Red Sox and Justin Masterson Agree on One-Year Deal

Justin Masterson

Justin Masterson is returning home to the Boston Red Sox.

Masterson agreed today to a one-year, $9.5 million deal with the team that originally drafted him in the second round of the 2006 amateur draft.

This time last year, the lanky right-hander looked primed to earn a multi-year, big money payday in free agency.

At the time Masterson was coming off a brilliant 2013 season with Cleveland that saw him win 14 games with a 3.45 ERA, 1.202 WHIP, three shutouts, and 195 strikeouts in 193.0 innings.

Masterson’s performance earned him a spot on the American League All-Star team.

Unfortunately for Masterson, the 2014 season wouldn’t be nearly as kind.

His velocity was down coming out of spring training and he suffered a knee injury that plagued him all season and would eventually send him to the disabled list with Cleveland.

Masterson was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in a deadline deal, but was even worse in St. Louis and was relegated to a bullpen role by season’s end.

On the whole, Masterson finished 7-9 with a 5.88 ERA and 1.565 WHIP between both clubs.

Masterson, 28, entered the market looking for a one-year deal to rebuild his value before trying to land a long-term deal next offseason. Given his past production and high-upside he had a number of teams interested in his services.

Ultimately, he chose to return to where it all started and re-join the Red Sox.

The newly acquired trio of Masterson, Rick Porcello, and Wade Miley will round out Boston’s rebuilt rotation alongside incumbents Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly.

Fun Fact: The Red Sox newly acquired trio of groundball pitchers will collectively cost around $26 million in 2015, which is just shy of the average annual value of Jon Lester’s six-year, $155 million deal with the Chicago Cubs.

Posted in Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Cleveland Indians, Free Agency, Justin Masterson, MLB, MLB Winter Meetings, St. Louis Cardinals | Leave a comment

Reds Trade Mat Latos to Marlins

Mat Latos

The Cincinnati Reds have traded starting pitcher Mat Latos to the Miami Marlins.

Latos, 27, went 5-5 with a 3.25 ERA, 1.153 WHIP, 74/26 K/BB ratio over 102.1 innings in an injury-riddled season that limited him to 16 starts.

Over six big league seasons, Latos has accumulated a very solid 3.34 ERA, 1.168 WHIP, and a 3.04 K/BB ratio. If he is healthy, there’s no reason Latos shouldn’t return to form as a front-of-the-rotation starter.

He is projected to earn $8.4 million in his third and final year of arbitration eligibility before hitting the market as a free agent after the 2015 season.

In return for Latos, the Reds received right-handed starter Anthony DeSclafani and catcher Chad Wallach from the Marlins.

DeSclafani, 24, is the prime piece coming back to the Queen City. The right-hander entered the season as the Marlins #5 prospect according to Baseball America and made his major league debut in May.

The rookie struggled in 13 appearances – including five starts – going 2-2 with a 6.27 ERA and a 1.364 WHIP. Those numbers are accompanied by a very promising 26/5 K/BB ratio over 33 total innings and a FIP of 3.77, indicating bad luck may have inflated his ERA.

DeSclafani has a solid minor league track record having gone 26-19 with a 3.23 ERA, 1.239 WHIP, and 304/79 K/BB ratio over three seasons. He projects to be a solid mid-rotation starter for the Reds going forward.

Wallach, 24, is the son of former big leaguer and current Los Angeles Dodgers bench coach Tim Wallach. In two minor league seasons, he’s put up a nifty .293/.392/.399 batting line with 7 HR, 70 RBI, 19 2B, and a great 73/73 K/BB ratio in 481 at bats.

It’s hard to tell on the surface if this move – coupled with the acquisition of Dee Gordon and Dan Haren and speculation about Justin Morneau – is a sign the Marlins are getting serious about a playoff push in 2015.

Or if this move—coupled with today’s trade of Alfredo Simon—is more indicative of the Reds beginning a fire sale on all soon-to-be free agents to acquire future value in return.

Latos is likely to earn big bucks on the open market, so it makes sense for Cincinnati to move him now if they had no intention of signing him to a $100+ extension.

The Marlins now have a year to convince Latos to sign with them long-term, before he hits the market.

Given the contracts we’ve seen doled out this year, it’s hard to imagine Latos passing up a shot at that kind of payday next offseason.

Posted in Anthony DeSclafani, Baseball, Chad Wallach, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Cincinnati Reds, Mat Latos, Miami Marlins, MLB, MLB Trades, MLB Winter Meetings, National League, Trade Rumors | Leave a comment

Boston Trades Yoenis Cespedes to Detroit for Rick Porcello

Porcello and Cespedes

It’s been rumored for a couple of days and now it’s a done deal.

Rick Porcello is coming to Boston and Yoenis Cespedes is headed to Detroit. Cespedes will be joined by Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier.

The trade makes sense for both clubs. Detroit came into the offseason looking to add some punch to its lineup and replace Torii Hunter in the outfield. Boston was looking to build a playoff caliber rotation.

Cespedes, 29, and Porcello, 25, are both due to hit free agency following the 2015 season, so this swap appears to be an all-in move for both sides.

Cespedes is owed $10.5 million next year and, due to a provision in his original contract, the Tigers will not be able to extend a qualifying offer at season’s end. Porcello is projected to earn $12.2 million in his final round of arbitration.

Cespedes brings good defense, speed, and a cannon arm to a big outfield that was in need of reinforcements. He also brings a lot of power, having posted three consecutive 20+ homer seasons.

The Cuban-born slugger does, however, struggle to get on base consistently. His OBP has dropped steadily from .356 during his rookie year to .301 last season split between Oakland and Boston.

Porcello is coming off a career year in 2014. The righty-hander won 15 games with a 3.43 ERA, 1.231 WHIP, and 129 K in 204.2 innings.

Porcello fits the same mold as recently-acquired Wade Miley in that he’s an extreme groundball pitcher that figures to cool the big bats of the American League East and keep Boston infielders busy all summer long.

The Tigers made another move today to address their rotation by trading for Alfredo Simon from Cincinnati. He figures to slot into Porcello’s vacated spot in the rotation.

As it stands right now the Tigers have a starting rotation of David Price, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Simon and Shane Greene.

The Red Sox are still looking for further rotation reinforcements and have an offer out to right-hander Justin Masterson.

Detroit may still be on the lookout for some bullpen help and Boston still needs to shed an outfielder or two, so expect more movement from both clubs.

Posted in AL Central, AL East, Alfredo Simon, Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Detroit Tigers, MLB, MLB Trades, MLB Winter Meetings, Rick Porcello, Trade Rumors, Wade Miley, Yoenis Cespedes | 1 Comment

Andrew Heaney with the Tweet of the Day

The Andrew Heaney Traveling Road Show, Coming to MLB Stadium Near You!!Andrew Heaney had himself one heck of a Wednesday.

Heaney was the Miami Marlins top prospect when he woke up on Wednesday morning.

When he sat down for dinner that same day, he’d been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a seven-player deal.

Before he went to bed that night, the Dodgers had already traded him to the Angels for second baseman Howie Kendrick.

That’s a pretty intense day for a big-time pitching prospect who figured to be a sizable piece of the Marlins long-term plans prior to Wednesday.

Heaney appears to have taken it all in stride and even managed to find some humor in the situation:

I guess he doesn’t have to clean out a locker or anything, which is nice.

The upshot is that he has a great chance of making the Angels opening day rotation and figures to be a presence in the club’s rotation for years to come.

…but he should probably still rent for a bit before he buys.

You know, just in case.

Posted in Andrew Friedman, Andrew Heaney, Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, MLB, MLB Trades, MLB Winter Meetings, Trade Rumors | Leave a comment

Dodgers, Padres Complete Matt Kemp Trade

Matt Kemp

The Matt Kemp era in Los Angeles is over.

After weeks of speculation, the Dodgers have agreed to send Kemp to the San Diego Padres, along with catcher Tim Federowicz, in exchange for catcher Yasmani Grandal and
right-handers Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin.

The Padres will also receive $30 million to off-set some of the $107 million remaining over the next five years on the original eight-year, $160 million deal he signed with Los Angeles following his MVP runner-up season in 2011.

Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reported earlier this week that the talks were “hot and cold,” as the two sides haggled over who would accompany Grandal to Los Angeles in the trade, but ultimately the two sides found common ground to hammer out a deal.

The Padres have been linked to Kemp for weeks leading up to the Winter Meetings.

It seemed that they would have plenty of competition early on as the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers reportedly showed interest as well, but nothing ever seemed to materialize beyond speculation and all three were out of the running by Tuesday afternoon.

The San Diego rumors, however, refused to go away and now it is official.

The Dodgers came into the offseason looking to thin their glut of high-priced outfielders in hopes of upgrading either the middle infield or behind the plate. The club got the ball rolling on the former by acquiring shortstop Jimmy Rollins and second baseman Howie Kendrick yesterday. In acquiring the 26-year-old Grandal, they’ve now completed the latter as well.

Grandal, will likely enter a platoon with incumbent A.J. Ellis, who is a favorite of the club’s dual aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Grienke, but has been a disappointment offensively, posting a .218/.320/.318 line over the past two seasons after producing at a .271/.374/.393 clip in his first three full years with the club.

The rapid regression of Ellis led to speculation that the Dodgers would look to upgrade this offseason and that speculation was promptly confirmed when the club reportedly had a trade in place to acquire Miguel Montero from the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this offseason, but the deal fell through.

As such, it was no surprise that the Kemp trade talk always seemed to come back to Grandal as the centerpiece of San Diego’s package.

Grandal was a top prospect prior to the 2012 season and has hit .245/.350/.412 over three seasons although his playing time has been limited due to a PED suspension and two major knee injuries.

The presence of 2011 second-round draft pick Austin Hedges made Grandal expendable to the Padres as they continued to focus on adding a big bat to boost one of baseball’s least imposing offenses.

The addition of Eflin, 20, makes for a very solid return for Los Angeles, which shouldn’t be a surprise given Andrew Friedman’s ninja-like tactics over the past 24 hours.

Eflin was the Padres supplemental first-round draft pick in 2012, is highly-regarded for his change-up, and posted a solid 3.41 ERA, 1.269 WHIP, and 183/65 K/BB ratio in 253.2 innings over three minor league seasons.

Ultimately, as good as the return is for the Dodgers, this deal is all about Kemp and the Padres efforts to add some punch to an anemic lineup.

San Diego offered big-money deals to Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas earlier this offseason, but missed on both free agents.

The club then turned to the trade market where they have been linked to everyone from Justin Upton to Jay Bruce to a potential reunion with Chase Headley.

Over the weekend, the club was said to be involved in discussions with the Red Sox about a potential Yoenis Cespedes/Ian Kennedy swap.

The addition of Kemp is certainly a step in the right direction, but should not be the club’s only move if they’re serious about improving the worst offense in all of baseball.

Kemp was maligned for missing a lot of time with injuries and performing below expectations after signing his contract with the Dodgers, but still produced a very solid .842 OPS with 54 HR, 191 RBI, 75 2B, and 26 SB from 2012-2014.

He had a solid bounce-back year in 2014 hitting .287/.346/.506 with 25 HR, 89 RBI, 38 2B, and 8 SB while playing in 150 games across all three outfield positions. If he can stay healthy, he should produce well in the heart of San Diego’s lineup.

For his career, Kemp has hit .322/.372/.495 with 7 HR, 14 2B, and 8 SB in 214 at-bats at Petco Park. Granted, he won’t get to hit off of San Diego’s pitching anymore.

Overall, this seems like a solid win-win trade for both sides.

The Dodgers have upgraded behind the plate, cleared some big money from their payroll to go after another big-name starting pitcher, and thinned the herd in an overcrowded outfield.

The Padres added an impact bat without giving up any major pieces of the future and should have the flexibility to add more offense via trade or free agency.

Given the excitement of the past 12 hours or so, I’m anxious to see what Andrew Friedman has up his sleeves on the last day of the Winter Meetings.

Posted in Andrew Friedman, Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Injuries, Joe Wieland, Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Kemp, MLB, MLB Trades, National League, NL West, San Diego Padres, Tim Federowicz, Trade Rumors, Yasmani Grandal, Zach Eflin | Leave a comment

Dodgers Sign Brandon McCarthy for 4yrs/$48M

Brandon McCarthy

Andrew Friedman is not messing around.

The Dodgers president of baseball operations was firing on all cylinders Wednesday afternoon.

It started when he traded for shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Then he somehow managed to turn Dee Gordon’s career year into Andrew Heaney. Mere hours later, Heaney was flipped to the cross-town Angels for second baseman Howie Kendrick. Finally, to cap off his evening, Friedman has reportedly signed free agent starter Brandon McCarthy.

The contract is reportedly a four-year, $48 million deal.

Six months ago, it looked like McCarthy would be lucky to get a minor league contract.

McCarthy, 31, was in the midst of a year and a half stretch in Arizona that saw him get lit up to the tune of a 4.75 ERA, 1.361 WHIP, and eight wins in 244.2 innings. Admittedly, it did come with a 4.12 K/BB ratio and a FIP of 3.78 that indicates he was pitching better than his inflated ERA.

In July, McCarthy was traded to the New York Yankees and he turned things around in a big way after he began using his cutter, a pitch he’d been discouraged from throwing with the Diamondbacks.

Once he donned the pinstripes, McCarthy proceeded to win seven games with a 2.89 ERA, 1.151 WHIP, 82/13 K/BB in 90.1 great innings over 14 starts, posting a 134 ERA+, the highest mark of his career.

That late season renaissance was seemingly enough to convince Friedman that McCarthy is the right guy to round out what appears to be a rotation with championship aspirations.

McCarthy figures to slot in the back of the Dodgers rotation with Hyun-Jin Ryu behind dual aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

Posted in Andrew Friedman, Andrew Heaney, Arizona Diamondbacks, Baseball, Brandon McCarthy, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Clayton Kershaw, Free Agency, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Injuries, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, MLB Winter Meetings, New York Yankees, Zack Greinke | Leave a comment

Dodgers Trade Newly-Acquired Heaney to Angels for Howie Kendrick

Howie_Kendrick

At least he doesn’t have to clean out a locker or anything.

The Dodgers are trading Andrew Heaney, who was acquired in a trade earlier this evening, across town to the Angels for second baseman Howie Kendrick.

Kendrick, 31, is an immediate upgrade over Dee Gordon, who was shipped off to Miami in the aforementioned trade. He’s a career .292/.332/.424 hitter and he’s one of the best defensive second basemen in the game today.

Kendrick – like recently-acquired shortstop Jimmy Rollins – is a free agent after 2015 and the Dodgers are only on the hook for his $9.5 million salary next season.

His presence should solidify the infield, add a reliable bat to the lineup, and allow for Cuban imports Alex Guerrero and Erisbel Arruebarrena to get another year of seasoning in the minors before taking over the middle infield in 2016.

The Angels added some much needed rotation depth. The Heaney addition not only gives the club a big time prospect for years to come, but he can play an important role right out of the gate in 2015 with Garrett Richards not expected back until May.

The club could turn to prospect Grant Green at second base or they could look outside the organization to fill the position.

The real story here, however, is the Dodgers and the fact that they are going for it all in 2015. Zack Greinke’s impending opt-out clause may be playing a role, but at this point, it seems that anything short of a championship isn’t good enough for Andrew Friedman and company.

Heck, all I can think right now is that by moving Heaney, the Dodgers have opened up a rotation spot to make a play for Max Scherzer or James Shields.

I’m going to go grab some popcorn and get ready for the Friedman’s next move.

Posted in Andrew Heaney, Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, MLB Trades, MLB Winter Meetings | 3 Comments