We here at Cheap Seat Chronicles got a little bit bogged down after the Winter Meetings and fell way behind with our coverage of this offseason’s transactions.
In an attempt to remedy that, we’ve gone the hotlink route and put together a cumulative list of all signings and trade we missed over the past two weeks with a quick CSC Hot Take for each move.
The upshot is that you still get the info you need and you get it from much, much better writers than we employ here at CSC.
That, my friends, is a win-win!
December 12, 2014 – Ervin Santana to Twins
CSC Hot Take: We covered the Twins interest in Santana during the Winter Meetings and the club eventually made it officially with a four-year, $55 million deal with a conditional $14M option for a fifth year. Santana is no one’s idea of an ace, but he’s also not getting paid like one. If he can maintain something close to the level of performance he’s displayed since leaving Los Angeles, he’ll be a huge addition to the Twins rotation.
December 14, 2014 – Melky Cabrera to White Sox
CSC Hot Take: Chicago is apparently the place to be this offseason. Cabrera adds a solid bat to the White Sox lineup and won’t break the bank at three-years, $42M. He also makes Dayan Viciedo expendable, which is a plus for the Sox. He was reportedly looking for a guaranteed fourth year, which was believed to be a sticking point with Seattle, but settled for three years to join the vastly improved White Sox. At just 30 years old and coming off a .301/.351/.458 campaign it’s surprising he couldn’t land more guaranteed years or dollars, but I think both sides win in this deal. Cabrera’s bat figures to look even better in Chicago’s bandbox and the White Sox are getting a good deal without a long-term commitment.
December 15, 2014 – Jason Motte to Cubs
CSC Hot Take: Motte moves from St. Louis to Chicago and figures to play a big role in the club’s bullpen. The Cubs rotated through a handful of closers last year before Hector Rondon took the job, but a healthy Motte could easily claim that spot if he can prove he’s returned to his 2010-2012 pre-Tommy John form and regained his velocity.
December 15, 2014 – Chase Headley to Yankees
CSC Hot Take: It’s pretty clear all that talk about the Yankees not wanting to go beyond three-years was a smokescreen. The same can be said for the infamous four-year, $65 million deal that Headley supposedly had in hand. Ultimately, the Yankees keep a solid glove and good bat in the lineup for the next four years and Headley get some security, a solid payday, and the opportunity to ply his trade at Yankee Stadium. It’s a good deal for both sides and should make for some headline-worthy A-Rod drama come Spring Training.
December 15, 2014 – Brett Anderson to Dodgers
CSC Hot Take: This move hurts me and many members of Twins Territory as the oft-injured left-hander was high on our wish list. Anderson – as we covered earlier this month – has all of the potential to get back on track in a big way. The Dodgers saw that value and are paying an upfront premium for it, but that ballpark and the improved defense figure to do wonders for Anderson…if he can stay healthy.
December 15, 2014 – Jed Lowrie to Astros
CSC Hot Take: Lowrie reunites with the Astros at a reasonable cost and the club gains some flexibility thanks to Lowrie’s ability to play dang near anywhere on the infield. He shouldn’t block any top prospects, but he’ll serve as a solid place holder until someone is ready to move him off their position. If he can return to his 2013 form at the plate, the Astros received a solid bargain given the dearth of quality free agent infielders in free agency this offseason.
December 16, 2014 – Brandon Morrow to Padres
CSC Hot Take: Solid move for both sides. Morrow gets a move to the NL West and a giant ballpark to rebuild his value. The Padres land a potential front of the line starter for just $2.5M guaranteed in a season where they’re clearly going all-in to be a contender. Win-win.
December 16, 2014 – Michael Morse to Marlins
CSC Hot Take: Assuming he takes over at first base and doesn’t play an inning in the outfield, this looks solid. Morse is a cheap power source in a game that’s put a big price tag on power in recent years. He had an MVP-lite season with Washington in 2011 and could prove to be a huge bargain for a club that has improved by leaps and bounds in the past three weeks.
December 16, 2014 – Matt Joyce to Angels
CSC Hot Take: The Angels add another outfielder and one who has been roughly just as valuable as Josh Hamilton since his move to Los Angeles. He’s also proven to be far more durable. Jepsen was coming off a career year, so the trade looks like a solid insurance acquisition for the Angels.
December 16, 2014 – Kendrys Morales to Royals
CSC Hot Take: Given what Morales showed he had left in the tank in 2014 (read: nothing, zip, nada, zero, zilch, etc.) this seems like an overpay, but it’s worth noting that he didn’t play a game until June last year, so if he returns to his 2012-2013, post-ankle injury form when he posted a good not great .275/.329/.457, 121 OPS+, and 4.9 WAR, this could workout. If and only if he proves last year was an aberration.
December 16, 2014 – Alex Rios to Royals
CSC Hot Take: Honestly, I like this move. I think it’s an overpay in terms of guaranteed money and I think they’d have been better off getting Nori Aoki back in right field, but Rios did hit .291/.329/.473 with 43 HR, 70 2B, 65 SB, and a 115 OPS+ from 2012-2013. He was hampered by injuries – like everyone else on the Rangers roster – last season and could easily see a return to form in 2015. If he has any sort of bounce back year he’s a solid value and could be flipped to a contender for additional pieces if the rebuilt Royals fall out of contention.
December 17, 2014 – Wil Myers to Padres
CSC Hot Take: There were A LOT of bodies on the move to make this one happen, but Myers is the centerpiece. We’re only a few years removed from Myers being viewed as a can’t miss prospect when he got moved in the much-maligned James Shields/Wade Davis deal. Following that trade he won Rookie of the Year with Tampa Bay in 2013, but one injury-riddled down season was apparently enough for the Rays to get comfortable moving on from Myers. His power may suffer a bit in San Diego, but he still has way too much upside for this not to be a steal for San Diego, given that they held onto the bulk of their elite prospects.
December 17, 2014 – Edinson Volquez to Royals
CSC Hot Take: I’m not a fan of Edinson Volquez. I’m not a fan of someone giving him $20 million over two years. The Royals, however, have managed to drag productive seasons out of much worse, so it could work out. Ultimately, if I’m the Royals, I’d have looked elsewhere. If I’m Edinson Volquez, I’m pumped that I put together a good enough season to avoid scrounging for minor league deals. Here’s to hoping he can moderately replicate his 2014 performance with Kansas City.
December 17, 2014 – Sergio Romo to Giants
CSC Hot Take: Another move that seemed set in stone before the offseason. Romo is a “San Francisco Guy” and it’s hard to imagine him pitching anywhere else. Detroit might have paid a little more to add him to their bullpen mix, but comfort plays a big part in contract negotiations and Romo never seemed primed to leave the Giants.
December 17, 2014 – Justin Ruggiano to Mariners
CSC Hot Take: This isn’t quite the same as landing Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, or Yoenis Cespedes. Hell, it’s not even the same as, you know, not trading Michael Saunders…but it’s what the Mariners could pull off. Ruggiano has a solid power/speed combo, but he’s never stayed healthy or gotten on-base enough to warrant keeping him in the lineup on a regular basis. He should have a decent leash in Seattle, but I’d expect the club to continue looking for an upgrade.
December 18, 2014 – Kris Medlen to Royals
CSC Hot Take: As a Twins fan, this is the one that got away. Medlen has been one of the best pitchers in the game when healthy, but he’s now had two TJ surgeries and is no sure thing to bounce back. The deal is for two years with a mutual option for 2017. It only includes $8.5M guaranteed with $10M available in incentives. This is a great long-term play by the Royals who are landing a very talented 29-year-old. I’m really rooting for him to return to form.
December 19, 2014 – Jake Peavy to Giants
CSC Hot Take: This one felt like a lock before the offseason ever started and was pretty much set in stone when the Giants missed out on Jon Lester. Peavy is a solid mid-rotation, five-inning starter at this point in his career, but he put up solid numbers in his half-season in San Francisco last year. There’s little reason to think he can’t put up two more good years at a reasonable price of $24M
December 19, 2014 – Martin Prado to Marlins / Nathan Eovaldi to Yankees
CSC Hot Take: The Yankees acquisition of Headley made Prado expendable now that he can’t really handle second base with any regularity. He’ll serve as the Marlins everyday third baseman going forward. He’s owed $11M each of the next season seasons and is coming off a very “Prado-esque” year where he posted a .733 OPS with low-double digits power and defense spread around the diamond. Eovaldi is the other big part of this trade. A former big time prospect for the Marlins, he’s got a good not great 4.07 career ERA, but hasn’t posted impressive strikeout totals. He’s still only 24 and will be under team control through 2017. His upside makes this a solid deal for both sides.
December 19, 2014 – Justin Upton to Padres
CSC Hot Take: The Padres landed yet another stud outfielder and gave up a former top-prospect in Max Fried who is coming off Tommy John surgery. If San Diego can extend Upton before he hits free agency, this is a great move. If not, here’s hoping they make the playoffs in 2015 or manage to move Upton at the deadline for additional prospects. If the club underachieves, adding a third right fielder with power will look like a very redundant move for a team that had plenty of other holes and way too many outfielders on the books when the trade went down.
December 19, 2014 – Corey Hart to Pirates
CSC Hot Take: Hart is 33 and coming off a rough year in a Seattle which followed a lost season due to knee injury. He hasn’t played regularly since 2012, but he did post a tidy .857 OPS with 31, 26, and 30 homers from 2010-2012. He’ll likely assume a part-time platoon role spending time at first base and – if necessary – in the outfield. At $2.5M guaranteed, it’s a solid buy-low move for the Pirates.
December 19, 2014 – Casey McGehee to the Giants
CSC Hot Take: The Giants were in dire need of a third baseman after losing out on Pablo Sandoval and Chase Headley in free agency. McGehee has plenty of faults, but he’s coming off a bounce back year where he hit .287/.355/.357 for the Marlins. He had no power to speak of and figures to be more of a warm body than a long-term solution. As for the Marlins, McGehee was expendable after acquiring Martin Prado and Dee Gordon earlier this offseason.
December 19, 2014 – Derek Norris to Padres
CSC Hot Take: The Padres picked up a stopgap at catcher to make up for the loss of Yasmani Grandal. The Athletics picked up a promising young pitcher for the back of their rotation. Norris overachieved in 2014 and faded down the stretch, but as a place-holder for top prospect Austin Hedges, he should hold his own. If Jesse Hahn turns into a stud in Oakland, this one will hurt down the road, but given the Padres push to win now, this move makes a lot of sense.
December 19, 2014 – David Ross to Cubs
CSC Hot Take: It was rumored that Ross was headed to San Diego. Granted, at that point it looked like everyone was headed to San Diego. He changed course and ended up reunited with Jon Lester in Chicago where he’ll serve as a backup to Miguel Montero and officially usher Welington Castillo out the door.
December 21, 2014 – Wil Ledezma to Twins
CSC Hot Take: Not so much a “hot take” as a “oh, that guy’s still alive, that’s cool…good for him.” Ledezma was reportedly very impressive in the Venezuelan Winter League and the Mexican League this year. It’s a minor league deal with limited implications, but if he can prove remotely reliable against big league hitters, he’d make a nifty addition to the Twins bullpen, for now he’s best viewed as organization depth.
December 22, 2014 – Josh Johnson to Padres
CSC Hot Take: Johnson signed with the Padres last offseason on a one-year deal hoping to have a big bounce back. That didn’t exactly pan out. Instead, Johnson got hurt in April and underwent his second Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2014. The year prior Johnson posted an abysmal 6.20 ERA over 16 starts with Toronto. Needless to say, he hadn’t exactly impressed and the club declined his $4M option for 2015. That having been said, the Padres must still be intrigued by his potential as they brought him back today with $1 million guaranteed over another one-year deal. The deal is, predictably, loaded with incentives. Johnson was fantastic for years with the Marlins before arm issues derailed his career. At 30-years-old, he still has plenty of upside if he can get (and stay) healthy.