MLB In Full Bloom 1/20/2014

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26 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

73 – Number of days until Opening Day

With the focus on the NFL over the weekend, it's likely that many people missed the headlines that Major League Baseball created the past couple days. Never fear, MLB In Full Bloom kept an eye on both the NFL and MLB! Masahiro Tanaka is still a free agent, but official offers have been submitted to the Tanaka camp. Let's get caught up!

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • The January 24th deadline for Masahiro Tanaka is looming and reports indicate that a number of bids for over $100 million. Reportedly, he has received offers from the Cubs, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Dodgers, and White Sox. Where he goes is anyone's guess, but it will be over soon. The Angels were not in the report, but there have been other reports that the Angels are in the mix. The Angels, much like the Yankees do not want to go over the $189 million luxury threshold.
  • Matt Garza remains a free agent and it's not only because of Masahiro Tanaka. An American League executive said that there "may be concerns about Garza physically."  Garza will eventually sign with a team, but he might not get the deal he entered the offseason thinking he would receive. The Angels and Twins are two teams that are known to have interest in him.
  • Ernesto Frieri and the Angels avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract. Frieri received a size-able raise and it was earned by his performance last year. Frieri racked up 37 saves in 41 chances for the Angels last season, posting a 3.80 ERA. He'll serve as the Angels closer again in 2014.
  • Jose Veras signed with the Cubs this offseason and manager Rick Renteria stated at the Cubs Convention that Veras will be the closer heading into spring training. Pedro Strop was expected to compete for the job, and considering that it's January, he still might, but it's probably not a big surprise that the new manager would give the inside track to the more-experienced Veras.
  • Carlos Santana expects to play third base for the Indians in 2014. It was reported that Santana was working during winter ball at third base, perhaps to function as a utility player to limit his time behind the plate. Fantasy owners should be excited about this news as owners of Santana will provide much needed roster flexibility. Third base is such a waste land for many fantasy owners so those who own Santana have to be pleased.
  • Mike Minor and the Braves avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract. Minor earned a very nice raise after putting together a 3.21 ERA and with 181 strikeouts over 200 innings last season. He will have to be a key piece again in 2014 if the Braves want to repeat as NL East champs.
  • Vernon Wells is drawing some interest by the Phillies. He was released last week by the Yankees. The Yankees and Angels are still paying Wells' salary in 2014, so he will be available for the MLB minimum by any team that signs him. He could be useful in a reserve role and make some starts against lefties.

MLB In Full Bloom 1/16/2014

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29 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

76 – Number of days until Opening Day

With just 29 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona, the momentum of free agents finding new homes is picking up. On Wednesday, Clayton Kershaw got paid and will continue to call Los Angeles his home for at least the next five years. There were other signings that did not receive the same attention Kershaw did on Wednesday, so let's discuss the impact other guys that are now on new teams could have on your fantasy teams.

MLB News & Notes

  • Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to a 7-year $215 million deal on Wednesday. The final result here is the largest contract for a pitcher in Major League history and the largest average annual salary for a player. Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game and based on how great he has been to this point in his career and the current free agent market, this is a fair contract. The out-clause after 2018 season is a key. He can opt out at 30-years old and hit the free agent market. These clauses always work to the advantage of the player because if he is hurt or declining and it does not look good for him as a free agent than he will just take the $33 million each of the last two years of this contract. If he is healthy and going well than he hits the market or re-negotiates with the Dodgers. Another Cy-Young candidate season is in store for Kershaw in 2014 and fantasy owners everywhere should see him go off the board as the first pitcher.
  • According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Chicago Cubs are pushing hard for Masahiro Tanaka. It does not mean that the Cubs will get Tanaka, but at 25-years old, he makes a lot of sense as they continue their major rebuilding process. Many think the Yankees are still the odds on favorite to land Tanaka. Finally, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are doing something other than babysitting the mascot - Clark! The Cubs have done next to nothing this offseason so adding Tanaka would make a statement to the fan base that maybe we'll win again one day.
  • Josh Collmenter and the Arizona Diamondbacks avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year contract. Collmenter settled into a long relief last season with the Diamondbacks, putting up an impressive 3.13 ERA over 92 innings.
  • Tyler Colvin and the Baltimore Orioles agreed to major league deal pending a physical. Colvin provides the Orioles some depth at first base and in the outfield. He had a strong 2012 season when he hit .290 with 18 home runs, but struggled in 2013 with the Rockies. Colvin could certainly be a bounce back candidate in 2014. While I'm not recommending drafting Colvin, fantasy owners in AL-Only leagues should certainly keep an eye on him once the season begins.
  • Vernon Wells was officially released by the New York Yankees on Wednesday. Wells was designated for assignment by the Yankees last week and passed through waivers unclaimed. The Angels are on the hook for $18.6 million of his 2014 salary and the Yankees will cover $2.4 million. The team that signs him next will only pay the MLB minimum. Wells is going to make alot of money this year and he is not worth looking at in any fantasy format.
  • Brad Penny and the Kansas City Royals agreed to a minor league contract which includes an invite to spring training. Penny, 35 years old, didn't pitch at all in 2013 but has been throwing this offseason as he attempts a comeback. He'll be given a chance to win a job in the team's rotation this spring.
  • Chris Coghlan and the Chicago Cubs agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Coghlan owns an ugly .242 batting average since winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2009. He could contribute as a reserve outfielder with the Cubs.
  • Michael Saunders and the Seattle Mariners avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract. Saunders was arbitration-eligible for the first time after batting .236 with 12 home runs, 46 RBI and 13 stolen bases over in 2013. Even if he doesn't bounce back at the dish, his quality glove should keep him in contention for playing time in left.
  • Javier Baez is likely to begin the season at Triple-A Iowa for the Chicago Cubs this season. Baez had a big season in 2013, totaling 37 home runs between High-A and Double-A for the Cubs. He has been working as a shortstop in the Cubs system, but has struggled there defensively and is blocked at the major league level by Starlin Castro. He could see action at second, third in addition to shortstop, with the chance his bat could carry him to Chicago at some point in 2014. Fantasy owners in all formats need to monitor Baez's progress and if you have a bench spot you can use to stash him - do it!

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