by Nicholas Cicale (@)
Cubs re-sign OF Dexter Fowler
1 year $8 million
The Cubs brought in Jason Heyward to replace Dexter Fowler earlier in the offseason, and the only question was wether or not the elite defender would be able to make the transition to center field. Well, with Fowler still on the market into the last week of February, the Cubs decided $8 million was worth the piece of mind. Fowler, who led off 150 games for the Cubs last season, should be able to man center as admirable as he did in 2015.
Fowler’s always struck out a little more than what’s considered healthy, but his walk-rate helps mitigate the damage. Also, the important thing is he should power and an ability to stay on the field last season, both of which had been lacking before he go to Chicago.
I don’t expect Fowler to play 150+ games again this year, but he’s a much safer every day player than Jorge Soler, who now looks like a fourth outfielder and the left side of a platoon with Kyle Schwarber And at only $8 million, if Soler explodes and forces his way into a regular role, Fowler would be excellent outfield depth at a reasonable cost.
Orioles sign RHP Yovani Gallardo
2 years $22 million
One of my least favorite signings in the offseason. Gallardo doesn’t really add much more than depth to the team’s rotation, and they gave up a first round pick for a two year contract. Entering his tenth season in the league, he’s started 30 games in his last seven, but has never posted an ERA under 3.42. His K/9 has dropped each of the last three seasons, from 9 in 2019 down to only 5.9 in 2015; his FIP has slowly crawled up to over 4 in that same timeframe. With a walk rate historically above 3 BB/9, the declining Gallardo offers little upside other than durability, and doesn’t particularly make me think Baltimore will be any better off now than they were before the addition.
Indians sign 3B Juan Uribe
1 year $4 million
This is a quality signing. After a strong offensive showings in 2013 and 2014, Uribe’s game declined slightly last year, but he’s still a premiere defender in the corner, and is one of those club house guys coaches like Terry Francona loves to have around. Giovanny Urshela played strong defense at third for the Tribe in 2015, but his offensive game is still lacking. Uribe is a good fill in if the club thinks Urshela might need a bit more time in AAA before taking a more permanent role.
Royals sign LHP Mike Minor
2 years $7.25 million
This is a typical Royals signing. Similar to Kris Medlin and Ryan Madson, they’re signing a pitcher who has shown a lot of talent in the past but missed significant time due to injury. In 2013, he posted a 3.21 ERA in his second full season, with 204 innings pitched. However, due to injury, his 2014 campaign wasn’t pretty, and was cut short. A few surgeries later, he’ll have a chance to revive his career in the friendly confines of KC, and could prove to be a great value for the Royals.
White Sox sign SS Jimmy Rollins
Minor League Contract ($2 million if he makes the roster)
From being traded fore last offseason to a minor league deal this one, Jimmy Rollins’ fall from the heavens was a was and painful one. He still has some speed, some power and some defense, and the White Sox are a good fit. There’s a good chance he breaks camp as their regular short stop, and he could bounce back nicely.
White Sox sign RHP Mat Latos
1 year $3 million
One year ago, it seemed Mat Latos was a lock for a multi-year deal in 2016, entering the market at 28 and as one of the class’ top pitching options. Now, after an abysmal 2015 saw him traded twice and relocated to the bullpen after his ERA and home run rate spikes, Latos had to settle for a one-year pact with the White Sox. He has as great of a chance as any player to bounce back to form in 2016, but his years of being thought of as a reliable and consistent arm near the top of a rotation are over.
Diamondbacks sign RHP Tyler Clippard
2 years $12.25 million
Arizona’s spending spree continued with the addition of Tyler Clippard, who should sure up the back end of their bullpen. Brad Ziegler will still be the team’s closer heading into the season, and Clippard’s high fly-ball rate could be cause for concern in Chase Field, but as an eighth inning guy with strikeout potential, he gives the DBacks a lot to look forward to.
Padres sign RHP Fernando Rodney
1 year $2 million
Unsurprisingly, Fernando Rodney continues to find teams who trust his track record enough to make him their closer to start the year. He struggled mightily with the Mariners, but did bounce back once the Cubs acquired him midseason, albeit in only 12 regular season games. His K/9 went back above 10, and his sparkling ERA of .75 dropped his season total down a point to 4.74. Rodney probably isn’t the club’s best option to close, but he should be serviceable.
Dodgers re-sign 2B Howie Kendrick
2 years $20 million
It looks like Kendrick should have taken the $15 million qualifying offer to begin with. The Dodgers add more infield and outfield depth with a player they know. I would imagine Kendrick plays most of the season at second, but he could move to third base or the outfield if needed. As long as his addition doesn’t delay Corey Seager’s full time role on the team, I’m ok with the move.
Astros sign RHP Doug Fister
1 year $7 million
Foster is coming off one of his worst seasons, but I am surprised a team wasn’t willing to give him more than this considering the market for pitchers this offseason. He gives the Astros nice rotations depth behind Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh and hopefully Lance McCullers.
Rays sign 1B Steve Pearce
1 year $4.75 million
Pearce is the type of player a team like the Rays has to take a risk on. If he puts up numbers like he did in 2014 he could be a huge asset to the team, but there’s a much better chance he’s the strikeout machine he was last season instead.
Mets re-sign OF Yoenis Cespedes
3 years $75 million
This is a deal that makes total sense for both side. For the Mets, they are able to get back a player that helped push them to the World Series without committing money past three years, and for Cespedes, he gets both the security of $75 million and the freedom to explore free agency again next offseason.
By retaining Cespedes at an affordable price, the Mets have actually put together a team that’s improved from last season. The addition of Asdrubal Cabrera already improved their shortstop play, and Neil Walker should help their infield defense without really hurting the lineup much, if any. Cespedes might not be an ideal centerfielder, but his offense alone will help stabilize the lineup.
My only concern with this move is that Michael Conforto might lose some playing time because of the crowded outfield. Conforto looked like a star in the making the second half of 2015, and I think he should get as many opportunities as he can.
Tigers sign OF Justin Upton
6 years $132.75 million
Upton’s talent and age make a six-year deal seem more than reasonable, and while the Tigers might not be “all in” this year like they have been the last few, they couldn’t pass up getting a player that’ll help now and longterm. Upton also joins a team with an already established middle of the order (the lineup of Ian Kindler, Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez, Victor Martinez and Justin Upton should be one of the most dangerous in baseball), and for the first time in his career, Upton will not be relied upon as his team’s top offensive bat, possibly taking off some of the pressure he’s had placed on him. Overall, I like the player, I like the fit and I like the deal.
Orioles re-sign 1B Chris Davis
7 years $161 million
The Orioles obviously know what they’re getting with Davis, but they definitely didn’t get a hometown discount for the inconsistent first baseman. Over the last three season’s, Davis has played up to the annual value he’s receiving twice, but also had a season where he was barley a replacement level player. Also, Davis is the ultimate offensive player but doesn’t add anything in the field, and if he spends any time in the outfield, his value will drop more. The team had to do something to stay in the hunt this season, but the possible 2016 payoff probably isn’t worth the longterm risk.
Royals sign RHP Ian Kennedy
5 years $70 million
It didn’t seem to matter that Ian Kennedy is coming off a bad season ,or that he has a career 3.98 ERA with a FIP to match. What did matter is that Kennedy has started at least 30 games each season since 2010, and the lack of pitching left on the market made the Royals jump at the only available healthy arm with upside.
Rockies sign OF Gerardo Parra
3 years $27.5 million
I really like Parra, probably more than most, and the idea of his 14 home runs from last season jumping to 20 in Coors Field is very intriguing. By adding Parra on the cheap, the Rockies can trade one or more of their other outfielders (Dickerson, CarGo, or Blackmon), all of which should bring back good returns in a continued effort to build.
Marlins sign LHP Wei-Yin Chen
5 years $80 million
Chen doesn’t come with the fanfare of some of the other pitchers with his track record. He’s been very consistent year to year, and should be the Marlins second arm this season. You wouldn’t want him to be you team’s ace, but he’s very solid, and will help a non-existent Miami rotation behind Jose Fernandez.
Dodgers sign RHP Yaisel Sierra
6 years $35 million
Considering the Dodgers interest in international players the past two offseason, this signing isn’t much of a surprise. He 24, and could probably pitch out of the pen right away, or the team could develop him into a starter through the minors.
Cardinals sign RHP Seung-hwan Oh
1 year $5 million
Seung-hwan Oh is a Korean relief pitcher with 11-seasons of experience, and adds depth to the Cardinals bullpen.
Braves sign INF/OF Kelly Johnson
1 year $2 million
Kelly Johnson can play anywhere on the field with defense that’s just below league average, and he can contribute just enough on offense not to hurt the Braves’ lineup. For a team like Atlanta, he works really well on a one-year deal.
Giants sign OF Denard Span
3 years $31 million
When Denard Span is healthy, he’s really, really good, and he should work well with the other pieces in San Francisco’s outfield. I think this deal is a steal.
Royals re-sign OF Alex Gordon
4 years $72 million
I’m happy the Royals and Alex Gordon are staying together. He’s meant a lot to the team’s recent success and they got him at market value, if not just below that. His defense will probably continue to decline in the coming years as he ages, and his offense isn’t too overpowering, but the team had an opening in the outfield and they already know how to utilize Gordon best.
Nationals sign INF Stephen Drew
1 year $3 million
This deal seems like a bad one. Drew has very limited upside, and although he doesn’t cost much, the idea of blocking Trea Turner seems to cap the team’s potential for 2016.
Dodgers sign LHP Kenta Maeda
8 years $25 million
As oddly structured and expensive the three-year deal for Scott Kazmir looked earlier in the week, the eight-year deal for Maeda is even stranger, but in favor of the Dodgers. There are plenty of incentives and the Dodgers have to pay a $20 million posting fee, so it’s not like Maeda comes cheep, but considering his potential upside, there’s very little risk involved. He should be in their rotation, which could be made entirely of lefties to start the season. That’s the one caveat.
Dodgers sign LHP Scott Kazmir
3 years $48 million
Knowing Scott Kazmir’s injury history and his history of slowing down in the second half of seasons, this probably seems like a lot of money. Also, on the off chance he does perform at a level consistent with his deal, the Dodgers adding an opt out after one season, eliminating any upside for the club. The Dodgers were desperate though, after losing out on Zack Greinke and the other top arms on the market, missing on Hisashi Iwakuma due to health, and resending their trade for Aroldis Chapman after his domestic violence allegations surfaced.
Cardinals sign RHP Mike Leake
5 years $80 million
After losing John Lackey to free agency, Lance Lynn to an injury, and having Adam Wainwright coming back from a serious injury, the Cardinals needed a starting pitcher they could trust. While Leake has never been a particularly dominating force on the mound, he’s consistent, durable, young, and could have more success with the Cardinals, who have a history of allowing pitchers to reach their full potential. The price tag is also just about what’s expected for a starter who’s a little better than league average.
Nationals sign INF Daniel Murphy
3 years $37.5 million
Daniel Murphy is not a particularly good defender, but he has played second, third and first in his career, and has always been an above average and highly consistent bat. The Nationals have a relatively young infield, and one that has had its fair share of injuries the last two seasons, so adding Murphy to the mix over the next three seasons will surely solidify the unit, and gives a team filled with righties another left-handed bat.
Pirates sign C/1B/OF John Jaso
2 years $8 million
For a low cost, John Jaso adds an experienced and patient left-handed bat to the lineup, and is expected to platoon at first, as well as play some at catcher and in the outfield.
Mets sign OF Alejandro De Aza
1 year $5.7 million
Ideally, De Aza would be a platoon bat for the Mets, but if they can’t resign Cespedes the Mets may have to rely on him for more than they should.
Orioles sign OF Hyun-Soo Kim
2 years $7 million
A nine-year KBO veteran outfielder, the 28-year-old Kim had a knack for getting on base and has some power to go with it. Even if he starts the season as more of a utility role, he has a chance to see full-time action once he adjust to the majors.
Indians sign Mike Napoli
1 year $7 million
The most significant aspects of this deal are Carlos Santana will serve as the everyday DH, and the Indians continue to make small improvements to their defense.
Tigers sign INF/OF Mike Aviles
1 year $2 million
It’s Mike Aviles, so not much has to be said. He can competently play anywhere, he’s a veteran, and he’s a good club house guy. Not bad for $2 million.
Mets re-sign RHP Bartolo Colon
1 year $7.25 million
Bartolo Colon is cheep, durable pitching depth that could work be called upon as a fifth starter or reliever.
Pirates sign RHP Ryan Vogelsong
1 year $2 million
Vogelsong is 38 and has not been particularly strong the last two seasons. The Pirates have been good at getting useful innings from seemingly useless pitchers before, however.
Braves sign INF/OF Emilio Bonifacio
1 year $1.25 million
Emilio Bonifacio is back with the Braves, and will probably be traded at some point this season. He’s a good piece for a team that isn’t contending and just needs flexible players to fill a roster.
Mariners re-sign RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
1 year $12 million
The Mariners got lucky when Iwakuma went back on the market after failing his physical, and got him at a big discount, even if it is only for one season.
Rangers sign OF Justin Ruggiano
1 year $1.65 million
A decent and cheap platoon option against lefties, Ruggiano might even play first base occasionally for the Rangers.
Indians sign Rajai Davis
1 year $5.25 million
Still one of the leagues fastest players, Rajai Davis can play any of the outfield spots and hits lefties. He’ll be important, especially with Michael Brantley expected to miss time.
Pirates re-sign INF/OF Sean Rodriguez
1 year $2 million
Out of all the utility players in baseball, Sean Rodriguez is probably the most boring, but he does give the Pirates some versatility.
Rockies sign DH Mark Reynolds
1 year $2.6 million
Mark Reynolds will play first base and will hit a lot of home runs in Colorado, if he sees enough playing time that is.
Angels sign OF Daniel Nava
1 year $1.35 million
Daniel Nava was streaky with the Red Sox, but did put together some really strong months offensively through his tenure. He could be a cheap but useful platoon option for LA.
Giants sign RHP Johnny Cueto
6 years $130 million
After years of falling short in the winter, the Giants finally landed a big-time free agent pitcher. When you look a Johnny Cueto’s career numbers there’s a lot to like. However, whether because of injury, being uncomfortable with Salvador Perez behind the plate, or flat-out poor play, he struggled down the stretch in KC, and season-to-season, month-to-month, and even game-by-game, Cueto has been somewhat inconsistent. For him to be worth it for the Giants, he’ll have to stay healthy and prove he’s a more reliable arm than he has been.
Cubs sign OF Jason Heyward
8 years $184 million
This year’s best free agent is headed to Chicago, and the Cubs are now looking like the absolute favorites to win the World Series. Heyward brings elite defense to the Cubs, above average offensive ability, and at 26, should still be in his prime for the duration of the contract. However, the contract has two opt out, so it’s unlikely the Cubs will keep him for the eight years, at least at the same rate they’re paying him now.
Mets sign SS Astrubal Cabrera
2 years $18.5 million
Astrubal Cabrera joining the Mets seems a little redundant after the team acquired Neil Walker to play second base. The team will (apparently) be using Cabrera as a utility guy–giving him chances at short, second and possibly third–which is odd considering that he isn’t a great defender to begin with and he asked the Rays to decide on one position for him last year. He’s not a bad player, but not one that really fills a need for the Mets either.
Cubs sign INF/OF Ben Zobrist
4 years $56 million
Four years might seem like a lot for a guy who’s already 34 and has slowed down on both sides of the ball the last couple years, but Zobrist is one of my favorite players in baseball, and has an unmatched skill set. He plays average defense at every position, rarely strikes out, and draws walks at a high level. Plus, Joe Maddon already knows how to use him best thanks to their time together in Tampa. Zobrist replaces the talented but inconsistent Starlin Castro, and is a perfect veteran piece for the young Cubs.
Braves sign C Tyler Flowers
2 years $5.3 million
I was surprised when Flowers was released by the White Sox, considering his good rapport with youngster Carlos Rodon. He isn’t anything too special, but should work well as a backup to A.J. Pierzynski.
Tigers sign RHP Mark Lowe
2 years $13 million
The Tigers continue to revamp their seemingly always-struggling bullpen with the addition of Lowe, who should be their setup man. Lowe isn’t the most consistent pitcher and has had his struggles in the past, but had a revival last season, with an ERA under 2.
Rockies sign Jason Motte
2 years $10 million
Rockies sign Chad Qualls
2 years $6 million
The Rockies signed the pair of veteran relievers to hopefully add some stability to a very empty bullpen. Too bad their number will suffer in Coors.
Athletics sign RHP Ryan Madson
3 years $22 million
Just like Rich Hill, Madson had a strong season after an extended time away from the game. Madson has been a great reliever since 2007, and despite his injury history, shows no signs of slowing down.
Orioles re-sign RHP Darren O’Day
4 years $31 million
Might seem like a steep price for a guy without “closing experience,” but O’Day is probably one of the ten-best relievers in baseball, and losing him just wasn’t an option for Baltimore.
Royals sign RHP Joakim Soria
3 years $25 million
The Royals couldn’t stand the idea of not having a bullpen that had 7-8-9 on lock, so they brought Soria in to cover the seventh and essentially replace Greg Holland in the pen. Obviously, Soria isn’t the same as Holland when he’s healthy, but he’s a lot better than most other teams have. Might be a bit of an over pay here, but it works.
Giants sign RHP Jeff Samardzija
5 years $90 Million
I’ve never really liked Jeff Samardzija all that much, and I feel he gets very overrated based on his solid 2012 season, when he had a 9.2 K/9. Since, he’s been talked about among the elite strikeout guy in baseball, even though that rate has dropped significantly each season after. I see the Shark as a guy that fits in the back end of most rotations, not near the top.
I assumed a team would throw more money at him than he ultimately received from the Giants, but I still think 5 years is a lot for a guy who’s going to be 31, has never strung together back to back impressive seasons, and who’s coming off the worst of his career as a starter. The Giants are a good team for pitchers and he should be helped by the park, the coaching staff, and having Buster Posey behind the plate.
Diamondbacks sign RHP Zack Greinke
6 years $206 million
Arizona went all in on this one, but if the team wanted to be taken as a serious contender this season, signing Greinke off the greatest contract-year of all time was a good move. A smart move? No, probably not in the long run, but a move that take a team with the second best offense in the league an instant contender. Arizona hasn’t had a real ace for a long time, and Greinke slots in right at the top of their rotation. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll produce this season as long as he stays healthy, it’s years 4-6 the team should worry about.
Cubs sign RHP John Lackey
2 years $32 million
John Lackey still leaves a bad taste in peoples mouths because he didn’t perform up to his contract when he started his Red Sox career. However, looking back on the contract as a whole, Lackey has played above and beyond it over the last three season, and he’ll be a legitimate weapon for the Cubs, where he’ll most likely slot in as the third starter the next two season.
White Sox sign C Dioner Navarro
1 year $4 million
This looked like it was coming after the White Sox decided to non-tender Tyler Flowers. Navarro joins Alex Avila now behind the plate, and should get the bulk of the work there.
Navarro’s counting numbers took a hit last season when Toronto signed Russell Martin to be their everyday backstop, and 2014 was really his only season as a full time player, but he looked like a strong offensive catcher when he was out there and played good defense as well.
Mariners sign OF Nori Aoki
1 year $5.5 million
Its unfathomable to me that Aoki continues to get these tiny, one-year deals. I don’t know if there’s something about his defense that makes clubs think he’s a lot worse than I do or what, but the guy has been extremely consistent since coming to the league. He never strikes out but knows how to take a walk, resulting in an unwavering .290 average and .350 OBP each season. Plus, he steals bases relatively well.
The only thing I can think of is he is somehow taking heat for driving in only 37 runs back in 2013, which is low but really has nothing to do with his actual production. This is a prefect signing for the Mariners, who needed some versatility in their power-friendly lineup and their power-unfriendly ballpark.
Red Sox sign LHP David Price
7 years $217 million
Price’s price seems a little high to me considering the significantly lower number Jordan Zimmerman went for this weekend. Price is obviously a better pitcher than Zimmerman, but has a lot more mileage on his are and I think his playoff struggles at this point are looking more like fact than just a fluke.
I’m sure Price will have a fine run for the Sox, who were desperate for an elite arm last season, but whether it’s two years from now or five, at some point this contract will be a huge burden. It’s not really the Red Sox fault, it’s just the nature of giving long term contracts to guys in their 30s and the price you pay for getting elite talent right now. If they weren’t the ones to pull the trigger someone else would have.
Twins sign 1B Byung-Ho Park
4 years $12 million
Park should have a similar transition to the majors as his former teammate, Jung Ho Kang, did last season. His .343/.436/.714 slash line with 53 homers came in a hitter-friendly park and in a hitter-friendly league, so his numbers won’t look close to that in the bigs, but he’s got skills, and didn’t cost all that much.
I do question the move for the Twins though. The team is already flush with players who are more DHs than fielders. With Joe Maurer occupying first base, and Trevor Plouffe still slotted in at third, it looks like Park, Miguel Sano and Kenny Vargas will be fighting for time in the lineup, unless of course they make a trade. It’s never bad to have too much talent, but it would be nice if it was more diverse defensively.
Braves sign RHP Jim Johnson
1 year $2.5 million
While Johnson struggled on the Dodgers the second half of last season, the Braves must have liked what they saw from him during his four months in Atlanta. The deal makes sense to me, and they might even be able to trade him again at the deadline.
Red Sox sign OF Chris Young
2 years $13 million
Chris Young gives the Red Sox outfield depth and a platoon option. He was a valuable piece for the Yankees last season, and should help the Sox if they utilize him right.
Indians sign RHP Joba Chamberlain
Minor league deal
Chamberlain has been a replacement-level reliever for the last few seasons, but last year he was slightly worse than that. It’s a no-risk move for the Indians that could pay off.
Angels sign OF Rafael Ortega
1 year deal
Ortega was a top prospect a few years back but had multiple injuries that slowed his arrival. If he can stay healthy, he has a chance to be a fourth outfielder, or even a starter, for the Angels.
Tigers sign RHP Jordan Zimmerman
5 years $110 million
Jordan Zimmerman is 29 and has been one of the more consistent pitchers over the last five seasons. He’s never been a strikeout guy, but he can keep walks down and is pretty good for 32 starts and 200 innings of above average production each year.
Braves sign RHP Bud Norris
1 year $2.5 million
The Braves need to field a team this year, and Norris has an arm. It isn’t a good arm, but it’s a cheap one that’s experienced.
Blue Jays sign LHP J.A. Happ
3 years $36 million
At 33-years-old, Happ is coming off his best season as a pro. After a midseason trade to Pittsburgh, he showed vast improvements in ERA, WHIP, and K rate. The Jays are hoping what they saw there will be a glimpse of the future, not just a blip. I’m not as confident as they are.
Athletics sign LHP Rich Hill
1 year $6 million
Rich Hill played in 4 games this season, earning a WAR of 1.6, the second highest in his 11-year career, and his highest since 2007, when his WAR was 3.5 in a full season. That’s how good his 4-game stretch at the end of the season was, and how bad his career had been before it. I think $6 million for a potential top of the rotation starter is well worth the risk of Hill completely falling apart.
Angels sign INF Cliff Pennington
2 years $3.75 million
It’s Cliff Pennington. Was two years really necessary?
Dodgers re-sign LHP Brett Anderson
1 year $15.8 million qualifying offer
Another guy that needs to prove his health,Brett Anderson’s contract is more than he would get per-year in a multi-year deal and gives him a chance to prove his durability. He’s only 27, so there’s always time for a longer contract down the road.
Blue Jays re-sign RHP Marco Estrada
2 years $26 million
Estrada had a bounce back season with the Blue Jays, who apparently liked what they saw and offered more than just the qualifying offer.
Orioles re-sign C Matt Wieters
1 year $15.8 million qualifying offer
Wieters signed a nice one year contract and is taking a chance on his own tallent and health. Chances are he wouldn’t have earned $15 million a year on a multiyear contract, but if he goes through the whole season injury free he’ll see a lot more next year.
Astros re-sign OF Colby Rasmus
1 year, $15.8 million qualifying offer
Rasmus’ problem has always been plate discipline, but he’s an average defender with some power, and he gives the Astros nice outfield depth.
Braves re-sign C AJ Pierzynski
1 year, $3 million
The first well-known player to sign this offseason, this deal makes perfect sense. Both parties were a good match last season, and based on last year’s numbers alone, Pierzynski was the most productive catching option on the market. Plus, with the Braves clearly trying to save as much money as possible, a one-year deal on a 38-year-old is the way to go.