Category Archives: Roster Moves

Trade Review: Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox


You know, I keep planning on writing about the Hall of Fame case of Kevin Brown, and major stories in the game seem to keep coming up. When I went to bed last night, it appeared that the trade talks surrounding Adrian Gonzalez had been heating up, and that teams besides just the Red Sox were involved. When I woke up this morning, it appears that the other teams have fallen by the wayside, and that the Red Sox are very close to acquiring Gonzalez from the Padres.

According to MLBTR, the players involved have been confirmed, but the things holding up the trade remain a physical for Gonzalez and the contract extension discussions as well. The package of players seems to have reached a general consensus, if not complete confirmation for the public. Let’s take a look at how this trade looks:

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Fixing the Amateur Draft


For those that may not have known, the players selected in the amateur draft in June are only allowed to sign with the teams that drafted them until August 15th, or the first business day after that if it falls during a weekend (which it does this year). Note that this deadline only applies to players who still have eligibility at the college level, so college seniors have until the following year’s draft.

It has become a pretty standard practice that the top picks do not sign until as close to the deadline as humanly possible. On Saturday, at 10 PM EST, 15 of the first 32 picks and 12 of 18 supplemental 1st round picks had signed contracts. However, the top 3 picks, and 7 of the top 10 picks remain unsigned.

To me, the thing that stands out as really unusual with the amateur draft is the sheer size of the signing bonuses received by players who have not played a single inning as a professional. Last season, Stephen Strasburg received a $15.4 million contract, with $7.5 million of that being a signing bonus to be paid over 3 installments. While the salary portion of the contract is not unreasonable (the remainder is split over 4 seasons), the idea that he will be paid so much so soon surely must present a problem to other players who have worked their way up from later rounds of the draft, or via the international market.

The perfect example of what shouldn’t be happening is this, via MLBTradeRumors.com: The Nationals signed their 2nd round pick, Sammy Solis, to a deal worth $1M, and also their 4th round pick, A.J. Cole, to a deal worth $2M. Even though there were almost 150 players drafted before him, the only players to sign for a larger bonus so far have all been in the top 10 selections of the draft.  Now, I understand that the bargaining positions of certain players can change depending on their eligibility and their ability to re-enter the draft. But the idea that a player taken two rounds later could or should get a bonus twice as large as a different player seems really unusual.

I have to imagine that the draft is something that is going to be addressed as a part of the next collective bargaining agreement, and here’s some ideas I would love to see them implement:

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Free Agency Review – Relief Pitchers


Today I’m finishing up my series of reviews of this offseason’s free agent class, talking about the relief pitchers of the class.

All salary data from ESPN.com’s Free Agent Tracker
All 2011 free agent information from MLB Trade Rumors’ 2011 Free Agent List

Left Handed Relievers
Name Old New Years Total $
Mike Gonzalez ATL BAL 2 $12 M
Billy Wagner BOS ATL 1 $7 M
John Grabow CHC CHC 2 $7.5 M
Darren Oliver LAA TEX 1 $3.5 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: None

This group of lefty relievers did well, as both Gonzalez and Wagner received high dollar contracts that I, for one, did not really see them getting out of the teams that they did. Gonzalez seems like he was a good signing for the Orioles, as he can help to stabilize the bullpen for the very young rotation they have. Wagner was a bit of an unusual signing, as he was a type-A free agent. The Braves could have kept either Gonzalez or Rafael Soriano without having to give up the draft picks, but felt that Wagner was a better fit instead. That said, there is a certain swagger that Wagner can bring to the club that I don’t think either Gonzalez or Soriano would provide.

Right Handed Relievers
Name Old New Years Total $
Jose Valverde HOU DET 2 $14 M
Fernando Rodney DET LAA 2 $11 M
Rafael Soriano ATL ATL/TAM 1 $7.25 M
Kevin Gregg CHC TOR 1 $2.75 M
Takashi Saito BOS ATL 1 $3.2 M
J.J. Putz NYM CHW 1 $3 M
Octavio Dotel CHW PIT 1 $3.5 M
Rafael Betancourt COL COL 2 $7.55 M
Matt Capps PIT WAS 1 $3.5 M
Kelvim Escobar LAA NYM 1 $1.25 M
LaTroy Hawkins HOU MIL 2 $7.5 M
Brandon Lyon DET HOU 3 $15 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Kiko Calero (FLA)

Lots of closers in this group. The Rodney signing was interesting to me, as it signals either one of two things: Rodney isn’t that concerned about being a closer, as he could probably have gotten a job as one with a number of teams, and 2)the Angels have very little faith as Brian Fuentes as the closer. Either way, definitely something to be watched. Washington, Houston, Detroit, and possibly Pittsburgh all got closers off of the free agent pool this year. The other interesting trend was the musical chairs game played by some of the teams, with Valverde and Lyon essentially trading spots, and deciding that the player they don’t know is going to be better than the player they do.

This weekend’s posts: Fantasy Previews of 1B and 2B

Free Agency Review – Starting Pitchers


As expected, the free agent class of starting pitchers was pretty deep this offseason, although there were very few solid options.

All salary data from ESPN.com’s Free Agent Tracker
All 2011 free agent information from MLB Trade Rumors’ 2011 Free Agent List

LH Starting Pitchers
Name Old New Years Total $
Randy Wolf LAD MIL 3 $29.75 M
Andy Pettitte NYY NYY 1 $11.75 M
Erik Bedard SEA SEA 1 $1.5 M
Aroldis Chapman CIN 6 $30.25 M
Doug Davis ARI MIL 1 $5.25 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Jarrod Washburn (DET)


Of all the lefties, Randy Wolf probably did the best in terms of capitalizing on a good season. Milwaukee got a very good veteran starting pitcher for a reasonable price. Bedard signed an incentive-laden deal which could be worth up to $8.5 M total, and if he earns them all, the Mariners will be extremely happy with the results as well. The most unusual signing in my opinion was the Chapman signing. The Reds, not known for spending a lot of money necessarily, sign a pitcher who will be under contract for 6 seasons, and be paying him for as much as 10 perhaps, and will hopefully not be starting his career in the Major leagues.

RH Starting Pitchers
Name Old New Years Total $
Rich Harden CHC TEX 1 $7.5 M
John Lackey LAA BOS 5 $82.5 M
Brad Penny SF STL 1 $7.5 M
Joel Pineiro STL LAA 2 $16 M
Justin Duchscherer OAK OAK 1 $2 M
Ben Sheets OAK 1 $10 M
Jon Garland LAD SD 1 $5.3 M
Colby Lewis JPN TEX 2 $5 M
Jason Marquis COL WAS 2 $15 M
Vicente Padilla LAD LAD 1 $5.025 M
Carl Pavano MIN MIN 1 $7 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Braden Looper (MIL), Todd Wellemeyer (STL), John Smoltz (STL), Pedro Martinez (PHI)

Lackey was the big name on the market this offseason, and got the big contract that went along with it. I was a bit surprised at the time about this since I didn’t really think that the Red Sox were in the market for a starting pitcher. However, it looks now like he will be the replacement for Josh Beckett should he leave via free agency after 2010. The Angels did well to replace Lackey with Pineiro. Pineiro, while not the same quality pitcher as Lackey, will provide more stability to the rotation being led now by Jered Weaver and Scott Kazmir. Free agency was also littered with high-risk, high-reward types like Harden, Sheets, and Duchscherer. The most interesting signing for a right hander to me is the Rangers’ signing of Colby Lewis. Lewis is returning from 2 seasons in Japan where he was very dominant, and should be interesting to watch this season.

Tomorrow: Free agency review of relief pitchers

Free Agency Review – OF/DH


Continuing on with my review of the 2010 free agent class, today’s positions are the outfielders and designated hitters.

All salary data from ESPN.com’s Free Agent Tracker
All 2011 free agent information from MLB Trade Rumors’ 2011 Free Agent List

Corner Outfielders
Name Old New Years Total $
Jason Bay BOS NYM 4 $66 M
Matt Holliday STL STL 7 $120 M
Xavier Nady NYY CHC 1 $3.3 M
Randy Winn SF NYY 1 $1.1 M
Marlon Byrd TEX CHC 3 $15 M
Bobby Abreu LAA LAA 2 $19 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Johnny Damon (NYY), Jermaine Dye (CHW)

What an unusual offseason. Holliday gets $120 M from the Cardinals, despite appearing to have no other offers even remotely as large or as long. Bay takes about $6 M more than the Red Sox offered, and goes to a park which I have to imagine is not going to be as good for him as a hitter as Fenway was. And then there is the case of Johnny Damon. As of this writing, Damon is STILL unsigned. He was looking for a very large contract, with 3-4 years in length and a large quantity of money. After the season he had last year, he appears to have been well within his rights to ask for it, too. Unfortunately, no one’s willing to pay it. Which makes the contract that Bobby Abreu signed with the Angels look that much better.

Center Fielders
Name Old New Years Total $
Rick Ankiel STL KC 1 $3.25 M
Scott Podsednik CHW KCR 1 $1.75 M
Coco Crisp KCR OAK 1 $5.25 M
Mike Cameron MIL BOS 2 $15.5 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: None

Center fielders did alright this offseason, with Mike Cameron receiving the best contract overall. He’s going to be playing LF for the Red Sox most likely, although they’d probably be better served moving Jacoby Ellsbury instead. Crisp was added to the A’s outfield in spite of the logjam that was there when the offseason started, and the move makes a lot more sense now that they were able to move a couple of their excess outfielders. Both Podsednik and Ankiel aren’t going to play CF for the Royals, but I could see them splitting their time out there, and potentially in RF in place of Jose Guillen as well.

Designated Hitters
Name Old New Years Total $
Jim Thome LAD MIN 1 $1.5 M
Vladimir Guerrero LAA TEX 1 $5 M
Hideki Matsui NYY LAA 1 $6.5 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: None

Not surprisingly, there were not a lot of designated hitters available, and jobs for them either. Matsui did well to take Guerrero’s old job, and get a nice salary for 2010. I really like the signing for the Angels, as Matsui is the definition of a professional hitter. Should fit in well with the rest of the lineup and the roster. Guerrero could very well have an excellent season in Texas, although I think Texas probably would have been better served using that money for other spots on the roster besides a player who cannot play the field any longer. Thome’s signing was under the radar, and also fits really well with his new team. He brings a professionalism and veteran leadership to the Twins that they don’t have a lot of at the moment.

Tomorrow’s free agency review: Starting Pitchers

Free Agency Review – 2B/SS


Yesterday, I went over this offseason’s free agent catchers, first basemen, and third basemen. Today, the middle infielders.

All salary data from ESPN.com’s Free Agent Tracker
All 2011 free agent information from MLB Trade Rumors’ 2011 Free Agent List

Second Basemen
Name Old New Years Total $
Placido Polanco DET PHI 3 $18 M
Orlando Hudson LAD MIN 1 $5 M
Freddy Sanchez SF SF 2 $12 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Felipe Lopez (MIL)

The thing that really stood out to me about the 2B free agents was the fact that Hudson, for a second year in a row, had to wait until nearly Spring Training to find a job. Minnesota is a good fit for him, as he’ll probably slot in near the top of the order and provide some excellent defense up the middle. I also thought it was interesting that Polanco decided to go to Philadelphia, and change positions to move to 3B to do so. I also wonder how much longer Felipe Lopez will be available as a free agent. He seems like too good of a player to still be without a job of some sort, especially considering his ability to play multiple positions in the infield.

Shortstops
Name Old New Years Total $
Marco Scutaro TOR BOS 2 $12 M
Orlando Cabrera MIN CIN 1 $3 M

Shortstop was extremely shallow this offseason. Miguel Tejada was available to play shortstop, but it became clear that no one believed he can be a starting major league shortstop any longer. Beyond Scutaro and Cabrera, nearly all the remaining players who could play shortstop were backups, or simply defensive specialists. Scutaro’s $12 M contract was easily the largest, both in terms of years and dollars. Clearly, by signing Scutaro, the Red Sox decided that they don’t believe Jed Lowrie is a Major League shortstop, either. Cabrera surprises me again this season, as he had a season that was pretty consistent with his career averages, and yet somehow continues to have difficulty finding a job via free agency.

Tomorrow’s free agent positional review: The Outfielders

Free Agency Review – C/1B/3B


All week, I will be recapping the free agency signings this offseason, by position. Today’s group: Catchers and Corner Infielders (1B, 3B)

All salary data from ESPN.com’s Free Agent Tracker
All 2011 free agent information from MLB Trade Rumors’ 2011 Free Agent List

Catchers
Name Old New Years Total $
Bengie Molina SF SF 1 $4.5 M
Miguel Olivo KC COL 1 $2.5 M
Ivan Rodriguez TEX WAS 2 $6 M
Jason Kendall MIL KCR 2 $6 M
Gregg Zaun TAM MIL 1 $2.15 M
John Buck KC TOR 1 $2 M
Brian Schneider NYM PHI 2 $2.75 M
Yorvit Torrealba COL SD 1 $1.25 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Rod Barajas (TOR)

There really wasn’t a lot of available jobs for catchers this offseason, as realistically 5 jobs were vacated by free agents. Bengie Molina probably did the best, in my opinion, as he got the highest annual salary ($4.5 M), and managed to go to a team that has a very good prospect waiting in the wings. Of some concern was the fact that Molina had an even better offer on the table from the Mets, and turned it down anyway. Ivan Rodriguez was probably my favorite signing for a specific team, as he should be a real help to the Nationals rotation and lineup with his experience, and his winning track record. Nearly all of these signings are of the low-risk, high-potential variety, and no really big contracts either.

First Basemen
Name Old New Years Total $
Adam LaRoche ATL ARI 1 $6 M
Aubrey Huff DET SF 1 $3 M
Nick Johnson FLA NYY 1 $5.75 M
Troy Glaus STL ATL 1 $1.75 M
Jason Giambi COL COL 1 $1.75 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Russell Branyan (SEA), Carlos Delgado (NYM), Hank Blalock (TEX)

This year’s crop of free agent first basemen really didn’t have a lot of high-end talent, with Branyan and LaRoche probably having the best seasons of any of the players available. As a result, we saw exclusively 1 year contracts for most players, and some still looking for work. Branyan is really the biggest surprise, although his published demands early on during the offseason may have scared away a lot of teams. Next year’s class of 1B free agents is extremely strong, including Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, Derrek Lee, and Carlos Pena. This may also have contributed to the lack of long contracts, as teams may not want to tie up the position for next season’s bonanza. Another group of lower-risk, higher-potential contracts that if they don’t work, will not really cause any problems for the teams that signed them.

Third Basemen
Name Old New Years Total $
Mark DeRosa STL SF 2 $12 M
Adam Kennedy OAK WAS 1 $1.25 M
Chone Figgins LAA SEA 4 $36 M
Adrian Beltre SEA BOS 1 $10 M
Melvin Mora BAL COL 1 $1.3 M
Garrett Atkins COL BAL 1 $4.5 M
Pedro Feliz PHI HOU 1 $4.5 M
Miguel Tejada HOU BAL 1 $6 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Joe Crede (MIN)

3rd base actually had some solid free agent signings, with some big dollars as well. Beltre got the highest annual salary at $10 M from the Red Sox. That contract actually seemed like a bit of a surprise, as the Red Sox still have Mike Lowell who will now be relegated to bench duty. Figgins was the cream of the crop of this group, and got a well-deserved $36 M contract from the Mariners. The other signing I really found interesting was the Miguel Tejada signing. Tejada has never played 3B before, but will be moving to the position in his return to the Orioles. It looks like a really good value signing for the Orioles, and provides some more veteran leadership in the Orioles clubhouse.

Some Other Moves from Last Week


Now that the World Series is over, we will start seeing a flurry of transactions in the coming days. Last week was no exception. I’ve already discussed the J.J. Hardy-Carlos Gomez trade, but wanted to make mention of some of the other moves completed last week.

- Philadelphia exercised Cliff Lee’s 2010 option. No surprise here. Cliff pitched amazingly down the stretch for the Phillies. Now they need to start working on a contract extension and keep him there even longer.
- Manny Ramirez will return to the Dodgers on his exercised option. Also not a huge surprise to me here. Manny likes it in Los Angeles, and probably knew that he would never get $20 million on the open market this season.
- Brandon Webb had his 2010 option exercised as well. Based on how much the buyout was ($2 M), it wasn’t a huge surprise that it was picked up. Well worth the risk in my opinion.
- Jermaine Dye had his option for 2010 bought out, and became a free agent. He’ll catch on somewhere, as he is still a productive outfielder. Just not at the price of his 2010 option.