MLB In Full Bloom 12/26/2013

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48 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

95– Number of days until Opening Day

Let the bidding begin for Masahiro Tanaka! Multiple reports broke on Christmas Day that the Rakuten Golden Eagles have given permission for Tanaka to be posted. All 30 major league teams have been notified that the 30-day period to sign Tanaka began at 8 a.m. ET today and Casey Close has been hired as his agent. Close is the same agent for Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Derek Jeter. Clubs have until 5 p.m. on Jan. 24 to attempt to reach an agreement with the ace. Only the team that signs Tanaka will have to pay the $20 million posting fee to the Golden Eagles.

NEWS & NOTES

  • Matt Kemp (ankle) has been out of his walking boot for about ten days. Kemp underwent ankle surgery in late October. He's expected to be ready for the start of the season, and the fact that he is able to walk without a protective boot certainly bodes well for the recovery process.
  • Billy Hamilton will be the starting center fielder and bat lead off for the Cincinnati Reds to begin the 2014 season according the GM Walt Jockety after Shin-Soo Choo signed with the Texas Rangers. Jockety said, "He's the guy". Hamilton's fantasy value takes a huge bump with this announcement, but fantasy owners should reserve a small measure of skepticism due to Hamilton's projected struggles hitting the ball in the majors. Through just 13 games last season, Hamilton was 13-of-14 on stolen base attempts. With a full season under his belt, and all of the at-bats that come with being the leadoff hitter, Hamilton's runs total and stolen bases could approach historic levels.
  • Mark Teixeira says his wrist is "close to 100 percent," and that he will "start swinging a bat in January. Teixeira's productivity was declining before he missed most of 2013 with his wrist injury. He could still approach 20-25 home runs again if his wrist holds up, but it's likely to come with a low batting average.
  • Eric Surkamp was claimed off waivers by the Chicago White Sox from the San Francisco Giants earlier this week. He missed the 2012 season due to Tommy John surgery and had a nice return season with Triple-A Fresno in 2013. In 11 starts, he went 7-1 with a 2.78 ERA. Surkamp could certainly make a push in 2014 spring training for a rotation spot with the White Sox.
  • Jamey Wright and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed on a one-year deal. Wright has landed his first major league contract since 2005. It's well deserved, as Wright has a 3.40 ERA in 132 relief appearances over the past two seasons.
  • The Baltimore Orioles are aggressively pursing Fernando Rodney after the Grant Balfour saga. The O's seem eager to finalize the need for a closer in 2014. The Ne York Yankees, Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays have also been mentioned as possible destinations for Rodney.

 

MLB In Full Bloom 12/23/2013

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51 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

98– Number of days until Opening Day

Christmas is just two days away for most of us and the activity for free agent signings and trades has really slowed down over the weekend. But, the holiday came early for Shin-Soo Choo over the weekend as he was grossly overpaid by the Texas Rangers. We still don't know if Masahiro Tanaka is going to be under many GMs Christmas trees. Nobody knows what will happen, but it is expected that the Rakuten Golden Eagles are going to make him offer, but in the end its not up to him. I think he'll do the honorable thing and stay in Japan and help his team win. There is still a lot of shopping to be done by GMs after the holiday season and maybe they will find a few post holiday sales!

Merry Christmas!

NEWS & NOTES

  • Shin-Soo Choo and the Texas Rangers agreed to a seven-year $150 million deal over the weekend. This is big money for Choo and for the contract to get this high, there must of been another team in the mix. We know the Cincinnati Reds wanted Choo, but once the contract to this level they could not stay in the mix. We know the New York Yankees offered more than the Rangers. In the end, the Rangers overpaid for Choo because they were desperate to add a player with a high on base percentage. This is the sixth largest contract for an outfielder in the history of the game. Choo will bat leadoff and play left field.
  • Brad Ziegler and the Arizona Diamondbacks agreed on a two year deal. Ziegler posted a 2.35 ERA over the last two seasons for the Diamondbacks and will help set up for them again in 2014.
  • It is expected that the Rakuten Gold Eagles will announce on Tuesday or Wednesday whether they will post Masahiro Tanaka. There have been several reports saying that the team will not post Tanaka, but instead make him a one-year contract offer.
  • Grant Balfour was on Sirius XM Radio on Sunday and said four teams are interested in signing him to a one-year deal. This comes after a two-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles fell through due to concerns about his shoulder, but he's been given a clean bill of health by two different doctors. Balfour previously had Tommy John surgery in 2005 and surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff in 2006. He says "he is 100% fine" physically. The question has to be asked as to why the Orioles would offer a two-year contract without looking at the medicals first? Balfour pitched well throughout the playoffs and its well known in the around baseball that the Orioles put players through extremely extensive physicals prior to signing them, so this could be a case of them being overly cautious.
  • Chris Perez and the Los Angeles Dodgers are close to agreeing on a one-year deal. Perez was looking to land with a team that would give him the opportunity to close games, but instead will join a Dodgers bullpen that is deep. Perez will  certainly be behind Kenley Jansen and Brian Wilson in line for saves.
  • Kevin Youkilis has signed a contract with Japan's Rakuten Golden Eagles. It's a bit surprising that no major league team was willing to give him a shot. Youkilis has seen his offensive numbers drop the past couple seasons and he is coming off of June back surgery, but should be healthy by now.
  • Kurt Suzuki and the Minnesota Twins agreed on a one-year deal. The Twins were looking for a veteran catcher to help youngster Josmil Pinto and they now have one in Suzuki. His offense has declined the last few years, but he has a strong glove and has a reputation as a good clubhouse guy.

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