The Major League Baseball free agency period has started with a big bang. Several big names have changed addresses. Let’s look at each one individually.
The big one from yesterday is the signing of Cuban Import Yasmany Tomas by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The latest Cuban sensation is getting 68.5 million over 6 years. Tomas is known as a power hitting corner infielder that can hit in the middle of the order and is expected to play Third Base. With the lack of quality hot corner players available this deal makes sense from that standpoint. Plus we have seen Cuban players make huge impacts right away in the majors like Jose Abreu.
Michael Cuddyer to the New York Mets. We all know the Mets desperately need offense. Their starting pitching is good enough to get them to the playoffs. Cuddyer fills one of the holes they have in their outfield and it didn’t cost them any one of their young vaunted arms. The contract is very modest at 2 years 21 million. It did cost them a first round draft pick but the Mets need to compete now. Cuddyer when healthy is a very good offensive player who can play both the Outfield and First Base. I can see him playing first base twice a week especially when lefties force Lucas Duda out of the lineup. By all accounts Cuddyer is a good clubhouse guy who has a close friendship with team captain David Wright.
Pablo Sandoval to the Boston Redsox. This was a huge contract to the tune of 5 years and 100 million dollars. The Bosox needed a third basemen and the Panda Bear fits the team concept perfectly. He is a winning player who plays better in the post season. Another one of those good intangible clubhouse guys who has been a big part of the 3 championships won by the San Francisco Giants in the last 5 years. We have heard a couple of people with Bay area ties say the Sox will wonder where the numbers are during the season and even questioned his motivation. A big plus for the Sox is that the last couple of years he could be used at DH once Big Papi retires. One other plus is that players who play half their game in hitting friendly Fenway Park will have a spike in their numbers. I like this signing right now but it may not be good by year 4 especially physically with Pablo not in the best of shape.
Hanley Ramirez to the Boston Redsox. This one seems very strange. It’s a 4 year contract worth around 90 million. Boston has already said Hanley will play Left Field a position he has never played in his career. I am not sure I really believe that. But the truth is Left Field is so shallow all Ramirez would need to figure out is how to play the bounces off the wall. We all know the talent level of Hanley even at his age. If healthy he will produce in what is becoming a stacked lineup. The question is will he really play LF or are the Sox shopping Xander Boegarts? They really need starting pitching and there is a team that needs a SS(NY METS) so maybe there is a fit. Boston clearly has a plan and after signing the Cuban Rustic to play centerfield could they make young Mookie Betts available in a trade as well as the rumored Yeonis Cespedes and Xander. Could they possibly make 3 trades with each one of these players the centerpiece of the trade?
Billy Butler signs with the A’s. The A’s signed him for 3 years and 30 million. I just don’t get it. He is basically a DH who was supposed to be a better player than he has shown to be. The Royals were smart to let him go. Well when your team just played in the World Series everyone wants to get paid. If 2012 was his high water mark then this signing will be ridiculously bad. If The A’s wanted offense then they should have signed LaRoche. Oakland doesn’t usually make these kind of signings and you would have thought Billy Beane would have spent his money better.
Which brings us to Adam LaRoche. The Chisox gave him 25 million over 2 years. This is an excellent signing for a team that has some pieces in place. LaRoche has been a 20 plus homer guy consistently for 10 years now. Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko are both gone and LaRoche will hit very well in US Cellular. It appears that Chicago thinks they can compete this year and with the emergence of the Cubs this does not surprise me. What are the Nationals doing?
Speaking of what are you doing what are the Jays thinking giving Russell Martin 5 years and 82 million dollars for a catcher who is on the wrong side of 30. I would have thought the Jays had better things to spend their money on. This has been a very strange offseason for the Jays. Some of their moves make sense like trading for Marco Estrada and getting rid of Adam Lind. Couple this with the trading of Anthony Gose I don’t get either one of them.
Ernesto Frieri signs with the Tampa Bay Rays. Ernesto had success as a closer 2 seasons ago. After a bad campaign where he was traded from the Angels to the Pirates he is back in the American League with a team that has made a living on pickups like this one. Very good gamble by the Rays if they can get Frieri back on track.
One waiver wire pickup that went un noticed. The Blue Jays claimed Justin Smoak off waivers from the Seattle Mariners. I know Smoak has been a huge disappointment. Once a feared minor league slugger he has not been able to figure out how to hit in the majors. But in a move that cost you nothing this is definitely worth the gamble. We have seen Chris Davis figure it out for one season although he had issues and a PED suspension the nest season when he tailed off considerably. Still the Jays seem to have their hands on a lot of moves and rumors right now as they always do. I like this move because you never know if Smoak figures it out and becomes the hitter we all thought he could.
One under the radar signing was John Lannan going to the Rockies. I like Lannan and I hope he pitches well for the Rockies. I always thought Lannan was a solid pitcher who could never get a break.
I am also glad to see Ike Davis hook up with another team. The A’s traded for the DFA’ed Ike from the Pirates. I still can’t figure out what happened with Ike but I always liked him and would love to see him succeed in Oakland.
The Dodgers started to build their bullpen by trading for Joel Peralta from the Rays. Peralta is a very solid very useful reliever that the Dodgers really lacked last season. They still need more but this is a good start.