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!
MLB NEWS & NOTES
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.