Recapping a Wild Day in MLB

Posted: December 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

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Major League Baseball’s offseason is in full swing and no day has been more impactful than today. For those of us who work the nine-to-five grind, it can be difficult to keep up with all the action that occurs on a day-to-day basis. Here is a recap of all the transactions that took place this morning and afternoon.

Oakland Athletics acquire RHP Jim Johnson from Baltimore Orioles for 2B Jemile Weeks

SkoodSports’ Take: Oakland has been very active this week. Having already agreed to a 2 year, $22 million deal with LHP Scott Kazmir, Billy Beane and the A’s landed their replacement for departing closer Grant Balfour in Johnson. The 30-year old had been a mainstay in the Orioles’ bullpen for nearly a decade. The past two seasons, Johnson has been one of the most consistent closers in baseball, recording a league high 101 saves over that time frame. He should improve an already strong A’s ‘pen.

Weeks, meanwhile, was once a highly touted prospect for Oakland. The 26-year old second baseman is the brother of Milwaukee’s Rickie Weeks. But, Jemile hasn’t experienced the success at the big league level that his brother has. In 2012, the younger Weeks hit .221-2 HR-20 RBI. That was a sharp downturn from his spectacular rookie campaign (.303-2-36) in 2011. Weeks is likely to compete to replace Brian Roberts as the Orioles’ starting 2B.

Washington Nationals acquire RHP Doug Fister from Detroit Tigers for LHP Robbie Ray, INF Steve Lombardozzi, and LHP Ian Krol

SkoodSports’ Take: For Washington, this move effectively replaces and improves upon Dan Haren, who departed for San Francisco last month. The 6’8″ Fister is one of baseball’s best unknown pitchers. The last three seasons, the 29-year old has gone 35-32 with a sparkling 3.30 ERA. A move to the National League should only help improve on those numbers and provide Washington with one of the best rotations in the game.

As for Detroit, this move will allow them to allocate more money towards an extension with 2013 AL Cy Young Max Scherzer. It also provides new manager Brad Ausmus with a depth infielder in Lombardozzi (.259-2-22 in 118 G) with last year’s starting 2B, Omar Infante, currently a free agent.  The Tigers also receive a duo of young left-handers, with Robbie Ray proving to be a very capable young prospect.

Boston Red Sox sign C AJ Pierzynski to a one year, $8.25 million contract

SkoodSports’ Take: The defending World Series champions were still in the market for a backstop after missing out on Carlos Ruiz last month. It looked more-and-more unlikely that the team would return to Jarrod Saltalamacchia in 2014. So, a replacement was needed. Pierzynski’s track record cannot be argued. The soon to be 37-year old (who shares a birthday with yours truly), has played in at least 128 games every season since 2002. He also provides the power potential of “Salty” without the ridiculous amount of strikeouts. Boston has numerous young catching prospects that they intend to turn to in the future. So, anything more than a one or two year deal seemed like overkill.

The only fault I can find with this contract is that Pierzynski is even more unlikely to draw a walk than the incumbent. In 134 games last season, AJ walked all of 11 times. He is also considered one of the worst clubhouse characters in the game, consistently disrespecting his own pitchers and teammates.

Oakland Athletics acquire OF Craig Gentry and RHP Josh Lindblom from Texas Rangers for OF Michael Choice and 2B Chris Bostick

SkoodSports’ Take: What a difference a year can make, eh? Lindblom, traded from Philadelphia to Texas in exchange for Michael Young nearly a year ago, is now headed to northern California as the A’s continue to rebuild their bullpen in one day. The 26-year old was 1-3, 5.46 with Texas last year. Joining him in this rare interdivisional trade is OF Craig Gentry. The 30-year old has played 228 games the last two years while putting up respectable numbers (.292-3-48).

In return, Texas lands a former top prospect in Michael Choice. Rated the #59 prospect in the league prior to 2012 by MLB.com, Choice is a 24-year old power hitter who raked in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League last year (.302-14-89). He should fit in well in Texas, another offensively kind environment. This could prove to be a real steal for Texas, who did not give up much for a young talent like Choice.

Detroit Tigers sign RHP Joe Nathan to a 2 year, $20 million (estimated) contract

SkoodSports’ Take: Detroit’s achilles heel last year, their bullpen, has received a much needed reinvigoration with the signing of Nathan. One of the best closers in the game over the past decade, Nathan brings 341 career saves with him to the Tigers. In 2013, the 39-year old look as sprite as ever, recording 43 saves for Texas to go along with a sparking 1.39 ERA.

Detroit was in dire need of an improvement in this area, and they just landed the biggest fish on the market to close out games for their already strong rotation.

Tampa Bay Rays acquire C Ryan Hanigan (signs a 3 year, $10.75 million extension) and RHP Heath Bell in three team trade with Cincinnati and Arizona. Reds acquire LHP David Holmberg. Diamondbacks acquire RHP Justin Choate and a player to be named later or cash from Tampa Bay.

SkoodSports’ Take: The largest trade of the day by quantity is this massive three-team deal between Tampa Bay, Arizona, and Cincinnati.

The Rays land their projected starting catcher in Hanigan. The 33-year old, who promptly signed an extension upon the announcement of the deal, hit a putrid .198-2-21 in 75 G last season. His career numbers, however, are much better than his performance in 2013 suggests. From 2009-12, Hanigan hit .275-16-106 in 363 G. He isn’t a strong defensive backstop. But, Tampa Bay has been known to thrive with reclamation projects and Hanigan could prove to be yet another diamond in the rough.

The Rays also land a former All Star in Heath Bell. The 36-year old has struggled mightily since signing a 3 year, $27 million contract with Miami prior to the 2012 season. With Arizona in 2013, the right hander went 5-2, 4.11 with 15 saves. As usual, Tampa will look to be a proving ground for the once phenomenal right hander.

Cincinnati, meanwhile, lands Holmberg, a former 2nd round pick in 2009. The 22-year old made his MLB debut in 2013, going 3.2 innings in one start with Arizona. With AA-Mobile last year, Holmberg was brilliant (5-8, 2.75). Cincinnati lands a very talented arm with upside for a player that they weren’t interested in retaining (Hanigan).

The Diamondbacks, whose primary motivation for this deal was losing the massive contract of Bell, landed the 22-year old Choate. In his first professional campaign, Choate went 1-3, 2.88 for low-A Hudson Valley.

Oakland Athletics acquire RHP Luke Gregerson from San Diego Padres in exchange for OF Seth Smith

SkoodSports’ Take: Billy Beane’s crazy day continued by acquiring ace setup man Luke Gregerson from the San Diego Padres. The 29-year old was strong again in 2013, going 6-8, 2.71 in 66.1 IP. With a brilliant slider and a repertoire that contributes to his 9.1 SO/9, Gregerson should provide stellar set up relief for the A’s in 2014.

San Diego, short on offense, acquires Seth Smith from Oakland. The 31-year old outfielder is a classic platoon player, strong against righties and putrid versus southpaws. In 2013, the former Colorado Rockie hit .253-8-40. One has to wonder why a team like San Diego, with little chance of contention next season, would deal Gregerson for a veteran instead of pawning him off for prospects.

Houston Astros acquire OF Dexter Fowler from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for RHP Jordan Lyles and OF Brandon Barnes

SkoodSports’ Take: Rife with money after three consecutive 100+ loss campaigns, the Houston Astros have finally begun to improve their woeful offense with the acquisition of Fowler. The 27-year old is a free agent at the end of 2014. But, he will likely become the best leadoff hitter Houston has seen since the retirement of Craig Biggio. Last year, Fowler hit .263-12-42 while stealing 19 bases in Colorado. His career year of 2012 (.300-13-53) seems more like an outlier than the norm. But, there’s little doubt that Fowler immediately becomes one of the top three players in Houston’s lineup.

In exchange for parting ways with Fowler, the Rockies receive a former top prospect in Lyles. A team that seemingly has always had rotation issues, Colorado lands a 23-year old arm with boatloads of MLB experience. Pitching in the majors since he was 20, Lyles has compiled a 14-29, 5.35 mark. His numbers aren’t great. But, escaping the stink of Houston should provide Lyles with enough motivation to improve at such a young age.

The 27-year old Barnes (.240-8-41 in 136 G) is merely a depth acquisition for Colorado and shouldn’t be seen as a definitive replacement for Fowler in center.

Other News and Notes

– The Miami Marlins are nearing a 3 year, $21 million deal with C Jarrod Saltalamacchia according to the Miami Sun-Sentinel. The former Red Sox C hit .273-14-65 last season.

– The Kansas City Royals are rumored to be offering OF Carlos Beltran a 3 year, $48 million deal. A Royals star from 1998-2004, many sources suggest that Beltran will take the deal in the next few days.

– The Seattle Mariners have emerged as a potential frontrunner for free agent 2B Robinson Cano (as predicted by SkoodSports over a week ago).

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