by Dallas Jackson - 12/02/2005
Dec. 5 marks the start of MLB's winter meetings and with all of the action expected to take place, we will take a look at the moves made before General Mangers head to Dallas.
Re-signed with original team:
Jose Cruz, Jr. (LA Dodgers): Jose re-signed with the Dodgers, who still don't have a manager, this is a signing that slipped through the cracks. Jose has always been playing on his potential, but eventually that has to turn into performance. A one-year deal, with club option for 2007 is a make or break season for Cruz.
Tony Clark (Arizona): After a career season at the B.O.B, Tony Clark signed a two-year contract extension with the Diamondbacks. This solidifies the middle of the order for the D-Backs, as well as gives Tony some stability, as he has bounced around.
Brian Giles (SD Padres): The once power hitting slugger for the Pirates, has re-signed a three-year, $30 million contract with the San Diego Padres. This is a risk signing for the Padres as Giles will be 37 when this contract expires, and with the size of PetCo Park and Giles advancing age this could be a bad signing when all is said and done.
Paul Konerko (Chicago White Sox): As everyone knows, Paul Konerko re-upped with the Chi-Sox. Konerko, the heart of the White Sox, will be on the South Side for the next five-years, and counting his $60 million. Great signing for this team, Konerko has been one of the most consistent hitters in the Pale Hose lineup.
Neifi Perez (Chicago Cubs): Another small signing that could provide big dividends is the resigning of Neifi Perez. Perez was slated to be a bench or utility player in '05 but injuries to Todd Walker, Nomar Garciaparra and Aramis Ramierez made Perez an everyday player for the Cub's last season, and he stays put where his value is highest.
Scott Sauerbeck (Cleveland Indians): The Indians had to lock up Sauerbeck as they expected to lose Howry, and having an aging Bob Wickman is not exactly a cause to sleep easily if you are the Tribe's GM The one-year contract is a continuing tryout for Scott. A lefty specialist, Sauerbeck has bounced around a bit, and has not seen the success he had in Pittsburgh.
Free Agent Signings:
Marlon Anderson (Mets to Nationals): Marlon is a guy you often forget is on the roster, but is a nice utility player. He is fast enough to play outfield, but sound enough to play on the right side of the infield if needed. He will not get you big numbers, but let's be honest, Carroll and Guzman were very bad for the Nationals last year. A two-year contract is a band-aid and insurance policy rolled into one.
Scott Eyre (Giants to Cubs): Eyre was lights out in San Francisco, and this is a great way to shore up the terrible Cub bullpen. A two-year deal, with an option for 2008, makes Eyre the setup guy, if not closer in Chicago. 68-innings pitched with 65 strikeouts and a 2.63 ERA last season, he was one of the top relievers available.
Kyle Farnsworth (Braves to Yankees): Kyle is on his fourth team in eighteen months, and this time he is cashing in with the Yankees. Farnsworth was a Cub, Tiger and Brave before heading to New York. The three-year $17 million deal is what the Yankees would have spent on Gordon. This is trading for a younger and more tenacious pitcher. Yankee fans will like having Farnsworth on board, as long as he can keep his head on straight, as he did have troubles throwing strikes in Chicago.
Tom Gordon (Yankees to Phillies): This is the Phillies' answer to losing Billy Wagner? A three-year deal to be the closer, for a 38-year-old pitcher? Gordon, who has to be handled with kid gloves, has done a wonderful job as a set-up guy in New York, but his innings and E.R.A. have been on the rise. This is a pressure packed job, in a town starved for a winner. This could be a disaster.
Bob Howry (Indians to Cubs): Another great bullpen signing for the Cubs. A three-year deal for the hard throwing righty has found his niche the past few seasons, posting back-to-back sub-3 E.R.A.'s. He and Eyre will fit in nicely in the 7th and 8th or 8th and 9th depending on who else the Cubs go get, or what they decide to do with Kerry Wood.
Kenhji Johjima (Japan to Mariners): The Mariners have a knack for finding good Japanese talent, and this three-year contract is a high risk, high reward situation. The new Mariners catcher will have the same pressures as Ichiro did entering the league, but all he has to do is out perform last seasons M's catchers: Miguel Olivo, Pat Borders, Yorvit Torrealba, Miguel Ojeda and Dan Wilson. Good signing, I'm sure.
Esteban Loaiza (Nationals to Athletics): What Oakland spent money? And on pitching? That, to me, indicates I'll be writing about a Barry Zito trade very soon. A three-year contract for the career journeyman Loazia is not a bad signing. He came cheap and he'll eat innings, as he has been around .200 the past five years. With Jason Kendall calling games, and a huge pitchers' park in Oakland this could be a good place to end a career for the former 21-game winner.
Abraham Nunez (Cardinals to Phillies): A two-year deal with a third year team option is a nice landing for the Phills. The signing of Nunez is a basic replacement of Placido Polanco, and fills the utility position for the Phills. Nunez had a career season in St. Louis last year, hitting .285, while racking up a third of his career home runs and RBIs. Nunez has never lived up to be the speed threat the Pirates thought he would be, but can fit in nicely to this lineup.
B.J. Ryan (Orioles to Blue Jays): A five-year contract is a long-term deal for anyone, let alone a one-year closer. Sure Ryan throws fire, but the years and the money are a little much. Two straight seasons with a sub-2.5 E.R.A. and topping 100 strikeouts is convincing someone. I believe Ryan will be traded before this deal is over, and won't play more than three seasons in Toronto. Obviously, he is a better closer than Miguel Batista, but not a five-year solution. Remember Billy Koch?
Billy Wagner (Phillies to Mets): The Mets are bulking up for the unveiling of their television network they are making a ton of moves and this is on the top of the list. Braden Looper was not the answer at closer, they even traded for Danny Graves last season, which ultimately failed, and now they have a hard-throwing lefty with injury concerns. Wagner is 34, and with a four-year contract with a fifth-year option, Wagner, and the rest of the big-money contracts the Mets just bought up, is a salary cap problem waiting to happen. He will be much better than Looper or Graves, and the 14 blown saves from the Mets bullpen will go away, but you may be winning now and losing for the next decade. Good luck Mets fans, you have two years to win.
Tim Worrell (Diamondbacks to Giants): Who says you can't go home again? Worrell cashed in his one season of closing for the Giants for big money from the Phills. He has had two injury riddled and person problem filled seasons since, and has now taken advantage of the Giants weak bullpen for another two-year stint with the club. Had the Giants re-signed Scott Eyre Worrell wouldn't be here.
Josh Beckett/ Mike Lowell/Guillermo Mota for prospects (Marlins to Red Sox):
Red Sox side: Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner. How is this not great for Boston? The Red Sox got a front-line starter, which they needed. They got a gold glove-winning, power-hitting, right-handed third-baseman, which they needed. And just for the troubles of Beckett's blisters, they get Florida to throw in a solid set up guy, with ability to close, which they needed. All of this for minor league prospects at positions they have locked up for the next three years. The deal makes perfect sense for the G.M-less Red Sox to make.
Marlins side: Well, they are saving money. This deal is actually not too bad for the Marlins if the players pan out. Three of the four players involved were top prospects for the Red Sox. SS Hanley Ramirez, RHP Anibal Sanchez, RHP Jesus Delgado and RHP Harvey Garcia were all sent to the Marlins in this deal. Hanley Ramirez has been flirted in trades with every team and every trade the Sox have been rumored with, and now is finally gone. He could be starting at shortstop or second base for the Marlins as early as April.
Luis Castillo for prospects (Marlins to Twins):
Minnesota's side: The Marlins are selling off everyone! They do this every once and awhile, just trade away the entire roster. This is a great move for the Twins, fielding five different second basemen last year including Bret Boone, the Twins add one of the best in the bigs. At 30-years old, Castillo is still going to be productive through the remainder of his two-year deal. He is a slapstick hitter with speed, and both of these attributes should be accentuated playing in the baggie-dome. A former Gold Glove winner will look nice in the leadoff spot for the Twins.
Marlin's side: Here we go again. The kings of the firesale are the Marlins. This is totally a salary dump as the Twins have agreed to pick up all of Castillo's remaining money. They get two pitching prospects, Travis Tyler and Scott Bower. Neither of the two were top prospects for the Twins; Bowyer will be in the Marlins bullpen, Tyler will start the season in Triple A.
Carlos Delgado for prospects (Marlins to Mets):
Mets side: Once again, bulking up for the unveiling of the new network, Omar Minaya goes out and gets Delgado, the first baseman he wanted to get last free agent period. They will be taking on all but seven million still owed to Delgado for the next three years. The lose nothing and gain a ton. Delgado behind or in front of David Wright, what a lineup: Reyes, Beltran, Delgado, Wright, wow.
Marlins side: Pieces to the puzzle to be built four years from now, and salary cap relief are all the Marlins are looking for. RHP Yusmeiro Petit, 1B Mike Jacobs and 3B Grant Psomas were sent to the Fish, and I guess will play a part of the Marlin future. Delgado and Lowell are both gone, which would seem to indicate Mike Jacobs plays this season, maybe slide Miggy back to third base, the position he came up playing, and hope to find a gem in your minor leagues. They will be terrible, especially if they lose Burnett and Pierre, who they are shopping.
Jim Thome for Aaron Rowand (Phillies to White Sox):
White Sox side: This deal was done before they re-signed Konerko. I thought it was an insurance policy in case they lost Konerko, now it is a luxury, and a goodbye for Frank Thomas. Thome is healthy enough to DH, and swing a big stick, which he will do in hitter friendly U.S. Cellular Field. And this makes a nice fill for the middle of the lineup.
Phillies side: This is a great trade for Philadelphia. They move Thome's contract, and get a centerfielder they have been looking for. The emergence of NL Rookie of the Year, Ryan Howard has made Thome expendable, which is sad for a guy that was brought in to bring the NL East title. Rowand is a gutsy CF, with great range and a nice stick. This also give the Phills the best outfield in the NL with Abreu, Burrell and Rowand. He'll look very nice behind in the lineup as well: Rollins, Rowand, Abreu, Burrell, Howard…