The Washington Nationals have signed middle infielder Stephen Drew to a 1-year $3 million contract. This deal comes with the Yankees acquiring Starlin Castro, leaving no room for Drew on their roster. For the National this deal come with Ian Desmond most likely not returning as well as the signing of 2B Daniel Murphy.
Murphy will presumably be the starting second baseman for the team while Anthony Rendon will likely be the starter at third. That leaves utility infielder Danny Espinosa and prospect Trea Turner as options at short as well as Stephen Drew.
Stephen Drew is a veteran player that can be used in the middle infield to help give people a break. There is a possibility that he might even be called upon to play third if necessary. This signing gives the Nationals lots of options as to where they play their infielders considering the fact that they have a lot of versatility with the guys they have. It also makes it easier to find replacements to give some players the night off.
Drew is a depth player at the moment. If he plays well enough he could potentially steal a spot especially at short. He can be a huge factor in the success of the team. His offensive production has not been great ever since the 2013 postseason but the potential is still there and he is still very capable to contribute defensively.
He would like to improve on his .201 average that he had last year. On the plus side he did manage to hit 17 homeruns which is second to his career high 21. This is a good opportunity for the 32-year old to prove that he still has what it takes.
As if the back of the Yankees bullpen wasn’t proficuous enough, the team has just consigned a quartet of minor leaguers to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for four-time all-star Aroldis Chapman. Heading to Ohio are right handers Rookie Davis and Caleb Cotham along with infielders Eric Jagielo and Tony Renda.
Over his preceding six seasons in the MLB, Chapman has always had a FIP lower than his ERA, excluding last season, and has only had an ERA over 2.54 once in his career. Last year was a resplendent one for the flamethrower, posting a 1.63 ERA, and had a strikeout per nine of 15.7, the third highest total in his six years with the Reds. Some statistics did vaulter however, as the 27-year old only recorded 33 shutouts, a career-low. That stat does however have a major asterisk next to it, as the Reds had one of their worst campaigns in years. Despite his team’s prosaic play, the lefty still managed to tally his second highest strikeout total of his career with 116.
He made eight million last season in Cincinnati, and is expected to make upwards of $13 million through arbitration.
The conglomerate of Andrew Miller, Delin Betances and, now, Aroldis Chapman, form the scariest bullpen in all of Major League Baseball. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Chapman, Miller and Betances were the top three in strikeouts per nine last season. Chances are that the newly acquired Chapman will likely move right into the closer’s role.
John Jaso and the Pittsburgh have come to terms on a two-year contract that is worth $8 million. Jaso, who was originally a catcher, is now in a first base/outfielder role.Jaso has been a solid depth player throughout his career. He will most certainly not be used as a catcher but he will be used at first base when playing against a right handed pitcher considering that he is their only left handed hitter at first. He will split duties with Michael Morse and Jason Rodgers.
He can also be used in a corner outfield position if needed. He will most probably start off as a bench player for the Pirates before taking on a bigger role.
When you think of John Jaso, it seems that he is just a low quality player. That is not true. With a career average of .263 in a span of seven seasons he is capable of producing offensively. Although he is not a power threat, he can get on base, or contribute with RBI’s.
Jaso is a great addition for the Pirates. An underrated player that will fit in their lineup. He is expected to be a depth piece and can do so very well.
Earlier today, starting pitcher Mike Leake signed a five-year $80 million contract, with the St. Louis Cardinals. He will now join a highly effective rotation in St. Louis that also includes Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Jaime Garcia, and Michael Wacha. John Lackey created a hole after he signed with the Chicago Cubs; and balanced outfielder Jason Heyward, former Cardinal, followed in his footsteps when he signed with the division rival. The original plan to fill that hole was to sign Cy Young winner David Price, but they failed to do so after he signed a monster contract with the Red Sox.
Leake, who recently turned 28, is known to be a ground ball pitcher with a highly effective sinker. He doesn’t throw very hard, as his fastball hit an average velocity of 90.8 mph in 2015, but this doesn’t hurt him much as he mixes in 6 different pitches to the batters he faces. The most effective of the bunch, the sinker, is the key to his success and caused a 55% ground ball percentage in 2015. He also throws a pair of effective breaking balls in his slider and knuckle-curveball, which batters hit .151 and .176 respectively. He also throws a fastball, a cutter, and a change-up.
Leake’s numbers have been consistent since joining the league full time in 2010. Last year, he split his time in Cincinnati and San Francisco, where he pitched 3.70 ERA ball, and his FIP was right around his career average, at 4.20. Mike Leake does not strike out many batters, and relies on strong defence, which contributes to his higher FIP.
Some believe that Mike Leake is an odd choice. The Cardinals had weake infield defense in 2015, and Leake relies heavily on that factor. Also, a $16 million average annual salary seems like a hefty price for a middle rotation piece. Leake is no David Price, but he should be a solid consistent contributor to an outstanding Cardinals rotation.
In the midst of the spirit of conviviality, the Oakland Athlectics have signed free agent starter Henderson Alvarez to a one-year, $4.25 million contract with possible incentives of $1.6 million according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. He was non-tendered in an act of impetuousness when the Marlins decided the would rather loose him than pay the projected $4 million he would have received in arbitration. Alvarez will miss the first month of the season in a best case scenario.
With this deal the A’s will have control of the starter until 2019, when he will be able to become a free agent.
After starting opening day for the Marlins in 2014 the Valencia, Venezuela native had a disenchant 2015 season, injuring his shoulder early on in the year, coming back, then re-injuring it. He only managed to pitch 22.1 innings and had a spurious 6.25 ERA with a 3.85 FIP. The season prior however he had a 2.65 ERA aided by a defence that in actuality ended up being a 3.59 FIP, but he had three “Madduxes” or shutouts.
The 25-year old Alvarez now amalgamates with a rotation that has its fair share of young arms. With the diminution of the team’s starting staff due to the Jesse Chavez deal, Alvarez, when healthy, brings an electric arm that can resplendently insulate Sonny Gray, who had a breakout season in 2015.
Once recovered from his shoulder injury, Alvarez will slot into the spot he once occupied in Miami as the team’s second starter, this time behind a different elite starter in Gray.
The former Blue Jay and Marlin will be insulated by Jesse Hahn, Kendall Graveman and Chris Bassitt, who are 26, 24 and 26 respectively. The team also has the likes of Aaron Brooks, Rich Hill and Jarrod Parker vying for a spot in the rotation.
The ageless pitcher Bartolo Colon has signed a one-year deal to remain with the New York Mets; Colon’s deal is worth $7.25 million. At the age of 42, Colon has been around a long time, playing 18 seasons while pitching for 8 teams including two stints with the White Sox and a brief stint with the Montreal Expos.
With a career ERA of 3.97, Colon has not been consistent throughout the years. He’s only had an ERA under three two times (2002 and 2013). His ERA has been over five four times (includes his rookie year in ‘97 as well as 2004, 2006 and an ERA over 6 in 2007)
His pitching isn’t solid but his hitting isn’t any better. His hitting may not be like fellow pitcher Madison Bumgarner, or anywhere near for that matter, but it is pretty funny to see him run the bases. Always entertaining and makes for a good laugh.
Colon is expected to be at the very bottom of the rotation or even in the bullpen given his numbers, age and the talent they have ahead of them in Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard. He will most probably contribute with a .500 record as seen before. He could be very dominant or not be effective at all.
This is a good depth signing for the Mets. Colon can be an effective weapon when needed and could help the team make another run at the World Series.
The Cleveland Indians have signed veteran Mike Napoli to a 1-year $7 million contract. Napoli, a former catcher who was transformed into first baseman with the Red Sox, will presumably be their starting first baseman and replacement designated hitter with Carlos Santana holding that position down.
Napoli came into the league at the age of 24, as a catcher, with the Los Angeles Angels. He would play five seasons in Anaheim before being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays and quickly after he became a Blue Jay, he was dealt to the Texas Rangers.
After his two years in Texas, in which he batted a career high .320 in his first year and then a below average .227, Napoli went on to sign with the Red Sox in the off season but had a few problems with the contract. What was supposed to be a 3-year $39 million contract, it turned out to be a 1-year $5 million deal with incentives that could have made him the $13 million that was originally on the table.
After a solid offensive year and a good debut playing first base helping the team win the 2013 world series, Napoli, along with his beard, signed a 2-year extension with Boston. He had a good 2014 campaign but a terrible 2015 season where he saw himself get traded back to Texas for the remainder of the season. That move proved to be good as he was able to rediscover his game.
Napoli also had sleep apnea surgery before the 2015 season, and had his jaw reconstructed to help him breathe better in his sleep. Some say that it played a role in his struggles early on.
Now Napoli looks to have success along side his beard like he knows he can. He is a great first baseman who can do damage with the bat and looks to regain his form with the Tribe.
After being bypassed by Zack Greinke last week, the San Fransisco Giants have found another arm to supplement their already superfluid starting rotation. The team has signed former Cincinnati Red Johnny Cueto to a six-year, $130 million contract; the deal comes with an opt-out and a team option for a seventh season at the end of the deal.
Cueto had a praiseworthy 19 game start to the 2015 season with the Reds, recording a 2.62 ERA and a 3.20 FIP, surprisingly, the lowest of his career. Unfortunately for the Royals, his play debilitated when he arrived in Kansas City, posting a 4.76 ERA, a 4.02 FIP and 101 hits in just over 81 innings pitched.
The season prior, Cueto had a fantastic season in Ohio that saw the righty put up a 2.25 ERA and finish as the runner up for the Cy Young trophy. At age 28, the 2014 campaign was the first only only season thus far that he’s been voted into the all-star game.
For the next six seasons the Dominican Republic native will be headed back to the National League where he had so much success with the Reds, he will also be headed to San Fransisco, who has one of the most pitcher friendly parks in the MLB in AT&T Park.
Along with the Jeff Samadzija signing earlier on in the week, the Giants have now built one of the best rotations in baseball, should Matt Cain return to his pre-injury form. Their rotation, spearheaded by Madison Bumgarner, is also one of the eldest with Jake Peavy rounding out their five starters. The 27-year old Chris Heston will undoubtedly be the odd man out and will be delegated to the bullpen and will likely be the first man up for a spot-start.
The Chicago Cubs have continued their relatively resplendent offseason by signing the best young outfielder on the market in Jason Heyward to a $184 million contract; the deal will keep him in “Shy Town” for the next eight seasons. The deal also includes two opt-outs including one three years into the contract. Heyward signed with the Cubbies despite the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals both, reportedly, offering more than $200 million for his services, according to Jason Heyman of CBS Sports.
Heyward is widely regarded as the best young defensive outfielder in baseball prior to the 2015 campaign and the 6’5 Ridgewood, New Jersey native continued his offensive ascension, batting .293, recording a career-high 160 hits and sporting a .359 On-Base percentage in 154 games. The three-time Gold Glover had the second-highest defensive WAR of his career last season in Missouri, at 3.8 and has the highest WAR of his career at 6.5.
With Jorge Soler in right field and Kyle Schwarber in left field chances are Heyward will end up in center field, a position formerly held down by Matt Szczur prior to the former first round pick’s acquisition. Last season, Heyward spent 32 games and 233.0 innings in center, and has yet to make an error, he also has a pair of outfield assists. In his career 6989.1 innings in the outfield the former Brave and Cardinal has only committed 21 errors.
With Ben Zobrist’s versatility to roam the outfield and the dependable Chris Coghlin still a member of the organization the Heyward signing leaves prospect Arismendy Alcantara with few places to go. The only two holes the Cubs had, and Alcantara could’ve played, second and center, were filled through free agency.
With the improvements the Cubs have made this offseason they have propelled themselves equal to, if not in front of, the New York Mets as NL favorites. The Cubs acquired Adam Warren, Rex Brothers, John Lackey, Ben Zobrist and Hayward, among others. On paper, Chicago’s favourite bandwagon franchise is now one of the best teams in the MLB.
The New York Mets have been out on the market looking for a second baseman to potentially replace Daniel Murphy who had an outstanding postseason. Many thought he would immediately re-sign but that was not the case.
Ben Zobrist had mentioned that he would like just to play at second base and the Mets went out to make a deal with him. Zobrist would have been an upgrade for the Mets and a solid bat to help a little if Yoenis Cespedes doesn’t re-sign with the team. Eventually the Mets would lose out to the Cubs signing a 4-year deal as mentioned in a previous article. https://baseballsofsteal.wordpress.com/2015/12/09/cubs-sign-zobrist-to-a-four-year-deal/
So would they go back to Murphy? The answer is no. Jon Niese lost his job in the starting rotation which made him trade bait for the future. Just yesterday Niese was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for 2B Neil Walker. Walker can be an upgrade at second for the Mets. He’s got a little more pop in his bat that could be useful down the stretch.
As for Daniel Murphy his time with the Mets is most likely over. There appears to be no room for him now as it seems that the Mets are going in a different direction. It seems that a new second baseman is what the Mets wanted. Daniel Murphy will look for another option from a different team.