The best moves in Major League Baseball for the week of December 9th through December 15th and their impact on the teams involved for this season and beyond.
Bartolo Colon has signed a two year, $20 million contract with the New York Mets. Coming off a 2013 campaign which saw him go 16 and 6 with a 2.65 ERA, Colon instantly provides veteran leadership and depth to the Mets rotation. He will protect Zack Wheeler by not thrusting him into being the Mets ace before he is ready while Matt Harvey is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Colon will be 41 during the 2014 season, and many are wondering how much longer he can pitch like a man a decade younger than he is. His increasing age and the history of PED use and suspension have made Colon a fairly low risk signing for the Mets as they begin to climb back to .500.
The Miami Marlins seem like they could be serious about building a winning ball club. The signing of Garret Jones to a two year deal gives them a corner outfielder with Giancarlo Stanton in Center. Jones will also aid in protecting Stanton in the batting order as adding an extra left handed bat to their line up should give Stanton more pitches to hit and more opportunities to drive in runs. Jones, along with the signing of Rafael Furcal and Jarrod Saltalamacchia last week seems to be signaling that Miami has finally figured out that building a winning team takes time. Instead of going after the big money free agents they are starting with the solid free agents and then they should become a destination for free agents in the future. All this however is dependent upon Jeffrey Loria not hosting his seemingly biannual fire sale.
Omar Infante will help the Kansas City Royals win the extra games they need in order to make the playoffs. Having signed a four year deal, Infante will provide stability and leadership for the Royals in their infield and in the club house. His leadership and playoff experience will help the young Royals handle the extra stresses that come with a playoff race in August and September. An above average hitter and fielder, much of Infante’s value does not show up in a box score. His ability to play five or six different positions allows his teammates to get a day off, yet he prevents a roster spot from being filled by a player who is solely a backup. The Royals need every player they can get as they march towards October and Infante will help them get over the hump and make the playoffs.
There should be plenty of Home Runs for Diamondback fans to catch after Arizona completed a three team trade which brought them former Angels slugger Mark Trumbo. Unfortunately for Arizona fans, those Home Runs come at a price, lots and lots of strikeouts. While Trumbo will never be mistaken for Andruw Jones in the outfield, he can provide average defense. His value is his ability to launch a baseball into the next county. Trumbo has major upside with his bat if he can harness his power and cut down on his strikeouts, even a little. Adding him to the lineup that already has Paul Goldschmidt and Gerardo Parra could instantly make the Diamondbacks a major threat in the National League West. I think Trumbo has the ability to be an amazing player, but he needs to understand that a base hit is not a failure and that hitting a Home Run should not be the only goal of an at bat.
Let me begin by apologizing that this is a day late. I was stuck traveling yesterday (thank you snow storm and the flight delays that came with you) and was unable to post this. Nevertheless, here are the top four moves of the past week.
The Houston Astros could contend this season! No, not for the American League West title, but for winning more than 62 games (not losing 100 games for a fourth consecutive season). Yes I know that does not sound like much of an accomplishment, just remember you have to start somewhere to build a winning team. The trade for Dexter Fowler from the Colorado Rockies was the first move in the long march towards building a winning team again. Fowler has the speed to play an excellent outfield, thus saving some runs for the Astros’ pitching staff. His speed will also help to manufacture some runs, which should keep Houston in more games this season, and thus win more games. Is Dexter Fowler the cure for what ails the Astros? No, but he is a critical step towards finding the cure.
The Miami Marlins, yes Miami still has a Major League team, made two separate deals this week that could result in South Florida seeing a more respectable team on the field in 2014. The signing of Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a three year, $21 million deal should improve the Marlins offense by providing some protection for Giancarlo Stanton. It also gives a veteran voice to the locker room and experience to work with the young pitching staff. Jose Fernandez just got better. The marlins also signed middle infielder Rafael Furcal to a one year deal. Again this adds some veteran leadership to the team and it also allows the Marlins to continue developing their prospects in the Minor Leagues for an additional year. Furcal missed all of recovering from Tommy John surgery, so he may be a bit rusty early in the year. However he is a low risk, high reward signing for the Marlins. This could be the beginning of the Marlins rebirth, but I would not get too excited yet because we have seen the fire sales which have happened before.
Seven years and $153 million. That is what it took for Jacoby Ellsbury to go from Red Sox nation to the Evil Empire that is the New York Yankees. Ellsbury most likely be the normal member of the Bronx Bombers, as he does not traditionally hit for a ton of power. However this could change in Yankee Stadium, where everyone suddenly becomes a home run hitter. Ellsbury’s value is in his legs. He hits for a high average, gets on base a lot and steals a ton of bases. This distracts pitchers and could prove valuable for the rest of the Yankees line up. Fewer balls will drop in the Yankee outfield as well, thus saving runs for the some times suspect Yankee pitching staff. Overall I think it is a good deal for both sides, Ellsbury gets the money he wants and the Yankees get an elite player but do not have to sign him until he starts receiving Social Security checks.
In case you have not heard Robinson Cano has left the building. He signed a ten year, $240 million deal with the Seattle Mariners. Just like with the Jacoby Ellsbury deal, you can never be mad at a guy for making as much money as he possibly can. However, the Mariners may be wishing they had not signed Cano to such a long contract as it gets closer to the end of the deal and Cano’s career. Cano is an elite player, but I doubt he is going to provide the power the mariners signed him for throughout the contract. I unfortunately see it as becoming a hindrance to the Mariners remaining competitive towards the end of the deal and Cano being the final blow to the ten year contract in Major League Baseball.