Probably a win-win for both sides. The Reds are making a real run at the NL Central crown, having gutted their farm system for Mat Latos and now, dealing five years of Travis Wood for one of Sean Marshall. We can debate the long-term implications all we want, but Wood at best is a #4/#5 starter while Marshall is a top-three left-handed reliever. The Reds' closer situation is unsettled, with Marshall, Sam LeCure, Nick Masset, and perhaps Aroldis Chapman all in the mix for saves. Right now Masset is probably the favorite, but barring another top reliever being brought in, Marshall has a real shot at 30 saves. Wood on the other hand looks to be an early favorite for the Cubs' No. 5 starter job, though due to a relative lack of strikeouts, his fantasy upside is limited.
Mets sign RHP Frank Francisco to a two-year $12 million deal
A deal almost certain to be one that the Mets are looking to unload later this year. For now though, Francisco is the heavy favorite over the likes of Ramon Ramirez and Jon Rauch to serve as closer out of the box. I'd certainly target Ramirez in NL-only formats, and perhaps even Rauch given Francisco's volatility.
Arizona signs OF Jason Kubel to a two-year $16 million deal
An odd choice for Arizona, Kubel is below average defensively, perhaps significantly below average. He's also a career .239/.314/365 hitter versus left-handers. Kubel does have some power, but over the past two years, he's totaled a 0.9 WAR versus a 3.9 mark for the guy he's replacing in the lineup, Gerardo Parra. From a pure talent perspective, I don't get this deal at all. I would have much rather seen this money be invested in the bullpen and/or third base. Downgrade Parra's fantasy value significantly.
Rockies sign OF Michael Cuddyer to a three-year $31.5 million deal
Cuddyer will slot in as the regular left fielder, but he'll also qualify at first base in all leagues, and second base in many (17 games in 2011). I'd like to see Todd Helton hit second and Cuddyer fifth after Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, but we'll have to see. Either way, the move to Coors Field shouldn't hurt at all.
Rockies sign 3B Casey Blake to a one-year $2 million deal
…and Dodgers fans still get to watch Carlos Santana in an Indians uniform. I really enjoyed talking to Casey in Arizona each March. Truly a great guy with, according to Matt Kemp, a "dozen" kids. It's far less than that, but he's truly one of baseball's good guys. When I introduced him to my 11 year-old daughters, Casey promptly told them how pretty they looked in their Dodger gear and that they were going to be a handful for their dad in a couple years. Great. Oh, from a fantasy perspective, Blake should have some solid NL-only value, but you'll obviously want to have a contingency plan for when he hits the DL.
Reds deal C Yasmani Grandal, 1B/LF Yonder Alonso, RHP Edinson Volquez, and RHP Brad Boxberger to the Padres for RHP Mat Latos
A potential ace is Latos, but this is quite a haul for the Padres. Grandal batted .305/.401/.500 in his first full season of pro ball and should open the season in Triple-A, but he's an elite catching prospect who will debut at some point in 2012. Alonso will either be traded again or force the trade of 1B Anthony Rizzo, as neither are suited to LF defensively. From what I've seen, the Padres should keep Alonso and deal Rizzo, who looked exposed in his major league stint last year. Volquez could be an interesting reclamation project for Bud Black and staff, but is that 5.4 BB/9IP a number that can come down significantly? Boxberger is a relative unknown, but given the recent departures of Mike Adams and Heath Bell, Boxberger could be in the closer mix quickly after a 2.03 ERA and impressive 93:28 K:BB in just 63 minor league innings last year.
Latos meanwhile goes from an extreme pitcher's park to one that is, well, not as favorable. Latos though just turned 24, and with back-to-back 185+ strikeout seasons, he may be poised to take that next step towards being a true #1 starter. In theory, going from a league doormat to a contender should also help the W-L record, though it doesn't quite always work out that way.
Lowrie should benefit from increased playing time, though at 28 (in April), I'm not sure how much upside there is here. In a sporadic 499 big league at-bats spread over four seasons, Lowrie has a .253/.336/.425 batting line with 13 homers and just two stolen bases. He did have a .907 OPS in 170+ at-bats for the Red Sox in 2010, so I guess we just don't know what to expect given regular at-bats, but it was a "risk" worth taking for the Astros. Weiland currently doesn't have a spot in the rotation, and even if/when he finds himself as the Astros No. 5 starter, there isn't a ton of upside here.
For the Red Sox, this is about building depth in the bullpen. Melancon currently finds himself at the top of the Red Sox closer depth chart, but I'm still not convinced the Dan Bard as-a-starter experiment will work out. Even if it doesn't, the Red Sox appear to be far from done building their bullpen. If you had Melancon in a mixed keeper league, you're not feeling good about this deal, but the jury is still out on Melancon's 2012 role.
Oakland sends RHP Trevor Cahill and LHP Craig Breslow to Arizona for RHP Jarrod Parker, OF Colin Cowgill, and RHP Ryan Cook
The last time the Diamondbacks traded for a former A's starter, it worked out quite well – Dan Haren. Cahill isn't in Haren's class, but thought he's a bit overrated due to his 18-win season, he'll still be a solid No. 3 starter. Thing is, Parker is far cheaper and has more upside. Then the A's also get Cowgill, who I saw plenty of as Reno's starting center fielder. Nice little player – won't be a star, but he can be an average starting OF. Cook didn't fare that well in the big leagues last year, but a 62:22 K:BB in 61 big league innings is solid. I see him as a future 7th/8th inning guy.
Oakland sends LHP Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals for RHP Brad Peacock, C Derek Norris, LHP Tom Milone, and RHP A.J. Cole
Let's face it, the A's aren't going to be competitive until they get a new stadium. Meanwhile, any guy with 1+ years of service time is available. There's zero chance Andrew Bailey is on the A's roster next year, and I'm a bit surprised we haven't heard Brandon McCarthy's name mentioned more. Gonzalez should slot in as the team's No. 2 starter between Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman. Potentially a formidable 1-2-3 in the playoffs. Gonzalez simply needs to get his BB/9IP rate more in the 3.3 range rather than the 4.1 mark he's put up the past two seasons. I think he can do it.
For the A's, this likely leaves them with an Opening Day rotation of McCarthy, Peacock, Guillermo Moscoso, Dallas Braden (if healthy – shoulder), and Jarrod Parker. Norris has serious contact issues (.235 and .210 AVG's the past two years), but he's been good for 28 homers per 550 at-bats over the last three minor league seasons. Norris turns 23 in February and could push Kurt Suzuki for the starting job with a big spring. Milone – No. 4 starter potential – have heard "left-handed Shaun Marcum" thrown around. Peacock could be a very good No. 3 or fringe No. 2 while Cole is just 19 but has the most upside of this quartet. Time will tell whether who wins this one.