The Los Angeles Dodgers signed pitcher Dan Haren to a one year $10 million deal. This helps to replace Ricky Nolasco (more on him later) at the back of the rotation. Haren has the ability to strikeout a ton of batters while not walking many, he has led the league three times in his career in strikeout to walk ratio. The past two seasons have been far from his best, but the Dodgers are betting that Haren can stay healthy and provide the back of the rotation stability needed to compliment the front end with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Overall a good, fairly safe deal for the Dodgers.
Chris Young should bring some stability and veteran leadership to the outfield in Queens. Young signed a one year, $7.25 million deal with the New York Mets, which should help the Mets faithful celebrate a few more years in 2014. The trading away of Marlon Byrd last season meant the Mets were in need of a veteran voice in their outfield. Despite back to back down years, with limited playing time, Young should return to being an everyday outfielder who can provide above average defense and could slug 20+ homeruns. Good signing by the Mets, they maybe be turning the corner in 2014 towards better times in Queens and the hunt for a playoff spot in the next few seasons.
The Minnesota Twins should win more than 66 games in 2014 for the first time since 2010. After suffering through a 2013 campaign which saw Kevin Correia lead the team in wins with 9 and the entire starting staff collect 31 wins, the Twins pitching staff was in need of an upgrade. The improvement has come in the form of Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco. Hughes signed a three year deal and is coming off a 4-14 season with a 5.19 ERA. It is important to keep in mind he was pitching his home games at Yankee Stadium where you could probably bunt a pitch over the outfield wall. A change of scenery might be what Hughes needs to return to the form that saw him win 18 games in 2010 and 16 in 2012. Nolasco signed a four year deal after going 13-11 last year, splitting time between the Marlins and the Dodgers. Both signings point towards a more stable rotation and more opportunities for Glen Perkins to save games, he had 36 in 2013. the Twins could be on the rise after signing Hughes and Nolasco, as well as the return of a healthy Joe Mauer playing at first base.
The Kansas City Royals are on the rise, thanks in large part to General Manager Dayton Moore who was given a two year contract extension this week. The Royals finished 10 games over .500 last season with a 86-76 record, good enough for third in the American League Central. They remained in the playoff conversation until late in the season, which has not always been the case for the Royals. Since being named the General Manager of the Royals in 2006, Moore has rebuilt the franchise from the ground up. Developing young talent before trading them away at their peak value to restock the farm system with promising talent. Baseball America named the Royals as having the best farm system in 2011. The mix of young talent with enough veteran leadership should enable the Royals to be playing in October in 2014, instead of just missing out. The Royals understand they cannot compete dollar for dollar with the Yankees and Red Sox, thus their strength will come from their farm system, which has been developed and strengthened by Dayton Moore for the past seven seasons and should be for many years to come.