Posts Tagged ‘MLB Free Agency’

White_Sox_Jose-Dariel-Abreu_2013

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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Spring Training is bit under a month away, yet there are still significant deals being inked around Major League Baseball. As I’ve said before here, this is the season where the in-between the lines deals get worked out; ones that can be very significant in the long run. Over the last few weeks, two contenders have gotten aggressive in doing just that, and banking their dollars on a few high risk/high reward elements.

The Washington Nationals have been the movers of the week, bringing back an MVP finalist, moving a big trade chip in Mike Morse as a result. That was expected, but was more of a shock was adding a big money closer to the mix as well, which really changes everything about a team that was already among the four or five best teams in baseball. Also, down in Texas a much heralded native son returns with something to prove….and a contract that demands it.

Here’s the updated MLB signing report, based from the original Top 75 Free Agent list.

LaRoche returned to DC out of necessity in some regards, but he also returns as a bonafide power boost to round out an impressive lineup.

LaRoche returned to DC out of necessity in some regards, but he also returns as a bonafide power boost to round out an impressive lineup.

7. Adam LaRoche—First Base, Resigned w/ Washington Nationals: 2 years/$24 million

This was a stalemate of a deal where the Nationals ultimately won out on both fronts. LaRoche was dead set on a three-year deal all winter, while the Nats put their foot in the ground on two years only. Ultimately, no team countered with a three year guarantee, and the Nats were the only show in town, so LaRoche returned to DC, to reap a generous deal on the heels of his 33 homer, 100 RBI breakout campaign. He landed a mutual option to extend for a third year, so if he keeps playing up to it, he’ll get what he was seeking.

11. Rafael Soriano—Pitcher, Signed w/ Washington Nationals: 2 years/$28 million

The now ex-Yankees closer took the risk of the offseason, walking away from a guaranteed $14 million per year in NY to test an uncertain free agent market. After a long while waiting on a calm pond of a market, he got the deal and the gig he was looking for. He becomes a bonus piece in the Nats pen that knocks everyone else down a slot in the pen, but very well could have been the final touch in making DC baseball’s most well-rounded club.

42. Lance Berkman—First Base, Signed w/ Texas Rangers: 1 year/$10 million

An interesting deal for the Rangers, who absolutely had to replace offense in their lineup after not resigning Josh Hamilton or Mike Napoli, and trading off Michael Young,  in landing Berkman. After making only 97 plate appearances for the Cardinals in 2012 due to mixture of elbow and knee injuries, the Rangers made a very generous investment in one on the only power options left on the market, but are rolling the dice at investment they made at best he can recapture his 2011 form.

There are still deals to be inked and players to match with clubs. Follow me on Twitter in the meantime to get up to the moment word at @CheapSeatFan.

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