tanaka won 73% of his 175 starts, and left his home nation hot on the heels of a mind-blowing 2013 where his record stood at 24-0, with a 1.27 ERA across 212 innings, striking out 183 and surrendering only 6 home runs.

Tanaka’s style is an aggressive mix of mid-90’s fastball, which he offsets with a breakneck splitter. To get a perspective on his approach/”stuff”, he is the middle ground between Yu Darvish‘s velocity and Hisashi Iwamura’s splitter. Unlike his Pacific League predecessor and current AL strikeout king Darvish, he does not profile to run up huge numbers in the K column. He only had one season where he eclipsed 200 strikeouts in Japan, which can be a worry point in issuing such a massive contract to player that hasn’t been completely overwhelming with his fastball against a lower level of competition.

However, the high point about Tanaka is that in theory, he could strikeout more as he continues to develop a more diverse off speed offering. At his relatively young age, he is carrying a high amount of experienced professional innings (1,315, including 53 complete games), which can be a point of concern from a durability standpoint, but also shows he is ready to compete while adapting to MLB hitters and working with Yankee pitching instruction.

His role on the team is currently to be an axis in the middle of the rotation, but to eventually succeed Hiroki Kuroda as the team’s #2—as soon as next year.

For the teams that missed out, the Dodgers obviously stand to be effected the least. The addition of Tanaka was more or less a power play to round out a superstar rotation over a needed pickup. With a selection of Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett as their fifth starter, they will be fine. The Diamondbacks needed to get a top gun for their rotation, but they are solid as is. It is a tougher loss for the White Sox and Cubs, who both are in the middle of rebuilding efforts and having young, top flight potential arms is the quickest road to respectability.

As for the team, the Yankees made a necessary statement in signing Tanaka, one that says they are bent on returning the postseason, are not afraid to put the money up to do against the seemingly irresistible Dodger bankroll to succeed. It is a major risk, and the type that could be crippling going ahead if his clearly dynamic tools don’t translate into the expected elite level of results. However, if he provides nothing more than a regularly competitive, plus level arm in the vein of a Cole Hamels or Zack Greinke type, the Yankees can count themselves as the winners of the winter of 2013 down the road—if not immediately.

 

For more on this deal and the reaction to it, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

Matt_Garza

The outside looking in can seem the furthest away the closer you are. And while it is impossible to build a team around just one addition, acquiring the right finishing touch can make all of the difference in the world from one year to the next. For the teams that finished either within firing range of a division title (or should have), the Winter Meetings provide a chance to go the extra mile towards winning the race.

But what’s left to do that with? Free agents have been flying off the shelf quicker than at any point in recent history. And while Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury and Joe Nathan are all gone does not mean that the opportunity to make an instant upgrade to what’s returning is. The slight move can be the right move, and here are a few options that a few competitors that finished on the brink of a title could make to close the ranks that eluded them last summer…

Washington Nationals—Omar Infante: For the Nats, it is about adding both depth and rounding out their lineup to secure it is in place for an immediate run. As they showed, in the last month of the season, they are capable of turning it on and playing as well as any team in the NL, but were caught too thin and injured to do so far too often. Infante represents an upgrade at one of their few questionable positions, and also provides depth all throughout the infield and in the outfield if needed.

Pittsburgh Pirates—Kendrys Morales: The general feel is that Morales will need to have the DH spot open to play from, but for the Pirates who have lost Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd and Garrett Jones, adding the type of power bat that he represents in-between Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez upgrades them put them on par with the Cardinal club they are chasing. The price may be high, but the value would be worth it, and with Morales likely to last a while due to the draft pick compensation tied to him, they likely could get him at much more friendly rate within a month or so.

Arizona Diamondbacks—Jesse Crain/J.P. Howell: Shin-Soo Choo is the best fit for the club, but a bidding war with the Rangers could be looming for his services, which Arizona would surely loose. Instead, reallocating those resources towards two premier bullpen arms would both save money and support their emerging staff. The duo of Crain and Howell would give the Diamondbacks a very formidable late inning group to match the late-game units in LA and San Francisco.

Tampa Bay Rays—Corey Hart: They’ve said that they do not have interest in the rehabbing former Brewer, but revisiting him would be a smart move. He provides a power option to support Evan Longoria and Wil Myers in the heart of the order and can play both first base and right field, which gives Joe Maddon the type of lineup flexibility he loves to deploy. What’s more, he won’t be overly expensive due to injury concerns, so he fits right into the pocket where the Rays like to stay—the shallow part.

Cleveland Indians—Grant Balfour: The secret strength of the Indians last year was a deep bullpen, but with Chris Perez, Joe Smith and Matt Albers all departed, that stash is depleted. Balfour has been through the trials of the postseason the previous two seasons, and would provide a much needed (yet very ironic) calming presence to the Indians as they look to get over the hump and keep up with the Tigers.

Los Angeles Angels—Matt Garza: While the A’s and Rangers have been busy, the Angels have been waiting to find the right way to make an impact add to their starting pitching. Yesterday’s trade brought some young talent to the mix, but this is a team in need of a stragetic impact add. During the past two winters, they have only achieved half of that equation,  but bringing Garza aboard would give them one of the best #3 pitchers in baseball (finally back in the role that he made his name in with the Rays behind James Shields and David Price) and would give them a much needed boost in the match up department from the mound behind Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. He won’t make an 18-game difference by himself, but at this point, the Angels have to either keep adding or blow it up…and option B isn’t in play.

For more on the free agent market (and where these guys likely do end up), follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan

Cano didn't flinch once the Mariners presented a figure in his expected ballpark, and now is the among the richest ballplayers ever.

Cano didn’t flinch once the Mariners presented a figure in his expected ballpark, and now is the among the richest ballplayers ever.

Business picked up to the highest levels it can over the last few days, and this morning it hit a pinnacle. The season’s top prized shocked the world by spurning the New York Yankees and taking his talents to the furthest imaginable outpost from the bright lights of the Bronx, the Seattle Mariners. Last night, Cano and company visited the M’s, who proposed the first real and tangible counter offer the Yankees’ original offer to their incumbent superstar, and after some back and forth negotiations, he leveraged the best possible deal that he could imagine, an air tight career spanning deal covering 10 years and returning a reported $240 million over the life of it.

This deal changes the landscape of the free agent season, as the top guy always does, and puts a few new scenarios into motion. Lets take a look around the league at those dominoes, as well as what else is rounding into place…

  • The Mariners deal with Cano, which equals the epic sum that Albert Pujols netted in December 2011, reportedly will not take them out of the mix for further acquisitions.  The club is still interested in Mike Napoli, Nelson Cruz and Shin-Soo Choo among other free agents, and is also interested in pursuing David Price as well.
  • The Milwaukee Brewers could be a candidate to get involved in the first base market
  • Major League Baseball and the Nippon Professional Baseball league reached an agreement on the posting fee to negotiate with Japanese league members of $20 million. This potentially allows for pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to enter into the free agent scene for MLB teams to bid on soon, which could also finally start the market moving for the other top rated US free agent starters as well.
  • After moving on from a few of their free agents from a year ago, the Red Sox have been engaged in returning Stephen Drew and Mike Napoli, while still eyeing an extension for Jon Lester
  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski stated he does not anticipate the team making another high-profile signing this offseason, after agreeing to terms with Joe Nathan on Wednesday.
  • St. Louis Cardinals GM John Mozeliak saw his closer for much of the previous season, Edward Mujica, sign with the Red Sox yesterday, and also did not tender a contract to John Axford either, but stated that the depth of young arms on his current roster makes it unlikely the team will add anything else to its bullpen.
  • Early in the week, it was reported that Carlos Beltran had a pending offer in hand that covered three years, but since that has been refuted and his still available.
  • First Baseman James Loney is seeking  a reported three year deal that would be worth a total of $25-$30 million total. This would be a much larger deal than the one that Justin Morneau received from the Rockies earlier this week.

With those points and tips out of the way, here’s where the current free agent landmark sits, with recent signing highlighted with terms. An updated ‘Cut The Check’ signing recap will follow this weekend covering those deals and what they mean for both the new and previous club.

  1. Robinson Cano-2B: Signed w/ Mariners (10 yrs, $240 million)
  2. Shin-Soo Choo-RF: Yankees, Tigers, Rangers, Mariners
  3. Matt Garza-RHP: Yankees, Twins, Angels, Orioles, Nationals
  4. Carlos Beltran-RF/DH: Yankees, Royals, Red Sox, Rangers, Mariners, Indians, Reds
  5. Ubaldo Jimenez-RHP: Yankees, Nationals, Angels
  6. Nelson Cruz-RF/DH: Rangers, Mets, Mariners, A’s, Orioles
  7. Mike Napoli-1B: Red Sox, Rockies, Marlins, Mariners
  8. Ervin Santana-RHP: Angels, Yankees, Twins, Royals
  9. Masahiro Tanaka-RHP: Yankees, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Japan
  10. Stephen Drew-SS: Dodgers, Nationals, Mets, Yankees, Red Sox
  11. Curtis Granderson-LF: Signed w/ Mets (4 yrs, $60 million)
  12. Hiroki Kuroda-RHP: Resigned w/ Yankees (1 yr, $16 million)
  13. Grant Balfour-RHP: Yankees, Rockies, Tigers, Rays
  14. Kendrys Morales-1B: Mariners, White Sox, Indians, Mets
  15. Fernando Rodney-RHP: Indians, Rays, Cubs
  16. Omar Infante-2B: Yankees, Cubs
  17. Joaquin Benoit-RHP: Phillies, Tigers
  18. Brian Wilson-RHP: Resigned w/ Dodgers (1 yr, $10 million)
  19. Edward Mujica-RHP: Signed w/ Red Sox (2 yrs, $9.5 million)
  20. AJ Burnett-RHP: Pirates
  21. Nate McLouth-LF: Orioles, Yankees
  22. Bronson Arroyo-RHP: Angels, Twins, Giants, Phillies
  23. Bartolo Colon-RHP: Marlins, Angels
  24. Jesse Crain-RHP: Red Sox, Rockies, Cubs
  25. Corey Hart-1B/RF: Brewers, Mets, Pirates
  26. James Loney-1B: Rays, Rockies, Pirates
  27. Chris Perez-RHP: Astros, Athletics, Tigers
  28. Raul Ibanez-DH: Yankees
  29. John Axford-RHP (New, non-tendered): Orioles
  30. Boone Logan-LHP: Yankees
  31. Gavin Floyd-RHP: Twins, Orioles
  32. Jason Kubel-OF/DH:
  33. Michael Morse-OF:
  34. Scott Downs-LHP:
  35. Matt Albers-RHP:
  36. Scott Feldman-RHP: Orioles
  37. J.P. Howell-LHP:
  38. Rafael Furcal-SS: Signed w/ Marlins (1 yr, $3 million)
  39. Scott Baker-RHP: Cubs,
  40. Jose Veras-RHP:
  41. Garrett Jones-OF (new, non-tendered):
  42. Jason Hammel-RHP: Giants
  43. Kevin Gregg-RHP:
  44. Juan Uribe-3B: Dodgers
  45. Chris Capuano-LHP: Twins
  46. Paul Konerko-1B: White Sox, Retirement
  47. Barry Zito-LHP:
  48. Joba Chamberlain-RHP: Royals, Braves, Giants, Astros
  49. Francisco Rodriguez-RHP:
  50. Mark Ellis-2B: Orioles

 

Ellsbury jumped ship from Boston for the Bronx, and collected the third biggest outfield deal ever to do so.

Ellsbury jumped ship from Boston for the Bronx, collecting the third biggest outfield deal ever to do so.

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.

The Tigers filled one of their long-standing glaring needs with Joe Nathan earlier today.

The Tigers filled one of their long-standing glaring needs with Joe Nathan earlier today.

Here is the latest of the greatest around the rumor mill for the current ranks. Before the next Cut The Check signings recap drops, here is where it all stands right now, headed into this weekend’s MLB Winter Meetings, the busiest and most active stretch of transactions of the baseball year.

  • The Yankees and Robinson Cano appear to have reached a standoff, and it is one that is separated by about $80 million mile markers. This is the type of divide that leaves no other choice but for other teams to enter the fray, and by the looks of it, the Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals could enter the Winter Meetings with a true, legit shot at landing baseball’s premier second baseman.
  • The outfield scene is starting to shift some. Carlos Beltran has been the most widely rumored and courted property available, and he has already received a three-year offer that is touching nearly $50 million from one of his suitors, that is yet to be revealed. Meanwhile, the scene for Jacoby Ellsbury has heated up over the last week, with the Red Sox reemerging as candidates to retain him, and the Yankees weighing him as a serious option too. Shin-Soo Choo has remained a hot property, but there is a link between several of the same locations for him, Ellsbury and Nelson Cruz. The first of which signs likely sees the others follow suit with a similarly interest team that lost out on another.
  • The Yankees have begun to look to work on their rotation issues as well, and have extended an offer to Hiroki Kuroda.
  • The Twins could still add another arm after Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco, in their search to amend one of baseball’s worst units in 2013
  • There are a few teams that are waiting out the scene to see who emerges after the dust settles on the big tag players available over the next few weeks. The teams that are primed to get involved at the point are led by the Mets, Rockies and Phillies, all of which could emerge with some substantial acquisitions at a more reasonable cost for their respective situations.

But with that said, here is the current lay of the land on the rumor mill, as this is the last update before the Winter Meetings this weekend start to clear off the chalkboard in a major way. The next update will have new names inserted in from the non-tendered players.

  1. Robinson Cano-2B: Yankees, Mariners, Nationals
  2. Jacoby Ellsbury-CF: Red Sox, Yankees, Mariners, Cubs
  3. Shin-Soo Choo-RF: Yankees, Rangers, Mariners, Reds, Tigers
  4. Matt Garza-RHP: Yankees, Twins, Angels, Orioles, Nationals
  5. Carlos Beltran-RF/DH: Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Royals, Mariners, Indians, Reds
  6. Ubaldo Jimenez-RHP: Yankees, Nationals, Angels
  7. Nelson Cruz-RF/DH: Rangers, Mets, Mariners, A’s, Orioles
  8. Mike Napoli-1B: Red Sox, Rockies
  9. Ervin Santana-RHP: Angels, Yankees, Twins, Royals
  10. Masahiro Tanaka-RHP: Yankees, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Japan
  11. Stephen Drew-SS: Dodgers, Nationals, Mets, Yankees, Red Sox
  12. Curtis Granderson-LF: Mets, Yankees, Cubs, White Sox
  13. Hiroki Kuroda-RHP: Yankees, Angels, Japan
  14. Joe Nathan-RHP: Signed w/ Tigers (2 yrs/TBA)
  15. Grant Balfour-RHP: Yankees, Rockies, Tigers, Rays
  16. Kendrys Morales-1B: Mariners, White Sox, Indians, Mets
  17. Ricky Nolasco-RHP: Signed w/ Twins (4 years, $49 million)
  18. Fernando Rodney-RHP: Indians, Rays, Cubs
  19. Omar Infante-2B: Cubs, Orioles, Reds, Yankees
  20. Jarrod Saltalamacchia-C: Signed w/ Marlins (3 years, $22 million)
  21. Joaquin Benoit-RHP: Phillies, Tigers
  22. Brian Wilson-RHP: Dodgers
  23. Edward Mujica-RHP: Phillies, Angels, Tigers, Yankees
  24. A.J. Burnett-RHP: Pirates
  25. Nate McLouth-LF: Orioles, Yankees
  26. Bronson Arroyo-RHP: Angels, Twins, Giants, Phillies
  27. Bartolo Colon-RHP: Marlins, Angels
  28. Scott Kazmir-LHP: Signed w/ Athletics (2 yrs, $22 million)
  29. Jesse Crain-RHP: Red Sox, Rockies, Cubs
  30. Corey Hart-1B/RF: Brewers, Mets, Pirates
  31. James Loney-1B: Rays, Rockies, Pirates
  32. Chris Perez-RHP: Astros, Athletics, Tigers
  33. Raul Ibanez-DH: Yankees
  34. Boone Logan-LHP: Yankees
  35. Gavin Floyd-RHP: Twins, Orioles
  36. Jason Kubel-OF/DH:
  37. Michael Morse-OF:
  38. Dioner Navarro-C: Signed w/ Blue Jays (2 yrs, $8 million)
  39. Justin Morneau-1B: Rockies
  40. Scott Downs-LHP:
  41. A.J. Pierzynski-C: Signed w/ Red Sox (1 yr, $8.25 million)
  42. Matt Albers-RHP:
  43. Scott Feldman-RHP: Orioles
  44. J.P. Howell-LHP:
  45. Ryan Vogelsong-RHP: Resigned w/ Giants (1 yr, $3 million)
  46. Rafael Furcal-SS: Mets, Royals
  47. Scott Baker-RHP: Cubs,
  48. Jose Veras-RHP:
  49. Garrett Jones-OF (new, non-tendered):
  50. Jason Hammel-RHP: Giants
  51. Kevin Gregg-RHP:
  52. Juan Uribe-3B: Dodgers
  53. Chris Capuano-LHP: Twins
  54. Paul Konerko-1B: White Sox, Retirement
  55. Barry Zito-LHP:
  56. Kelly Johnson-2B: Yankees,
  57. Joba Chamberlain-RHP: Royals, Braves, Giants, Astros
  58. Phil Hughes-RHP: Signed w/ Twins (3 yrs, $24 million)
  59. Francisco Rodriguez-RHP:
  60. Mark Ellis-2B: Orioles