As a baseball fan and a huge fan of the Hot Stove action, I love this time of year. Trades are being made, teams are shelling out nine-figure deals, and GMs are getting raked over the coals by armchair analysts for the deals they HAVE made and the deals we all think they SHOULD have or should make. That all said, has there ever been a day with this much action outside of the Winter Meetings. Let’s take a rundown of today’s deals:
Yankees sign OF Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year $153 million deal
So the Yankees are really trying to stay under the luxury tax? This deal has so many ramifications and leaves so many questions unanswered:
Is Robinson Cano out as a Yankee unless his asking price plummets?
Do the Yankees not appreciate what Brett Gardner brings to the table?
Do they realize that committing over $22 million a year over seven years to a guy who has averaged 96 games a season over four years is risky?
Where’s the power? The Yankees outfield probably now will look like this: LF Gardner, CF Ellsbury, RF Ichiro Suzuki. That trio combined for a total of 24 home runs in 2013 and all three are on the wrong side of 30.
This is a real head scratcher. Ellsbury?s departure should open the door for Jackie Bradley Jr. to take over CF duties for the Red Sox, but they could just as easily pursue veteran help as a hedge. I just don?t get this at all for the Yankees unless they are willing to return to their free-spending ways and sign a top starter along with bringing back Cano.
Rockies sign 1B Justin Morneau to a two-year deal
Morneau is pretty much a league-average first baseman these days, but it would seem to figure that playing in Coors Field could yield 20-25 homers this year compared to his 17 in 2013. I would guess the Pirates would now pursue James Loney or try and deal for Mark Trumbo.
Marlins sign C Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a three-year $21 million deal
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Salty hit .206 versus LHP last year, so a platoon-mate makes some sense. He lives a mere 70 miles from his new home park, but he may want to put in a call to Jose Reyes or Mark Buehrle on whether he should get too comfortable with his new team. The Red Sox previously signed A.J. Pierzynski to share the job with David Ross, so they had no real interest in bringing him back. Saltalamacchia could hit cleanup behind Giancarlo Stanton.
Tigers sign RHP Joe Nathan to a two-year $20 million deal
This after dumping more salary in dealing Doug Fister to the Nationals. The Tigers are simply reallocating funds here after dealing both Fister and Prince Fielder to save salary. I think they go hard after Shin-Soo Choo next. Something tells me Miguel Cabrera is going to approach 170 RBI this year. He?s easily #2 behind Mike Trout on my 2014 draft board. Nathan solidifies the closer role in Detroit while in Texas, either Joakim Soria or Neftali Feliz would top the depth chart now. I do think Texas could be a player for a guy like Grant Balfour.
Rays acquire Ryan Hanigan
Hanigan will be the primary catcher in Tampa Bay, particularly given the new three-year extension doled out today. Hanigan came to the Rays along with the Rays? latest reclamation project, Heath Bell who could close with a solid spring. Arizona gets payroll relief by unloading Bell, but at the cost of solid SP prospect David Holmberg.
Astros acquire OF Dexter Fowler
?presumably to flip for better plays than they gave up. Dealing RHP Jordan Lyles and OF Brandon Barnes isn?t exactly going to cripple the Astros here. It?s a nice buy-low, but what now of uber CF prospect George Springer? Well if you look at the Houston outfield (L.J. Hoes, Robbie Grossman, etc.), they don?t exactly have Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle surrounding Fowler, so Springer still has a shot at a job this spring. His minor league numbers (37 HR, 45 SB) in 2013 are simply absurd. I really don?t know the point of this deal for the Rockies other than to cut payroll.
Billy Beane goes nuts
Hopefully Beane gets a good night?s sleep tonight. I also hope for Oakland?s sake that Beane has an unlimited minutes plan on his company cell phone. Tuesday, Beane added projected closer Jim Johnson, an excellent setup man in Luke Gregerson, and a solid platoon outfielder in Craig Gentry. This after already inking Scott Kazmir to a two-year deal previously. Beane is low looking to unload LHP Brett Anderson. Nice to see a small-market team putting the extra $25 million in TV money back into the payroll. Teams like the Padres should try that.
All in all, a crazy day!