Frenzy of MLB Signings and Trades the Week Before Winter Meetings

Posted: December 5, 2013 by ericbernsen in MLB, Sports
Tags: , , , ,

The MLB winter meetings are not until next week, but no one in any front office has gotten the memo as the past few days have resulted in a frenzy of signings and trades. The memorable events of the off-season started early this year with the blockbuster trade involving Prince Fielder and Ian Kinsler, and now it seems things are picking up again this holiday season. It is tough to start grading winners/losers of the off-season so early on, but let’s evaluate the biggest moves of this week and try to make sense of what is going on behind the scenes.

  • Yankees Sign Jacoby Ellsbury to 7-yr, $153 Million Deal: This signing was by far the biggest splash in the market and has made the most headlines in the baseball world this week. The Yankees missed the postseason once again last year and New York has been in a rare funk recently, especially with the circus controversy that is A-Rod constantly being a distraction. Coming from Boston personally, we all knew that it was very unlikely Jacoby would be returning to Fenway next year. But it came as a huge shock that Ellsbury landed in pinstripes, especially with that monster contract! The All-Star center-fielder is a dynamic player who plays great defense and steals tons of bases as he played a big part in the Red Sox winning the World Series last year. However, it cannot be ignored that Ellsbury has been plagued by injuries throughout his career. This must come as a concern to the Yankees but, nevertheless, they dished out the dough to Scott Boras and Jacoby to bring him to New York. With this signing, it seems unlikely that the Yankees will be able to bring back Robinson Cano. It is an interesting choice seeing them bring out the checkbook for Ellsbury and not Cano…only time will tell if it proves to be a genus or misguided move.
  • Tigers Agree to 2 yr Deal with Joe Nathan: The essential thing the Tigers were missing in the postseason last year was consistency in the bullpen. Detroit made sure to address that need as they signed veteran closer Joe Nathan to a two-year deal this week. Nathan is 39 years old, but has still proven his worth as he racked up 43 saves in 46 chances for the Texas Rangers last year. Nathan also posted a 1.39 ERA with the Rangers, but it seems pretty clear he made the move to the Tigers thinking they are a team that can win a World Series sooner than later. Now that Mariano Rivera has retired, Nathan is now the active saves leader in the MLB with 341 saves. He should be a key piece for Detroit next year.
  • Heath Bell Apart of Three-Team Trade: The Tampa Bay Rays made a strong move this week and acquired closer Heath Bell and catcher Ryan Hanigan in a three-team trade involving the Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks. The Rays signed Hanigan to a three-year, $11.75 million extension as part of the deal, and accepted Bell and will pay $5.5 million of his $9 million contract. The Diamondbacks save some money in the deal, but the key piece in the trade is Heath Bell, who has struggled since signing a big contract with the Miami Marlins two years ago. Tampa Bay is hoping he will be rejuvenated next season and bring some stability to their bullpen.
  • Red Sox Sign AJ Pierzynski to 1 yr Deal: Folks in Beantown were wondering if catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia would be returning to the club next season and this provides a swift answer to that question. Salty signed a three-year deal with the Marlins and the Red Sox have replaced him with the veteran catcher Pierzynksi, who is often labeled as a “hot-head” and an intense character in the clubhouse. I think this is a smart, low-risk move for the Sox as they have a few young prospects on the rise at catcher with high potential. AJ realizes this is a team that has the talent to repeat as champions, so he will be on his best behavior and will even provide some veteran leadership when working with his pitching staff. Just one of those guys you hate…unless he is on your side.

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