Posts Tagged ‘Robinson Cano’

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After a few years of being one of the weaker positions in the game, there has been a renaissance of sorts at second base in the past year. Part of it has been younger players making their mark in the game, while another part has been old standards continuing to carry the torch. But all things considered, second base is once again home to a variety of impact-level talents around the game.

This proves in splitting the hairs of the position and assigning ranks. While it gets a bit easier at the top, the upper-middle class of the position is very tightly knit. In some cases, it breaks down to what you may be looking for. Is it middle of the lineup pop….or elite glove work? Is it a pure speed threat to mix things up…or on-base threats that set the table for their more powerful teammates?

Regardless of what it is, it can be found on the list below. So let’s have a look through the best of the best at second base headed into 2016.

To get caught up on where this list stood headed into last spring, click here.

 

10. Logan Forsythe, Rays (Not Ranked in ’15)

2015: .281/.359/.444, 17 HR, 68 RBI, 69 runs scored, 9 stolen bases, .804 OPS

Last 3 Years: .251/.323/.388, 10 HR, 38 RBI, 41 runs scored, 6 stoletn bases, .712 OPS

A breakout 2015 sees Forsythe inch his way onto the list. He was a much needed source of offense for the scattershot Rays lineup. He played in 153 games and posted the second highest WAR among AL second basemen, totaling a 5.1 win figure. Amongst his teammates in Tampa, Forsythe finished second on his club in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI and total bases, while leading in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS.

This was due to him hitting the third most home runs, third most RBI and working out the second highest on-base percentage among all AL 2B’s.

 

9. Brandon Phillips, Reds (Not Ranked in ’15)

2015 Stats: .294/.328/.395, 12 HR, 70 RBI, 19 doubles, 69 runs scored, 23 stolen bases, .723 OPS

Last 3 Years: .274/.315/.389, 13 HR, 75 RBI, 23 doubles, 64 runs scored, 10 stolen bases, .704 OPS

Don’t call it a comeback, but after a few seasons of decline, Phillips posted a vintage-like year in 2015, posting his first over .290 average/70 RBI season since 2011. He also topped 20 stolen bases for the first time since 2009 as well.

What had not tarnished was his sterling defense at second base, which still remains at a top tier level in all of baseball. He made the third fewest errors of all National League second basemen, while posting the second best defensive WAR (0.9) of all full-time NL 2B’s.

 

8. Brian Dozier, Twins (#10 in ’15)

2015 Stats:  .236/.307/.444, 28 HR, 77 RBI, 101 runs scored, 12 stolen bases, .751 OPS

Last 3 Years: .240/.322/.425, 23 HR, 71 RBI, 95 runs scored, 16 stolen bases, .747 OPS

Dozier has been the low key engine that has pushed the revival of the Minnesota Twins towards some legit competitive waters entering 2016. He made his All-Star debut a year ago, and in all actuality it was a year later than it was due.

Dozier finished with 23 home runs, 71 RBI and 21 stolen bases in his breakout 2014 season. He proved it was no fluke year the following season by upping his homers to 28, RBI to 77 and topping 100 runs for second straight year as well. Those 28 long balls led all MLB second baseman, making it the second year that he has led the MLB in the category at the position. All in all, only Ian Kinsler and Jose Altuve have posted a higher collective AL 2B WAR over the past two years than Dozier.

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7. Ben Zobrist, Cubs (#5 in ’15)

2015: .276/.359/.450, 13 HR, 56 RBI, 36 doubles, 76 runs scored, 3 stolen bases, .809 OPS

Last 3 Years: .274/.356/.413, 12 HR, 60 RBI, 35 doubles, 79 runs scored, 8 stolen bases, .769 OPS

Known more for his versatility, perhaps it would be more apt Zobrist to be noted for his stunning consistency. He regularly posts premier on-base figures to go with strong extra base hit totals as well— he has posted at least a .350 OBP to go along with 34+ doubles and 10+ home runs annually since 2011.

This strong penchant for finding base helps him have a purpose in every lineup (his offseason move to Chicago will be his fourth team in the last three years), but also be able to make an impact as well. Zobrist was one of the final pieces the Royals acquired in their successful push for a World Series title, and he held his own in October as well. He posted a .303 postseason average, while scoring 15 runs and of course, reaching base at a .365 clip.

 

6. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox (#4 in ’15)

2015: .291/.356/.441, 12 HR, 42 RBI, 19 doubles, 46 runs scored, 2 stolen bases, .797 OPS

Last 3 Years: .291/.356/.408, 9 HR, 60 RBI, 31 doubles, 70 runs scored, 8 stolen bases, .763 OPS

It was certainly a quality over quantity year for Pedroia, as he played in his fewest amount of games since 2010, but still found a way to out-homer himself from his single-season totals the previous two years (9 and 7, respectively).

Other than that, it was frustrating year for Pedroia as the Red Sox’ struggles continued and he battled a bad hamstring himself. But when he was on the field, he was the same mix of hustle and impact he always has been. He had the third-highest on-base percentage among AL second basemen and of all players at the position that were good for at least two Wins Above Replacement, Pedroia did so with the second fewest at-bats (Devon Travis).

 

5. Jason Kipnis, Indians (#9 in ’15)

2015: .303/.372/.451, 9 HR, 52 RBI, 43 doubles, 86 runs scored, 12 stolen bases, .823 OPS

Last 3 Years: .277/.351/.414, 11 HR, 59 RBI, 35 doubles, 78 runs scored, 21 stolen bases, .766 OPS

With most of his injury issues of 2014 behind him, Kipnis returned to All-Star form a year ago and put together another fantastic season, topping .300 for the first time. This campaign was highlighted by 51 hit outburst in May, where he joined none other than Ty Cobb and Al Simmons as the only American Leaguers to ever hit the half-century in hits level in one month.

Overall, his power and speed numbers were down some from where they were a few years ago, but he still pumped out 43 doubles, good for second in the AL. Toss in another career high in triples (9) and a vastly reduced strikeout rate, and Kipnis showed that he is rounding into one of the top overall producers at the position.

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4. Robinson Cano, Mariners (#1 in ’15)

2015: .287/.334/.446, 21 HR, 79 RBI, 34 doubles, 82 runs scored, 6 stolen bases, .779 OPS

Last 3 Years: .305/.366/.471, 21 HR, 89 RBI, 37 doubles, 80 runs scored, 6 stolen bases, .838 OPS

It is certainly fair to say that Cano had a down year last season. However, the notion that he has fallen all the way off into irreversible tailspin of a career, has many eluded to during his first half struggles last year, is far off the mark.

After a pre All-Star performance that was lowlighted by a 6 home runs, a .290 on-base percentage and a .250 overall batting average, Cano went instant vintage in the second half of the year. In his final 70 games, he hit at a .330 clip, popped 15 home runs and scored 44 runs, while producing a .926 OPS, which was by and far the best in all of baseball at the second base position. The old standard bearer still has more than enough punch left in him.

 

3. Dee Gordon, Marlins (Not ranked in ’15)

2015: .333/.359/.418, 4 HR, 46 RBI, 24 doubles, 88 runs scored, 58 stolen bases, .776 OPS

Last 3 Years: .306/.340/.391, 2 HR, 29 RBI, 63 runs scored, 44 stolen bases/.731 OPS

Gordon, whom the Marlins swindled away from the Dodgers prior to the 2015 season, has become the most dynamic leadoff hitter in the game today. Over the past two years, he has twice led the National League in stolen bases, stealing 122 bags over the time. During the same time period, he has 20 triples, has scored 180 runs and reached base at a .342 clip.

Yet he made his biggest stride forward in being an on-base terror when he hit .333 last season and won the National League batting title. During the course of doing so, he also ran up an NL-best 205 hits and took home a Silver Slugger as well. And top it all off and prove he’s not just two trick pony, he grabbed his first Gold Glove award as well in his second season season as a full-time second baseman.

 

2. Ian Kinsler, Tigers (#2 in ’15)

2015: .296/.342/.428, 11 HR, 73 RBI, 35 doubles, 94 runs scored, 10 stolen bases, .770 OPS

Last 3 Years: .283/.330/.420, 14 HR, 79 RBI, 35 doubles, 93 runs scored, 13 stolen bases, .750 OPS

When considering what an “All Underrated Team” might look like for the MLB over the past five years, Kinsler would be firmly entrenched at second base. This is because there is no other leadoff hitter in the game that impacts run production at a strong rate than he does.

In each of the past five years, Kinsler has driven in 70 runs, scored at least 85 (with three seasons over 100), reached double digits in home runs and topped 30 doubles. And while his speed has tailed off some in recent years, Kinsler made up for that by increasing his batting average to its highest level in seven years last season.

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1. Jose Altuve, Astros (#3 in ’15)

2015: .313/.353/.459, 15 HR, 66 RBI, 40 doubles, 86 runs scored, 38 stolen bases, .812 OPS

Last 3 Years: .313/.349/.426, 9 HR, 59 RBI, 39 doubles, 78 runs scored, 43 stolen bases, .775 OPS

425.

That is the number of hits that Altuve has run up over the past two seasons. That is a back-to-back season total that Ryne Sandberg, Joe Morgan, Craig Biggio, Roberto Alomar, Eddie Collins or Nap Lajoie ever reached. So it should be appreciated the tear that Altuve is on throughout his first few seasons as an American Leaguer.

Altuve wears on the opposition unlike any other player in the game today. The self-confessed 5’5 Altuve has twice led the AL in stolen bases over the past two years and took home the 2014 batting title. A three-time All-Star (with an appearance in both leagues), if Dee Gordon is baseball’s most dynamic speed threat out of the leadoff spot, Altuve is easily the best overall player inhabiting the role today. His presence on the base paths gets the rest of the Astro lineup fed a steady diet of fastballs to feast on in the cozy confines of Minute Maid Park.

Toss in the fact he took home his first Gole Glove as a byproduct of carrying the highest fielding rating at the position in the game a year ago, and it proves his across the board impacts make him among the elite players in all of the game today.

 

Just A Bit Outside: DJ LeMathieu, Rockies; Daniel Murphy, Nationals; Joe Panik, Giants

Second base is always home to diverse spread of talents. From speedsters, to glove-first space swallowers and a few outright power conduits, there is something for everybody on second.

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With all things considered however, the position is experiencing a deeper than normal talent pool around the league. There will be several players that are both major award winners and even All-Stars from a year ago that struggled to make the final cut for this year’s top 10 or missed it altogether. Yet most likely, when I turn my attention to the overall Top 100 players in the game in March, there could be 10-13 second basemen that make it. It is just that deep of a talent pool right now.

So without any further delay, here are the top 10 second basemen in the game. With plenty of shake up, but still starting in the same place it annually does….

1. Robinson Cano, Mariners (#1 in 2014): He has been the best in the business at his position for the last half-decade, and one year into his tenure in Seattle and there are no signs of that changing yet. While his power numbers took the expected Safeco dip, Cano turned in his usual outstanding overall offering at the plate. He turned in his sixth-straight year over .300, while stealing a career high of 10 bases as well. He annually makes a 6+ level of Wins Above Replacement impact and shows no signs of wavering at age 32.

2-year average: .314 average/.868 OPS/20 HR/94 RBI/39 doubles/188 hits/.989 Fld%

2. Ian Kinsler, Tigers (#6 in ’14): He has long been one of the most productive second basemen in the game, but Kinsler turned in one of his finest performances to date in 2014. Atop the potent Tiger lineup, he set new career-highs in hits (188) and RBI (92), while scoring 100 runs, hitting 17 home runs and 40 doubles. Tack on a fantastic defensive campaign as well, and he solidly reaffirmed himself as the best non-Cano second sacker in the game.

2-year average: .276 average/.740 OPS/15 HR/82 RBI/36 doubles/15 stolen bases/.983 Fld%

3. Jose Altuve, Astros (#10 in ’14): The Houston’s mighty mite leader had a huge breakout campaign in 2014, leading the MLB in batting average (.341) and hits (225), while topping the AL in stolen bases with 56. He played a part in pulling the Astros out of the abyss they had sat in over the past three years and made his second All-Star Game over the span as well.

2-year average: .313 average/.756 OPS/6 HR/56 RBI/39 doubles/46 stolen bases/.986 Fld%

4. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox (#2 in ’14): While his offensive took a slide in ’14, he remains perhaps the best infield defender in the game today. The rangy and fearless Pedroia took home his second Gold Glove in as many years, raising the overall total to four for the former MVP, Rookie of the Year and two-time World Champ. If he can uptick his batting average back up closer to his career average of .299, the BoSox will be in a much better place.

2-year average: .290 average/.752 OPS/8 HR/68 RBI/38 doubles/12 stolen bases/.995 Fld%

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5. Ben Zobrist, Athletics (#5 in ’14): The ultimate utility man has made his frequent home at second base over the past two years, so he’ll check in here once again. And while he does not have one particular area that he produces an eye popping result in, he does everything at a steady pace. He reached 150 hits, 30 doubles, 10 home runs, 50 RBI, 10 stolen bases and a .350 on-base percentage for the fourth straight year, and will bring a much needed steadying presence to his new home in Oakland.

2-year average: .273 average/.753 OPS/11 HR/62 RBI/35 doubles/10 stolen bases/.986 Fld%

6. Howie Kendrick, Dodgers (#8 in ’14): He will be switching sides of town from Anaheim to Chavez Ravine this summer, but it would be a safe bet to count on Kendrick to keep up the same steady—and annually underrated—level of play. He set a career-high in hits (181) and tied-RBI (75), while topping .290 for the second straight year.

2-year average: .295 average/.758 OPS/10 HR/64 RBI/27 doubles/10 stolen bases/.983 Fld%

7. Neil Walker, Pirates (Not Ranked): He swings a bat that is border line out of place at his position. Walker connected for 23 home runs and taking home the National League second base Silver Slugger. He became the Pirates cleanup hitter over the course of the year in response to his more powerful bat, and is also one of the most effective fielders in either league up the middle as well.

2-year average: .262 average/.784 OPS/20 HR/64 RBI/24 doubles/2 stolen bases/.990 Fld%

8. Chase Utley, Phillies (Not Ranked): He put the game on notice some a year ago that he still had it, and turned in the sort of well-rounded performance that is befitting of himself at this point in his career. Playing in the most games he has since 2009, Utley drove in 78 runs, posted 36 doubles and rebounded well from a horrendous 2013 in the field. In the process he reaffirmed the fact that while he no longer is the MVP-candidate he was early in his career, he still is at an All-Star caliber level.

2-year average: .276 average/.781 OPS/14 HR/74 RBI/30 doubles/9 stolen bases/.978 Fld%

9. Jason Kipnis, Indians (#4 in ’14):Injuries stole much of Kipnis’ thunder he carried coming in last season, but he remains a diverse talent capable of impacting a game in many ways. He has stolen 83 bases over the past three years and if he gets his power stroke back, Kipnis could be the final piece the emergent Indians need to return to the postseason.

2-year average: .263 average/.735 OPS/12 HR/62 RBI/30 doubles/26 stolen bases/.985 Fld%

10. Brian Dozier, Twins (Not Ranked): Dozier followed up a noticeable jump forward in his second season with a major one in year three. He joined the 20/20 club by taking 23 balls over the fence and swiping 21 bases, while scoring 112 runs as well. All in all, he is on the verge of beginning to push for All-Star notice, even within the current crowded second base scene in the AL.

2-year average: .243 average/.745 OPS/20 HR/68 RBI/33 doubles/18 stolen bases/.986 Fld%

 

Runners Up: Dee Gordon, D.J. LeMahieu, Brandon Phillips, Daniel Murphy

The boys came to play in the American League this summer. Plenty of strong cases were made for the league’s top honor, with a mixture of standard bearers, returns to form and breakout campaigns. But in the end It was the coming of age proved to be undeniable in deciding who was the top gun in the junior circuit. And when all things are considered, it really ended up not being that close. Because the unstoppable force simply refused to be denied any longer.

2014 American League Stan Musial Player of the Year—Mike Trout, Anaheim Angels

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The coming of age has come to be. The rise of Mike Trout has been far from a secret; he has been baseball’s hottest commodity for the past three summers. However, before this summer is that there has always been a caveat to his status as the prime property in the game. Whether it was Miguel Cabrera’s undeniable run at the plate or the struggles of the Angels in light of their expectation, there has consistently been something that has stood in the way of crowning the game’s most precociously best talent with its premier prize.

But the summer of 2014 saw the irresistible force breakthrough completely. What Trout has done most remarkably in his young career is answer the task that

His ever maturing game took another turn this year, as he embraced more of the run-producing element of his game this year. Trout muscled up and hit a career-best 36 home runs, the third best total in the AL this year. He added another career-high with 111 RBI, as well as total bases with 338, both ranking as the top totals in the AL. In addition, he paced the league in runs scored for a third straight year with 115 and finished in the top 10 in doubles with 39 and second with 9 triples.

Yet at the cost of power, some of the categories that he had previously dominated took a slight dip. His averaged finished at .287, the first time he posted a full-season total below .300 (although it still finished in the top 15 in the league) and his stolen bases clipped down to 16. Also, his strikeouts jumped up to a league-high 184.

Those factors could be seen as it being a down year of sorts for Trout. Or perhaps a return to the mean after an unbelievably overwhelming start to his career. However, there was still no more important player in all aspects of the game for his team than Trout, as while he dipped in some areas, he morphed his game into exact what the Angels needed most this year.

With Josh Hamilton out of the mix with injuries, the need for a middle of the lineup run producer was needed much more than a table-setting spark plug at the top of the lineup. So when call was made for help there, Trout answered and channeled his talents into fueling one the AL’s most potent offenses. He drove in 20 runs in three separate months and hit at least five home runs in each month. While his overall average slid some, he hit .321 in April and .361 in June.

Measuring him at the plate alone still limits the overall contributions he made. He is still the glue that holds together the Angels outfield, covering the confines of centerfield easily with some athleticism to burn. On the base paths, he puts pitchers on alert and eats extra bases for any ball that either finds a gap or a step too slow outfielder. That is why is he the visual explanation to the mystery of the Wins Above Replacement figure—which he has led the Majors in each full year of his career, including the 7.9 indispensable wins he created this time around—there is simply nothing that is outside of his reach.

He plays the game hard every time out, puts on a the full buffet of talents seemingly on-demand and for the first time, is playing it to win, as the Angels took home the AL’s best record at 98-64. When the most talented player in the game also does all of the small things more consistently than anyone else, there is not much that can be done to stop him. And that is what makes Trout so special.

And the best part about it all: it’s only beginning. Trout Version 3.0 is the MVP, just as Versions 1.0 and 2.0 laid legit claim to, albeit in completely different fashions. It is fairly certain that Version 4.0 will take the same path, but I am already looking forward to how he goes about it.

Runners Up

  1. Victor Martinez, Tigers: He was a hitting machine this year for the Tigers, often being the team’s top bat, which is saying a lot when Miguel Cabrera is a part of your lineup. He led the AL in on-base percentage (.409) and finished second with a .335 batting average, and connected for a career-best 32 home runs. He only struck out in 6% of his 641 plate appearances (42 times).
  2. Jose Altuve, Astros: Houston mighty mite posted the top average in the game at .341 and led the AL with 56 stolen bases. He also ran up a club record 225 hits while becoming the first Astro to win a batting title.
  3. Michael Brantley, Indians: It all came together for Brantley this year, as he posted one of most well-rounded campaigns in the game this year. His .327 average was third in the AL, while he also hit 20 home runs, 45 doubles, stole 23 bases and 200 total hits.
  4. Adam Jones, Orioles: Jones carried the weight both at the plate and in the field for the beat up, yet still division champion O’s. He hit 29 home runs and drove in 96, while playing perhaps the best defensive center field in the league.
  5. Josh Donaldson, Athletics: The intense leader of the A’s played his usual brilliant two-way game, driving in 98 runs and playing a far and away best third base in the game with the glove (2.7 dWAR).
  6. Nelson Cruz, Orioles: He led the AL with 40 home runs during his comeback season, and drove in 108 runs as well.
  7. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: Joey Bats health stayed faithful to him, and he got back to destroying baseball to the tone of 35 homers, 103 RBI and scored 101 runs scored.
  8. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: A “down year” for Miggy has basically become one where he doesn’t win at least a batting title, and while he did not reach that mark this year, he did lead the Majors with 52 doubles and crossed 100 RBI for the 11th straight year.
  9. Robinson Cano, Mariners: The home runs weren’t as high, but his Seattle debut was definitely a success. He hit .314 with 82 RBI while reviving competitive baseball in the northwest.

Past CSP Votes

2013: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

2012: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

2011: Justin Verlander, Tigers

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Picking out the cream of the field at second base is always difficult, mainly because it is such a diverse position from a demands perspective. Some teams need pure defensive wizardry, while others lean for offense in a non-tradition place for it there. Some teams use it for a speed boost, while a select few get lucky enough to combine all of these factors into one.

The collection of second basemen around the MLB currently is a shining example of the hotbed for diverse talents that the position has become. And while the elite of years past are still firmly in their accustomed positions, there are more than a few up and comers that are pushing for their place within the ranks of the balanced and surprising deep talent collection.

As we continue to wait for two more voters to get a grasp on Craig Biggio, lets get a hold on the best in the game at his spot today. Here are the best at the second stop around the diamond…

10. Jose Altuve, Astros: The diminutive Houston leadoff hitter seems to be everywhere at once. He has topped both 30 doubles and stolen bases each of the past two seasons, and led all AL second basemen in double plays turned with 114.

9. Daniel Murphy, Mets: The steady Murphy has hit 78 doubles over the past two seasons, has hit below .285 only once in his career. His 188 2013 hits lead all NL second basemen returning to the position this year (Matt Carpenter is moving to third base in St. Louis).

8. Howie Kendrick, Angels: An owner of a .292 career average over 8 seasons, he’s a rightful member on the annual ‘All-Underrated’ squad, Kendrick hit .297 with 13 homers a year ago, which marks his highest power output in 3 years and top average in six.

Omar Infante, Chris Getz

7. Omar Infante, Royals: He’s does enough of everything to be a threat at all times. His .318 average lead all AL second basemen and a career-best slugging percentage (.450). A jack-of-all-trades, he can chip in at five different positions, and stands to be a very versatile weapon in Kansas City.

6. Ian Kinsler, Tigers: The odd man out in Texas is Motown’s gain. As unique a blend of second base features as the game boasts, he topped 70 RBI for the third consecutive year, stole at least 15 bags for the seventh and raised his average up to .277.

5. Ben Zobrist, Rays: The game’s top utility man found a pretty steady home back at second last year, and continues to produce a fine all-around product. He committed only four errors on the season, while topping 36 doubles, finished in the top 20 in on-base percentage and made his second All-Star game.

4. Jason Kipnis, Indians: He took the step ahead in year three, reaching career-best in nine categories, including home runs (17), doubles (36) and RBI (84), while reaching 30 stolen bases for the second consecutive year. He is the axis that the resurgent Indians will build around.

3. Brandon Phillips, Reds: His average slid some and he isn’t an active base stealer anymore, but the decline of Dat Dude is overplayed. He topped 100 RBI for the first time in his career, and remains the top glove in the game at his position.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Boston Red Sox

2. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: With a healthy year on his side again, Pedroia once again showed why he’s one of the more indispensable players in the game. In addition to adding another Gold Glove to his trophy case, he sparked the World Champions with 193 hits, 42 doubles and 84 RBI, along with a .372 on-base percentage.

1. Robinson Cano, Mariners: Easily the position’s best and in the handful of the game’s best all-around talents as well. He topped 25 home runs, 190 hits, 40 doubles and a .300 average for the fifth straight year during his farewell tour in the Bronx. For much of the season, he held together a middling Yankee team and pushed them to a much more competitive effort than was to be expected. And he will be charged with the same task in his new home of Seattle—and should be well up to meeting and exceeding the challenge.

Just A Bit Outside: Marco Scutaro, Aaron Hill, Chase Utley

For more on the countdown series and the game in real-time, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan. For more content, head to  I70 Baseball and The Sports Fan Journal.

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros

Baseball does not usually get much credit for moving very quickly. However this winter has been the equivalent of a Rickey Henderson wind sprint, as the movements around the game have come quick, early and often out of nowhere.

Last week provided a flurry of action on the 2014 season that saw the landscape of both leagues, but most intensely the American half, change tremendously. The New York Yankees both provided (and were victims of) major additions and loss, in making Jacoby Ellsbury the third highest paid outfielder ever, but also watching the Seattle Mariners go to a place they would not for their incumbent top star, Robinson Cano. What the impact is on the field in Seattle is yet to be seen, as is how much more New York is willing to do in order to reassure the potency of their team, but either way it goes, no less than everything changed in regards to the way the baseball winter was expected to play in just under 72 hours….and a week early.

Instead of being the base of operations for change, this week’s MLB Winter Meetings will see the finishing touches be put the majority of the major additions for the winter. Will the pitching scene finally start to clear up? And what will be the continued domino effects of the Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran deals? Whatever it is, the baseball windmill has began spinning, and isn’t showing signs of slowing up soon.

But as for what has been established thus far, here is the most recent effects and aftershocks of the newest deals handed out for these now former free agents. (All rankings are their original ranks on the full Top 75 Free Agent rankings)

1. Robinson Cano-Second Baseman-30 years old-2013 Team: New York Yankees

Signed: Seattle Mariners—10 years, $240 million

The Mariners made the splash of the offseason so far over the course of 24 hours, by luring Cano away from the spotlight of New York and into their now full-on rebuilding spree. The deal makes him the third-highest paid player paid player in baseball, and also instantly makes him the axis of a Mariner team that was not too long ago an afterthought on the competition scene.

For the Mariners, it was an opportunistic signing that provides a major starting point towards a push towards the postseason, however one man cannot change the entire course of a franchise, and it is still unlikely that they are in a position to overcome the Oakland and Texas teams that are far more complete staffs. It is an all-in deal, that looks good in the moment, but will be a failure of mass proportions if they cannot add more around him, due to his price tag. In New York, despite their rampant additions to their team, they will feel the loss of their best overall player, and most potent run producer. Yet, they still most likely make out better without another albatross of a contract to work around in years to come.

6. Carlos Beltran-Right Fielder-37 years old-2013 Team: St. Louis Cardinals

Signed: New York Yankees—3 years, $45 million

He’s become baseball’s equivalent of the ace bandage; after joining the Cardinals to be a replacement impact bat in the middle of the Cardinal lineup two years ago, he will go on to do the same thing for the post-Cano Yankees now. Due to the evolving St. Louis lineup, there was no more room for Beltran, and he will now play an important role as part-time outfielder/designated hitter in the Yankees’ quest to retake the AL East. Beltran was the most courted part of the free agent market, and now the Red Sox, Mariners, Rangers, Red Sox, Tigers, Indians and Royals, among others, all either will or have looked in different directions.

9. Mike Napoli-First Baseman-32 years old-2013 Team: Boston Red Sox

Resigned: Red Sox—2 years, $32 million

The complex year of Mike Napoli finally comes to an end where he wanted it to all along. After seeing the extra years on his original contract voided shortly after he signed it due to a hip injury, Napoli gets them back and at a larger sum to stay where he wanted. The Red Sox return the top power hitting infielder available to their mix for the next two years and return an invaluable part of their everyday balance.

14. Curtis Granderson-Left Fielder-33 years old-2013 Team: New York Yankees

Signed: New York Mets—4 years, $60 million

The Yankees addition of Jacoby Ellsbury and pursuit of Carlos Beltran made Granderson the odd man out, and the crosstown Mets pounced on the opportunity. They made a slightly out of character commitment to acquire the outfielder, due to their rebuilding financial situation, however the purpose and value are clear. Granderson provides an impact support bat behind David Wright and makes their competitive push over the next two years in a better place.

16. Hiroki Kuroda-Starting Pitcher-39 years old-2013 Team: New York Yankees

Resigned: Yankees—1 year, $16 million

Kuroda was either coming back to the Yankees or going all the way back to Japan for the next season. His decision to stay in the Bronx allows the Yankees most consistent pitcher over the past two years to remain at the heart of a rotation that is desperately in need of an upgrade. Keeping his consistency (a 3.31 ERA over 65 starts in two years) is essential to having the flexibility to add either a top notch free agent arm, or a lower cost/high value pair of contributors underneath him and CC Sabathia.

30. Brian Wilson-Relief Pitcher-32 years old-2013 Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Resigned: Dodgers—1 year, $10 million

He went to the open market to find a job as a closer again, but instead took a high dollar deal to return to LA as a setup man. This gives him a chance to show his stuff to teams that could have had interest in him this season, but needed to see more than the 19.2 innings he pitched in 2013, albeit at a high level (0.42 ERA, 21 strikeouts to 4 walks).

31. Edward Mujica-Relief Pitcher-30 years old-2013 Team: St. Louis Cardinals

Signed: Boston Red Sox—2 years, $9.5 million

Mujica had an up and down year in 2013. After making the All-Star team after taking over the closer role in St. Louis, he lost his touch down the stretch and was relegated to extra part during their October run. He’ll switch World Series dugouts to return to his more familiar late inning role as a bridge/set up man to Koji Uehara, and is a very good value pickup for the Red Legs.

35. Nate McLouth-Outfielder-32 years old-2013 Team: Baltimore Orioles

Signed: Washington Nationals—2 years, $10.75 million

The Nationals offseason plan seems to be to add depth and round out a roster that was high on talent, but low on substance a year ago. McLouth is the perfect addition for that effort; a multi-tooled outfielder that can run, play every outfield position and provide an instant injury replacement if injury woes revisit the DC frontline outfield again.

54. Scott Feldman-Starting Pitcher-31 years old-2013 Teams: Chicago Cubs/Baltimore Orioles

Signed: Houston Astros—3 years, $30 million

This is probably the clearest case of an overpay to just get something, anything, of experienced substance into the Houston rotation. Feldman is a solid pitcher, but more along the lines of a bottom half of the rotation fourth-fifth starter. Instead, he’ll get a deal that rivals that of Dan Haren and Kyle Lohse to lead the Astros starters, despite only having two seasons in his career where he has topped 10 victories.

61. Rafael Furcal-Shortstop-36 years old-2013 Team: St. Louis Cardinals

Signed: Miami Marlins—1 year, $3 million

Furcal missed the end of 2012 and all of 2013 due to an elbow injury that necessitated Tommy John surgery. However, after showing in late season workouts he would likely be capable of returning to the field, the Marlins picked him up to be a much needed veteran presence. He is slated to play second base, which is a much easier and less varied throw for his maligned elbow.

For more on moves made in the moment, 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

 

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