MLB In Full Bloom 12/19/2013

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55 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

102– Number of days until Opening Day

The New York Times reported today that Masahiro Tanaka will not be posted by Rakuten Golden Eagles. The news is not confirmed, but it is a mystery and something could have been lost in translation from Japanese to English. It has also been reported that the Golden Eagles are willing to make Tanaka the highest paid player in the Japanese league. That offer has been reported to be for $12 million for one year while the highest players in Japan make $5 or $6 million. The implications that will be the most glaring if Tanaka is not posted will certainly be that the new posting system will come under scrutiny, the New York Yankees will lose their #1 target, and interest will grow in other free agent pitchers such as Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, Bronson Arroyo, and Ubaldo Jimenez. Nothing is official yet, but if Tanaka is not there for the taking this year the offseason landscape changes dramatically.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Shin-Soo Choo reportedly turned down a 7-year/$140 million offer from the New York Yankees shortly after they signed Jacoby Ellsbury. We are not hearing any denials from the Yankees, so the question now becomes that if he turned down this offer, where else is he going to get that same offer.
  • Joaquin Benoit and the San Diego Padres agreed to a two-year deal for $15.5 million on Wednesday. Benoit heads to San Diego after three successful seasons pitching for the Tigers. Huston Street is still on the Padres' roster, but Benoit's contract is larger than other pitchers who were recently signed as closers, so there is some uncertainty regarding Benoit's role.
  • Jesus Guzman was traded to the Houston Astros by the San Diego Padres for infielder Ryan Jackson. Guzman has split time between first base and corner outfield in recent years and he is a career .259 batting average. Jackson hit .278 at Triple-A Memphis in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Both players will fill reserve rolls for their new teams.
  • Drew Stubbs was traded to the Colorado Rockies by the Cleveland Indians for LHP Josh Outman. The Rockies envision Stubbs serving as a roving fourth outfielder for the club this season. The Rockies plan to move Carlos Gonzalez to center field next season, which leaves Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson to battle for left field. Stubbs is going to be a popular NL-only sleeper pick, but don't temper your excitement. His speed and power are a nice fit in Coors Field, but a roving fourth outfielder does not provide much value.
  • Ryan Doumit was traded from the Minnesota Twins to the Atlanta Braves for LHP Sean Gilmartin. Atlanta will use Doumit as a third catcher and a backup outfielder/first baseman. Doumit hit just .247 while dealing with concussion issues in the second half of the last season. The Braves are banking on Doumit finding his bat, which was really good in 2011-'12 season when he hit .283 with 26 homers and 105 RBI.
  • Eric Chavez and the Arizona Diamondbacks agreed to a one-year contract extension on Wednesday. Chavez had a strong market as the Pirates, Rangers, Angels, other teams expressed interest, but Chavez likes playing at home in Arizona. He only played in 31 games last season due to back and shoulder injuries. He'll back up the corner spots in 2014.
  • Jonathan Sanchez and the Chicago Cubs agreed to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Sanchez has fallen so far from the guy that threw a no-hitter in 2009 to posting an 11.85 ERA over 13 2/3 innings with the Pirates this past season. It's a very low-risk move for the Cubs as the deal includes incentives that only kick in if Sanchez makes it to the majors.

MLB In Full Bloom 12/18/2013

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56 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

103– Number of days until Opening Day

We are just seven days away from Christmas day, but Christmas has come early for several relievers this week. Once John Axford signed with the Cleveland Indians on Sunday night, I felt we could see a domino effect take place this week and sure enough that is exactly what is happening. We should continue to see more activity over the next few days before GMs and owners enjoy the holiday season.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Grant Balfour and the Baltimore Orioles agreed on a two-year contract for $15 million on Tuesday. Balfour will inherit closing duties with the Orioles after Baltimore traded Jim Johnson to the Athletics. The trend in the game for closers is that they are not nearly as valuable and teams are not handing out long term deals.
  • Jose Veras and the Chicago Cubs agreed on a one-year deal for $4 million. Veras contract also includes an option of $5.5 million for 2015. After starting last season as the Astros' closer, Veras was traded in July to Detroit, where he was primarily used as a reliever and posted a 3.20 ERA . However, given the fact that the Cubs bullpen is so unstable, it's likely Veras will return to a closer role with the Cubs. Overall, the Cubs have added only $6.5 million in guaranteed money this offseason on Veras, Wesley Wright and backup catcher George Kottaras
  • Matt Thorton and the New York Yankees agreed to a two-year deal for $7 million. Thorton is coming off a 3.74 ERA over 47 1/3 innings this past season between the White Sox and Red Sox. He's a cost-effective replacement for Boone Logan.
  • J.P. Howell and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to a two-year deal for $11 million. Howell drew interest from several teams, but the Dodgers outbid them all to bring him back. Howell was dominate and posted a dominant 2.03 ERA in 62 innings this past season for Los Angeles.
  • Shane Victorino underwent successful nerve release surgery on his right thumb Monday. Victorino dealt with a back injury during the playoffs and will require some time to recover this offseason. The Reds Sox expect him to be ready for spring training.
  • The wait for Masahiro Tanaka continues. We have yet to hear where he would like to pitch or who is representing him. It's really holding up the market for several key free agents. Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, Bronson Arroyo, and Ubaldo Jimenez are all still out there because teams are waiting for resolution on Tanaka. And, it even trickles down to position players and it's almost to the point that the sport is in a holding pattern until Tanaka is signed.
  • Cody Ross has made encouraging progress from August surgery to repair a dislocated hip according to Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers. Towers said Ross is expected to be cleared to begin running by the end of the month. It was a major procedure, though, so most of his time in spring training will be spent rehabbing.

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