Tag Archives: Washington Nationals

Season Preview: NL East


Onto the National League, starting with the East division. You can also take a look at my previews of the AL East, AL Central and AL West.

Last Year’s Records
Philadelphia – 97-65
Atlanta – 91-71
Florida – 80-82
New York – 79-83
Washington – 69-93

Notable Additions

Atlanta – Dan Uggla

Florida – Omar Infante, Mike Dunn, Javier Vazquez, John Buck

New York – Brad Emaus, Ronny Paulino

Philadelphia – Cliff Lee

Washington – Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche, Tom Gorzelanny

Notable Losses

Atlanta – Omar Infante, Mike Dunn, Derrek Lee, Melky Cabrera, Takashi Saito

Florida – Dan Uggla, Cameron Maybin, Ronny Paulino

New York – John Maine, Hisanori Takahashi, Pedro Feliciano

Philadelphia – Jayson Werth

Washington – Josh Willingham, Adam Dunn

My Thoughts

Atlanta – This is a playoff team from last year that has upgraded itself at 2B (Uggla), and will look for growth from Jason Heyward in his second season. The team will plug in Freddie Freeman to start at 1B, and hope that he can have even a partially similar season to Heyward’s rookie year. The pitching remains solid, behind Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, and Jair Jurrjens. The biggest role that seems to be up in the air coming into Spring Training is the closer, with Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters competing for the job.

Florida – As they prepare to move into their new stadium in 2012, this is a young team who should continue to be exciting for the next few seasons. It appears that 3B Matt Dominguez is likely to be the starter this year, despite not playing a single day in the Majors yet. However, the loss of Dan Uggla‘s bat in their lineup could cause a major hole in terms of power and run production. They’re also hoping that Javier Vazquez will rebound with a return to the NL East, and also provide some more veteran leadership with Josh Johnson in the starting rotation. I’m not sold that they stand a great chance of winning the division, but they could surprise some people in a tough division.

New York – With new GM Sandy Alderson on board, 2011 is going to be a partial rebuilding season. They did not make any substantial changes to their roster, and will look to get bounceback seasons from players like Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes instead. Ace Johan Santana is expected to be out until midseason, and the team is going to be looking for nice performances from Chris Young and Chris Capuano.

Philadelphia – The Phillies went out and made what was probably the biggest surprise move of the offseason, inking Cliff Lee to a 5 year, $120 million contract. With their four aces in the starting rotation, they definitely look like the team to beat in the NL East. However, the injuries are already starting to pile up, as Chase Utley has yet to play in Spring Training, and potential right fielder Domonic Brown will miss 3-6 weeks after having hand surgery. If this team can stay healthy, I don’t think there’s a team in the NL that can compete with them. But that is a gigantic if.

Washington – The Nationals made one of the biggest splashes in the free agent market, and it was completely unexpected. Jayson Werth signed a 7 year contract with the team, and will play right field for the first few years of the contract. The team is still not ready to compete, but they will look for continued growth from Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa. Jordan Zimmermann will also look to have an injury free campaign, and while they will miss Stephen Strasburg this season, he should be back in 2012 from his injuries.

Overall Thoughts

The NL East really comes down to the two teams at the top of the pile. The Braves and Phillies really seem like they will be the only teams that are likely to win the division or the Wild Card. The Mets and Nationals just simply aren’t ready, and I don’t believe that the Marlins are ready to compete quite yet either.  Here’s my predicted order of finish:

1. Philadelphia
2. Atlanta
3. Florida
4. Washington
5. New York

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Who Are the Faces of the Franchise? NL East Edition


Time to start looking at the Senior Circuit, beginning with the 5 teams in the East…

  • Braves – This one has to be Chipper Jones as of right now. He’s easily the longest tenured Brave, has been with the team his entire career, and has been an excellent player throughout. I could see this role going to either Brian McCann or Jason Heyward when Chipper finally decides to hang them up.
  • Marlins – For better or worse, it’s definitely Hanley Ramirez for the Marlins. The largest contract in the history of the team was given to Hanley, and was well deserved based on his performance. The only thing I can remember even remotely being negative around him was when his previous manager called him out for a lack of hustle.
  • Mets – David Wright and Jose Reyes really stand out to me for the Mets. I’d be more inclined to give the nod to Wright since he has not been injured nearly as often as Reyes in recent years, and it could continue that way with Reyes potentially being a free agent after this season.
  • Phillies – This one’s actually a lot more difficult than I would have thought it would be. There are so many big name players on the Phillies now that picking one by themselves is very difficult. Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Roy Halladay could all vie for this role, but I think for now it has to be Ryan Howard. The former MVP seems to be out front for the organization more than any other player, including Halladay.
  • Nationals – Last year, I would have said it had to be Stephen Strasburg. But with his injury, and the gigantic contract given to Jayson Werth, Werth has to be the de facto face of the franchise. It remains to be seen whether or not he can live up to the expectations that come with a contract that size, but for now it’s definitely on him to try.

Prospect Review – Eury Perez


The next prospect up for review is Eury Perez of the Washington Nationals. Wait, were you expecting Bryce Harper as the prospect to write about from that organization? I think he’s been pretty well covered at this point.

The Basics
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
How Acquired: Signed by the Washington Nationals as an International Free Agent.
Age as of 4/1/11: 20

Scouting Reports and Statistics

Age           Tm   Lg Lev   G  R   H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG
20    Hagerstown SALL   A 131 88 131 17  5  3  42 64 13 23 74 .299 .345 .381

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/7/2011.

Prospect Ranks
Hardball Times: #7 (WAS – 2011)
Baseball America: #8 (WAS – 2011)
John Sickels: #9 (WAS – 2011) C+
Baseball Prospectus: #9 (WAS – 2011) 2 star
Top Prospect Alert: #9 (WAS – 2011)

Analysis

Perez was a signee out of the Dominican Republic as a teenager, and made it to his first full-season league in 2010, heading to the Sally League. The biggest skill in his arsenal to this point clearly appears to be his speed, as he stole 64 bases in 131 games there, as well as 21 in 37 Dominican Winter League games. He hit for a nice .299 batting average during the regular season, but there hasn’t really been a lot written about him.

From an MLB.COM chat by Jonathan Mayo, via Federal Baseball:

Eury Perez is one of those guys that’s kind of interesting to see what happens with him cause he can flat-out run. He made his full season debut just this past season and he hit .299, which is fine, but you don’t know how many of those base hits came just because he can flat-out fly. He only slugged .381, but he stole 64 bases which was among the highest in all the minor leagues, and he has kept on doing it in the Dominican. Keep in mind that he’s just 20-years-old so he’s playing against much older and much more advanced competition. Hit .330 in the Dominican and stolen 20 bases, so he’s showing that the speed might be able to play as he moves up the ladder and that’s the case with these guys, you have to see whether he can swing the bat well enough.”

Here’s what Nationals’ Prospects’ had to say about him as well:

Above-average speed coupled with improved basestealing skills led to 64 steals, 41 of which came in the second half. Scouts project him as a plus defender with accurate-but-average arm. Particularly adept at slashing the ball up the middle and protecting with two strikes, and has enough power to get gappers for doubles and triples.

Overall, I really like the numbers out of him last year, and the scouting reports seem to at least think he has a decent shot of continuing to advance.

Outlook

Perez seems likely to be at High-A for the majority of 2011, and I will be interested to see how he handles the higher quality pitching. The name that seems to keep coming up with regard to comparisons is that of Juan Pierre. He looks like he could have similar power and speed skills, which could definitely translate to the Majors.

Prediction for 2011

.280, 55 SB

Expected ETA

He will be 21 for a majority of the 2011 season, and I believe that if he can continue to progress and improve, he would be in the majors around 2013 or 2014. The Nationals do not necessarily need to rush him, but it may be good for him to be pushEd Higher.

Free Agent Signing – Jayson Werth to the Nationals


It was announced on Sunday evening (to quite a bit of dismay) that the Nationals had signed free agent outfielder Jayson Werth to a free agent contract. The dismay came with the terms of said contract: 7 years, $126 million. I will be attempting to discuss the impacts of this without knowing that Carl Crawford has already signed (and for how much he received).

From the Nationals Perspective

They came out and said that they needed to overpay to get a top flight free agent like Werth to consider a team with so little of a chance of making the playoffs anytime soon. But they felt that they needed to start bringing in marquee players to go with the young core that they are developing. Werth will slot into right field for the Nationals for at least the next couple of seasons, and could possibly move to left field when top prospect Bryce Harper is ready for the show.

I do find the argument that they had to overpay a bit unusual, as the part that seems to have been an overpayment is not the dollars per year, as much as the years themselves. But I also think that it definitely sends a signal to the rest of the league that the Nationals are not happy with being the laughingstock of the National League.

From the Phillies Perspective

There was simply no way that the Phillies were ever going to match an offer as ridiculously large as that for Werth. They have Domonic Brown in AAA, who will most likely be the everyday right fielder for the team before the end of 2011, and at practically no cost in comparison. The Phillies will receive draft picks as compensation, but the Nationals’ first rounder is protected, so they will receive a sandwich pick and the Nationals’ second rounder.

My Thoughts

I didn’t really go into the impact that the signing has on the market, as I think that his signing has a similar effect to the Carl Crawford signing. That said, I am unbelievably amazed that the Nationals gave out such a long and lucrative contract. Werth is 31 years old, and has only had 500+ at bats in 2 seasons. I think that this is the type of contract that could really cause the Nationals some problems if he does not play well throughout the length of it. That said, I never fault the player for taking the money. $126 million is a lot of money. A LOT OF MONEY.

The funny thing that seemed to be noted pretty early on was that the last two contracts of that length and dollar amount exactly have not exactly gone the way their teams had hoped. Those contracts? Barry Zito from the Giants, and Vernon Wells from the Blue Jays.

Season Preview in Review: National League East


Back during Spring Training, I took a look at each team and made predictions about how each team would do and how I thought their season would go. This was the first year doing this, and I figured now was a good time to take a look back and see how it went. I previously looked at each of the divisions in the American League, and I move now to the NL East.

Atlanta Braves

Predicted Record: 83-79            Actual Record: 91-71

At the start of the season, I just didn’t see where the Braves were going to find enough of anything to perform this well. But they got enough out of people like Troy Glaus, Martin Prado, and Jason Heyward to help carry them to the NL Wild Card. I had really hoped that the Braves would have a long postseason run to send off retiring manager Bobby Cox, but the Giants took care of them pretty quickly.

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Trade Deadline Review


Well, we are now officially one day past the non-waiver trade deadline, and there have been quite a few different trades made. It was definitely one of the more active periods in a lot of years. I wrote up the major trades as they happened, and you can read my thoughts with the links below.

Major Trades

Texas Rangers acquire SP Cliff Lee and P Mark Lowe from the Seattle Mariners for 1B Justin Smoak and 3 minor leaguers
Los Angeles Angels acquire SP Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks for SP Joe Saunders and 3 minor leaguers
Philadelphia Phillies acquire SP
Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros for SP J.A. Happ and 2 minor leaguers

Semi-Major Deals

1. New York Yankees acquire RP Kerry Wood from the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later or cash
2. New York Yankees acquire 1B Lance Berkman from the Houston Astros for P Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes
3. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire SP Ted Lilly and IF Ryan Theriot from the Chicago Cubs for IF Blake DeWitt, minor league P Brett Wallach and Kyle Smit
4. St. Louis Cardinals acquire SP Jake Westbrook from the Cleveland Indians and minor leaguer Nick Greenwood from the San Diego Padres, San Diego Padres acquire OF Ryan Ludwick from the St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians acquire minor leaguer Corey Kluber from the San Diego Padres
5. Pittsburgh Pirates acquire C Chris Snyder and OF Pedro Ciriaco from the Arizona Diamondbacks for P D.J. Carrasco, IF Bobby Crosby, and OF Ryan Church
6. Chicago White Sox acquire SP Edwin Jackson from the Arizona Diamondbacks for SP Daniel Hudson and P David Holmberg
7. Minnesota Twins acquire RP Matt Capps from the Washington Nationals for C Wilson Ramos and minor league P Joe Testa
8. Texas Rangers acquire IF Jorge Cantu from the Florida Marlins for minor leaguer pitchers Evan Reed and Omar Poveda
9. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire OF Scott Podsednik from the Kansas City Royals for minor leaguers C Lucas May and P Elisaul Pimentel
10. Los Angeles Angels acquire 3B Alberto Callaspo from the Kansas City Royals for P Sean O’Sullivan and P Will Smith
11. Toronto Blue Jays acquire SS Yunel Escobar and P Jo-Jo Reyes from the Atlanta Braves for SS Alex Gonzalez and minor leaguers Tyler Pastornicky and Tim Collins
12. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire RP Octavio Dotel from the Pittsburgh Pirates for OF Andrew Lambo and P James McDonald

Minor Moves

1. Texas Rangers acquire IF Cristian Guzman from the Washington Nationals for minor leaguers Ryan Tatsuko and Tanner Roark
2. Texas Rangers acquire C Bengie Molina from the San Francisco Giants for P Chris Ray
3. Toronto Blue Jays acquire 1B Mike Jacobs from the New York Mets for a player to be named later
4. San Diego Padres acquire IF Miguel Tejada from the Baltimore Orioles for minor league P Wynn Pelzer
5. Tampa Bay Rays acquire RP Chad Qualls from the Arizona Diamondbacks for a player to be named later
6. New York Yankees acquire OF Austin Kearns from the Cleveland Indians for ?
7. Detroit Tigers acquire IF Jhonny Peralta from the Cleveland Indians for minor league P Giovanny Soto
8. San Francisco Giants acquire P Javier Lopez from the Pittsburgh Pirates for P Joe Martinez and OF John Bowker
9. Atlanta Braves acquire IF Wilkin Ramirez from the Detroit Tigers for cash or a player to be named later
10. Florida Marlins acquire RP Will Ohman from the Baltimore Orioles for P Rick VandenHurk
11. San Francisco Giants acquire RP Ramon Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox for P Daniel Turpen
12. Atlanta Braves acquire OF Rick Ankiel and RP Kyle Farnsworth from the Kansas City Royals for P Jesse Chavez, OF Gregor Blanco, and minor league P Tim Collins
13. Boston Red Sox acquire C Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Texas Rangers for 1B Chris McGuiness, P Ramon Mendez and a player to be named later or cash

Wow. There’s still stuff coming in as I write this, and in the last hour there have been a lot of these to get done. So who did well here and who didn’t?

Winners

The Yankees – Let’s see if we have this right. The Yankees picked up Lance Berkman to be their designated hitter. They added Kerry Wood to help solidify the back end of the bullpen behind Mariano Rivera. And they got both of them for a pair of players that are of no use to the Yankees, and even got some money in the deals? Really? They already have the best record in the Majors, and have decidedly improved their team with both acquisitions. Oh, and they added to their bench depth with Austin Kearns as well.

The Rangers – With a decent lead in the AL West, the Rangers went out and got themselves an ace starter (Lee), a solid catcher who can help them play defense at the position (Molina), a run producing right handed bat who can play two positions (Cantu), a backup infielder who will be able to spell their third baseman and shortstop, and fill in while their second baseman is on the disabled list (Guzman),  and moved a player that they had soured on for some prospects. They are the prohibitive favorite in the AL West at this point, now being 8 games ahead of the 2nd place Angels and 8.5 of the 3rd place Athletics. They plugged nearly every gap they had in their team, and will go into the pennant chase with a very good chance of being in the World Series at the end of it.

The Angels – Even though the moves may end up being more for next season, acquiring Dan Haren to give them a very good 1-2 punch in their rotation for “some magic beans” as Matthew Berry put it on the Fantasy Focus podcast was a stroke of genius. Callaspo also gives them a solid hitter to play at 3B which they had sorely been missing. While it may not be enough to catch the Rangers, they gave up very little of value to do both trades.

The Pirates – They took D.J. Carrasco, Bobby Crosby, Javier Lopez, Octavio Dotel, and Ryan Church and turned them into a major league backstop (Snyder), two solid potential major leaguers (Bowker and Martinez), and 2 higher end, albeit risky prospects (Lambo, McDonald). Someone must have put something in Neal Huntington’s coffee that helped out a lot. They did extremely well to turn a lot of random pieces that aren’t really that helpful into all that.

The Royals – Pieces that aren’t for the future: Podsednik, Ankiel, Farnsworth, Callaspo. All moved for players with varying levels of upside who can help with the rebuilding process: Lucas May, Tim Collins, Jesse Chavez, Gregor Blanco, Sean O’Sullivan, Will Smith. Not the most amazing group of players, and definitely no high-end prospects here. But the Royals have a lot of high-end prospects already, and need others to help give them some balance as well with regard to position scarcity and depth overall. Very well done today.

The Padres – They gave up a pair of pitching prospects to acquire a much needed outfield bat, and a utility player who should provide some value over the remainder of the season. Nothing too major here, and definitely nothing that mortgages the future. I like the Ludwick acquisition, as he could see an improvement with a change of scenery. I’m not 100% sold on the Tejada acquisition, but they didn’t really give up that much to get him in my opinion.

Losers

The Nationals – The trade of Matt Capps was nice, netting them a very good catching prospect in Wilson Ramos. But the way that they handled Adam Dunn leading up to the trade deadline was inexcusable. They clearly had not made up their mind as to what they wanted to do with him, and in the end they simply ran out of time. They clearly could have gotten more for him had they moved him instead of waiting for his free agency to play out, and the only reason to do that would have been to get him signed to an extension (which they didn’t do either). Not sure what happened here, but we’ll see if this was a really bad plan from the start.

The Dodgers – In a division where they are 7.5 games back of the leader and 5 games back of the wild card leader, the Dodgers decided to go for it, sending prospects Brett Wallach, Kyle Smit, Lucas May, Elisaul PimentelAndrew Lambo, and James McDonald (along with Blake DeWitt) to other teams to acquire: the remainder of this season from Octavio Dotel, Ted Lilly and Scott Podsednik, and also Ryan Theriot. I’m pretty sure that if they had offered those players to the Diamondbacks they would have been able to get Dan Haren, Kelly Johnson, and a bullpen arm. I’m also pretty convinced that they could have offered that group to the Mariners and gotten Cliff Lee, Jose Lopez and possibly David Aardsma. I’m not at all impressed with what they did here, and are only one bad week from being completely out of the race.

The Orioles – It’s a tough beat, but they were only able to move Will Ohman and Miguel Tejada, and would have been served by moving Ty Wigginton and Kevin Millwood, among others. Unfortunately, neither player has been playing well of late, and had essentially managed to knock their own values down to next to nothing.

The Twins – They needed some help in the bullpen, and really could have used another starting pitcher behind Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano. Unfortunately, they only filled one of those gaps, and at a cost that seems high even considering that the prospect that they gave up had no place to play in the Twins’ future.

Mixed Bag

The Astros – They were able to get out from under a lot of the big dollar contracts owed to Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, and got back at least a reasonable return. Brett Wallace will slot in at 1B to replace Berkman, and J.A. Happ will fill Oswalt’s slot in the rotation. But time will tell if they get anything other than salary relief for Berkman, and Happ and Wallace will have to be very good to replace the value of Oswalt in my opinion.

The Phillies – They gave up a lot more to get Oswalt than they got back in return for Cliff Lee, who would have played a similar role for the Phillies this season had he not been traded. Oswalt will need to be the piece that moves them over the top for this one to really be a winner for them.

The Diamondbacks – They acquired a pretty good young pitcher in return for Edwin Jackson (Hudson). But they practically gave away Dan Haren, a better pitcher who was not that much more expensive than Jackson. They got back a bunch of garbage essentially for their second catcher Snyder. Crosby is a free agent after the season, and Church and Carrasco are both likely candidates for a non-tender after the season. They also did not move Kelly Johnson and Adam LaRoche, both of whom had a lot of value built up despite poor performance of late. Some of the players they acquired could turn out to be good, but it remains to be seen.

The White Sox – They really could have used a bat, and it sounds like they were trying to get one by acquiring Edwin Jackson. I honestly can’t remember the last time I heard about a player being acquired with the hope of moving him to another team, only to have that other team tell them it wasn’t enough. Jackson is a nice pitcher, but is not that much better than Hudson should be.

Overall, a very exciting trade deadline, and there is still the possibility that we will see a lot more trades before the waiver deadline of August 31st.

Team Preview – Washington Nationals


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Ivan Rodriguez SP 1 John Lannan
1B Adam Dunn SP 2 Jason Marquis
2B Adam Kennedy SP 3 Scott Olsen
3B Ryan Zimmerman SP 4 Garret Mock
SS Cristian Guzman SP 5 Livan Hernandez
LF Josh Willingham Bullpen
CF Nyjer Morgan CL Matt Capps
RF Roger Bernardina RP Brian Bruney
Bench RP Tyler Clippard
OF Willie Harris RP Sean Burnett
IF Alberto Gonzalez RP Tyler Walker

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
C Ivan Rodriguez Free Agency RF Elijah Dukes Released
2B Adam Kennedy Free Agency C Brian Schneider Free Agency
SP Jason Marquis Free Agency RP Mike MacDougal Free Agency

Top Prospects: Stephen Strasburg (P), Drew Storen (P), Chris Marrero (1B), Derek Norris (C), Ian Desmond (SS)

2009 Review

The Nationals finished 59-103 in 2009, as had been pretty much been expected. It cost manager Manny Acta his job in July, and was replaced by bench coach Jim Riggleman. There weren’t a lot of bright spots for the team, but there were a few. On offense, 3B Ryan Zimmerman (.292, 33 HR, 106 RBI), and OF Adam Dunn (.267, 38 HR, 105 RBI) led the way. On the pitching side, Jordan Zimmerman pitched well until he got hurt, and John Lannan (9-13, 3.88) will lead the rotation coming into 2010.

The biggest news surrounding the Nationals throughout the 2009 season was their first round draft pick, and their eventual signing of uber-prospect Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg received a record contract for a draft pick, and his early performance in Spring Training point to the possibility of him starting the season in the Majors already.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Nationals are continuing in the process of rebuilding their team. They’ve added some good veteran presences in Jason Marquis and Ivan Rodriguez, and along with 3B Ryan Zimmerman, they are helping to build a good clubhouse feel for their team. They have added some more low-risk high-reward types in closer Matt Capps and Brian Bruney. This team is going to get better, and has a lot of help on the way in the form of C Derek Norris, RP Drew Storen, and of course top prospect Stephen Strasburg.

Again this season, the Nationals will be bombarded with stories and questions regarding their top draft pick, and the player who appears most likely to be taken by them: C Bryce Harper of Southern Nevada CC. Look for this to be a distraction up until the draft, and the potential to be one for the two months following as they try to sign their pick.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

There’s not a lot to like here, but there are a couple of players. 3B Ryan Zimmerman and OF/1B Adam Dunn are both solid players for any format. Also, OF Nyjer Morgan and SP Stephen Strasburg will both provide value, although there’s some risk involved with both of them.

Prediction for 2010

The Nationals aren’t ready yet. But they’re going to be better than last season, and as their pitching develops they should improve as well. 2010 isn’t going to be their year though.

62-100, 5th in the NL East

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 – 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.