MLB In Full Bloom 12/5/2013


69 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

116– Number of days until Opening Day

Wednesday brought more free agent signings during what has been a crazy week before the Winter Meetings. However, the big news today is that Major League Baseball (MLB) and Nippon Professional Baseball appear very close to a new deal for the posting system. What is going to happen is that instead of old system in which teams submitted blind bids and the highest bid got the exclusive rights to negotiate with the player, now there will be a maximum bid of $20 million. If multiple teams bid $20 million than all those teams will get the opportunity to negotiate with the player. Basically, this has now become free agency. Only the team that gets the player will have to pay the $20 million posting fee and the luxury tax will apply only to the salary, not the posting fee. Overall, this is a good thing for MLB. It will limit what goes to the Japanese teams and it increases the number of teams that can negotiate with the player. The question is why would the Japanese agree to this new deal. MLB has played hard ball and the Japanese teams and they would rather get the $20 million rather than nothing. Since players in Japan have to wait nine years to become a free agent, they may just revolt and leave the country. Masahiro Tanaka is now in play for several teams and not just the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers.


  • Miguel Cabrera (groin) will permanently move to first base next year. This was widely assumed following the Prince Fielder trade, but the team confirmed that Cabrera will take over at first, with Nick Castellanos moving into an everyday role at third.
  • Joe Nathan and the Detroit Tigers agreed on a two-year contract on Wednesday. Nathan has enjoyed a late-career surge since Tommy John surgery, posting a 2.09 ERA over the past two seasons while going 80-for-86 in save chances. He is a perfect fit for a team that is trying to win right now.
  • Kelly Johnson and the New York Yankees agreed on a one-year deal today. Johnson will serve as a utility player for the Yankees, and as a potential insurance policy at second base in case they are unable to re-sign Robinson Cano. Johnson hit .235 with 16 home runs last season for the Rays in 2013.
  • George Kottaras and the Chicago Cubs agreed to one-year contract earlier in the week. Kottaras will likely back up Wellington Castillo at catcher next year.
  • Wesley Wright and the Chicago Cubs agreed to a one-year contract on Wednesday. Wright will provide some depth in a Cubs bullpen that was one of the worst in the majors in 2013.
  • The annual debate regarding whether Aroldis Chapman will continue to be the Reds closer or  become a starter has surfaced again this offseason. But, this time it appears the Reds have decided to keep Chapman in the bullpen. Based on comments by Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty on Wednesday, it looks like they are considering using Chapman for multiple innings out of the pen. If they considered using him as a starter, why not use him for back-to-back innings. The problem I see with this scenario is that Chapman struggled with his control when he was used for more than one inning last year. It remains to be seen h0w this will play out, but there is no doubt he is best suited for the bullpen.

MLB In Full Bloom 12/4/2013


70 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

117 – Number of days until Opening Day

The Winter Meetings begin in Orlando next week, but several teams are not waiting to get to Disney World to start rebuilding their teams. Besides the New York Yankees, the obvious theme from this offseason so far has been the low payroll teams that are spending money to this point. The Oakland Athletics have been the most active team as they just made four moves in the last 30 hours, the Houston Astros and the Minnesota Twins have been adding payroll and the Kansas Royals are in the mix to land Carlos Beltran. These are teams that traditionally don't spend money that are spending money this year. It has been alot of fun to this point and we are just getting started!


  • Jacoby Ellsbury and the New York Yankees agreed to a 7-year $153 million deal on Tuesday. It's the third biggest contract given to an outfielder in the history of the game. Ellsbury is a unique player when you combine his offense, defense, and his baserunning. He is a leadoff hitter and a center fielder and it makes sense for the Yankees to sign him. It may not make sense in three years, but for an old Yankees team with a depleted minor league system, Yankees GM Brian Cashman had to make this move. Ellsbury has a history of injuries, but most of the injuries are a result of collisions.
  • Luke Gregerson was traded to the Athletics by the San Diego Padres for Seth Smith. By adding Gregerson and Jim Johnson to the roster, the Athletics have an extremely deep bullpen. These two pitchers join Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook, and Jerry Blevins. The A's will have the ability to shorten games and if Johnson struggles like he did in Baltimore to close games, they have the ability to plug in somebody else at closer. This is potentially the best bullpen in baseball. As for Smith, he was so good for the Athletics as he provided so many big hits as a platoon guy. Look for him to provide the Padres with the same type of production.
  • Craig Gentry and Josh Lindblom were traded by the Texas Rangers to the Oakland Athletics for top prospect Michael Choice and Chris Bostick. Its clear that the A's certainly see an opportunity to win in 2014. The Texas Rangers are in transition, who knows if the Los Angeles Angels will be able to get the pitching they need and the Seattle Mariners are a desperate team. Billy Bean, A's General Manager, has done a great job plugging players into his template and the A's look to be the favorites to win the American League West next year. As for the Rangers, they get a former first rounder in Choice who could be in the mix for a starting left field job in 2014.
  • Dexter Fowler was traded to Houston Astros by the Colorado Rockies for Jordan Lyles and Brandon Barnes. I like this deal for both teams. Lyles has an electric arm and he is young. He is a former #1 pick and he only has three years experience with a ton of upside. Barnes is a highlight player who will do well in Coors Field. Fowler is a quality center fielder that will help a rebuilding Astros team.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays pulled off a three team trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds that landed the Rays Heath Bell and Ryan Hanigan. Cincinnati received left-handed starter David Holmberg from the D-backs, while Arizona received right-handed pitcher Justin Choate and a player to be named or cash considerations from Tampa Bay. Bell is coming off a horrendous 2012 and needs to figure this out. He was not liked by teammates in Arizona last year and he needs to find a way to be effective again in a relief role. The positive for him is that he is going to Tampa Bay for players miraculously find ways to resurrect their careers.
  • Justin Morneau and the Colorado Rockies agreed to two-year deal for$13 million. Morneau isn't nearly the same player he was during his MVP season back in 2009 and is coming off a year where he batted .259 with 17 homers and 77 RBI in 152 games. The good news is that he should have a shot to rebound a bit while playing his home games at Coors Field.
  • Paul Konerko will be returning to the Chicago White Sox in 2014 on a one-year deal. Some may find this to be a surprising since the White Sox signed Jose Abreau and they still have Adam Dunn. It appears Konerko is willing to accept a smaller role with the team.

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